Star Wars: The Knights of the Old Republic, the sprawling science fiction role-playing game built by BioWare, turns 15 tomorrow.
KOTOR came out on 15th July 2003 in North America on the original Xbox, before later launching on PC. It was directed by Casey Hudson, now general manager of BioWare, designed by James Ohlen (who recently left BioWare after 22 years at the company) and was written by Drew Karpyshyn (who left BioWare for a second time in March).
The game, which is set four thousand years before movie Revenge of the Sith, was praised for its impressive visuals, authentic recreation of the Star Wars universe and for letting players create their own Jedi character that could go Light or Dark side depending on choices made throughout. But it’s the story and characters that are remembered fondest.
KOTOR starred memorable characters such as veteran Republic pilot Carth Onasi, Twi’lek teenager Mission Vao, Jedi Bastila Shan and, my personal favourite, assassin droid HK-47. KOTOR also had one of the best villains in video game history, Darth Malak, and a plot twist I’ll never forget.
In a new interview to celebrate the 15th anniversary of KOTOR, Hudson said the character names came from Ohlen.
“He used to run [Dungeons & Dragons] campaigns, so some of the characters that showed up in Knights of the Old Republic were from D&D characters that he’d made up years before,” Hudson revealed.
We’ve got some fantastic KOTOR-related features in the Eurogamer archive that are well worth a read if you’re feeling in a nostalgic mood. Eurogamer’s KOTOR review, penned by Kieron Gillen, is a great start.
“Knights of the Old Republic is the best Star Wars game since X-Wing and/or Tie Fighter, if not ever. Unless something entirely unbelievable descends from the heavens, it’s the RPG of the year. If the remaining major players fumble even slightly, it’s game of the year. Along with Halo, it’s the reason to invite Bill Gates into your house.”
Dan Whitehead’s review of the iPad version, from 2013, is another great jumping off point.
“This was a Star Wars playground where we could make our own fun without tripping over the toys George Lucas had left lying around.”
In 2016, our Robert Purchese wrote about the unlikely link between Kylo Ren’s Lightsaber and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.
A year later, he wrote about BioWare’s cool idea for Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2 (Fallout: New Vegas developer Obsidian Entertainment built KOTOR 2).
There are rumblings BioWare is looking at a new KOTOR game somewhere deep within the company’s offices, but with the upcoming Anthem a clear and present danger, it seems unlikely we’ll see a KOTOR 3 any time soon.
Oh well. I’ll always have HK-47, telling it how it is.