Sometimes, I play video games. And sometimes, when I play video games, I play RPGs. I wasted more hours on Skyrim than I care to admit (not-so-curiously, the money I spent on ordering in pizza skyrocketed after that game’s release). I went to a university where our idea of fun on a Friday was playing Borderlands together. People on my floor still loved the old Pokemon games on Game Boy. And yes, we spent many a night re-watching Star Wars.
Despite that, though, I’d never played Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (which I’m hereon shortening as KOTOR). It wasn’t because I had something against RPGs or Star Wars, clearly. I had simply never had the opportunity. When KOTOR celebrated its tenth anniversary with an iPad version of the now-classic game, I took note and picked up a copy. Read on to find out if it translates well to the iPad and if it’s worth laying down hard-earned cash for.
The Game’s Relevancy
KOTOR has some serious staying power. This is the kind of game that fans still pine after ten years down the road. You can’t say that about too many other games. Having never played it before, I’m not sure I agree with all the praise thrown on it, but I can understand why it was important at the time.
We are, after all, talking about the prequel era. I think all people really wanted was something to tell them that people could still tell good stories in the Star Wars universe.
And with a story steeped in the Star Wars mythology, KOTOR aims to please. This is the kind of thing fanboys are going to be all over, and for good reason. Why wouldn’t they be? This is a Star Wars fan’s wet dream.
If you haven’t played it before and you’re a Star Wars fan, you’re missing out. Why wouldn’t you want to take control of a Republican soldier who slowly gets embroiled in the war between the Sith and Jedi a thousand years before the movie saga?
The port is arguably the important part of the game. I’ve read a lot of reviews of KOTOR in prep for writing this one, because it’s a very vast game and I didn’t want to miss anything important. But what I realized is that a lot of the reviews focus on what makes the game great — they’re almost identical to the reviews from a decade ago. I’d like to focus on the port, because that’s what important. If you love KOTOR, is the iPad edition worth your hard-earned cash?
The port to the iPad has been handled mostly well, and according to some of what I’ve read, is based on the PC version’s code and not on the Xbox version. The implication here is that the port to the iPad is based on the version of the game that was intended to be played with a mouse.
Now, the port is rock-solid. There are apparently zero changes made in the transition to the iPad, which also means that it occasionally feels irritatingly like it’s still meant for a mouse. If you’re in a menu, some areas aren’t sensitive to touch that feel like they should be. It’s honestly a huge learning curve, because you have to think like you’re still using a mouse. “Where would I click right now?” is a question I had to ask all the time. And when I realized that, then it was easy to tap on the appropriate spot on the screen.
But this is a different way of thinking about playing an iPad game. It took me about an hour or so to get used to that mentality. Walking around is a little odd as well, and getting used to what feels like non-interactive combat is unusual too. When you walk, it feels more like strafing in Halo most of the time, and I found the game had difficulty with understanding that I was looking around sometimes and moving around others.
Again, most of this gets easier with time. KOTOR is a game that’s a little difficult to learn at this point; a lot has changed at this point. The bottom line? Veteran players are probably going to feel a little more comfortable than new players at this point.
Graphically, nothing has changed. The graphics look dated at this point, but I don’t know if they would ever look better on an iPad anyway. This is a very sophisticated game — ten years ago, it blew many people’s minds — and it still is a pretty sophisticated game. That being said, I wasn’t sure my Retina iPad was being used to the full extent it’s capable of. There are moments the game feels decidedly low-resolution.
Everything else will probably be exact how you remember it, down to the memorable music.
I didn’t experience any overheating while playing the game, even on my third-gen iPad, which is notorious for warming up to nearly-uncomfortable levels. I also didn’t experience any crashes or glitches. The game runs flawlessly, which really impressed me.
The Final Word
In some ways, KOTOR hasn’t aged well. In other ways, nothing — literally nothing — has changed. I think new players would be better off discovering the game through Steam or something like that on their PCs, but for people who just want to reminisce? You’d be hard-pressed to find a better way to do that than with KOTOR on your iPad.