I am a geek. More specifically, I am a particular genus of geek known as a PC gamer. Some guys play golf. Some like hunting and fishing. Since the 1980s, I have played games – in one form or another – on desktop computers. First, on the Commodore 64. Then, later on the Commodore Amiga and then – since the early nineties, on a DOS and/or Windows-based PC.
I have also played a few console games in my day, most notably on the X-Box. But, for the most part, I have always preferred the depth and easier pace that is normally associated with the PC genre.
Recently, I sat down to make a list of my favorite games of all time, and I’m going to indulge in the shameless frivolity of dedicating a post to each of those games during the next few weeks.
First, however, a disclaimer. I am not a first person shooter-type person. I’ve played a few before (LucasArts’ Dark Forces being the primary example), and I have nothing against them. However, in the end, none of those games made the list, because that particular genre has never appealed that much to me. If you have a favorite FPS, and you are waiting for me to get to it, don’t hold your breath, ’cause there aren’t going to be any. Feel free, however, to list your favorite shooters in the comments.
Now…on to Number 10.
Knights of the Old Republic was released on the original X-Box and PC in 2003. It was based on a Star Wars comic book series that attempted to chronicle the plight of the Jedi during an era that preceded the films by many generations.
Though it was developed on the X-Box, KOTOR is in the tradition of PC-based roleplaying games, in which the player takes on the role of a character who gathers experience and who grows in ability over the course of a very long game.
For people like me, who had secretly aspired to live the life of a Jedi since childhood, KOTOR was a dream come true. Better yet, on top of the novel experience that it offered, KOTOR featured unique, brilliantly executed game mechanics, interesting characters, and an intriguing story.
My only complaint about the game was the way the ending played out for me. It turns out that, in order to finish the game, you had to have developed certain “offensive” force-based skills. When I played, however, I elected to develop a Jedi with only “defensive” skills. It was an odd choice on my part that ended up preventing me from finishing the game without chating.
After wrestling with this problem for a period, I gave up and located a cheat code that allowed me to possess the necessary new powers, and I managed to finish the game after entering the code.
KOTOR 2 followed several months after the release of KOTOR, but it felt stilted, even incomplete, next to the original game.
Honorable mention in the category of role playing games goes to Neverwinter Nights, a fantasy role playing game based on the legendary Dungeons & Dragons universe. NWN was released in 2002, just one year before KOTOR. Bioware, a company that was started by physicians who decided they would rather make and play games, has become highly respected in the gaming community for taking the roleplaying genre to a whole new level.
Here’s hoping that the KOTOR massively multiplayer roleplaying game, due in 2-3 years, will continue on with this tradition.