Saturday, 18 September 2010

Knights of the Old Republic

God damn you bioware you frustrate the hell out of me.

Now for those of you who don't know or have only heard of this series of games, it's all about Star Wars. Now I recently got the first game in this series and I've started to play it, but I actually played the second one first. This has caused a few.... problems for me. I've heard people say the first one is their favorite... and I really don't agree.

The problems start when you first enter the game. Your on a ship that's being attacked, so you need to escape, thats pretty normal for a game and easy to understand. Then the game decides that you, the player, needs to know more about the situation. No game I dont, the ship is under attack and is going to explode... you do not need to give me a very long history lesson within the exploding ship. A guy comes running up to you and is like "Hup hup! Here's the detailed history of the war, who we are, whats going on, whats my favorite colour, and where were going" it's alot of information that is simply totally out of place in that situation. If you want to tell your player this stuff in a game you either A) Explain it with a cinematic or B) Explain it in a place not exploding. They really destroy the immersion at the start there.

In the second one your unconscious and your ship is exploding, so you have you control a droid to fix the ship as best you can.... That's it. You learn about the setting and its history at a much more even pace later on. This is a much better opening, not only have we gotten over the tutorial but the player is now interested in learning about their character, why was the ship attacked? How did you get away? Who are you?

One of the main problems is the fact that after playing the second one you'll probably browse some forums and etc. When you do this I guarantee the plot twist of the first game will be spoiled in the first five minuets of reading, a recurring problem with the Internet. So now that we know what the plot twist is way ahead of when we should know, does that affect the enjoyment of the game? Yes it does. The plot twist is central to the story, its the big knot in the middle that explains everything. It's also done really badly.

I mean really, once you start playing and going through the story, the amount of hints they drop is ridiculous. I am terrible with plot twists, yet I could have probably guessed this one since your constantly beaten over the head with clues to it. Its like the opposite of what they did with Jade empire, I guessed the twist there solely because there were semi subtle hints.

This is the problem I'm having with the first game, it relies so much on surprising you with this 'clever' plot twist that the rest of the story falls to pieces the instant you know it.

The second one didn't really have a plot twist. It had a kind of... mystery, and throughout you were trying to solve it. Oh sure there was a plot twist (But no one could have possibly been surprised by it) but the story didn't rely on it, hell the plot twist was so unimportant you wouldn't have even noticed if it was taken out. So the story stands strong regardless of what you know of the plot.

Then there's your companions.... and god damn it. No Bioware, I do not care if that guy has trust issues, I do not care if the alien chick has abandonment issues, and god damn it that jedi can take her holier then thou attitude with her when I eject her into the sun. Bioware's much better at this sort of thing now, but the main crux of this issue is the fact that the first game pretty much forces you to talk to your companions.

You'll just be walking along and the game will go "Oh look, they seem worried, why don't you talk to them?" and you have to say yes, because this is an rpg and you bought it for the story damn it. This makes talking to them more of a road block then an actual conversation, something I have to get passed so I can carry on playing. It doesn't help that most of them are annoying as f*** either.

In the second game you tend to talk to your companions during down time when your resting in your ship. This means you get to talk to whoever you want, not who the game wants. It also helped that they weren't annoying as f***.

Finally the biggest problem I'm having is the fact that Bioware want you to play as a good guy. This is one thing I've always held against Bioware, they can not do evil dialog right. All the evil options make you come off as a massive prick, with child like outbursts, not some dread Sith of the universe. It either makes you sound like a retard, or a psychotic retard.

Bad language does not a villain make.

But you can tell the game wants you to play as a good guy, cause half the shit you do doesn't make sense unless you want to 'help' people. Then when you try to break out of that, more often then not the game will punish you for doing that. Every time this happens I get the impression the game is saying "I know I put that evil choice there, but you weren't supposed to take it!". I feel like Bioware really misses the point of being evil.

The second game on the other hand hits this nail on the head. You still sound like a complete psycho, but for Star Wars it begins to make sense why your such an asshole. Because it works motherf***er. I played as a good guy throughout on my first try, swinging my lightsaber, shooting the odd lightning (Cause if your gonna fight with the force, you need lightning). I was pretty strong, ruining the bad guys and saving the day.

Then I played as a bad guy. And holy shit.

Death walks with you when you are a villain.

Throughout the game there are all these chances to steal force power from things, wither it be locations or people (They die if you do this). As a good person you wouldn't do this, but an evil person is greedy and the dark side breeds a lust for power. So you take that shit whenever it is offered, and my god it makes you powerful. Before when I was a good guy I could cut my way through enemies at a fair pace... But as a bad guy the instant I entered a room everyone would be dead, I was that strong.

This is what I feel should be at the heart of any Star Wars rpg. The dark side is power, and from a gameplay point of view you need to give evil players more power to show this. But it should also end in tragedy, wither it be your own self destruction, or the destruction of everything you care about... Because at the end of the day that is all the Dark Side does, destroy.

Now if you don't know the second game was actually made by a similer but different company, Obsidian. Now they aren't perfect either, and they got some major issues of their own. But they don't frustrate me Bioware.

They don't frustrate me.

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