KOTOR Remake!

I like video games, and so, accordingly, I tend to follow video game news. As someone who does most of his gaming on his PS4 (give or take some Simsor Civilization on my computer), I was certainly invested in Sony’s PlayStation Showcase this week. There are a slew of highlights; Tchia is a game inspired (and developed by people from) New Caledonia, and I am here for some Pacific Islander influence in video games! There’s a sequel to the fantastic Spider-Man game coming out in a  couple years and I can’t wait to explore New York again. I know very little about Forspoken but it looks cool and I like the idea of an action-adventure game where you’re casting spells and stuff instead of punching and shooting. And then they announced that there’s a remake of Knights of The Old Republic in the works.

Yep, that’s right; this one’s about Star Wars again; you think I can churn out something like last week’s every Saturday?

Anyway, Knights of The Old Republic, or KOTOR, is held in really high esteem of the old Star Wars gaming catalogue, and for really good reason. Developed by Bioware (who would go on to do Mass Effect), the game’s an RPG where you and your companions are tasked with defeating the Sith army thousands of years before the movies. The gameplay’s fun, drawing on a D20 tabletop RPG system for combat while having all the decision-making and ally-befriending that you’d expect from a Bioware game. The story’s full of twists and turns, including one that I refuse to spoil for anyone because of just how magnificently executed it is. The game’s fantastic.

But it’s also an old game, old enough to legally vote at this point. Though it’s still available on Steam, it’s one that shows its age when you play it (that D20 combat system is charming in how archaic it is, and the turret gameplay sequences feel even worse now than they did then). Plus, video game graphics have come a long way since 2003. Getting to play an updated version of the game sounds a dream. 

Now, there is a whole question about why we need to update a game at all; Balloon Fight is a fantastic game as it is and doesn’t need any shiny polish. More relevant would be, perhaps, the ability to still play the game, though I doubt that’s too big of a risk with KOTOR. I think the clamoring for a remake has been less about wanting a ‘modern’ version of the game and more about getting to see the game in the glory it’d have were it made today. There was a fan project named Aperion that set about doing that, until it ran into some legal trouble, what with the whole redoing a video game owned by LucasFilm and all that.

Point is: A KOTOR remake is happening. And it’s a remake, not a remaster or a reskin, or a reanythingelse. It’s being remade. Naturally, this brings to my mind Final Fantasy VII: Remake, another old beloved game that got a remake so remakey in its remakiness that it has remake in its title. It’s a complete retooling of the original game. Combat’s different, the places you explore have different layouts, the plot is expanded upon and tweaked (I’m nearly forty hours into a game that adapts the first eight hours of the original). While it broadly has the same narrative, it’s not nearly the same game. Should a remake of KOTOR adopt a similar tack?

Why not? The original KOTOR is still around and playable, so the developers should jump at the chance to spin it into something different. With the original KOTOR no longer part of the official Star Wars canon, maybe the remake can meld the story back in. Maybe there’s a chance to take a lot of the developments of action RPGs into account and make it something better (like letting me play as a Gray Jedi and not locking me out of endgame gear because I walked the line [though maybe there’s a lesson there]). Maybe take this chance to update the romance options and allow for same-sex pairings! I love KOTOR, and I can always go back and play the original. Let’s see something new with the story; like a good movie’s adaption of a book, I want something that feels familiar and yet wonderfully different.

I just don’t want to have to wait forty hours to leave Taris.

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