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'Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic' Coming to Xbox and PC
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Lucas Arts and BioWare are currently developing a new Star Wars game for the Xbox and PC titled Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, which in many respects sounds like the pure RPG that Star Wars and role-playing game fans have long waited for. Although the game is somewhat more action-oriented than most console RPGs, the game features a linear storyline and follows myriad RPG conventions such as leveling-up with experience points, a rules-based battle system, side-quests, minigames, and a large cast of possible player characters (a group that currently exceeds 10 members) whose attributes are based on various races and classes, each with their own innate strengths and advantages.

From the outset, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic gives players control over a small cadre of Jedi Knights during the Golden Age of the Republic, 4000 years before the Empire's rise in a time when Jedi and Sith are in dire conflict. The game's scenario spans over 10 worlds, including Tatooine, the Jedi Academy at Dantooine, the Sith's home world of Korriban, and Kashyyyuk, the place Wookies call home. As the game progresses, players can employ characters from a number of races, including Humans, Twi'leks, Wookies and Droids. Characters are based on classes such as bounty hunter, soldier, scoundrel, scout and Jedi guardian. There is also a headquarters called the Ebon Hawk, a craft where all accumulated party members reside and travel along with the main character.

In a recent interview with GameSpot, Lucas Arts' Mike Gallo specifically addresses the game's battle system, describing it as a rule-based battle system where battles occur on the main playing screen (unlike many console RPGs such as Final Fantasy, which jumps to a separate combat screen). An array of commands and skills can be utilized, with force powers serving as the game's magic system.

Gallo stressed the development of a visually dynamic battle system abounding with complex animation sequences specifically tailored for the characters on-screen.

"So a heavy lightsaber attack will have a list of animations the game can pull for that attack, and then, depending on what the rule system said--whether it hit, missed, or was deflected--it will pick a set of animations for the other character and match them so it will look cool. It will look like the movies rather than someone stepping forward to attack and then stepping back," said Gallo.

Lucas Arts wanted to collaborate with developer BioWare after their success with Baldur's Gate I and II for the PC. BioWare is handling virtually every aspect of the game's development, including its engine, story, and graphics, while Lucas Arts is applying sound and voice internally.

Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic will be released first for the Xbox this fall, with a PC version set to follow in the spring of 2003. Lucas Arts promises that a few playable areas will be ready for e3.


by Michael Henninger    
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