While I do think that game makers have been overdrawing from the remake/remaster well over the last few years, I like to think that they’re mostly harmless. When done right, remasters and remakes provide new opportunities for both old and new fans to enjoy older games again. However, not every remake/remaster is done well, and that’s what I’m concerned about when it comes to the recently announced remake for Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.
I suppose I have two concerns when it comes to this game. The first has to do with gameplay. The original Knights of the Old Republic (KotOR) is a game based around freely gathering information and interacting with NPCs in a manner very similar to Fallout 3. There is also a Light/Dark system which may or may not have kicked-off the binary action/dialog choice trend for the next several years after the game’s release.
Both of these systems were robust and interconnected, and were, at least in part, only possible because of the game’s relatively low production value in terms of voice acting and visuals. With this remake being low-key touted as a new killer-app for the PS5, I highly doubt they intend to hold back on that front. This means that those robust systems will either have to be greatly scaled back (like in Fallout 4) or cut entirely. So that’s a problem.
There’s also the combat to consider. KotOR used a quasi-real time combat system that was heavily reliant on the stats, skills and attributes of one’s character. You had to constantly be thinking about how you wanted that character to grow and making sure to select/develop the skills/powers that complemented that character’s strengths and weaknesses. It was a deep system in much the same way that TES III: Morrowind’s and TES IV: Oblivion’s systems were deep.
This is also, unfortunately, the kind of system most modern AAA developers/publishers wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot pole. It’s, in their mind, far to complicated a system for the mainstream audience they’re aiming for. Thus, it’s going to have either an extremely streamline version of the old system or straight-up change genres and play lake every other action-adventure game out there. I realize that there’s something to be said for experiencing an old classic in a new way, but I feel that such is better left to a spin-off rather than the “glorious return” of a beloved RPG classic.
All that said, I suppose my biggest concern is going to be the story. Considering the information that’s come out in regard to who exactly will be in charge of writing the story for KotOR Remake, I’m not confident. I’m not going to get into it too deeply here, as that kind of stuff is for different authors on different sites.
What I will say is that LucasArts has put a person in charge who does not like the original KotOR. They also apparently had no problem raging against fans who didn’t like the most recent Star Wars movies. This means that the person in charge of the story for this game has every motivation to change it as she sees fit and absolutely no interest in making sure that she does right by the game’s fans.
In short, it’s highly likely that we’re not going to get a grand re-telling of one our favorite Star Wars stories. Rather, we’re probably going to get a hatchet-job of a story that suits this woman’s, and only this woman’s, tastes. I suppose she can do what she wants since it’s her job and her project and all, but I really wish LucasArts (and Disney) would’ve shown more care in regard to this game. Ah well, what can you do?
I suppose that all this is to just to say that there are real reasons for fans of the original game to be concerned here. Maybe this project will completely defy my expectations and turn out to be something absolutely wonderful that does great job of updating the classic. Considering recent industry trends in the industry and the culture at large though, I just don’t see that happening. At least we can still enjoy the original game for the time-being, right?
How do you feel about the remake? Are you psyched for it or do you have concerns too?
Image from the KotOR II Steam store page