When introducing KOTOR to my friends who have never played it before, I insist on one thing: no mods. Everyone’s first playthrough should be mod- and cheat-free. Maybe this makes me some kind of purist, but if you’re thinking something like “But it’s kind of ugly! The movements are clunky! I hate the graphics!” then hear me out.
Yes, the game was made in 2003 and looks like it. Yes, the romance and dialogue options are restrictive and sometimes cheesy. Yes the landscapes aren’t painterly and the faces aren’t very detailed, and the characters all have something a little funny about the way they walk. All your criticisms are valid, and there’s a mod to change it all (even down to texture mods to fix that weird Ithorian skin). And who wouldn’t want cool new fan-made items and extra game content?
But all these eccentricities and quirks give the game a certain layer of character as it ages, and affect essential story-telling aspects. The game doesn’t need incredible graphics when its focus is on story and character, and when its voice acting and writing is so strong. And yet, KOTOR isn’t great despite these little oddities – they’re part of what makes it great. There’s something about running around in a fantasy world of aliens and hidden destinies that makes this polygonal universe seem perfectly appropriate.
That being said, I’m pumped for the new remake. I know that sounds hypocritical. Apeiron is basically all the mods for improving graphics, but even made even better and put into one big, convenient package by Poem Studios. The developers even call it “the most intense KOTOR modification ever” and it requires a copy of the original game to work. You can see screenshots of the game dev progress on twitter, but here’s just some from the last month:
With some comparisons to the originals:
In addition, there’s going to be “added content” which can only mean changing the game in ways that modify the story as well as the graphics. It looks fantastic and addresses a lot of the criticisms I mentioned before, so I know this remake will draw in people who dismissed the game at first. To these people I still say: play it in its original form before anything else! A huge part of the magic of this remake is providing new life to a game that is already near and dear.
(Here’s the first-look video if you’re interested in seeing more of Apeiron.)