If you owned an Xbox ten years ago, you probably played Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. This game is still talked about by critics, gamers and industry professionals alike as one of the greatest RPGs ever made, and it is now available to download as an app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch for $9.99.
Thanks to Aspyr Media, a game development company with a long resume of older games it has ported to the iOS system, you can take KOTOR with you anywhere. Every detail of the Bioware classic is still there from swoop bike racing, to pazaak and the homicidal musings of HK-47. But as great as it is to watch the Sith armada decimate Taris on your iPhone, the real accomplishment of the game is the interface.
Controlling the game is simple. If you have played the Xbox or PC versions it should not take more than five minutes to adjust. To move, simply swipe push your finger in the direction you wish to go. The controls have been reorganized into individual menu buttons. All of the essential functions like pausing and saving the game are available as quick buttons in the corners of the screen.
Moving into each room or area still takes you through a loading screen, but it only takes about two seconds, a great improvement to the wait on the original system. You can even play the same game file between devices. When saving, you are given the option to save the game on a cloud server so you can pick up where you left off on another device later.
There are a few drawbacks to playing on the iPhone; namely the size. If you have what my mother refers to as ‘over-40-eyes’ you will not be able play KOTOR on the iPhone. Subtitles are not terribly small but you might feel the need to grab a magnifying glass when looking through your inventory or choosing which new skills your character should have while leveling up. And the buttons on the map are small enough to be near impossible to tap with even the tiniest of fingers. I have only played the game on the iPhone, but I imagine the size of the iPad screen is much more conducive to a game this complex.
Some online reviews complain the game frequently crashes, but these reviewers admit their phones are older models. If you are playing with the iPhone 5S or the latest iPad model you should not have a problem. The phone version requires 2.5 GB of storage and is compatible with the iPad mini, iPad 2, iPhone 4, 5th generation iPod touch and anything later.
Every detail from the original game is there. Nothing has been taken away. This is both a strength and a weakness. The strength is that it is one of the most in-depth and well thought out games available for the iPhone. The weakness is that, unlike Angry Birds or Candy Crush, this is not a game you can pick up for five minutes expecting to accomplish something. Unless you have a minimum of 20 minutes set aside you will come out feeling like you did absolutely nothing.
It’s great for your morning commute if you take the train (or carpool with an annoying coworker). It drains battery very fast, but that is a drawback with any game. As long as you don’t have other apps running at the same time the damage to your battery life is nothing to worry about. Though the game requires an internet connection to download, playing it does not use the internet unless you are saving a game file to the cloud, making it limitlessly portable.
If you have never played KOTOR before and want to check it out, downloading this app is the way to do it, especially if you don’t play computer games regularly. When the game is on your phone it does not feel like a computer game. All of a sudden you feel like you are playing a Game Boy again. The only difference is that this Game Boy has more processing power than your clunky Xbox could ever dream of.