KOTOR for the iPad

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Happy 10th birthday, KOTOR!  To celebrate, you can now play Knights of the Old Republic on the iPad (Aspyr, $9.99)

The day this was announced, I texted my husband: “Kotor for iPad. Get it now.”

Luckily he is a good husband.  He’s also the one that introduced me to KOTOR when we were in college.

I played that game for 40 hours in my dorm room, while listening to FOB’s Take This To Your Grave album.  Then I played it again, as a male character.  And again as dark side. Etc, etc. I’ve played through all the alignments and classes in that game, even weird combos like soldier/consular.  I played it so much that when I got the flu that year, I had feverish dreams of lightsaber combat.

I am so stoked to be able to play this game again.  After playing a few hours of the iPad version, I think KOTOR has aged fairly well, and this app does it justice.  The graphics naturally look a little blocky when compared to TOR, but everything looks pretty crisp on the iPad screen.  Some areas (Taris Undercity) get a little dark, so you may want to adjust screen brightness.

Upper Taris

The touch screen interface works well for the most part; I was surprised by how un-frustrating it was.  All the icons for your journal, map, character sheet, etc. have been condensed into one “tools” button, which is a nice improvement since it takes up less screen space and it easier to tap.

Conversation looks pretty much identical to the original game, but instead of directly clicking on the tiny dialogue options underneath the window, they have added nice large number buttons on the right hand side (sorry, lefties) to select your word choice.  If you want to just read the subtitles instead of listening to the dialogue, you can cut the vocals short the by tapping the screen (haven’t figured out how to skip cutscenes yet, though…)

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Movement is a little trickier; there is definitely a learning curve. Walking is done by kind of swiping and touching the screen in the direction you want to go.  It’s fairly intuitive, and you will get better with practice.  I do occasionally get “stuck” on other party members, or chairs, or something, which is mildly annoying.  You can also directly tap storage containers, etc. to auto-approach them and check their contents.

Combat is very easy, thanks to a few innate characteristics.  Combat can be paused; in fact, the game auto-pauses when you first spot enemies.  Also, you can queue up attacks on single enemies, or several different ones, as well as switch between members of your party.  With all these options, you can basically do turn-based combat if you want, or go with the real-time.  All movement during combat actions is automatic, so the touch screen movement controls don’t even matter.

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You can save the game at any point, so it’s fairly easy to just pick up the tablet and play for a few minutes if you’re bored somewhere.

I think the only real drawback is that it is simply not as *comfortable* to play a 30-40 hour game on a tablet as on a PC.  I was trying to play it in bed, and my neck started hurting after about a half hour of looking down at the screen in my lap.

KOTOR is a *must*-play for any fan of Star Wars or RPGs.  It is also available through Steam (so is the sub-par sequel).

For a beginner, I’d recommend starting as a soldier; it makes the combat easier on your first playthrough.  Also, I’d recommend going either strongly dark or light side, as the bonuses are better.  However, for a more advanced player, I find the other classes more fun, and I love playing neutral characters.  The strength of KOTOR is in the story, and being creative with your character will let you get the most out of the game.

Fun things to do with that tablet you got for Christmas

If you are a board gamer, there are plenty of options for apps of familiar games on your iPad/Surface/etc.  Here are a couple in particular that I know of:

  • Ticket to Ride: available on iPad ($6.99)  This is a great version of one of my favorite board games ever.  You can play with other people in real time online, or even by passing around the iPad, or against bots (they’re not even that annoying).  You can also get the Europe and other versions for a couple bucks more.

     

  • Carcassonne: available on Windows phone (free trial, $2.99 full), Android ($4.99), and iPad ($9.99)  A fun classic.  These versions play moderately well and have a decent design (I have the Windows phone trial).  All versions also have some expansions.  The iPad version is undoubtedly the best, with several expansions available, prettier graphics, and online multiplayer.
  • Catan: available on Android ($3.99) and iPad ($4.99) Arguably the most widely known Euro-style game.  There are several expansions available also.  I haven’t played either version, but reviews are pretty decent, although the Android tablet version is apparently a little buggy atm.
  • Wordament:  available on all Windows8 devices and iPad (free). A live version of Boggle, competing in real time against everyone else playing then (usually 1000-2000 people).  This game is my favorite game to play on my phone, hands down.  Rounds last only about 2 minutes, so it’s a quick game to play if you are killing time.  Many of the puzzle rounds also have themes, or letter pairs that award bonuses when used to make words.  And you can get Xbox Live achievements for various things as well.
  • Puerto Rico: available on iPad ($7.99)  San Juan, the card game, is also available ($7.99) I haven’t played this version, but it’s one of the most popular board games and the app’s ratings are good.