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Casual Thursday Episode 15: I gotta keep staring at it

No, the title isn’t referencing to any behind or any physical appearance of any female npc’s or my personal avatar. No, I’m talking about something that is far more important than the shallow joke you might thought I was referring too. I’m talking about the look of the world and the characters themselves. This is means more than just the graphics. The world has to convey a certain atmosphere to be appealing. I’ll try to make an apt comparison between this game and its origin, Knights of the Old Republic. And look if it still represents the game.

Sometime ago, in a galaxy we know all too well


Knights of the Old Republic came out in 2002 on the first Xbox. It had hit like a bomb. Bioware managed to portray everything that was good about Star Wars in almost every aspect. That also meant the graphics and the look of the game. Though, now looking back, the game’s graphics have aged. I have started to replay the game as of late and of course, the game’s graphics pop back in the first you see. Now, almost 8 years later, the game has aged a lot. The graphics have not held up that great. Rigged edges, bad lipsynch, and much more.

However, not the “oh god, my eyes are bleeding”- bad, even now. First the slamming, now the uplifting part on the graphics. For the technique at the time the game looked really good. But the game needed to have more than just the technique backing it up. The game had to feel like Star Wars. The atmosphere is far more important then just the graphics. Did the visuals portray it?

Even now, it still does. When I walked around on Korriban, or on Kashyyyk, I was there. I always had a mind’s eye of what at least Kashyyyk would look like due to Empire at War game and the Zahn book-trilogy, but never imagined how it could look if I would truly walk around between the trees of the Wookies homeworld. That might be the most important thing of the game. The look of the game was a somewhat realistic approach as far as realism can be portrayed in a “space opera”. It stayed truthful to the Star Wars feel, even though the spaceships and other things were “de-evolved”.

De-evolving, but not that much


I would almost say a bit too little were the ships and weapons de-evolved. I could understand that they need to keep it familiar enough so people know it’s in the Star Wars universe, but it might be a bit too little de-evolved in my eyes. When I saw the Ebon Hawk the first time, I almost mistaken it for the Falcon, and that isn’t quiet the idea if you de-evolve. Especially if it is for almost 3000 years before the movies.

I know it was hard to portray, but there is a line between looking to much like the movies and too little. This was a bit too much on the former side. 3000 years is a lot, especially in the rate technology develops. Which is most of the time exponential. And that also has an effect on how everything looks. Though culture has a tendency to reuse prior looks – just look the resurgence of either seventies or eighties looks of clothing – or stay stale for centuries – think the look of the monks – but 3000 years? That should have looked a bit more different in my eyes. However, having said that, it was and is not a game breaker for me. I’ll still see you guys at launch (wink), especially now that I have played the game.

But the transition from Knights of the Old Republic to The Old Republic, comes across to me as a “legit” evolution. It’s only three hundred years later, so the technical evolution shouldn’t be as far ahead. So now just looking from the KOTOR ingame technology (mind you I am not talking about the graphics), it’s a proper transition. In comparison with the movies, still not so much.But it felt and oozed Star Wars. Both in KOTOR, nor in the time that I have played during the beta of SWTOR., that feeling left. It is just when I look at KOTOR, I would have expected them to be a bit more … “dumbed down” in the technology.

New look


While the Knights of the Old Republic-series had, at least in my opinion, a more realistic look, Bioware moved away from this with The Old Republic. It has a `cartoony´ look. Bioware called it a stylized realism, but no matter what they call it, it looks different from the way KOTOR looked. That doesn´t make it a bad thing though, it is just that Bioware tries to steer us away from thinking of it like it is a cartoony game. Well, in my book, that they don´t have to worry about. When the first images were released, I had a lot of scepticism. I really had a problem with the way it looked, even in comparison as how much it diverted from the look of KOTOR. The game that made that era in Star Wars lore big, had a far more realistic approach.

Even though the graphics are lagging a lot behind nowadays. But that was over two years ago.

When I restarted to take a bit of information in on the game, I re watched the gameplay trailers and the drawback I initially had, started to diminish. The game looked nice, even though it remained remotely reminiscent of the KOTOR-saga. Its stylized realism looks good and it works. Though that isn’t the most important thing of the graphics. Does it portray the Star Wars atmosphere?

Atmosphere is of course more than just the graphics. It is also important if I felt like I was walking in the footsteps of Revan and Bastila. The only conclusion I can have now, after playing the beta is yes. What else could be the conclusion when I am even writing for a fanpodcast for the game and have published a couple of quite positive articles, besides the “Space, The Final Frontier” one.

The atmosphere that the game has portrayed to me, is perfect. You feel the anticipation of a great war that is about to start. The tensions are building more and more, the planets look fitting and portray somehow what I never thought off. I was wandering how a planet like Nal Hutta would look in full view. And they have managed to capture the several worlds that I have seen as of yet. Tatooine looks blistering hot; Nal Hutta looks like a big stink, quite literally; the seat of the Emperor looks menacing with the darkness looming over it. Evil and dangerous. Aka the right tone.

The game has grown on me and it looks actually more fitting than I had thought at first. The starfighters look almost directly taken from the original game. However, not to praise everything, I do have a bit of a iffy feeling when I look at the characters and the way they are portrayed. Now that I truly have played it extensively, I can honestly say if I don’t mind the look Bioware has given it’s game.

Thanks for reading, rating and commenting,

And as always,

May the Force be with you.

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