Procrastination Amplification: Punditry on MMOs and games in general.

Games are Getting Better after All

Last time Knights of the Old Republic was up for sale on Steam, I didn’t buy it. I already owned a physical copy after all. This time around though, I coughed up the few coins required for the convenience of having the game in Steam and working rather than simply on CDs. The game immediately captured me again and kept me awake for far longer than I planned. It is a damn good game, but frankly it is also quite old and makes you feel it. Contrary to popular belief, games were not simply better back then.

I’m not going to talk about graphics, I doubt many people would dispute that those got better with time. The user interface though… wow. Modern games play just so much smoother than this eight year old game of the year. Movement alone is pretty awful in KotOR and the in-game menus (such as the inventory) are especially awful. Say what you will about Mass Effect 2 or Dragon Age 2, but the user interface is just so much better than what Bioware had to offer in KotOR.

A big concern with Dragon Age 2 was also the “dumbing down” of combat and game mechanics, but I can’t really say that KotOR is any better in comparison. Combat mostly consists of repeatedly using a single combat ability over and over again with intermittent use of a force power or grenade. Positioning as well as party and skill combinations are rather unimportant. Level-ups also feel quite irrelevant since most of the time your character will play pretty much the same way that she did before the level. Usually your character will just get incrementally stronger but gameplay will stay the same.

You’ll have to take my observations with a grain of salt because it has been 8 years since I last played the game and I’m not through it once more this time around. Still, it also doesn’t seem as if storytelling or decision making are much better than in modern games. There’s still a large amount of irrelevant and rather boring side-quests and conversations already broke down into “pet, ignore, kill” choices in 2003.

I’m aware that looking at one game only can hardly provide conclusive proof. That said, KotOR was an exemplary game back then and it is still worth playing today, but it shows quite plainly where games have gone since then. And they didn’t go down.


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