STAR WARS: KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC for Xbox. $80. Rating: NNN
GRAPHICS: Xbox does it again.
ADDICTIVENESS: Got a summer to burn?
ANTI-SOCIAL FACTOR: Being a Star Wars geek was never the best way to meet girls.
PROXIMITY TO THE REAL THING: It's better than the movies, if that helps.
The Star Wars world seems to operate in reverse compared to most brands. Having established itself as a virtually unbeatable, gazillion-dollar industry thanks to a series of classic (though now hard to watch) films, the Star Wars franchise then did everything possible to destroy what it had built up, releasing two of the worst movies ever made.
Judging strictly by the catastrophic disasters that were Episodes 1 and 2, no one should pay any attention these days to anything with the Star Wars logo on it.
Maybe the weirdo in charge of the Star Wars universe realized that. Perhaps the best move George Lucas has made recently was to turn control of Knights Of The Old Republic over to someone else. In turn, the makers of the game worked hard to separate it from the crap that's come before.
Knights takes place several thousand years before the Star Wars films, which means no Luke Skywalker, no Yoda and no epic battles with heavy-breathing guys in black capes. Your character starts small and then winds his or her way through dozens of different episodes. The dazzling TV commercials (that's what got me interested in it) suggest otherwise, but this is a role-playing game, not a quick shoot-and-kill exercise, so prepare for the long haul and settle in.
The Star Wars hook is a nice one, and the light sabres are fun to slash around, but aside from a few obvious settings and some sinister-looking alien dudes who might be the great, great, great grandparents of some Star Wars creatures, you'd never really know this is supposed to be the same universe as the films.
While most games simply replicate what you've seen on the movie screen, immense pains have been taken here to create an entirely new world.
For the casual fan who wants to pretend she's Han Solo, it's a bit of a bummer.
On the plus side, though, there's no Jar Jar Binks.