What Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Could Learn From Final Fantasy VII Remake - VRGyani News and Media


Monday, September 20, 2021

What Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Could Learn From Final Fantasy VII Remake

Decades after their initial releases, Final Fantasy VII and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic remain two pillars of the Japanese and Western RPG genres, respectively. At this year’s PlayStation Showcase, it was revealed that Knights of the Old Republic, the classic BioWare title, was finally receiving its long-rumored and hoped-for remake. The team behind the game is Aspyr, a studio that’s no stranger to the Star Wars franchise, as they’ve routinely released remastered versions of some of LucasArt’s most famous older games, such as Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy and Episode I: - Racer.

Last year, Square Enix released what is arguably the highest-profile remake ever created in the game industry: Final Fantasy VII. When it was revealed, fans of the original were going through the same motions that admirers of Knights of the Old Republic are now. With that release, fans new and old of Final Fantasy VII were able to revisit Midgar in a way many could only dream of. The end result would be a product that turned out to be highly divisive on a number of fronts. However, there were a number of aspects of the remake that were incredibly impressive. Some of those characteristics we’d love to see translated to Knights of the Old Republic, and that's why we think it could learn three important things from Final Fantasy VII Remake.

A Revamped Battle System

Arguably the biggest aspect that the Knights of the Old Republic remake is going to have to address is its battle system. Truthfully, trying to sell a methodical, turn-based RPG nowadays is growing more difficult with every passing day. There are only a handful of major franchises that still push that battle system. These include the likes of Shin Megami Tensei, Persona, and the Dragon Quest series, though you’ll see some one-offs like Octopath Traveler. It seems incredibly unlikely for a Star Wars game to go that route nowadays.

It’s clear that Square Enix knew that going into Final Fantasy VII Remake, the combat was something that they had to tackle head-on when restructuring the game. There seems like a good possibility that with Tetsuya Nomura in a leadership role on the project, and his heavy involvement in the Kingdom Hearts franchise, that he brought over some ideas that might have helped shape the game in that regard. The end result is one of the best real-time combat battle systems in recent memory.

RELATED: ‘Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic’ Remake Announced for PlayStation 5 and PC

Of course, there are going to be purists out there analyzing every single aspect of these remakes, but the expertly crafted combat system in the remake for Final Fantasy turned out to be one of its strongest factors, though it had a handful of drawbacks. Air combat, particularly with melee-focused characters, didn’t feel good in the base game. However, that was vastly improved in the Intermission DLC. This could have been because Yuffie as a character utilizes a weapon that can be used both from afar and up close, but the end result was much more polished. Characters like Zaalbar, who can use both ranged and melee weapons, could benefit from this type of refined inclusion.

The way Final Fantasy VII Remake's combat was structured allowed players to choose one character and use them as much as they wanted. However, you’d be routinely punished if you tried to do so. Going through an entire battle playing just as Cloud is akin to tying one of your hands behind your back. Utilizing the rotating cast of characters by quickly swapping between them is when the combat shines. This type of risk/reward system could work incredibly well in Knights of the Old Republic. Of course, many people are going to want to play only their player-created character, but if Aspyr somehow “nerfed” them if they only do that, it would act as a nice workaround to push players towards utilizing other characters and their abilities.

Final Fantasy VII Remake also incentivizes you to experiment, as it expands on the ATB (Active Time Battle) system from the original. In practice, the game wants you to unload all of your ATB charges when they’re full, and then quickly switch to another character who most likely is then full on their end. The end result is a combat system that has you making quick decisions in the heat of battle, always leaving you with something to do. This is the antithesis of the Knights of the Old Republic combat system. There, it’s slow and methodical, as there’s no penalty for staying in the combat menu for as long as you want. Then again, there’s something incredibly satisfying about scrolling through your available abilities and choosing the ones you think might work best. These are essentially the same types of combat systems, though one is clearly driving in the fast lane.

Expanded Environments

One of the most appealing aspects of all Star Wars properties is the world itself. It’s why you see so many books, as it's a universe that allows for storytelling that invigorates the imagination. Games are a great medium for the franchise as well, as it allows for exploration and role-playing elements in a way that movies and novels can’t. Knights of the Old Republic is definitely a product of its time when it comes to environments, and it shows in the current gaming landscape. Even newer games in the franchise, like Star Wars: The Old Republic, greatly expanded on this, although a large part of that was because it was an MMO.

The countless planets in the Star Wars universe are one of its more appealing aspects and the original Knights of the Old Republic does a great job of presenting both unfamiliar and familiar areas to explore. It’s something that BioWare would continue to dabble in with the Mass Effect games that they would make after Knights of the Old Republic. Early on in Final Fantasy VII Remake, it’s clear that the team behind the game is changing and expanding large portions of the game. Midgar itself undergoes a major transformation, as certain Sectors are completely reimagined, while also maintaining their visual aesthetic. Though the team at Aspyr will likely not have to expand on the same level that Square Enix had to, there are certain environments that could definitely benefit from it.

Much of the original game is just plain rooms, larger rooms, and the buildings that house them. Early on in the game, you see much of what the RPG will have to offer as far as interior environments are concerned as you explore Taris. Because of that, the remake has a lot of room for improvement when it comes to expanding on the already great designs of these planets. One has to imagine the game will still be able to hold onto its identity while expanding on key aspects that most modern games require.

Don’t Be Afraid to Mix Things Up

We’ve already touched upon some of the complaints that a number of Final Fantasy VII fans had about the remake. Something that Aspyr really needs to take to heart is whether or not they're going to expand or change story ideas. Of course, this could be incredibly difficult when working with a company like Disney and LucasArts, especially when it comes to a franchise as renowned and protected as Star Wars.

The good thing for Knights of the Old Republic, which could also be seen as a negative if you ask a number of fans, is that it isn’t “canon" in the Star Wars universe. In theory, this should allow for more flexibility when it comes to certain storytelling, an aspect that some games that utilize popular exiting franchises have to worry about. Having to toe the line to appease high-level executives seems like something that could easily hamper creativity, and though it’s entirely possible that large restrictions are still in place as to what can and cannot be said or done, with the game, here's hoping there's some wiggle room. In theory, not being part of Star Wars Legends (formerly the Expanded Universe) might allow the team to more easily explore certain aspects of the world.

Final Fantasy VII Remake also had the benefit of having a number of its original writers and the team behind the game work on its remake. Though Knights of the Old Republic is being worked on by an entirely different development team and studio, it has been confirmed that some members of the original game will be working on the remake as well. Because of this, there’s still a sense of familiarity that could come with the project on the backend, and it’s those people that could add important input into how the game needs to differentiate itself and keep in line with some of its more important aspects.

There are still a lot of details that audiences are unaware of at the moment, leaving people to speculate on what a remake for Knights of the Old Republic could actually mean in the grand scheme of things. After all, the only real information we have is the very quick teaser trailer and a couple of interviews after Sony’s PlayStation Showcase. Because of that, there’s a lot of room for speculation, and with speculation comes hopes and dreams. We can look to the best aspects of one of the better remakes in recent memory like Final Fantasy VII, and hope to see some of its best attributes carry over.

KEEP READING: 'Star Wars' Timeline Explained: Knights of the Old Republic to Knights of Ren & Beyond

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