As always, Steam’s annual Christmas sale meant I’d be dumping the best part of two months’ rent on cheap and shiny video games to play. I’ve not played a big RPG for far too long, so it seemed now would be a good time to finally get into Knights of the Old Republic.
It was Bioware’s exceptionally well received Star Wars RPG set in the era when there were a ton of Sith around being dicks and it’s your job to be more or less of a dick depending on your particular mood that day/save file. The only problem with my purchase? KOTOR doesn’t work on Windows 7. Shit.
But complaining won’t do much good. I had to get this fixed!
Two easy fixes for Knights of the Old Republic on modern machines
There are two compatibility strategies that can sometimes get rid of the gremlins that make games crap out. Besides, they also double as “Do these just in case and change them back if you really want to” steps. In a pinch, they can solve the problem of the game not starting up/having errors in XP, and I’ve heard whisperings that they sometimes fix things in Vista.
- First off, if you have the game on Steam, disable the Steam overlay in-game by right clicking KOTOR in your library,* click Properties and it’s the checkbox under the General tab. The normally helpful Steam overlay can sometimes interfere with games from the pre-Steam era (otherwise known as the Golden Age of PC Gaming).
Done that? Tested it? Still not working? Not to worry.
- Open up the folder where you installed the game. If you’re on Steam, it’s in your common folder under your account name in the directory where you installed it. If you’re not on Steam, the folder is wherever you installed the game (check Program Files if you get lost)
- Find the swkotor.exe file – right click it and open up Properties
- Set it to run in compatibility mode for Windows XP SP2
- Also check the box to run as an administrator
- Save the changes, right click swkotor.exe, create a shortcut and throw it down on your desktop
- Double click the shortcut; remember to blink
Compatibility Mode was designed specifically for situations like this, where perfectly good (and old) software is acting bad (and old). This change can therefore solve a lot of the issues with KOTOR not running brilliantly on your modern Windows 7 (and probably Vista or Windows 8) system. This is often all you need to do if you’ve had the game on your current machine before, but it’s not the be all and end all.
There are additional steps you can take to fix KOTOR if you’re still having problems, but do not attempt the following fixes until you’ve already tried those above.
Another possible fix for KOTOR not starting up on Windows 7
So you’ve done the above and still no joy. A lot of people get this far and become dejected/confused, and in their desperation they try cruising for various patches/updates.
DO. NOT. DO. THIS.
KOTOR patches are largely unnecessary and can really screw you over if you’re on Steam (namely: the game won’t open at all, and you’ll be asked for CDs you don’t have). Instead, try the following:
- Go to where you installed Knights of the Old Republic
- You see the swkotor.exe file we messed with earlier? You should also see a file called swconfig.exe in the same folder. Open it up
- Change the resolution to your native resolution or the highest resolution available
- Uncheck V-Sync
- Uncheck ‘Enable Hardware Mouse’
- Check ‘Disable Movies.’ Don’t worry; this only disables the intro logo movies for LucasArts and Bioware, so you won’t miss out on any cutscenes in the actual game
- Save all your changes
- Double click the shortcut you made before
This is the only way I’ve found to get KOTOR to work on Windows 7 and Vista. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen other fixes out there, but they seem overly complex and rather daunting to perform.
I’ve been told that these fixes won’t solve every problem with getting KOTOR working on modern versions of Windows as it’s a rather picky game. Apparently, there are certain graphics cards that the game just doesn’t want to cooperate with, so if the above doesn’t make it work for you, Google your graphics card and make sure you’re not one of the unlucky ones.
Still, disregarding odd circumstances, this should make Knights of the Old Republic run quite nicely on modern Windows systems by throwing you instantly to the game’s menu screen to do with what you please. Enjoy!
* If you’ve lost it, don’t worry, just look under Star Wars. See it now? I didn’t and felt very stupid afterwards.