Oh, baby. Knights of the Old Republic has what is, hands-down, the best integration of Force powers into a Star Wars game we've seen yet. If you've seen it in the movies, you can probably do it; if you haven't seen it in the movies, well, you can probably do that, too.
While lightsabers might give your Jedi a slight edge in battle, you're going to need to call upon your powers to deal with the really beastly fights. Hell, since your Force points recover so quickly outside of battle, you'll be able to use your powers in every fight along the way. You'd think that this would make the game too easy, but let's just say that BioWare has planned accordingly: as you unlock the more advanced Force powers, your enemies will become tough enough to withstand quite a bit of damage, thus actually requiring you to use powers just to give yourself enough of an edge to actually win.
Powers are sorted into Light side, Dark side, and neutral classifications. No power is ever off-limits to you; you'll still be able to pump Force lightning, even if you're the most virtuous of Light side Jedi, but your unfamiliarity with the energies required to summon such harmful effects will take its toll on you; you'll be forced to use more Force points than would a Dark Jedi. On the flip side, Light side Jedi will burn fewer Force points when using a Light side power than would a neutral or Dark Jedi. At its most extreme, this effect will save you 50% on your friendly Force powers, but using powers from the other side of the Force will cost you 50% more than they would if you were neutral. Force costs remain constant when you upgrade a power, so previous iterations of a power will be erased from your combat menu once you do achieve a new rank.
Force Cost: 10
Push and its derivatives don't deal much damage, but are useful for stunning and incapacitating your enemies. The higher two levels will enable you to quickly and easily knock down opponents, while often rendering them stunned for a round or so afterwards. Even though most powerful opponents won't be stunned or knocked over by this power, you can still render their lower-level goons as numb as the typical audience at a Michael Bay film, leaving you free to gang up on the bossman. Sadly, like that same audience at the Michael Bay film, they will awaken with a powerful desire to kill, so keep an eye on the stunned ones, and be sure to activate the power every other turn or so.
In your rush for the more destructive powers, you might overlook Force push, but discount the efficacy of stunning powers at your own risk. While a Force storm might knock a group of opponents down to half of their life, a Force wave is much more likely to stun a good number of them, which not only makes them easier to kill, but prevents them from dealing damage to you while they're knocked out. If you couple the stunning effects, the wide area of effect, and the low cost of this power, a case could be made for giving each of your Jedi characters three ranks in Force push: it's almost always useful.
|Force Push||Level 1||
|Force Whirlwind||Level 9||
|Force Wave||Level 15||