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Monday, June 13, 2016

"It's a Video Game!" - Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2 - The Sith Lords

So, I’ve finally finished this game. It was a long ride. I had originally found KOTOR 2 at this game store in Columbia. I played it for a while until I found its predecessor at McKay’s. I put KOTOR 2 on the backburner and went on to play and finish the first game. After I was done with it, I started over with KOTOR 2 and eventually finished it. Was it worth it all? I’ll get to that below. By the way, I’m talking about the original Xbox version of KOTOR 2. I know there’s a more modern version floating out there, so I just want to stop the confusion here.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2 – The Sith Lords was released for the Xbox during December 2004 by Lucasarts. It’s an action-RPG game that takes place five years after the events from the last game. Obsidian Software handled the development of the game instead of Bioware this time. Bioware wanted to center on its own original ideas, so they handed it over to Obsidian to develop. It also got good praise and reviews at that time. Like its predecessor, you get to build your own character from the ground up with his/her own set of skills and powers. You still can’t mess with the looks all that much though. At least that level cap is gone!
Still no similarity. Just call him “Random Black Jedi/Sith #2!”

In the game, you play as an exiled Jedi General from the Mandalorian Wars. The Exile (in my case, Kirok Vulcanos) had been in hiding for about 10 years and missed the events of the first game. The Jedi have also been wiped out by the re-emerging Sith during this time as well. You wake up a med ward at a fuel depot on Peragus. After a long while, you and your new companions head to Telos IV, a planet that’s being rebuilt. You find out about another Jedi being on the planet and after that horrible interaction (seriously, Atris is one… witch), you’re off on a mission to find the remaining Jedi and face the Sith. You and your companions face all sorts of calamity and twists will await you. This is Star Wars after all.
Well, it's either "I wear my sunglasses at night" or Geordi LaForge needs to step aside.

So, what do I think? While I ran into some weird stuff with my playthrough, I thought this was pretty good for the most part. Obsidian had a hurdle to overcome since KOTOR was so loved by everyone. I think they mostly succeeded. You still have a lot of familiarity from the previous game. Things do look different in some places though. You’ll even have some familiar companions on your journey. You still get to build your character, push him/her toward the light or dark side, and make decisions that affect the world and your companions. I was mostly on the light side though I don’t know how I did that while using my Force Lightning. I was lighting it up like I was Rayden toward the end.

 I think one of the main strengths to this game is the story. The previous game had a bit of a lighter tone to it and it reminded me of parts of the original trilogy. This game is much darker and it handles some weighty themes. They spend so much time on how the Mandalorian Wars and the Jedi Civil War messed with the Exile, his companions, and the universe in general.  You also go deep into the concepts of the Force which is always cool. I also thought that it was interesting how the Jedi are viewed and portrayed here. You’ll know what I’m talking about when you run into the “wondrous” Jedi known Atris. Man, what was one annoying woman! You’ll want to use some coarse words with that one! I know I did!

The companions were also good. I do think that most of them don’t get too fleshed out, but I’ll talk about that later. They were mostly diverse and varied in personality. They also get to have conversations with one another in-game and that was a good innovation. My favorites from the game were Atton, Kreia, Handmaiden, Mira, and Mandalore. Kreia was especially interesting. She’s your mentor and your time with her is kind of unpredictable. She’s definitely one of the most interesting characters I’ve ran into.

The gameplay is pretty much the same from KOTOR. Some things are different in a couple of places but it’s all the same for the most part. The combat is still turn-based. You’re also on your own without companions during some points in the game. That was an interesting choice but a good one. It’s definitely effective when you return to Korriban, the Sith homeworld. The visuals also look really similar to the original game. They’re not bad, but they aren’t the greatest I’ve ever seen either. The music was fine but it does repeat a lot.

While I do like this game, I did have some issues with it. First off, it takes a while for it go get going. The first few hours of the game are a bit boring. There’s not much momentum especially when you’re stuck on the Peragus fuel depot with a bunch of dead folk. After you get to Telos IV, things get better and the plot starts to show up. 
You'll want to press the mute button with these guys. Also, I had to share this for another reason...

I also ran into some issues that I had with the original. The aliens with the repeating phrases were still around. It was actually here where I first ran into that problem since I played this first. There were also times where it just got dull in general. I don’t know if it was the gameplay, the atmosphere, or a mixture of it all. I did run into some of this with the previous game, but it was more of a thing here. There were some noticeable glitches. They weren’t gamebreaking, but they were annoying. The AI would also act pretty dumb at points.

There were a couple of companions I wasn’t a big fan of. Bao-Dur was definitely one of them in that he was just so bland. Some of the villains were also a little underdeveloped or bland. You know that Sith-looking guy on the front cover with the white mask? He kind of disappointed me. He looked cool and I thought we would have gotten something awesome with him. Lastly, the ending felt pretty dry especially since I played the light side. It was actually pretty disappointing really.

Overall, this is a good game with some issues. From what I found out online, some of these issues could have been avoided. Obsidian had to rush the game out in order to meet Lucasarts’ deadline, so some things were left unpolished and a lot of content got cut out. I was really disappointed to hear that. Luckily, modders have tried to add this cut content back to the game for PC. I think there’s an official version that has that stuff added back in. I’m not a PC gamer (if I could find a good controller, I’d be set), but I may check this out one day.

Well, that’s all I got for now. Peace, God Bless, and be wary of weird women who try to teach you fighting moves. The Echani are interesting but a bit weird. If you’ve dueled with Handmaiden on the Ebon Hawk, you might know what I’m talking about. Also, please be safe out there.Whoever you are, whatever you do, just be careful.

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