Knights of the Old Republic II : The Sith Lords
AMD Athlon 1GHz
AMD Radeon 9200
By now, I think we all know, KotOR II was a rush job. In fact, it’s become the poster child for external meddling. It wasn’t even half finished, if you can believe that, when it was kicked out of the door onto it’s arse. Estimates say that, roughly, forty-five percent of the final game is available to play. But, that approximately sixty percent of the final game is actually on the discs. Including, but not limited to, the fabled HK droid factory, a droid planet, and the terrifyingly well acted Atton torture sequence. Some of these sections are even accessible due to a third party project to restore them, lead by some of the original staff that worked on the game in the first place. But that’s not what we’re here for. What we really want to know, Is it any good?
Well, it does fall, somewhat, into the same trap as the first game. That being the opening section is exponentially larger, proportionally, than any other area of the game. An entire quarter of your playthrough can easily be taken up just to reach the galaxy map, making the game seem a lot more linear than it really is in context. Though it does make up for this, somewhat, by offering up an enormous variety of varied environments. Some of them drab and lifeless (intentionally) and some of them gorgeously organic mesas, and everything in between. The lack of a lightsabre, despite beginning the game as a Jedi this time (the first had you become a Jedi roughly a quarter of the way in) until after reaching the galaxy map, then visiting at least two other planets, was another questionable design choice. Again made worse in context (see above) which is unfortunate.
The sign said - “don’t feed the animals”!
Overall however, the common consensus is that it took everything the first game did right, kept it, and tweaked it. Better yet, it took everything the first was weak on, fixed it all up, made it all happy, and pushed the envelope. Not only could you now affect your own alignment (Light and Dark side) you could do the same for your crew. It didn’t change their personalities all that much, but even that could be affected, to some degree, via dialogue choices during the, quite lengthy, conversations aboard the Ebon Hawk, and in other areas of the game. But there’s more, most of your crew, almost every single one of them, could now become a Jedi. Your Padawans. An entire crew, barring a few obvious exceptions (the droids) of your Padawan learners. Now that, that is awesome.
The visuals, though dated now (of course) are still pretty spiffy, and were a marked step up from the first game. The use of things like specular mists (which dragged my framerate down to 3 the first time I played the mines) made the game one of the most visually lush at the time. Even now it still looks damned nice in places, with varied, detailed environments and fluid animations. Add in superb sound design, and you have yourself a fun little game for sure.
Almost like a victory dance.
All in all, despite publisher meddling leading it to be released incomplete, it still stands up as a solid game. I know some people were extremely sceptical about Obsidian taking over. I mean, how could an outside developer possibly have the same insight as the people who pioneered it? Go play The Sith Lords, and you will have your answer. The only thing holding this back from being a masterpiece, from exceeding its predecessor in every way by over nine thousand! is all the content that was cut. Still, even considering all that, it still improved over the first game. Nobody thought that was possible, but it really did. Though the ending is a bit weak. But, again, that isn’t actually the ending. That’s only the middle of the ruddy game.
We want KotOR III damnit!