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Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II (2/2)

(Apologies, Steam was being stubborn and not letting me take my own screenshots of the game, so I had to source these images from Google.)

So, here’s the second part of my KotOR playthrough review, which is on KotOR II: The Sith Lords. Set (as you might expect) after the events of the first game, you play as The Exile, a jedi who fought in the Mandalorian Wars and was exiled by the council as a result. First off, the plot is definitely a step up from its predecessor, with the story KotOR II: TSL being much more complex and rich, and playing off the different motivations of different characters. This also translates to the morality system, which as before boils down to being “good” or “evil”, but this time around the choices made are not so clear cut, and there is not always a right answer to every problem.

Though there is a clear right answer here.

In terms of combat, KotOR II takes what KotOR started with and builds solidly on it. Same basic mechanics, but with a greater selections of feats and force powers to choose from, including lightsaber forms (passive bonuses/penalties you can choose to suit your style). Unfortunately, and I’m not sure if this was intentional or not when the game was developed, since the levelling process is slow many of these feats you never get around to acquiring. There is also the option to have two weapon loadouts, enabling the player to quickly switch between, for example, a blaster and a lightsaber, allowing your character to be more versatile in combat. Auto-regen of health is now implemented, and is a welcome addition in my opinion, saves time waiting for your force to regen so that you can cast heal or waste medpacks! My only negative thing to say about the combat is that if you invest in the flurry feat-tree and acquire Master Flurry, it has no penalties at all, you just get an extra free attack per round. For me, it’s overpowered, and I preferred the first game’s style of reducing the penalties (lower defence and chance to hit) but without removing them entirely.

One criticism, for better or for worse, of the original KotOR was that a fair amount of gameplay was required before the player character could train to become a jedi (before that point, you played as average Joe). KotOR II kind of solves that, by starting you as a jedi class from the word go, giving you almost instant access to start learning force powers. The downside being, however, that it takes a surprising amount of time before you can build your first lightsaber, necessitating travelling to multiple worlds to acquire all the parts you will need.

Again, there is a menagerie of companions to choose from on your journey: Atton (wise cracking rogue), G0-T0 (somewhat shady business droid), Mandalore (leader of the Mandalorians who are trying to rebuild), Bao Dur (expert technician with an awesome robot, plasma arm, thing), Kreia (your mentor and advisor jedi), Visas Marr (a sith apprentice), and a couple of companions who arrive only meeting certain conditions. The Handmaiden if you are a male Exile, or the Disciple if you’re female, and Mira if you’re good, Hanrarr if you are evil. To top off this list, our little friend T3-M4 returns, as does HK-47 (if we decide to rebuild him).

As a side note, and one which I didn’t notice made too much of an impact on gameplay, your alignment will shift your companions alignments over time. ie, if you are slaying innocents left right and centre, your companions will start to fall to the dark side too.

Some familiar locations make another appearance in this game: the plains of Dantooine and the now ruins of Korriban. New locations include the Peragus Mining Facility, the floating city of Telos (which is oddly reminiscent of Taris), Onderan and the crime-ridden world of Nar Shaddaa.

Overall, as with the first game, KotOR II looks beautiful, good soundtrack, nice environments, and even the combat looks nice, with varied more-varied animations for each type of attack, which keeps melee combat looking fresh. However, when writing about this game, there is one point that cannot be left out: It’s buggy like hell. Seriously, save often. They range from minor annoyances, like companions getting stuck on things, to game breaking bugs such as the one in the image below, from the Telos Academy. (By the way, I’ve had that particular glitch numerous times, and I think the way to solve it is to try and put up a fight when you’re asked to surrender your weapons, fair warning.)

With a lot more variety and complexity, this game is certainly worth playing, but in my honest opinion, it is the first game, KotOR, that is the classic out of the two. Mainly because it has less bloody game-breaking glitches… What was your experience of this game?

First released: December 2004 ; Published by LucasArts ; Developed by Obsidian Entertainment

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Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (1/2)

It’s safe to say that I know KotOR like the back of my hand, seeing as I’ve been playing it for ten years straight now. I may have a soft spot for RPGs in general, but looking back at its release and playing it for the very first time, very little has changed in my mind, I still love this game to bits.

What really sticks out at me about KotOR is the level of control you have to tailor your character and your party to your needs. As you might expect, you play as a jedi in the old republic, thousands of years before the events of the films take place. But by no means does that mean you’re limited to playing as Mr Standard Jedi, no no, you can choose whether you dual wield or not, wear armour or not, use the force or not, even if you want to use a lightsaber at all! Though, let’s be honest, most of us want to go hack-and-slash through some droids. The combat is best described as dice rolls, but no knowledge of 20-sided dice is needed to be able to build a good character, and the combat still flows smoothly.

Like a fish

Like a fish

As in almost any Bioware RPG, the morality factor is central to the way the game plays. It’s up to the player to decide whether they go the ‘holier than thou’ route by being nice and helpful to everyone, or the ‘unnecessarily evil’ route by killing everyone, essentially. Unfortunately the good/evil system does boil down to those two choices a lot of the time in KotOR, but there are some head-scratchers in there. As it happens, on my most recent playthrough, I was a chaotic, evil, dual wielding Sith warrior. Because, why not?

On top of the level of customisation you can add to nearly every weapon and armour in the game, you have almost free reign on which companions you choose to take out with you into the wild world, each with their strengths and weaknesses. Carth (soldier, decent ranged fighter, but whiney), Bastilla (also whiney), Mission (street-smart rogue), T3-M4 (loveable utility droid), HK-47 (everyone’s favourite psychotic assassin droid), Canderous (big tough guy), Zaalbar (standard wookie), Juhani (awesome melee jedi), and finally to Jolee (comedic, cranky old man, excellent at buffing). There really is enough choice to complement whichever type of character you want to play as.

While the worlds and locations you will visit tend to be somewhat linear, the environments are beautiful and varied, with a soundtrack to each that enhances each area. From beginning in the sprawling city-planet of Taris, to the farmlands of Dantooine, the desolate world of Korriban, the ocean city of Manaan, the jungles of Kashyyyk and the desert wastes of Tatooine, there is enough variety to keep the adventure fresh and interesting as you go.

And the plot? Well, let’s just say that it’s not going to blow your socks off. As plots go it follows a fairly straightforward path, with nothing much happening throughout the bulk of the game. However, the main story is supplemented by side quests, and quests related to each of your companions, adding some much appreciated extra hours to the game. Along with a certain plot twist (which will not be spoiled here, fear not), there is enough to keep the player entertained through to the last minute of gameplay. With excellent voice acting on par with any quality Bioware game, and featuring such talent as Phil LaMarr and Jennifer Hale, the conversations and cutscenes are well worth paying attention to.

Classic droid

Classic droid

All in all this Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is a classic, make no mistake. If you haven’t played it before, I recommend giving it a go. Any thoughts on KotOR?

First released: July 2003 ; Published by LucasArts ; Developed by Bioware

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