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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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