on 15 September 2005
After reluctantly playing KOTOR (first installment) and having been quickly enthralled by it, I was enthusiastic to see part 2.
Initial gameplay expectations were somewhat blunted. Whilst the plot expanded itself in the typical RPG-fashion (stepped encounters, whilst gameplay is explained and the player familiarizes themselves with aspects of fighting and other interactions), I felt it was somewhat lacking in depth compared to the first chapter.
There was littler intra-planet interactions, with each planet seemingly encompassing its own discrete Universe, unlike the first, where several quests could only be completed across two or three planets.
This had the added bonus of making for more challenging gameplay, as well as enabling the storytellers to incorporate changes in your environment, ostensibly based on your gameplay, but skillfully carried out, nonetheless.
The graphics were somewhat more simplistic than the first - if you recall the breathtaking views on the mysterious "Unnamed" world - and seemed altogether less smooth, especially during combat, and when turning corners, or running. Game sprites "skipped" round corners, or sometimes, ended up in a totally different area in a corridor, when simply running straight down the centre of it!
Combat itsef was mostly unchanged. Although mysterious new "lightsaber forms" are added, I have completed the game and still fail to see their true usefulness when weighed against a good belt of "force lightening". Considering you do not get them until later, you cannot really even see any benefits from them when your characters are weaker, and such techniques might count for more.
More mature players will enjoy the possibilities opened by such additions as the Workbench and Labstation - facilities enabling a player to manufacture and upgrade armour, and recycle unwanted items, or duplicates, with each individual character outperforming others at certain abilities, thus opening new or advanced items for creation. Ultimately, though, such features are not truly required to complete the game.
Then, the finale. After thoroughly playing the build-up to these events, I was anticipating an earth-shattering finale with amazing spangly graphics as a reward for taking on half the Sith, single-handedly (a minor disappointed, too, having spent the whole game building up my comrades). Your allies play virtually no part in this endgame, and you only know of the events thereafter from questioning your nemesis prior to their ultimate defeat.
No spangly graphics. No amazingness in pixels. No closing shots or conversations afterwards, with allies. Just a few short sentences describing the immediate (in most cases) hereafter before your nemesis croaks it.
There were even inaccessible places on the map where it was obvious the developers had sliced great chunks out of the plot, as well as the disjointing occuring with the final activation of the shadow drive mission, with the Droid. SO disappointing.
After having taken so long to build up the storyline, I felt short-changed at such a meagre ending and would have spent my time differently, throughout the game, had I known. Additionally, the introduction in the game of various characters from the first installment, hinted at far better end-scenes to conclude the multi-layered plot. There was, however, no end scene to speak of, other than a three second (yes, seriously) cut scene, followed by the credits.
The first KOTOR displayed that the development team could produce gold. The second KOTOR displayed what happens when idiots take over the time-line, instead of listening to the people who understand gameplay. I would have happily waited another year, if I had to, to play a second installment with a sculpted, polished ending, as opposed to one so obviously spun out in the last minute, that payed little heed to the efforts of the game player and ultimately provided little in the way of a sense of accomplishment (remember defeating the final boss in KOTOR?? That guy just wouldn't die...), let alone answers to dangling issues left by other characters.
Lastly, I had hoped that this installment would draw upon the saved game of the old installment - at least basic elements, such as Revan's gender for instance. Instead one must manually set such aspects and the game does not incorporate this easily (Revan is referred to as both genders in one sentance, at a certain point in the game!). I feel sure that such a thing would be emminently possible, with a fall-back plotline provided where no existing saved games were found. I would even tollerate physically pointing the game at whichever old installment save that I wished to use, if it would have meant a more complete game play experience.
Final words on this, then: Great gameplay, good plot efforts (at least at first), lousy finale (- the downfall of so many promising RPGs).
on 9 June 2005
I've played the original, and I am a great fan of it. It was a great game. However, I try to treat games as if they were original, so my expectations don't affect my review.
Anyway, I think that this game is an excellent one. The voice acting is great, the plot is deep, and the mysteries of your past are extremely driving, possibly because the original would fill in the gaps. Anyway, you see the return of some of the old characters from the original, which is a nice touch. The combat system is fine, not perfect, although there is the tendency that characters take a while to execute the moves, and a bit of standing there doing nothing between the moves (like in the original), but that's fine.
The game forces you to not only make choices about your skills and attributes, but your relationship with others and the force. Your skills and attributes can affect what happens in the game (possibly bypassing a bunch of enemies by handily opening a low security door), or maybe you can use these to discover a merchant is lying to you about a droid's price, and you can save med packs and also credits with these skills! Also your relationship with others can affect whether you can train them as Jedi and they will become more inclined to your side of the force, and your actions will also affect some people. The bonuses given by your increased influence is huge. Also, your actions will affect your alignment with the force and therefore affect your companions and the outcome of the game.
The graphics are on par and the lightsabre fights are always a joy to watch. I mean, who can resist some nice flashy lightsabre combat? Also the sparking swords are fun. The AI is fine, and the music is good. The juice lies not in the combat, but your relationships.
The game includes lightsabre stances, all with their advantages and some without disadvantages. However, they simply didn't make it obvious enough what is the best against what by making it really terrible against it, so you CAN leave it on one, but I find it just makes my life a tiny bit easier.
Possibly, the most tedious, but for me the most fun bit is upgrading your weapons. The possibilities are huge, with your skills affecting the upgrades you can create, and the amount you can breakdown and then recreate items. The items make your weapons more effective and you can feel proud when your weapons deal in excess of fifty damage: you've come a long way.
I feel, however, that too much time had been spent on side-quests rather than the juicier main plot which is unfortunately too short for a game this long. The ratio just isn't right.
The original is great, but I've played it waaaay too much.
Warning: There might be a complaint form the game when it says you don't have a graphics card capable of handling OpenGL 1.4 or higher, or you simply don't have it. I solved the problem when I downloaded the latest update from NVIDIA.
on 4 March 2005
* MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS*
I really can't understand the amount of accolades and awards this game has been getting. As a huge fan of the original I went into The Sith Lords assuming that nothing could go wrong. Obsidian (the developers)are made up of the people who created classics such as Fallout, The Baldurs Gate Saga and Planescape: Torment.
After a few hours into the game however it suddenly becomes apparent that LucasArts decided to publish a unfinished product. It contains a myraid of bugs, unfinished dialogue and underwritten characters. With most of the new NPC's you can use up all your dialogue options within a few hours of recruiting them. As for the ending it consists of a five second (I kid you not) video. No explanation or conclusion. Nothing.
A few skilled individuals at the official Obsidian forums have delved into the games files, and found *huge* cut quests, dialogue options, planets and a ending that is so well written it rival's that of Planescape: Torment.
All this is for naught though, as you will see after playing through the game that LucasArts decided to take the quick buck and knocked the product out for a Christmase release (in the U.S.) without giving Obsidian time to implement these final additions.
This has resulted in a huge profit for LucasArts, but leaving the majority of gamers who brought the product with the sense that they have been ripped off. I urge those who feel as dissapointed with the game as myself to go to Obsidians forums and see the evidence for yourself. (You'll have to be quick though as LucasArts is currently trying to close them down, due to a petition started there asking LucasArts to fund a patch.)
Buy the game if your a fan, but don't expect to find a worthy sequel to Knights Of The Old Republic.
on 15 February 2005
I was a huge fan of the first KOTOR game, and pre-ordered my copy of KOTOR II months ago. It arrived last Saturday, and to tell the truth has been a huge time sink for me all weekend.
The graphics engine appears to be very similar to the previous KOTOR game, which is adequate for the game, but certainly not jaw dropping in any way.
The same excellent gameplay is there, with a few new tweaks (more workbench options, a combat stance mode, a few extra force powers, etc...) all of which add to the game, and are introduced slowly so as not to swamp the user with too many new things.
The plot is long and just as full of as many twists and turns as the first one - which is great. It will help to have played the first game, as there are many references back to it.
My only gripe and the reason for not giving it 5 stars is that is just doesn't feel finished. It has crashed to desktop once, the cut scenes sometimes finish before they are completed, and conversation takes place sometimes with the person facing the wrong way, or hands typing on a computer that is not there. Some of the voice acting has a bit of a "first take" about it, where a second or third may have been needed to get it 100% right.
So great game - wait for the patch! (or play the original if you have not already done so)
on 16 February 2005
Let's start with the positives. This game is very good. If you've played KOTOR (and you really should!), then this game offers much of the same in terms of gameplay, plus a little more. There are more force powers and more feats, most of which are worth using at some stage in the game. The skills system is also much improved; whereas there was really no need to develop a range of skills in KOTOR, the player is now rewarded for developing skills in that they open new dialogue options in conversation with other characters. Finally in addition to upgrading weapons at workbenches, it is now possible to create items as well, meaning that you do not have to rely upon finding items in the game.
This game pulls you into the atmosphere of the Star Wars universe and doesn't let go; the development of the main character is just as enjoyable, if not more so, than the first game. There are also cameo appearences from certain characters in the first game; although they seem out of touch with the personalities developed in KOTOR, which is a shame.
So why only four stars?
Well, the game does have its faults, notably regarding the storyline. Firstly, it is too linear; there are no real sidequests relating to other characters. Secondly, after a certain point in the game, the story feels rushed. Events unravel too quickly and too easily, and offer little chance for reflection. There are also major gaps in the story; cutscenes appear at certain points in the game that have no relation to the storyline at that point, or indeed at any point in the game. For example, at one point a non-human character is destroyed in a cutscene, only to appear well and functional again a few minutes later, with no explanation given. This sort of thing happens regularly. It just feels unpolished and rushed.
Dialogue between the playable characters is reduced significantly. Once you've asked them all the questions available on first meeting them, that's pretty much it for most of the game. The depth of interaction between playable characters in evidence in KOTOR just isn't there in this game.
There are also some minor technical glitches (that i won't go into because i don't understand them!) but expect a patch.
Finally, the ending. It's quick: very quick. It leaves many things unexplained, both regarding characters and the main plot. After 40 hours of gameplay i just felt...empty. I wanted to know what happens to my character, and the other characters for that matter. And Revan. Revan is mentioned throughout the game; there is even a cutscene where an NPC says, 'If you see Revan tell him...'; the game is set up for an appearance that would redeem the holes in the plot, and...nothing.
Everything was in place to make this a better game than the original, but it falls short because whereas gameplay has improved, depth and attention to detail regarding charcters and storyline has been reduced. Pehaps I expected too much; I shouldn't judge it by the standards of the first game. In reflection, I'm glad that what I have is a very, very good game and I recommend it to Star Wars and RPG fans alike.
on 7 June 2005
The original KOTOR game was, quite simply, amazing. It easily earned its 92% PC Gamer review, with its immersive world, excellent gameplay, first-class musical score, top-notch voice acting, fantastic replayability, and a story infinitely better than any of the prequel films. The 'Game of the Year 2003' award was perfectly justified.
And so, with all the inevitability of both death and taxes, a sequel has been released. From a gameplay-perspective, it is a massive improvement. Everything is even more customisable than before, and in this way, KOTOR II succeeds its predecessor admirably. You also now begin the game as a Force-sensitive character (with the ability to use the Force), rather than working up to it last time.
Unfortunately, many people were most interested in the intriguing story of KOTOR, and in this department, the game falls flat on its face with all the grace of an epileptic yeti. The story is abysmally structured, and upon completion, it is woefully obvious that Lucasarts forced this product out in time for the Christmas sales in America, without one iota of regard for the quality of the game. Assuming that the Star Wars license is an excuse to print money (which it is), they have conned the fans out of what could have been a truly fantastic game.
There are a horrendous number of glitches. In a three hour sitting, you'll probably crash at least once in each of those three hours. If you're lucky. The swoop racing minigame doesn't actually work at all. The sound quality is appaling, which makes absolutely no sense, given that Lucasarts is affiliated with a man who single-handedly brought the world of digital cinema forward about ten years. The story exposition is dull. You begin on a deserted mining colony, and fight nothing but droids for about 2 hours. This was orginally intended to be tense and creepy, since bodies litter the floor, but with the mono sound and the crashes any time something exciting happens, the effort fails.
The end of the game, without revealing anything, is even worse. To call it an 'end' is actually pretty generous of me. Bits of it just don't make sense. The reason for this is not that the game wasn't poor from the beginning. The guilt lies entirely with Lucasarts, and this buggy mess should not reflect badly on Obsidian, because it isn't their fault (although it will). Intrepid gamers, dissatisfied with the dismal game, have searched the code on the discs and found files that weren't used. Putting these together, the story makes sense. It's actually really good, and makes sense, unlike the convoluted mess that was published. The reason that these lines weren't used is that Lucasarts imposed unreasonable deadlines on the Obsidian team, and forced them to cut aspects of the game so as to publish it earlier. These weren't even cut very well. Characters tell you of things that will happen, but then never do because they got removed. An entire planet got cut for fear of missing sales.
Lucasarts also deserves to be brutally criticised for their abyssmal post-production support. The first patch was promised 'soon'. It took 2 months. The second patch was promised 'in a few days'. That was two months and a bit ago, and we're still waiting. Not only do they mess the fans around, but they have also abandoned all boards and forums, and given no explanations or updates as to what is going on.
In conclusion, this is a dismal disappointment. Star Wars fans will buy it, and RPG-lovers will buy it, but anyone who was expecting a worthy successor to the KOTOR legacy should avoid this like bubonic plague.
on 3 January 2016
This is a great game but I'm writing to explain the technicalities of the PC version.
It seems to work with windows 8 and windows 10, but only supports resolutions of about 1024 x 768 [around-a-bouts] in a 4:3 aspect ratio.
It has a lot of bugs and glitches, fortunately modders have [years ago] patched all these and combined them all together as a "Restored content Mod"
However, on steam, an OFFICIAL patch was recently released that includes all these patches that modders made, not to mention achievements and HD and widescreen resolution support. And definitely windows 8 and 10 compatible.
If at all possible, I strongly recommend getting the steam version rather than this CD copy.
on 23 January 2006
Let's get one thing straight: I usually hate Star Wars games, and I'm a dyed-in-the-wool fan of Star Wars. It's sad but true that the Star Wars label is used as an excuse to push out clunky, ill-developed games to the frenzied (yet unsuspecting) hordes. Go back and look at the abysmal Force Commander, and you'll see what I mean.
But there have been exceptions, and this is one of them. I bought this game on the back of the original KOTOR, which for once was a game worthy of LucasArts. It was a strong story, with a good engine behind it and great gameplay. So I plugged KOTOR II into my PC and waited breathlessly. I wasn't disappointed.
True - the game has its glitches and oddities (and the occasional crash, which is irritating), but the patches and updates fix the glaring errors, and all in all gameplay is consistent, despite the really short in-flight and between-episodes cutscenes, which get in the way more than anything else. But the best thing about it is PLAYABILITY. For me, cutting down on the sidequests, but still with a great deal of interaction with your fellow Ebon Hawk members (which will fill the game development out if you persist), makes life a great deal more interesting, and allows for more time developing your own character and skills. And once you've done it, you can go back and do it again. At the time of writing, I'm on attempt 3 - maximum Sith Lord time. The force powers take a good amount of time to build up, but they keep life interesting, and once you have those dark side powers, it's hard to know whether just to cut down the minor characters with your heavily modified Sabre, or whether you want to choke, sap the life out of, or just plain old roast the hapless bystanders asking you for help. It shouldn't feel gratifying to do this, but it is.
So in short: the plot is engaging, the gameplay is great, the other characters interesting (plus you have fun turning them into Dark Side apprentices), and there are some cool throwbacks to the first KOTOR, if you persist in your attempts with other crewmembers. The only complaint is that it's over too soon and that you don't get enough chance to really flex those force powers (but with apologies to all the innocent bystanders who perished in my attempts to max out on the Dark Side).
Keep it up, George, and here's hoping for a KOTOR III in fairly short order.
on 26 November 2007
I know this has been covered very extensively by other reviews, but this game is so infuriating that I have to add my two cents. It is such a colossal shame that the developers were not allowed the extra time to complete the game, but it was rushed to make it out in time for Christmas. Sigh.
This game has the potential to be absolutely great, in the proper sense of the word. The gameplay is virtually the same as KOTOR1, which means it is very easy to pick up, with a good variety of quests and subquests. I personally like the minigames as well, they provide a spot of light relief and a good way to earn credits. The combat options and lightsaber combinations are again interesting, and there are a few new Force Powers to choose from.
First of all, I'll talk about the good things about K2, the improvements on K1:
1. Upgrades - a useful add on. You can upgrade lots of weapons, more than in K1, and you can choose between a lot more upgrades as well, and make your own at work bences. What I like is that you don't have to explore the upgrades fully if you don't want to, because it can be time consuming for limited benefit, but I like the development of the K1 concept there.
2. Influence - it seems silly that none of the other characters change in K1. Canderous (a very interesting character from the first game) by the end of the light side game is clearly a lot mellower and more introspective, and would IMO be light aligned, so that added feature to K2 gets the thumbs up (although perversely Canderous is irredeemably dark in K2 - silly developers).
3. Training Jedi - obvious improvement, and again great because it is optional. If your influence is high enough, you can train party members to become Jedi as well.
4. Splitting party - good in moderation. I think the developers use it far too much (on Nar Shadaa, and the horrible end section), but it is a good idea - the Dxun/Onderon section is fabulous fun with the assault on the Sith Tomb and Iziz Palace.
5. Power - the higher limit ceiling is great fun. Obvious but still worth noting.
6. Besides this, it is worth emphasising that this is a very good game indeed, very similar to the excellent first one, just with flaws.
Now for the bad points. This will take me quite a long time...
1. Continuity - there isn't any. The story set up is such a horrible shambles. The canon ending for K1 is light side i.e a Republic victory, Sith in tatters. In the space of a few years, we go from this to a scenario where the Jedi are basically extinct (eh? what's going on?) and the Sith are back, complete with a nice new set of Lords who between them look set to destroy absolutely everything. There is such a horrible plausibility gap there that isn't covered by Revan sloping off to fight the 'true' Sith and Nihilus' appearance from nowhere. This doesn't affect the gameplay, and won't matter if you haven't played the first one, but it is annoying.
2. Where did the rest of it go? The most obvious fault is the incomplete state of the game. It seems like the 2nd 50% of story is squeezed into about 10% of game time. You dart between planets like a whirling dervish at the end, when previous visits to planets have taken ages for menial tasks (see below). This also means that a hell of a lot of plot is advanced through cut scenes, and stages where you don't control your character. This is infuriating, especially for an RPG - you can't actually play your role. The final planet is horrible - it is supposed to look horrible, but it plays horribly as well. The wheels fall off the narrative, and you find yourself playing various different characters without the loose ends (and they are plentiful) being tied up.
3. Preamble - Peragus (the first area) take AGES! Why? Your lack of equipment and abilities makes it extremely tedious without being challenging, because the tasks have to be correspondingly menial to compensate for your character's rubbishness. Result=long section of boredom. Get me out of that hell hole!
4. Characters - I appreciate that this point is highly subjective, but the NPCs seem a lot less vividly realised in K2 than K1. I was genuinely interested in their histories. In K2 the cast list just seems quite a bit more drab - I think this is a fault of the dialogue options as much as their being dull. There is hardly any of the humour of K1 ( in your actual dialogue. In K2, you can kiss goodbye to getting anything decent out of HK (a very amusing droid companion) if you're light side, and the others are interesting but humourless. They even managed to make Canderous unresponsive and boring if you play LS, and I thought that would be impossible, considering how awesome he is in every aspect in K1. GO-TO is a complete and utter waste of time and space. He serves no purpose whatsoever other than to piss you off if you ever make the mistake of talking to him, which is obviously not a mistake you'll make more than once. Everything about him/it is just so pointless! He talks dull, looks dull, is dull! Get rid of him!
5. Baddies - not hard enough. The first time I took on Malak from K1 it was bloody tough. 'The Sith Lords' are pushovers. The toughest fights are early on when your powers are limited. It almost seems as if the final battles have been rushed as well. Your character is so supremely powerful that only the very final confrontation is a challenge. It is the norm that your character will actually not be as powerful as the big bosses, and so will have to use resourcefulness and tactics to prevail, to keep it challenging. 2 of the 3 Sith Lords from the title seem to be no better than you at all, and don't have the same array of weapons and equipment, which means they are just not tough enough.
That's all I can think of for now. The gameplay is excellent, but as whole, it isn't a whole. It is such a shame, because the scope and ambition of the game is immense, but you are left mourning for what have been at the end, rather than cherishing a well put together game.
on 10 March 2005
I waited eagerly for this - preordered couldn't wait to unwrap and play. Hmmm. I enjoyed the game immensely, but came away feeling that a lot was missing. Characters are not fleshed out, the interaction of your character with the NPC characters that was so much fun in the first game was completely lacking. There are loose ends never tied up. The action and the fact that you are not capped levelling up is great, the cut scenes are fantastic.
So over all Yes a great game, afterall I am playing it through for the 3rd time, but wish I hadn't played the KOTOR 1 first... in comparison this disappoints. Definitely could have done with more development time spent on characters and story line and less on pretty cut scenes (which are cool).