Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic was for me the very first really succesful RPG on Xbox. The gameplay, the setting and even the presentation were worked out to the smallest details and the game solely managed to revive the genre on this console. LucasArts of course was obliged to make a sequel and just over a year later this game is already in stores. Let’s see whether this game can dethrone its predecessor.
The disadvantage of such a success is that the expectations for The Sith Lords are a lot higher. On top of that, this time it wasn’t Bioware who had to make the game, but Obsidian. However, they looked very carefully and kept the success formula, which results in both a positive and a negative point.
Just like last time, you start without knowledge of the Force powers: after all, you’re not playing the same character as in KOTOR. Later on you’ll meet some survivors from the previous game though.
The storyline is again very interesting, especially thanks to the nicely worked out and complex characters and of course the fact that you can choose to either go with the Light or Dark side of the Force. This latter not only gives you a good replayability but also that characteristic extra dimension of the KOTOR series. You’re constantly confronted with problems where you need to choose between a “good” and “bad” reaction. These aren’t always clearly determined and you’ll often be surprised of the unexpected consequences of your choices!
Consistency in your choice is a good suggestion. Many Force powers will become more efficient depending on the affinity you have with one of both sides of the Force. What you do also has a big impact on the proceeding of the game. Even the ending depends on how you’ve behaved before and which buddies you’ve taken along for the ride. Add to that about 40 hours of playing time and it’s easy to conclude that the storyline is one of the biggest strong points of The Sith Lords.
Opposed to the scenario, the graphics disappoint somewhat. Compared to the previous game, they haven’t significantly evolved and this starts to show. On top of that, the framerate hasn’t been pushed up which sometimes causes problems during the bigger fights. Nonetheless, the flaws on the technical side are more than taken care of by the Star Wars setting, the varied environments, the creative design and the beautiful, dynamic way of how the turn-based combat is shown in real-time. Especially the Light Saber delivers spectacular scenes!
Fighting is still the number one occupation in KOTOR2. You get a couple of buddies along with whom you can start thanks to a very well worked out combat system. The way this works is mostly kept from the previous game but unfortunately the long distance guns are still less powerfull than the melee-weapons
The interface, the Force-powers, and the experience system for yourself and your party all look very familiar and you’ll have no troubles to work with it. No troubles… that can also be said about winning the many fights, especially once you’ve got a Light Saber. The feeling that you’re an invincible Jedi is fun to experience but when you’re looking for challenging opponents you may sit on your hunger.
Next to fighting you’ll also have to travel alot between different locations. As expected, this is the boring part of the gameplay. At certain times you’ll be more than fed up with loading screens but luckily this travelling often gets interrupted by conversations with the many NPC’s. During these sequences you can pick a reply from a list of possibilities and as such earn Light or Dark points. The cast of characters you meet and who go along with you is very extensive and original. For me this is without a doubt one of the biggest differences with the previous part.
You get a lot of new weapons, items, some new Force-powers and features but it’s mostly the conversations with the NPC’s that will attach you to your screen. Thanks to “Influence” during dialogues, the characters that fight alongside you will tell more about their lives and adventures. On top of that you’ll have to start working with some of them since the story will suddenly no longer focus on you. At that time, start preparing for more difficult fights!
Also you can enhance your character even more than last time thanks to the Prestige classes that let you specialise even more in the Force or handling the light saber. If you want some more variation of doing something else for a couple of minutes, there’s of course the Pazaak (a card game) and the Swoop racing mini-game.
I would like to add that the sound and music are as we can expect from LucasArts in their Star Wars games. Big musical pieces, excellent effects that sound like they’ve run away from the movies, and of course great voice-acting. Especially the latter gets noticed because it isn’t only well-done but also present a lot.
Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic: The Sith Lords is a topgame in the RPG-genre and on Xbox. The only thing we can hold against it is that it’s too similar to the previous game but who can describe that as a downpoint when you know KOTOR1 was so great ? An excellent story (despite an unfinished ending), beautifully worked-out characters, a nicely balanced gameplay and a decent fight- and RPG-system make this game a must-have for any RPG lover. Who played the first part will have some problems with a deja-vu feeling and notice that game has been rushed to the market a bit, but still you won’t be able to deny having a great game. Light or Dark: the choice is yours!