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Old 11-05-2009, 02:29 PM   #1
FalloutMazza
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Please rate this review: Kotor II

EDIT: Some douchebag systematically rated all of the reviews I uploaded 1*. I know this because I rated them 5 star (ever heard the story about the guy who's petition failed because he didn't sign it) and after another rating it came to three. So if you are going to rate it, actually appreciate the hard work that goes into this.





Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic: The Sith Lords

HIGH Gripping morale dialemas

LOW Peragus !@$&@!

WTF Force choking giant marsh dwelling frogs

Like the world of film, Consumers of the gaming industry love two things. Sequels and complaining about sequels. Especially when a new developer takes the reins for a game as good as Knights of The Old Republic, so not only was Obsidian entertainment under immense pressure, but they were given the ridiculous timeframe of eight months to develop a sequel to a game that won 48 game of the year awards.

This time constraint means that several planets were cut, as well as huge chunks of dialogue, numerous half finished gameplay elements, and an entire ending. The game just stops when you expect it to finish. Itís not even a cliff hanger alluding to a third instalment, itís like youíve been steadily driving at a reasonable pace, then you just horrifically crash into a brick wall with no explanation.

This ending, or lack thereof as well as numerous other technical faults are being alleviated by an over hall soon to be released by a fan project known as Team Gizka. Unfortunately, this mod is in a queue behind Bruce Forsythe dying, World War 3 and the second coming of Christ. So, this is, and will likely remain, an unfinished game.

Everything that made the original gameplay is intact, and alongside the superficial, there is a whole new animation set, building upon the visceral nature of the combat significantly, and adds a light sabre stance mechanic. Much like those seen in Jedi Outcast, stances can be shifted on the fly, and each has its own advantages and vulnerabilities, so youíll be constantly analysing and adjusting your stances to meet the enemies attack style. Itís a small addition, but it makes the combat much more engaging. Blaster rifles, which sucked ass in the first game, are now a venerable weapon type and donít feel like pea shooters anymore. There are more than 60 new feats and force powers at your disposal, and these are linked into the class you choose, putting a stronger emphasis on character development, and making the already varied classes of the original, offer vastly different experiences.

Minor changes aside, the game incorporates a much more mature theme this time around and manifests itself within the story, the characters and a darker art style. The game picks up shortly after youíve been exiled from the Jedi Order, and the sith are hunting down every Jedi in the galaxy. You have been stripped of all your force powers, and set out to regain them, as well as uniting the remaining Jedi. There are a few twists, and quite a few interesting characters, but anyone familiar with Planescape: Tormentís story will realise itís just the same plot with some light sabres in it, which is unsurprising given they were both written by Chris Avelone. Thatís not to say itís not a good story however, in fact itís excellent, and itís only shortcoming is that it doesnít directly continue from the events of the first game.

Your quest will take you to completely new planets, but unfortunately, youíll be visiting some that appeared in Kotor 1. This recycling really hurts the game. While the moon of Duxn is a fresh experience, backtracking through Dantooine and Korribian, which make use of almost identical level design of the first time around, makes for an arduous process. Not only have you been there and done that, but Bioware pulled it off so much better, these imitations feel pallid in comparison. Other missions just dragon on because of poor design, one planet in particular, Peragus. Well, itís just fucking annoying isnít it?

Recycling is prominent in other aspects of the game as well. Previous party members return, and others are just remakes of old characters. The worst party member from the original, T3-M4 returns, alongside HK-47, arguably the best character, and another whose real identity is only revealed towards the end of the game.

While most of the content here is effectively more of the same, Obsidian makes this their own with some true innovative qualities.
For example, the influence system, in the first game, you could progress through character specific plot saying whatever you wanted. Whether you were cruel or friendly, the end result would be the same, and while party member development was driven by actively talking to them, what you said had no bearing on the overall outcome. Obsidian makes use of their new influence system. Being nice to a character, or agreeing with their opinions gains you influence points and you need a certain amount to progress their back stories. These back stories often contain tangible benefits like items, quests or bonuses to your statistics, meaning allot of your time will be spent talking to party members. Of course, you can also loose influence points, and while this ultimately comes in the form of berating others, you are also put in scenarios where two opposing personalities will shoehorn you into taking a side, consequently gaining, and loosing you influence points. This mechanic means youíll always be conscious of your partiesí opinions and standing with you, more than anything had managed before, and this is reinforced by great writing with some of the characters. Having influence over party members, allows you to convert them to either the dark or light side, and give them jedi training, but this requires extensive ass kissing. A more loyal party will be more efficient in battle, so you get out exactly what you put in.

The game runs in the Odessy game engine, so while everything looks good, you could nitpick at the dated graphics if you were so inclined. The consistent dark level design can get very repetitive at times.

The music, composed by Mark Griskey is as excellent as its forerunner, with compositions that are truly epic, and set adrenaline rushing atmospheres. Youíll meet hundreds of characters throughout the game, each with unique voice acting, but all the aliens are voiced by the same five lines repeated over and over again in some indiscernible language. But this is much easier to accept than in the first game, as there are fewer aliens, and more humans. Allot of the originals music is present, but thatís not an issue because it was so good, and the sound effects are top quality.

Morale issues return as a key focus of the game, and this time around, itís executed with so much more nuance than Bioware achieved. Your choices no longer reflect clichť good and evil, but now there are so many more morally grey choices to shape your character, and this morale standing has bearing on your party members, and the disposition of other npcís towards you. At one point in the game I gave a beggar some money, thinking Iíd done the right thing, but the consequence was that he was beaten and mugged for that very same money, making me question whether Iíd taken the right course of action or not. Youíre inclination towards the light and dark side are measured, and allot of items, quests, force powers and dialogue choices are assigned to a specific alignment, so good characters will face penalties when force choking someone to death. While this offers room for replay ability, it makes everything distinctly systematic. You might find yourself being a complete bastard to everyone, for the sake of a cool item.

Your main stay companion, Kreia is the source of these philosophical questionings, and this morally grey stance is an omnipresent theme throughout of the game, adding more depth to the trite good versus evil often associated with the Star Wars universe.

As well as Kreia, there are some very cool party members.
Though most seem to be mundane, like the initially apparent Han Solo clone, Atton Rand, they are all, with T3-M4 being the only exception, exceedingly well written. Some may only join your party if your force association adheres to their preference, or youíve met certain pre-requisites. Not only are the characters insanely fun to progress alongside, courtesy of the influence system, but most of them have critical twists that make you re-think everything you know about them, and like real people, have allot more about them than meets the eye. Sadly, allot of the cut content was directly linked to characters and one or two feel decidedly skeletal in terms of amounts of dialogue, and back story.

-And I canít resist this opportunity for a quick rant so here goes; the Teresa character from Fable II looks the same, sounds identical, and has an almost verbatim motive and identical plot conclusion to Kreia. Seriously Lionhead, be original for once.

The general lack of polish can be compensated for with the top notch writing, but the lack of any substantial ending is not so easy to overlook.
The end of the game concludes apsaloutley nothing, after a mediocre boss battle and a brief monologue composed of stupid riddles, that try to make it seem as if the ending was ambiguous, but it clearly wasnít, the credits role. No conclusion on what happens to your character, your party members, or the events of the first game which were so unclear. This would be fine if a third instalment was planned, but this was cancelled in place of an mmo of the same IP.

A certain segment of the gaming community dislike this game, for some reason Iím yet to decipher, but I at least recommend this to any rpg, or star wars fan.
For all its flaws Obsidians debut title is very good, but Lucas Artís refusal to support it with service packages, means that this game lives in the shadow of its predecessor.
8.5/10

Disclosure: Played on the PC. numerous play-throughs completed (100 hours aprox)

Parents: Read the box, it's what your there for.

Last edited by FalloutMazza; 11-05-2009 at 05:39 PM.
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