All entries for Tuesday 01 March 2005

March 01, 2005

Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords – Review

It is usually the case that games based on film-licensed material are a waste of everyone’s time, but this is usually because they are made by EA and they sell anyway, as the average gamer is brainwashed to hand over cash at the sight of circular blue and white logos. There are notable exceptions however, particularly Goldeneye, The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, and 2003’s RPG of the year, Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic. At the end of KotOR, all we wanted was more. More force powers, more opportunities to cut the Sith to pieces with a lightsabre, more of the story that held our attention so tightly for the last 25-odd hours.

A year and a half later, and our wish has been granted. This time LucasArts has teamed up with Obsidian – a new studio born from the remnants of the much lamented Black Isle Studio, creators of the legendary Baldur’s Gate series – to bring us Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords. And more is decidedly what we have been given.

10 years after the Jedi Civil War, as the events of KotOR are now known, the Republic is on the point of collapse. The Jedi are being hunted by an unknown aggressor, and the few who remain have gone into hiding. You play the part of a Jedi exile, severed from the Force and returning to known space for the first time since your exile began. As the game progresses, your past is explained and your Force abilities slowly return. The main plot takes a similar course to that of its predecessor, requiring you to travel to a number of planets to track down the remaining members of the Jedi Council. In addition to this, there are a number of character-based subplots, with most of the members of your party having ulterior motives for aiding you in your quest.

One major change to from KotOR is the way you interact with the members of your party. Last time around, talking to them could lead to long side-quests, of which only one or two could ever be completed without doubling the amount of hours required to complete the game. Now conversations cause you to gain or lose influence over your party members – the ability to corrupt them if you are Dark Side, or save them from it if you are not. You can also gain stat and ability bonuses from these conversations, and on one occasion, choose a new, more powerful Jedi or Sith class. Light and Dark Side adjustment points are also much easier to come by, via these and other conversations, and through many more actions than in KotOR.

The game also occasionally forces you to play in solo mode, or without your main character, meaning you need to think a lot more about the abilities you give each party member as you level up. These sections are probably the most challenging in the game, especially if, like me, you horde all the best equipment for your main character, leaving your party weaker and struggling to win otherwise easy fights.

Sith Lords is all we hoped for when a sequel to KotOR was announced. While it lacks the freshness of the original, it has improved on it in subtle ways due to Obsidian’s attention to detail, and the results are equally enjoyable. In a market flooded by generic, boring dross, it is games like this that can restore our faith in the industry.


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