Title: Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords
LucasArts Entertainment Company
December 6th, 2004
.............................................. Xbox Live:
Iíll be the first person to tell you that Iíve never been a huge fan of Star Wars video games. Iíll also be the first person to tell you that Iíve never been blown away quite like I have with the KOTOR games. Bioware unleashed a gaming revolution with Start Wars: Knights of the Old Republic in 2003, which proved its RPG dominance by winning 2003 Game of the Year, and the hearts of Xbox gamers worldwide. On November the 6th, Obsidian entertainment released Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2, The Sith Lords, and let me tell you, it doesn't fall short of its predecessor. KOTOR 2 is by far the best RPG action that can be found on the Xbox.
KOTOR 2 has been upgraded quite a lot from the original, in many more ways than one. The first thing youíll notice when you start playing is basic control upgrades. In the previous KOTOR, moving from place to place could be somewhat irritating. In KOTOR 2, this is no longer a problem; the controls are surprisingly more fluid and convenient. You wonít be running into strange glitches such as party members being left behind because they canít seem to get around a wall, and the characterís actions just seem to blend together much better.
The convenience doesnít stop with main gameplay. The menus are largely improved over the original as well. For example, in KOTOR 1, if you wanted to go to a certain item in a very large inventory, (which is always the case closer to the end of the game), you would have to scroll down the entire menu to find what you need. In KOTOR 2 this problem is fixed with item filters. With the click of the Y button you can view all the items of a distinct category, such as weapons, armor, and miscellaneous items. This is extremely useful when you are preparing for an upcoming event, and you wish to be aware of the stock you have, and what you need to buy. Improvements like this have been made everywhere in KOTOR 2.
The fight engine in KOTOR 2 is very much similar to the one of KOTOR 1, though improved in many ways. In the first game, you would find yourself watching your character doing the same moves over and over. For example, durring a melee battle between two sentient, the characters are completely locked in combat. Itís a fluid sword fight where attacks are blocked, counter attacked, and dodged, at times your weapons even lock together as you stare each other down. It all flows perfectly. With all this aside, the fights still got repetitive in KOTOR 1. Obsidian took this to mind when making KOTOR 2 and now your characterís fighting style is almost always changing, influenced both by your alignment (good or evil), and your characterís abilities. If you are a brutal warrior, your attacks are vicious and powerful. If you are a more agile and crafty Jedi who relies more on the force, you tend to have more finesse in your fighting style, and you depend largely on your ability to dodge and block attacks. The same sort of effects on your fighting style happen according to your alignment. There are also different lightsaber forms that you learn throughout the game, which you can change during combat. These vary between aggressive forms that are good against single opponents, and defensive forms, which are more commonly used against large numbers.
One thing KOTOR 1 was great for was constantly making new and different weapons available to you. KOTOR 2 steps this up quite a few notches. The weapons available to you are almost always changing, and you find many unique and interesting things to hack up enemies with and prevent them from hacking you up with in your travels. Not only that, but the weapons you find and use can vary depending on how you play the game, ex. Being good or evil, and being a great and brutal warrior opposed to being an agile thief. This also applies to armor, upgrades, and items. Speaking of upgrades, this department has been improved upon vastly, there are literally thousands of combinations of upgrades to apply to your armor and weapons, as well as many more weapons available to you to upgrade. Almost every combat item in the game can be modified this time around, much to my delight as I scrolled through the massive amount of things in my inventory I could slap a vibration cell to, upgrade the scope on, and strengthen the underlay on. Even better is the fact that you can now not only add different crystals to your lightsabers, you can also upgrade the components that make up your lightsaber. This feature allows countless variations for you to try when upgrading a lightsaber.
The way you can influence, use, and get involved with your companions in KOTOR 2 is unmatched. Every character admires and looks up to a certain type of person. Some like to see you torture and intimidate weaker beings, some admire you using brute strength to achieve your goals, while some like a kind Jedi, who is always looking to help others. This influence you have on your companions affects the way they interact with you, as well as the way they interact with others. If you have a very large influence on a certain party member, chances are they will follow you to either the dark side or light side. They admire you, and follow your every teaching. This makes for a unique experience every time you play.
One of the features the original KOTOR possessed was a catching storyline that always twisted, changed, and kept you wanting more. The sequel held its stature in this area as well, there are uncountable plots to follow and puzzle over, twists to be astounded by, and emotional catches around every corner.
You start out as T3-M4, a lone Astromech droid, on a nearly destroyed freighter called the Ebon Hawk. All of the Ebon Hawks crew are either dying or dead, you among them. As a way to get you used to the gameplay, you are set out alone to try and fix the Ebon Hawk enough to land the ship on a nearby mining facility, where you are met with more problems. From this point on, you are always running, fighting, or trying to find the Sith. The Sith are on a mission to destroy you, who they believe to be the last remaining Jedi, a result of the previous Jedi Civil War. You travel from planet to planet trying to find the missing Jedi Masters, to try to re-unite and unleash an attack on the Sith, putting their horrible influence on the galaxy at bay. But you also want to find out why you were exiled by the Jedi order, which is why you have been away for the past years, excluded from the events of the first game. But, all of your objectives are expectedly affected by twists and turns in the story line which are thrown at you all the time.
The overall graphics have not been changed or altered dramatically from KOTOR 1 to KOTOR 2, but that isnít to say they arenít beautiful. The character models, clothing, weapons, environments, and scenery are all so engaging, so realistic, that you feel part of the game. Each and every one of your party members are extremely distinct, as well as each of the worlds. The graphical aspect that has been improved upon noticeably is the environments and surroundings. Each and every area you encounter has so much detail, so much to look at, that youíll spend a lot of your time in the game simply looking around, being blown away by the tiny details you never imagined would be there.
The audio in KOTOR 2 is mind blowing. Almost every area has a unique musical masterpiece chiming in the background. The sound effects used in fights and things you interact with in the environment are perfectly fit. It all adds up to be one of the best in game audio experiences of the year, and it adds to the overall greatness of KOTOR 2. It creates the mood and emotions that make the environment real, and get you in the Star Wars state of mind.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2 is by far the best RPG gaming experience available on the Xbox. Itís a must have for for any Xbox gamer, and even somebody who isnít a huge fan of RPGs would find a huge amount of enjoyment out of it. KOTOR 1 brought a new world to the Xbox console, and KOTOR 2 delivers more of the same. Itís a mind blowing gaming experience everybody with an Xbox owes it to themselves to try.