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PLATFORM PC

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

GAME INFO
publisher: LucasArts
developer: Obsidian Entertainment
genre: RPG

MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS
PIII 1000, 256MB RAM, 32MB video card
ESRB rating: T
homepage:
www.lucasarts.com/games/swkotor_sithlords/

release date: Feb 08, 05
» All About Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords on ActionTrip


Being of the first KOTOR, I admit I was days until of sequel. Sure, BioWare handling, but had full that Obsidian would well. I'm sad you that the having a fantastic story, does also mixed bag, as Obsidian obviously expertise to truly or even mildly franchise.

Now let me ask you this, did you enjoy reading the previous passage, because if you had, I know a nice, quiet place we can send you. When the men in the white coats come to get you, go quietly, do as they ask and maybe, just maybe, you may come to grips with reality again. (Ed. - Thank God that was intentional, I was about to call them up myself.) In regards to the opening paragraph, I was merely trying to convey how the game ran for me on Dantooine. Yep, if you happen to have an ATI Radeon card, a high-end AMD-based system with over 1GB of RAM, and all the latest drivers and whatnots installed, this is how the game will run for you on Dantooine. Be prepared for the ultimate in choppy and laggy performance, this is actually good Jedi training because as we all know patience is the Jedi's greatest weapon.

What I was trying to convey in the opening paragraph is that the highly anticipated sequel to Knights of the Old Republic is, by all accounts a mixed bag of blessings. Some things it does well, others it does so horribly wrong that you feel like giving in to the dark side and slashing your computer monitor in half.

In terms of the storyline, Knights of the Old Republic 2 ties in beautifully with the original game, making a natural and logical continuation, while succeeding in broadening the scope of the whole Jedi philosophy and bringing some true literary value to the Star Wars franchise. The narrative in the sequel is every bit as deep and involving, if not even more so, than in the previous game. And considering that the story was one of the original game's greatest strengths, this says a lot about the ability of the writers. The plot is suspenseful and rarely (if ever) pathetic. It's so good in fact, that you can call this game a cross between a novel and a video game. KOTOR 2 manages to reach certain depths story-wise that none of the movies could ever touch, and if I may say so, it gives meaning to the Star Wars universe, something Lucas himself has, in my humble opinion, failed to do with the new batch of movies. (Ed. - Hear, hear!)

Ironically however, the game's biggest strength at times casts a shadow over some of its other important segments. How so, you ask? Well, KOTOR 2 is so focused on the story and dialogue that the player will often feel a suspicious absence of proper gameplay. Obsidian is not BioWare and they've failed to strike the perfect balance between presenting the story and making sure that there is enough meat to the gameplay. KOTOR 2 will often feel like an interactive storybook, and coming from someone who adores both the story in the sequel and the general design principle of the story being one of the foundations of a good video game, that is saying a lot.

For the most part, the sequel plays like the original. The character progression, interface, and combat - it all plays the same. Granted, Obsidian did include the new features that we've talked about at length in our preview, but the ability to assume lightsaber stances, and the bigger interaction between you and your party members didn't prove as drastic or as successful as I had hoped. Possibly the biggest change that Obsidian has introduced is the added emphasis on the game's ending, or how your actions throughout the game influence the different endings. In that sense, KOTOR 2 does provide some choices, but the general design of the levels and missions still feels very railed and linear. Even so, it is very important to emphasize here that the original formula, which has worked so well before, works for the sequel too. If you've loved the original, there's very little chance that you won't enjoy the sequel, and the storybook analogy was possibly taken too far.

One thing you should keep in mind though is that KOTOR came out back in 2003. Disregard the moderate cosmetic touches, and two years on, KOTOR 2 looks the same and has much of the same AI routines as the original. What this means is that the engine is clearly showing its age. The character animation looks horribly stiff, and the AI will show symptoms of genuine stupidity - they will charge headlong into mines, regardless of the behavior pattern you have chosen for them, they will have troubles navigating around areas that are more complex, and so on.

The sound effects are of the quality you'd expect from a top-of-the-line Star Wars title, but it remains a mystery to me as to why the soundtrack (though brilliant) sounds so low quality. Another thing that will surely bother some folks is the inconsistency of the voice acting. Some voices sound terrific, while others, like Bao-Dur, sound like Obsidian and Lucas couldn't afford real actors, so they had the level designer try his hand at voice acting.

But even despite all of the aforementioned drawbacks, I was prepared to give the game a high mark. The sequel offers plenty of hours of fun - we're talking 20-30 hours of playtime here, being wrapped in a story that will surely keep you on the edge of your seat the entire time. KOTOR 2 does possess the same addictive qualities that made me fall in love with the original, and that is why I had a strong desire to play on. In terms of the final score, I was prepared to disregard most of the drawbacks if only the game hadn't performed so horribly for me at critical moments. It should be noted that I haven't played the aforementioned missions on my NVIDIA rig, but that's no excuse if the game runs like this on the second most popular GPU on the market. Should I blame ATI or should I place the blame on Obsidian? I have no clue really, and it's not my business to weigh on such matters. All I know is that the horrible performance, a few random crashes, and other minor bugs have severely diminished my enjoyment of an otherwise addictive and excellently written Star Wars RPG.

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ACTIONTRIP SCORE
7.3   Good


HIGHS
Phenomenal story and dialogue, addictive, beautiful worlds, plenty of hours of fun

LOWS
... if you can live with the terrible performance issues and other bugs; dated technology, AI issues, inconsistent voice acting, no major gameplay novelties.

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