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

May 31, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox, Xbox

Star Wars may very well be a giant of a license, but the majority of the myriad of games based on this lucrative license are widely regarded to be poor games. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic was a rarity however, with popular opinion being that the game was rather good.

Bioware: the developer didn’t take the easy route and knock up an identikit action game, but instead used their expertise in the RPG field, to develop what we believe is the first RPG set in the popular universe. In a nice touch, players were given choices throughout the game, which determined their path to the dark or light side of the force, a bit like Fable, except to a much greater extent. The game may have had technical shortcomings, but both the plot and gameplay seemed to mask this from people.

And here we are a couple of years or so later with its sequel: Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, this time developed by Obsidian Entertainment rather than Bioware the original developer (who was tied up crafting the rather splendid looking Jade Empire instead) The new team has made some important tweaks to the gameplay, but have done little to improve the primitive looking engine, meaning the game not only looks awfully bland, but at times suffers from embarrassingly bad slowdown and lengthy loading times, furthermore the game features some frustrating bugs, which is unacceptable and something which you’d expect to have been sorted from the first game.

Despite not being what you’d call a fan of Star Wars, this writer was still enthralled by the story of KOTOR2. Maybe it has something to do with the amount of choice on offer, or simply the well designed plot, brilliantly written dialogue and the absolutely marvellous voice acting. Unlike the original, you’ll begin the game as a Jedi with a mysterious past, albeit one that is disconnected from the force, lacking a lightsaber and any form of force techniques. The games cast – both good and evil – are also utterly memorable characters that won’t soon be forgotten. Your mentor of sorts: Kreia is always giving you advice throughout the game through her cryptic comments, whilst the seemingly clichéd wisecracking Atton isn’t all that he initially appears to be, these are just two of the many colourful characters featured in the game.

A nice new touch allows you to lose and gain influence with fellow party members, by either doing favourable acts or things they disagree with. it’s worth bearing in mind that doing a good thing for one individual may not necessary sit well with other members, meaning you must choose your options carefully if you wish to stay on the good side of a favourite character for example. This, along with the two considerably different dark and light side paths adds an ample amount of replay value to an already fairly lengthy game.

Though the odd minor tweak may have been made, the gameplay is still largely identical to the original, which is understandable after the first games success, but likely to be disappointing for those who are expecting a genuinely new experience and the same people will probably be disappointed that you revisit many of the locations from the original game. The fights are still a curious blend of real-time and turn-based combat. Actions during combat can still be queued up allowing you to request your characters to do up to four tasks, without the need of having to go backwards and forwards through menus as if they were your second home. Items can be created and upgraded at the various labs dotted around and you can now carry two weapons and switch between them at will. Utilising your blaster for distant enemies for example and then switching to your melee weapon for the closer encounters. This is achieved with the tap of a single button, which again keeps menu wading to the absolute minimum.

Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords is recommended to both fans of the movies as well as devotees of the RPG genre, both groups should find much to enjoy here. We could have recommended it with yet more gusto, if not for its technical pitfalls and messy menus. Still it’s a decent game that would have benefited greatly from extended development time, the force may be strong in this one, but it could have been even stronger without the problems.