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

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:LucasArts
Developer:Obsidian Entertainment
Release Date:2004-12-06
Genre:
  • Action,Role-Playing
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • First-Person,Third-Person
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For me, however, the best things in KotOR2 relate to personality depth and variety. The characters in KotOR were woefully two-dimensional and unimaginative traits they share with so much else in George Lucas' Star Wars universe, that derives from the Flash Gordon movie serials of the 1930s. KotOR2 gives us complex motivations: each of the major Evil Types acts and thinks differently, and has their own reasons for their choices. Similarly, the party members on your side are each there for their own specific reasons. With a careful selection of multiple choice dialog options, you can actually acquire greater influence over the latter gaining back stories, and options that improve some attributes, skills, feats, etc.

One party member starts off sounding like an all-too-typical smart-aleck space jockey/rogue, but it's a deliberate front, a satire on the tired cliché. Another one of your party members is a classic in my opinion, a remarkable figure who mixes bitterness, apparent concern for you, contempt for others and great wisdom in one powerful, dangerous package. Her character actually reminded me very much of a certain book in Planescape: Torment, whose advice (once you read it) would gradually convert your alignment to evil. This character, plus the fact that some party NPCs are drawn to you through your supposed personal charisma, led me to check the game's credits. I wasn't surprised to discover that Chris Avellone, PS:T's Lead Designer, also fulfilled that role in KotOR2. The writing in this game at times approaches PS:T in its quality, even if the average quest and the ridiculously easy puzzles are still aimed (per LucasArts' requirements) at a pre-adolescent audience.

The Bad

LucasArts is a company with a mission; and in the glorious words of Mel Brooks, from Spaceballs, it's (Moichandising!) So what if KotOR2 wasn't finished at the projected time of release? The sales were needed: it was bottom line time. Out goes an incomplete KotOR2, to be scooped up by hypnotized gamers, everywhere.

Alright, I'll be fair: maybe not all the gamers who bought KotOR2 were hypnotized. Certainly a few were reviewers, and they got their copies, free. I'll go even further: there were likely quite a few people who bought KotOR2 figuring that it would be a complete game, because LucasArts just wouldn't do anything like publishing an unfinished title, would they? Oh, you poor, idealistic soul, you. There are simply too many instances in KotOR2 where things feel rushed; where remarks in conversation don't lead to future incidents as they should; even a case where a particular city exists with hardly an accessible interior. Why are there inconsistencies in so many back details in the game? I don't want to give anything away, but the worst may be left for last: the conclusion of the game is as anti-climatic as anything that has come out of an RPG in years.

This is undoubtedly the worst of it, and it's bad enough. But I want to register a few complaints about the series in general. First, the environments of both games have felt empty. Long, blank corridors seem to exist merely to take up time: no wonder your party stayed fit, having to walk for miles. There's also very little to interact with. Unlike Morrowind, you can't gather various samples of plants as you move through a rain forest. Nor can you grab wire cutters and sabotage electrical systems; or throw chairs in the way of advancing enemies; or blow holes in walls with explosives, or jump down a level onto people walking below. Despite all the claims of the Wonder and Mystery That Is 3D, you still can't use the third dimension anymore than you could in Betrayal at Krondor, the first 3D RPG from 1993.

And if dialog and personal interactions are more complex in KotOR2 than its predecessor, both games still suffer from simple-minded quests and puzzles, as noted above. Perhaps worse still, the puzzles are ridiculously out-of-character. Who ever heard of silly number puzzles being used to guard extremely expensive computer systems that control entire bases? Or so-called mysteries for you to solve that have some computer-controlled drudge spoon-feeding you every step of the way? In this respect, Betrayal at Krondor was actually superior to both KotOR titles. It offered word-locked chests based on elaborate riddles, action-based puzzles in the realworld, and a mystery-based chapter that could be solved in several ways, but took a certain amount of thought.