Knights of the Old Republic 2 – The Sith Lords

Ten years after its release it gets an update, this is why PC gaming is the way to go. "Obsolete" is not a word in the PC gaming vocabulary, or if it is the word bears little weight.

Knights of the Old Republic 2 – The Sith Lords was a game that shouldn’t have been anywhere near as good as it was, not only was it a follow up to the ground-breaking game from Bioware, the developers who later brought us Mass Effect, but it was also created by a whole different team, the newly formed Obsidian Entertainment. It also seems that Obsidian knew little of the first game, having not even played it and many of the characters and plotlines were a complete mystery to them as development began.

To and old Star Wars fan like me it was similar to an incident during the run of toys for the original film. Imagine the scene, its 1978 and Sears are desperate to get out toys for this phenomenally successful movie all the kids were into. In their haste they started producing toys before the films actual release for what they called their "Cantina Adventure Play set". A cardboard backing of the famous cantina came with four action figures, one of which was Snaggletooth in a blue outfit with full size body; the problem was that the proper character, as seen in the film, wore red and was much shorter. (The result is that a blue Snaggletooth is bit rarer than the corrected red version, making it a little more valuable for collectors.)

So this shows you how easy it is for mistakes to happen, so it would be understandable (though not forgivable to fans) for Obsidian to develop something with The Sith Lords that was below par; which was certainly not the case.

What was produced was almost the polar opposite, with the creation of a game which is in every way at least an equal to the original; and in my personal opinion better. Even ten years later it still stands as a must-play game even if some elements of its design show its age. The graphics may be primitive by today’s standards, but the animation is not; each character is fluid and scene changes (using the Star Wars "wipe") are about as cinematic as anyone could want.

Character creation is simple but allows for both male and female characters and a selection of predefined "looks" for each, during the game is it also easy to develop the character further with selectable skills and feats as well as a plethora of different weapons and clothes.

The story is also simple, a disgraced Jedi wakes from a battle to find she is hunted and must find the council members who exiled her to find the culprit. She becomes aware that she is instrumental in the unfolding of a galactic war in ways she cannot comprehend; and her journey changes from one of self discovery into one of galactic change.

As the game unfolds, and becomes increasingly complex, each layer of "simplicity" overlaps to become a web. Actions often send you on different routes and though the action is pre planned and not truly open world it certain feels as though the story is yours and yours alone. It becomes easier to engage with not only the primary character but the secondary characters as well; as you switch team members during gameplay the player defines their own style of battle.

Some characters can be developed as long range specialists while others are better suited to close quarters combat and the way these are used in combat can define broad ranges of techniques and strategies.

Then there is the Force and how its inclusion informs the game.

Each action you take allows you to use the Force in different ways, some positive and some negative. This is the path of the Jedi or the Sith and the choices you make on who, and what, you ultimately serve.

Ultimately it is this that takes KotOR 2 (as it’s affectionately known by fans) into the lofty heights of "classic gaming" that few manage.

The most enduring aspect of the Star Wars universe is The Force and what it represents. The cynical amongst us would say that the ubiquitous Force is merely a non-partisan representation of religion in the universe but the creators of KotOR 2 seem to understand better.

Without giving away too much of what transpires in the game (which would be unforgivable) it is hard to say how this mysterious energy field is represented; but suffice to say it is ultimately closer to home than the far reaches of religion.

There is a moment or two in this game that truly makes the player stop and wonder at the world around them, considering their own affects on the virtual would make them ponder what their actions in the real world effects. When coupled with the engagement the game provide to the player these moments are quite profound and raises the game by allowing the player to share a moment in the characters self discovery.

The effect is surprising and rare in gaming, and makes this player think that Knights of the Old Republic 2 – The Sith Lords as something approaching, and perhaps surpassing, such lofty notions of "art" and should be considered as a collaborative work of art as well as entertainment.

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