Way back in the year 2003, Bioware thrilled audiences with a game like no other: Star Wars Knights Of The Old Republic. I talked about this game already, but it was a smash hit. It sold a ton of copies and we just generally well-received. It received a lot of mainstream attention and a lot of people consider it better than the Bioware RPGs that came before it. So, naturally a sequel had to be made to capitalize on it. Since Bioware were busy on their own games, Obsidian was tasked with making the sequel.
The game was going smoothly and it featured a ton of improvements over the original game. The problem? Development was being rushed by the game’s publisher, LucasArts. Obsidian was given a measly 18 months to pump out a sequel. The game was released and received really good reviews, but ultimate was buggy and unfinished in a lot of areas. After nearly a decade though, fans came together and build a mod that restores all of that lost or cut content and fixes almost all of the bugs. As such, the game was finally and truly completed. Even the director of the game, Chris Avellone, approved of the mod. So, how good is this game and its Director’s Cut mod? Well, let’s see how deep this Sarlaac Pit goes.
The game takes place 5 years after the first game. You are a Jedi Exile who has been drugged and taken to Peragus Mining Station. Once you wake up, you find an elderly old Jedi crone known as Kreia and a cocky young man named Atton Rand. Kreia knows much about the force, yet her knowledge extends far beyond the common Jedi understanding of the force. Unlike most characters in the series, she doesn’t see the world in black or white but instead in shades of grey. Kreia is probably one of the most well-developed characters in a videogame you’ll ever see and she ends up being of the best characters in the whole franchise. Her entire arc is the best part of the game and the way you find more about her is well put together.
Atton isn’t as well-developed as Kreia, but has an entertaining personality and a good backstory. Atton served in a war and distrusts Jedis. He’s killed hundreds of Jedis and has proven himself a competent warrior, despite being a smart-alec. Speaking of anti-Jedi sentiments, the entire plot of the game seems to be geared towards deconstructing the Star Wars universe and the concept of Jedi themselves. You see, in the game you are a Jedi but you aren’t respected. You are an exile with a large bounty on your head and nobody cares about what you have to say. You can help as many people as you want, but by the end of the day you are still can’t erase that large bounty on your head. To make matters worse, powerful Sith lords are after you. These lords are so powerful, that they have denied death itself.
The game’s plot makes you question what you are doing and why are you doing it and makes you think about your choices. The character of Kreia illustrates this perfectly as she is designed to make you view your choices as more than just option A or B. Other characters you meet on your journey will be just as well-developed as your initial party members. You get to meet old and new faces on your quest as well as face great challenges. It’s your job to gather up the Jedi council, defeat the Sith once and for all and find your place in this grand universe. The story is further fleshed out by the Restored Content mod which adds in a large heaping handful of additional scenes.
The game plays remarkably similar to the first, yet gives you a ton of new abilities and some new gameplay features. The game features better lightsaber customization this time around. In the first game you only had access to a handful of lightsaber colors. You could make your lightsaber blue, green, yellow, violet or red. However, this game adds more colors such as viridian, bronze, silver, gold, orange, and cyan. On top of that, there are far more parts that you can add to your lightsaber in this game. You can get lightsabers that do a ton of damage, or have sabers that can do elemental damage. Likewise, upgrading other weapons has been enhanced as well. You can switch out even more parts in your swords and guns as well as create new parts and items through a crafting system. The system allows you to use spare components or materials to develop new items that you can use.
The combat remains mostly the same, but you now have access to over 30 new force powers. I thought that this was a really good addition, as I felt the first game was lacking in terms of force abilities. You can control animals, breathe clearly even when walking through poison, or even absorb the life-force of defeated Jedi! Heck, you could even toss your lightsaber at your enemy now! The added options were a nice touch. Sadly, there are no new weapons types. Another new feature of the gameplay is the ability to affect the alignment of your allies. This system is called “Influence” and was a game-changer at the time .You could turn your trusted friends over to the dark side, or bring your evil friends closer into the light.
One feature that the game removed was fast-travel. You see, in the last game you could fast-travel between your ship known as the Ebon Hawk and your current location. This saved you a lot of time, so you weren’t constantly hoofing back to the ship to upgrade your gear or heal up. However, this game removed it entirely. This was probably due to the fact that every planet you visited would have special encounters on your way back to the ship. This game also streamlined the inventory and interface, making it much more pleasant to look at. The only major annoyance I had with the game, was when I would be tossed into the shoes of a lone underused party member to fight off some baddies. I would be so unused to using these characters, that I would often get destroyed easily. Luckily, these sequences are few and far between and don’t detract from the core experience all that much.
Restored Content Mod
The game used to be rather buggy, but the content restored mod fixes much of the problems and gripes people had. It fixes up graphical errors and removes game-breaking bugs and the like. On top of that, the mod features an excessive amount of restored content that adds more to the world. To date, this mod is the best and only way to play the game as originally intended. The mod itself is easy to install, all you have to do is download the .EXE folder and extract it in to the KOTOR II game folder. More instructions can be found on the mod’s website.
Graphics And Sound
The game uses almost the same graphics engine from the last time, which isn’t an entirely awful thing. The last game looked amazing for the time, so the graphics in the second are still fairly state-of-the-line. The new character designs are interesting and striking, especially the general design of Darth Nihilus. Even certain characters from the last game have undergone visual overhauls, such as Mandalore. The soundtrack is still impressive, using much of John Williams’ score once more. The only track in this whole game that I didn’t like was a rather bizarre tune that plays in the first Cantina you visit. Other than that, it’s a pretty solid soundtrack!
Star Wars Knights Of The Old Republic II: The Sith Lords acts as a good followup to the original game. Dark, moody, and emotional, it offers a wealth of new content and a few enjoyable gameplay tweaks. With the Content Restored mod installed, the game becomes much more like it was originally intended to be. If you enjoy sci-fi worlds and like to see fan projects come to fruition, then I highly reccomend both the game and mod. You can usually get the game very cheap on Steam when it goes on sale, which is when I reccomend you snatch it up. This game gets an 8.5 out of 10 from me, I would definitely play through it all again once more!