Remembering Knights of the Old Republic II
Steam released Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords on August 23, 2012.
This is one of the follow ups I’ve been waiting for. The first Knights of the Old Republic, my favorite game of all time, has been on Steam for awhile. I was beginning to wonder if the sequel was ever going to show up. It was a very welcome sight to see the Sith Lords logo flash through the recent Steam updates, and for only $9.99. So worth it! Knights of the Old Republic II was released on Dec. 6 2004. Five years after the events of KotOR, you play a Jedi Exile on a journey to recover his/her memories and find out why you were separated from the force, all while trying to stop the rise of a new Sith threat.
You have the choice of several Jedi classes at the start of the game, each with their own unique perks and play styles. The Jedi Guardian focuses on lightsaber combat, The Jedi Consular focuses on force powers, while the Jedi Sentinel is a balance between the two. Once you choose your face and name, you awaken in a restoration pod, on a mining planet devoid of sentient life. Your only source of information is an old Jedi, named Kreia, who, to your knowledge, had been lying in the medical bay, dead. You eventually learn that there are Sith Lords wiping out what remains of the Jedi. Three of them: Darth Treya, Darth Sion Lord of Pain, and Darth Nihilus Lord of Hunger. Darth Treya is the leader, a mysterious figure that lurks beyond the shadows. Darth Sion is a murderous, undead assassin, with a penchant for agony and violence. Darth Nihilus is just bad ass wrapped in a black cloak. Seriously, this guy wiped out a whole planet from a galaxy away by feeling the force in its inhabitants.
You spend the remainder of the game searching for the lost Jedi Masters so that they can teach you how reconnect with the force. You have the choice of following a dark or light side path, choosing to either annihilate the rest of the Jedi, or stopping the Sith Lords and their quest to wipe out the galaxy. You begin the game using standard weapons. Swords, grenades, and blasters will be your main choices until you learn how to create a lightsaber from your companion, Bao-Dur. Lightsabers come in a variety of colors, from blue, green, violet, silver, yellow, to of course, Sith red. They can be upgraded, used in two-handed, singe-handed, or duel wielded combat. Lightsabers may be single bladed, the standard lightsaber, or double bladed, like the one used by Darth Maul in Star Wars: Episode I. There’s also a short version of the normal lightsaber that acts as a dagger.
The combat in Sith Lords is almost identical to that of KotOR 1, so if you’ve played through the first game, this one will feel like more of the same. To those new to the franchise, the combat is something you need to get used to. It isn’t really turned based, and it isn’t full on action. The game pauses and then you’re allowed to choose attacks from a menu. You select up to four. When you unpause the game, your character moves into combat. He/she will attack, or heal, every three seconds. So one, two, three, attack! One, two, three, attack.
It seems slow at first, but it becomes less noticeable when you level up, learn new feats, skills, and force powers. Combat becomes second nature and starts to feel fast and fluid as the game progresses. With each level, you are granted a few points that you can then use to unlock new abilities. I spent most of my playthrough upgrading combat skills like Flurry and Critical Strike.
Once you begin to awaken to the force, the choice between Jedi and Sith determines your use of force powers. You’re given a gauge which depletes every time you use the force. Whether light or dark, you can use any force power, but the cost goes up depending on your alignment. So dark force powers take up more of the gauge while light side force powers take up less for a character siding with the Jedi and vice versa for a Sith, light side powers taking more of the force gauge than dark side powers.
Light side characters can use Force Speed to run faster, Heal to replenish lost health, and other force powers that raise your defense and immunity to dark side attacks. Dark side characters can call upon Force Crush, Destroy Droid, Force Storm, and a huge array of damage dealing powers. You’ll eventually become a force wielding master, tearing through enemy hordes with force and lightaber ease. Jedi have the advantage of their immunity to the dark side and being able to heal, but lack the death dealing power of their evil counterparts. The Sith are simply death on two legs.
I found a cheat online that allows you to max out your Sith well beyond the main level of the game. In one of the temples on Korriban there’s a creature that continually respawns every time you examine this Jedi corpse. I was able to level up to a point where the final bosses were nothing. I just used Force Crush a few times, and the game was over. Cheating, yes. Beyond epic because I literally Force Crushed the end boss to death? Of course.
There are a few downsides to this wonderful game. The first being Steam. I love Steam, but the idea that I have to be connected to the internet can be irritating, especially if the connection is running slow, or those off days when the net slows to a crawl and browsing becomes unbearable, and you inevitably get kicked out of Steam.
Second, is that near the end of the game, you begin to realize that Sith Lords was rushed. There are massive plot holes and the climax is less then satisfactory to everything that had been building up. Bioware was busy with Jade Empire at the time, so KotOR 2 was pushed out, and a lot of the content was cut from the final product, leaving this sequel less than what it was meant to be. Although, there are those in the modding community that are trying to restore all the lost content. One such attempt is called the “The Sith Lords Restored Content Mod”. I haven’t used the mod myself, so I’m not sure if they succeeded, but I plan to download it eventually, cause I’d love to see if all the restored content makes for a better game.
Lastly, whether you walk the path of a Jedi or a Sith, you’re simply just too powerful by the time you get to the end. I know I cheated with the Sith, but even without the infinite experience on Korriban, you’re a death dealing powerhouse. It’s fun, but it takes away from the tension when every enemy, even the bosses, don’t pose any kind of serious threat.
Aside from these flaws, Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II is still a great game. The characters are well written, the combat is engaging but takes some getting use to, and the plot is interesting up until the forced ending. Also, the revealing moment doesn’t blow your mind the way the first Knights did, but it’s still an interesting story arc none the less.
If you’ve never experienced either of these games, I’d suggest purchasing both and treating yourself to the most epic adventure in video game history. Start with the first Knights of the Old Republic, it’ll blow your mind. Then play the Sith Lords, be amazed, and wish there was a KotOR 3. They’re both only $9.99 on Steam. All that’s left is to play the new MMO Star Wars: Old Republic once it goes free to play this fall.
I still want Knights of the Old Republic 3. Come on Bioware, Sith Lords came out in 2004.