[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/kotor2/cover.jpg[/floatleft]It is hard to contemplate culture without [i]Star Wars[/i]. The movies have given birth to fans spanning two generations and have made countless nerds contemplate life on a galaxy far, far away. With its fan base so massive, the logical step was to take [i]Star Wars[/i] into the world of video games. [i]Star Wars[/i] video games in the past have been polar as far as the quality of games go. Many games rely heavy on the franchise to pull in numbers; however, last year a gem was born. Bioware created the critically acclaimed [i]Knights of the Old Republic[/i], and the game has earned countless awards. Strangely enough, the ever-busy Bioware handed over development of the sequel to Obsidian Entertainment. The roleplaying veteran staff of Obsidian Entertainment took the ball and ran with it, creating another fantastic roleplaying game set in the [i]Star Wars[/i] universe.
The gameplay has remained almost identical to the original, with the dice system dictating the gameplay. The gameplay system is similar to [i]Dungeons and Dragons[/i]. The system is fairly simple to understand if you are not familiar with [i]DnD[/i]. As you build your character, select your stats, or acquire new feats, a description is given for each as to what exactly it does to better help you out.
[floatright]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/kotor2/ss10_thumb.jpg[/floatright]The fighting is done in a turn-based manner, though not like you would find in most roleplaying games. The fighting is instigated, and the rolls for each character are done behind the scenes and acted out by the characters. The results are pseudo-real-time enactments. You can pause the action and give each of your three characters a queue listing of actions to perform. You can switch targets and assign scripts for your AI counterparts. It does take a while to get used to, but once you have it down you will find a simple yet deep fighting system.
[heading]A Star Wars through and through[/heading]
Purists, rejoice! The storyline is based on the [i]Star Wars[/i] Expanded Universe. If you are a [i]Star Wars[/i] scholar, you will find many references to established history and storylines of the Sith. These details and references to the Expanded Universe make [i]Knights of the Old Republic II[/i] so much more than a game, but part of an established [i]Star Wars[/i] lore-so much so that [i]Star Wars[/i] has officially adopted the storyline of the original game and characters into the Expanded Universe itself. The sequel is sure to follow the same path.
You play an exiled Jedi, and you lead your character on a quest to find out more about his past, and the dealings with the mysterious Sith. The beauty is that depending on how you play the game, your character will change and grow accordingly. You do this by your actions in the game, as well as your dialogue choices. New is the ability to influence your party members and have them shift alignment as well. You can build up your party members or drag them to the dark side along with yourself. Multiple endings and alignment-based cut scenes and conversations all add to replay ability. Choose every decision wisely because their results truly make a difference in the game.
[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/kotor2/ss01_thumb.jpg[/floatleft][heading]Post production hit and miss[/heading]
You have to make a game look like a big-budget blockbuster nowadays, and [i]Knights of the Old Republic[/i] shines with its post-production details. The voice acting is even better this time around. A few new animations and more NPCs bolster what Bioware had originally done. However (a big however), the bugs resurface themselves. The bugs in [i]Knights of the Old Republic II[/i] cause your game to crash, freeze, or freeze then crash. Three times in two playthroughs did I get the full black screen, which neither freezes nor crashes your game, but is nonetheless annoying. I was not too bothered by dialogue circles, but I have a friend who constantly complains about them. The game also is one of the slowest games I have ever played on the Xbox. The slowdown in the game is constant and also frustrating when many enemies are on the screen at the same time. Moving through your character menu lags, adding to a frustrating list of “bugs” that plagues [i]Knights of the Old Republic II[/i].
[heading]Luke was a wuss[/heading]
What? He was. Just thought I would throw that in here.
[heading]Second chapter is closed[/heading]
[i]Knights of the Old Republic II[/i] has been my favorite game so far of 2004. The bugs are terrible, and had I not been such a big [i]Star Wars[/i] fan then I am sure they would have gotten to me all the more. If this game gets polished, then little would stand in its way to be one of the better games ever made. This game plays more to a philosophy viewpoint of what the Force actually is. I absolutely fell in love with the duality of choices, consequences, and everything that the storyline brings to light that I have not thought about before in relation to [i]Star Wars[/i] lore. The fact that you play your character to your desire is appealing, but to see your character struggle with past decisions and future decisions you make as you play the game are brilliant. If nothing else, it is the struggle between what really is good and what really is bad in this game that captivates. No longer is the light side the knight in shining armor, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is reason enough to get this game and keep it in your Xbox library. [i]Star Wars[/i] fans, rejoice.