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

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For the second issue of the Star Wars comic series of the same name, see Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (comics).
Star Wars
Knights of the Old Republic II:
The Sith Lords
KOTOR II.jpg
Developer(s) Obsidian Entertainment
Publisher(s) LucasArts
Producer(s) Chris Parker
Designer(s) Chris Avellone
Artist(s) Aaron Myers
Composer(s) Mark Griskey
Series Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Engine Odyssey Engine
Platform(s) Xbox, Windows, OS X, Linux
Release date(s)
Genre(s) Role-playing
Mode(s) Single-player

Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords is a role-playing video game developed by Obsidian Entertainment and published by LucasArts. It is the sequel to BioWare's Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and was released for the Xbox on December 6, 2004, for Microsoft Windows on February 8, 2005, and for OS X and Linux on July 21, 2015. Like its predecessor, it is set in the Star Wars universe 4,000 years before the film Episode I: The Phantom Menace and is based on the d20 System developed by Wizards of the Coast. The game uses the Odyssey Engine which was originally used in Knights of the Old Republic. The plot first started being written before the original Knights of the Old Republic was released, and development began in October 2003, after BioWare offered Obsidian their Star Wars license due to being confident in their previous work.

Knights of the Old Republic II starts five years after the events of the first game, and follows the story of The Exile, a Jedi Knight who was exiled from the Jedi Order. During this time, the Jedi Order has been almost completely wiped out by the Sith. The game begins with the protagonist waking up from unconsciousness on a Republican cruiser. After he or she escapes with the help of their party members, they find the person who exiled them ten years ago, who sends the protagonist on a mission to seek out the remaining Jedi to fight against the Sith.

The game's critical reception upon its release was generally positive; praise was given to the story, characters and writing, which were noted to be more grey than the original Knights of the Old Republic. However, the game received criticism for being too similar to its predecessor in terms of graphics and gameplay systems. GameSpy named one of the game's party members, Kreia, the best video game character of 2005, and the game was included in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die.

Gameplay[edit]

Screenshot from the first level of the game illustrating the interface and combat system.

Knights of the Old Republic II is a role-playing video game played from a third-person view which features pausable real-time combat.[1] Combat and interactions with the environment and non-player characters in Knights of the Old Republic II is based on the d20 System as in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.[2] The game starts with a character creation screen with several choices to make, and there is also an option of letting the game do it automatically.[3] There are 30 new Force powers, which are manifestations of the Force, in Knights of the Old Republic II.[4] Like its predecessor, the game has several minigames, including swoop bike racing and a card game called Pazaak.[5] The interface has been streamlined from the original game and party management was made easier; for example, the player can now switch between two selected weapon sets in the menu.[3] As in the first game, the player can choose to align with either the light side or the dark side. Choosing dialogue options which are respectful and empathetic give the protagonist light side points, while options which are egotistic and evil result in dark side points.[1]

The combat of Knights of the Old Republic II is identical to its predecessor.[6][7][8] Several new lightsaber crystals were added to the game.[9] Each of them is useful for a different situation.[10] For example, one is best for enemies using blaster weapons, while another would be good for recovering from using Force powers.[10] The player can use a variety of melee and ranged weapons, including swords and firearms.[10] Fighting unarmed is also an option.[10] A new addition to the game are "prestige classes". These are add-ons to the Jedi classes which were established in Knights of the Old Republic. They let the player character practice in lightsaber combat or Force powers, depending on player choice.[1]

The player can travel with up to two party members at a time, which gain experience points at the same rate as the player character.[1] Equipment and perks for party characters can be selected for different statistical effects or abilities.[11] Players can loot corpses and various environmental objects.[11] The protagonist also has the ability to "influence" their party members; by doing things that impress them, the player increases their influence with them.[10] Depending on the level of influence, party members may support the player character unconditionally or turn on the protagonist. The player can also exploit high influence by drawing party members to either the light side or the dark side.[12]

Synopsis[edit]

Setting[edit]

The game takes place five years after the events of Knights of the Old Republic and 4,000 years before Episode I: The Phantom Menace,[13][14] in a time when the Jedi have been nearly exterminated by the Sith.[15] The player's character, a former Jedi Knight exiled from the Jedi Order, is referred to as "The Exile" or "Jedi Exile". Throughout the game, the Exile restores their connection to the Force while, with the help of non-playable companions, trying to stop the Sith. The player makes choices that turn the Exile to either the light side or the dark side of the Force, and travels to six planets to either help or hinder the Republic's efforts to bring peace and stability to the galaxy.[16]

New playable locations in Knights of the Old Republic II include war-ravaged Telos, a Telos bunker and the orbiting Citadel Station, the port Iziz, Onderon and its jungle moon Dxun, Nar Shaddaa and Goto's orbiting yacht, Peragus, the starships Harbinger and Ravager.[16] Malachor V. Korriban and Dantooine from the original game are revisited, which are both now with ravaged buildings and intensified problems.[16] The Ebon Hawk, the main character's ship in the first game, is also the player's transportation in Knights of the Old Republic II.[17][16]

Characters[edit]

The Exile's back story reveals that the character served under Revan during the Mandalorian Wars and ordered the activation of a devastating weapon at the climactic battle over Malachor V. The deaths that ensued created such a substantial "wound" in the Force that the character was forced to sever all connections to the Force, and the Jedi Council ordered the character exiled from the Jedi Order.[16] As the game progresses, the Jedi Exile rebuilds a connection to the Force and creates unusually strong Force Bonds with other characters and places, while unknowingly sapping Force powers.[16]

Among the characters who join the Jedi Exile are Kreia, who can act as the Exile's mentor;[16][18] pilot and former Sith assassin Atton Rand; technician and Mandalorian War veteran Bao-Dur and his droid remote;[16] the criminal droid G0-T0;[16] and the Sith apprentice Visas Marr. T3-M4 and Canderous Ordo (now identified as "Mandalore"), both featured in the first game, also join the Exile's team.[16] Other characters join the Exile's party under certain conditions. HK-47, who appears in the first game, joins the quest if the Exile collects and uses the parts necessary to reactivate it.[16] A Wookiee known as Hanharr, a bounty hunter, joins if the Exile is aligned with the dark side of the Force;[16] Hanharr's competitor, Mira, joins if the Exile is light-aligned or neutral.[16] If the player's character is male, Brianna the Handmaiden can join the player's quest, while Mical the Disciple joins a female Exile.[16]

The game features three main antagonists: Darth Traya, a mysterious assailant who remains in the dark through most of the game;[16] Darth Sion, an undead Sith Lord with a murderous hatred for Jedi;[16] and Darth Nihilus, a Sith Lord whose physical being was destroyed due to his immense affinity to the Force.[16]

Plot[edit]

While hiding on the Harbinger, a Republic cruiser, the Exile is sedated by HK-50, an assassin droid, to be delivered to a crime syndicate called the Exchange, who have put out a bounty on live Jedi. They are rescued by Kreia, with whom they form a Force Bond, and the droid T3-M4 on the Ebon Hawk, and flee the Harbinger as it is hijacked by a squad of Sith assassins. However, their ship is damaged by the Harbinger‍ '​s gunfire during escape, and they eventually arrive at the Peragus mining facility. Teaming up with smuggler Atton Rand, the group escapes to the planet Telos IV. While hiding out on Telos, they encounter Atris, a surviving member of the Jedi Council who sentenced the protagonist to exile ten years prior. After settling a dispute regarding the Exile's past sentence, Atris forms an uneasy alliance with them, instructing them to seek out other surviving Jedi to combat the Sith. The Exile then travels to four worlds to find reclusive Jedi Masters and either begs their aid or kills them in revenge over their treatment, depending on player choice. As the Exile continues their journey, they meet several individuals that join them in their quest.[16]

After finding all the Masters, the Exile travels back to Dantooine and learns that the countless deaths at Malachor V resulted in them unconsciously giving up their connection to the Force, which then became the teachings of the new Sith. As the Masters feared that these teachings could result in the actual death of the Force, they prepare to strip the Exile of their Force connection permanently, but Kreia reveals herself to be the former leader of the Sith and murders them all in retribution. Tracking Kreia to Telos, the Exile fights and defeats a corrupted Atris, from whom they learn that Kreia plans to destroy the Force by strengthening a massive wound that the Exile had caused ten years ago during the Mandalorian Wars; when the Exile ordered the activation of the superweapon that ended the battle, thousands of simultaneous deaths ensued and subsequently caused a wound in the Force. Before following her to Malachor V, where Kreia had since rejoined the Sith as Darth Traya, the Exile stops a Sith invasion of Telos, defeating one of Traya's former apprentices, the Sith Lord Darth Nihilus. On Malachor V, the Exile is separated from their companions and fights their way through the hordes of monsters that inhabit the planet's surface, then through the inhabitants of a large Sith Academy that survived the cataclysm. On the final floor of the academy, the Exile kills the Sith Lord Darth Sion and confronts Darth Traya in the planet's core.[16]

The Exile defeats Traya who, before dying, delivers a prophetic vision of the future pertaining to the player's companions and the worlds that were visited over the course of the story. Depending on the Exile's alignment, they either order the destruction of Malachor V, escaping before it is destroyed, and travel into the Unknown Regions in search of Revan (light side) or remain on Malachor V as the new Dark Lord of the Sith (dark side).[16]

Development[edit]

Chris Avellone (pictured) was the lead designer of Knights of the Old Republic II.

Knights of the Old Republic II was developed by Obsidian Entertainment and published by LucasArts.[19] It is the sequel to BioWare's Knights of the Old Republic.[19] The game uses the same Odyssey Engine from the original Knights of the Old Republic.[20] BioWare offered Obsidian the Knights of the Old Republic license due to them being familiar with Obsidian's past work and their good relationship with them.[21] The PC version of the game was developed along with the Xbox version, but due to the Xbox version being released two months prior to the PC version, the latter received multiple bug fixes.[22]

Development of the game started in October 2003.[23] The overview of the game's story was originally drafted before the first Knights of the Old Republic was released, after which it saw many revisions and also some major redrafts.[24] To help him write Knights of the Old Republic II, Chris Avellone, the game's lead designer, tried to read as much about the Star Wars universe as possible, including books, guides, modules, and graphic novels, and the Obsidian team also relied on the first Knights of the Old Republic and the original Star Wars films for inspiration.[2] Avellone said that Obsidian recognized one of the things that made Knights of the Old Republic great was the story and the companions, and that they tried to expand upon this by adding more depth to them.[23]

When Obsidian were preparing to present Knights of the Old Republic II at E3 2004, they tried to fit as much information as they could, saying that it would need to be a duration of 30 minutes as it was the only E3 event it would be showcased at; however, due to the limited time frame, they would have to cut it down to a five to ten minute presentation.[24] During this time, none of the levels Obsidian designed were ready to be shown, so they picked three levels, and put them through a schedule to finish them on time.[24] The demo was finished a few days before the event,[24] and the game was presented in May 2004.[25] The first trailer for Knights of the Old Republic II was later unveiled in July 2004.[26]

Knights of the Old Republic II uses the same d20 System as the first Knights of the Old Republic with some changes, and the level cap has also been removed.[2] Obsidian put much work into the game's graphics, including the appearances of non-player characters, and they also increased the sizes of areas.[2] Knights of the Old Republic II‍ '​s lead artist was Aaron Myers; he decided which people would join the art team after looking through "tons of applications, resumes, and demo reels", and he said that he was pleased with the amount of people who wanted to work for Obsidian.[27] Myers also complained about the short deadline the development team had to deal with.[27] Obsidian's COO, Chris Parker, said that the schedule set for the development team was "extremely aggressive", and that the team felt a lot of pressure because they were "making a sequel to the game of the year for 2003".[23] For the music, the development team felt that symphony orchestra would work best for Knights of the Old Republic II, and the game's music was composed by Mark Griskey.[28]

When looking back at Knights of the Old Republic II in a 2013 interview, Avellone said that LucasArts forced Obsidian to finish the game in a 14 to 16 months time frame which ended up in the game being in an "unfinished" state.[29] However, Avellone said that Obsidian was at fault for this due to not cutting out enough things; he noted that all minigames should have been removed, and also said that there were too many in-engine cutscenes.[29] Obsidian's co-founder, Feargus Urquhart, said that the game was originally going to be released in 2005, but it was later moved up to December 2004 after E3; according to him, Obsidian had to choose between "get[ting] in trouble or get[ting] it done".[30]

Knights of the Old Republic II went gold on November 23, 2004;[31] it was later released on the Xbox on December 6, 2004,[31][32] and the PC version was released on February 8, 2005.[33] The game was later re-released in August 2012 on the digital distribution platform, Steam,[34] and in January 2015 on GOG.com.[35] On July 21, 2015, OS X and Linux versions were released along with new support for Steam Workshop and other Steamworks features, controller input, and modern widescreen resolutions up to 5K.[36]

Along with several official patches, a fan-released unofficial patch by a modding community fixed around 500 remaining bugs,[37] along with restoring most of the content which was cut from the game.[38] There were also methods found by the community for improving compatibility on modern PC operating systems.[39]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Review scores
Publication Score
PC Xbox
1UP.com B[10]
Eurogamer 8/10[40]
GamePro 4.5/5[8] 4.5/5[41]
GameSpot 8.5/10[42] 8.5/10[1]
GameSpy 4/5[43]
GameZone 8.9/10[7] 9.3/10[44]
IGN 8.7/10[13] 9.3/10[45]
Aggregate scores
GameRankings 85%[46] 85%[47]
Metacritic 85/100[48] 86/100[49]

Knights of the Old Republic II was met with positive reception upon its release; on Metacritic, it has an aggregate score of 85/100 and 86/100 on the PC and Xbox versions respectively, indicating "generally favorable reviews" according to the site.[48][49] IGN said that there is a bulk of pressure involved with developing the sequel to a game from a different developer which won several "Game of the Year" awards, and that Obsidian delivered.[45] The review also said that it won't disappoint fans of the original game and that it is mostly similar to it in terms of the model.[45][13] GamePro praised both the first and second Knights of the Old Republic and said that the second game continues the series' tradition of not fixing what is not broken.[41] GameSpot echoed this statement, also saying that both the good things and the shortcomings from the first game are present in Knights of the Old Republic II.[1]

GameSpy compared the game to The Empire Strikes Back from the original Star Wars film trilogy in that its the best of the series in terms of story, and also said that the game has the best story in a video game since Planescape: Torment.[43] 1UP.com wrote that Obsidian surpassed the original Knights of the Old Republic in terms of the writing, saying that the plot is more consistent, the dialogue is edgier and the moral choices are more significant.[10] Eurogamer said that compared to the original game, Knights of the Old Republic II‍ '​s plot is "far more grey".[40] The review also said that planets are "better developed and paced".[40] GameZone wrote that the game is a "Must Buy" for people who like well-written characters and story.[44]

The combat was generally well-received, with some reviewers noting that it is mostly unchanged from the original Knights of the Old Republic.[6][7][8] GameSpot compared the combat from the first Knights of the Old Republic to the second, saying that it isn't well-balanced in both; however, the reviewer wrote that it helps the combat remain spontaneous.[42] GameZone said that the combat is not changed from the first Knights of the Old Republic to the second, but that this is a good thing since the combat in the original was enjoyable.[44] IGN praised the game's AI, saying that it is easy to control the main character alone without controlling the party members.[13] GameSpy's reviewer, on the other hand, said that he encountered problems with the combat AI that were not present in the original Knights of the Old Republic.[43]

GameSpot criticized Knights of the Old Republic II‍ '​s graphics, calling them "lackluster".[42][1] GameSpy's reviewer felt that the game's graphics were disappointing, calling them "a little dated" and "half-baked".[43] The reviewer further criticized the graphics for looking the same as they were in the first game of the series, saying that they could only be considered "good" during the release of that game.[43] GameZone said that the game looks exactly the same as the original Knights of the Old Republic,[44] and that it doesn't compare to the majority of mainstream games released at the time.[7] GameSpy called the music in the game "excellent"; however, the reviewer noted that some of it is re-used from the first game of the series.[43] The GameSpy reviewer also said that while the majority of the voice-acting is good, there are "a few more examples of bad voice-acting" than in the first Knights of the Old Republic.[43] GameZone said that the "top-notch" voice acting complements the game's very well-written dialogue, and also praised the game's sound effects.[44]

The game was criticized for its glitches; several players reported having problems with pathfinding bugs.[13] 1UP.com's reviewer condemned Knights of the Old Republic II for having the same bugs and technical issues as in the first game, saying that his party "still had a tendency to warp and skip around the map at times", and he also criticized the pathfinding in the game.[10] GameSpy said that the game's bugs are "hard to forgive", and that these issues didn't occur in the first Knights of the Old Republic.[43] In a different article, GameSpy said that the game is incomplete, and attributed this to the game's rushed deadline.[50]

GameSpy called Kreia the best video game character of 2005, saying that she was "easily the most intriguing, complicated, enigmatic, well-designed and nuanced character in a video game this year".[51] In 2010, the game was included as one of the titles in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die.[52]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]