It almost feels arrogant to give a game a title as long as ‘Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords’. Fortunately for this RPG, it has the gripping narrative and thrilling gameplay to back up its title. It is fitting that the most popular sci-fi franchise of all time is responsible for producing one of the most popular sci-fi RPGs, KOTOR 2, building on its predecessor to provide a memorable gaming experience.
BioWare was the company behind the first KOTOR, but the responsibility for KOTOR 2 fell to Obsidian Entertainment. BioWare felt unable to satisfy to LucasArts’ demanding development schedule, so the company recommended Obsidian as a safe pair of hands to take the series forward. BioWare’s recommendation was smart. Obsidian kept the winning parts of KOTOR and added its own flair to create a game that is still beloved some fifteen years after its release.
The appeal of an RPG largely depends on the variety and the consequences of the choices that the player must make. After all, if a gamer is to truly feel that they occupy the role of a character, they have to think deeply about their decisions. The RPG must also give the player a sense that they are going on a personalized adventure, by making a series of specific choices at specific moments that only they could have made.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is an RPG that does this particularly effectively, with players able to explore the vast open world and complete quests in an order that befits their character’s development, while Sparta: War of Empires and Stormfall: Age of War are just two of the Plarium MMO and RPG games that allow players to form alliances and devise military strategies. This opens up a range of possibilities that can allow each player to have a different experience as they choose their preferred tactics for winning the game.
KOTOR 2 similarly evokes a feeling that each in-game decision is not only extremely consequential but is also setting the player down a unique path. The lore of Star Wars helps in this regard, with a clearly defined battle between the Jedi and the Sith. Gamers can use their character to spread the influence of the light or the dark side, with each move shaping the character’s arc and development.
It helps that the overarching narrative for KOTOR 2 retains all the classic storytelling elements of the Star Wars movies while being sufficiently different to create a gripping tale in its own right. The world of KOTOR 2 is also filled with wonderfully realized characters to interact with. Kreia, the fallen Jedi, was named as Gamespy’s best character of 2005 in the video game industry, with this complex character being integral to the moral quandaries that beset the player.
The biggest criticism of the game is aimed at its relatively poor graphics. However, the strength of the story and the gameplay more than compensate for that. It would be fascinating to see how Obsidian would tackle the production of a KOTOR 3 some decade and a half later, given all of the technological developments in the interim.
There are no indications that this will ever happen, but players can be more than content with KOTOR 2. This RPG presents a timeless story and powerful choices for the player, all wrapped within the beloved universe of Star Wars.