Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II is the sequel to Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, a popular roleplaying game from Bioware. Knights of the Old Republic II was created by Obsidian and licensed by LucasArts. It was published for both the XBox and the PC. This review is of the PC version of the game.
Knights of the Old Republic II is set five years after the first game. The player controls the mysterious Jedi Exile and later a small party of other travelers. It is entirely the player’s decision whether the Jedi Exile is male or female. The Exile’s gender determines many things including romances and which characters join the player’s party. The skill and combat systems for the game are the same as those used in the first Knights of the Old Republic. It is a Dungeons-and-Dragons-style system involving Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. All attacks and skill checks in the game are done via a scripted random number generator that simulates the rolls of d20s and other various dice. The interface for the game is very user-friendly. When a player targets an enemy, a menu appears below the enemy’s name, and the player can choose to perform an attack, cast a Force ability, or throw a grenade. There is also a set of commands in the lower left-hand corner of the screen. These commands include self-target Force powers, usable items, equipped items with abilities, and mines that can be placed.
The interface for equipping characters and leveling them up is very straightforward. All equipment items have descriptions that include the attribute bonuses, skill bonuses, or other bonuses that they contribute. All usable items have descriptions that state their damage absorption or attribute modifiers, and their durations. In the character description interface, unmodified attributes are shown in teal while attributes that are temporarily modified by usable items or equipment are shown in yellow. When a character has gained a level that the player has not yet applied, a large L appears on the character’s portrait. In the character description interface, the player can apply this level however he sees fit. Decisions to make for level-ups include skill rank distribution, feat choices, Force power choices, and attribute increases. The game also includes an Auto-Level feature in which the game decides how to apply levels to characters. The Auto-Level feature is terrible. It does not have any semblance of strategy and simply applies attribute points to a character’s attributes depending on their class, disregarding any desire that the player may have to increase a character’s usefulness in some other area. Similarly, it uses class to determine how to apply feats, skill points, and force powers. The result is that a character may receive many ranks in a skill that the player never intends to use, a ranged character may end up with melee feats, and Light side Jedi may end up with useless Dark Side powers such as Force Scream.
Graphically, the game is passable. The character movement is convincing enough, but lip movement does not match speech, and the display has a tendency to cut out just before a cutscene.
The game’s story is quite interesting. The Jedi Exile is a former Jedi Knight who fought in the Mandalorion Wars prior to the first Knights of the Old Republic game. The game chronicles the Exile’s rise after losing his or her connection with the Force at the end of the Mandalorian Wars. The story is influenced by the player’s choices in the game, molding the Jedi Exile into a force of good or evil–or simply a neutral person. Depending on the Exile’s behavior, some party members will dislike him and some will like him. Party members that like the Exile will reveal far more about themselves, and will also grant the Exile and themselves bonuses to stats (or even prestige classes when the Exile’s influence over them is strong enough). The story is driven by the mysterious Kreia, whose ties to the Sith warn the Exile that he must train himself in order to defeat them, for they threaten to destroy the entire galaxy–something that no respectable Jedi or Sith would want.
The game’s music is also passable. It is nothing special: simply a series of remixes of music from Star Wars movies and other Star Wars games.
All in all, Knights of the Old Republic II is a very enjoyable game. It is definitely worth playing through, especially after completing the first Knights of the Old Republic game.