Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords
The saga continues! Wasting time almost exclusively on RPGs this year continues! Life continues! Everything continues! Last time
, I wondered if Obsidian did a better job than Bioware. Short answer: yes, but not as much as I'd hoped. Long answer: read rant below. What was fixed, or What's good about TSL:
+ improved area design - The kindergarten was burned to the ground, and now it's decently well-done. It's still a little empty, but overall it's much better.
+ side-quests - They exist! They're not crap! In fact, much like in Bloodlines, much like any great RPG I've played, they're the best part. Sometimes they even feature multiple solutions! Hurray!
+ skill and stat-checks - Unlike the first game, this one uses both skill (besides Persuasion) and stat checks. It adds some flavor to the proceedings. What was not fixed, or What's bad about the KOTOR series:
+ main story is just as predictable as the last one. In fact, it is
the last one. It's the same story, told in a somewhat more interesting manner. Counterpoint: The metaphysical noodling about the Force makes it all sound a lot smarter than it really is. Oh, and this game's big twist is so predictable, I don't think anyone could call it a twist aside from your in-game character.
+ companions are the same ol', same ol' - Most follow you regardless of what you do, their reactions are meaningless, and you can mold them to your liking. Sort of like with the main story, there's again some metaphysical noodling that plays very
nicely into this, but this is a game, not a novel. By which I mean, I'd prefer my choices to have consequences. Counterpoint: They do, in the form of influence. Counter counterpoint: Yes, unfortunately. The fear of losing influence makes the game less fun, as now you're always worried about choosing the right thing to say or making sure you're not doing something that displeases someone, even while it pleases someone else. You might think this is a good thing, but nope, it's a drag, because it makes no difference - your companions are yours, want them or not. Small saving grace: Their backgrounds are a little better. No one is as offensively lame as Carth or Mission. Too many of them, though. And too many robots. And the Handmaiden / Disciple thing is a shitty move on their part, as it means male characters get a certain bonus while female ones don't - and it's not that they get something else. Oh, and then there's bonuses you can't get unless you have Skills. Good luck with playing that Guardian or not having a intelligence bonus.
+ morality - This is probably my biggest complaint. Obsidian didn't change the soul-crushingly lame character responses to something more acceptable. It's somewhat understandable, SW is shitty like that, and this game was a very fast iteration on the first one, but still, I'd expect better from the heirs of Black Isle. From how the rest was done, it's obvious this was on purpose. I'm not sure if that makes it better or worse for me.
+ the interface - I didn't really mention this one last time, but it's really consoley. The mouse here can move up and down, which basically made me switch to playing almost exclusively on the keyboard, which was painful in more ways than one - I think I damaged my wrist, but the amount of frustration at not being able to do a few simple things that would have made my life easier is even worse. Such as, use keys for activating powers. There's a lot of keys on keyboards, dear developers, many more than on gamepads. And making me click two small arrows in the bottom left corner over and over and over again is not fun, not practical, not cool. Would having four or five hotkeys bindable to anything really be asking too much?
+ difficulty - It's still way too easy, while at the same time doing that "hez too powerful, mastah" thing twice. Now that's frustrating. Sion was easy, Nihilus was laughably easy, Sion again almost made me excited when he landed a couple of hits, but then I realized my buffs were down because the battle repeats so many times, at which point I once again wiped him out in a single speed+flurry attack, as all previous times. The beloved be-Traya was harder to hit, which helped none, because I was even harder to hit, and two or three attacks instead of one isn't exactly frustrating. The beasts you fight in the Dantooine academy took more effort.
+ character system / levelling -> In the first one, this seemed like a plus. It was simplistic, but the level 20 cap prevented the issues that occur in TSL, namely how all your characters end up the same due to the fact you'll be finishing the game at around lvl 27. It also shoots balancing in the head, as they decided that's too much work and just added scaling. Oh the horror... What was added/changed and we regret it, or What's bad about TSL:
+ crafting - Apparently it was unacceptable to publish a RPG without crafting at the time, and that resulted in this time-consuming yet unappealing activity. It also forces / punishes you for not upgrading the Repair skill with your main character. Again, what's the purpose of all these other people if I have to do everything myself? Why does the game look at the Exile's Repair skill instead of whoever is at the goddamn workbench? Shitty programming, that's why. The game really looks at whoever is the party leader. Normally, that's the Exile, but there are a couple of situations where that isn't true, so this becomes apparent. I honestly think this should be considered a bug, but no one else seems to agree, I've seen no mods that correct this. I did say this game is poorly balanced, right?
+ morality game mechanic - I did previously complain about the B&W character responses, and also that the original game screwed over grey Jedi by not affording them any endgame items. Well, TSL takes this one step further, because it adds the concept of Mastery - which is, you've guessed it, B&W. No bonus for you unless you've essentially strapped yourself at one extreme or another. And I do mean extreme. It's not enough to have light shooting out of your derrière, that little slider needs to be at the very top or no deal.
+ random loot - So, the first game featured a mix of predetermined and random loot. TSL is, sadly, much more heavily randomized. What this means is that you might get two copies of a great item next to each other (I mention this little scenario because it's exactly what happened to me...by the end of the game, I had three - THREE - copies of the Circlet of Saresh), or you might play a game where you get crap items for the entire duration.
+ implants depend on Constitution instead of feats - Increasing CON becomes mandatory, as the game checks only the base value, which really messed up my Sentinel/Watchman build - ie, with the Mastery and the Prestige class, I got +6 to CON. Did the game care? Nope, still could only wear 12 CON implants. You know, the shitty ones. But even if I disregard how it thwarted my attempt at being clever, pumping CON isn't very appealing to anyone, even to the straightforward frontlines fighter. So now you have to pull up some list of all the implants in the game and decide if spending four out of the five extra stat points you'll most likely get on CON is worth it. Except your calculations will indubitably be thwarted by the randomization. You can't make them (did I mention crafting is really just upgrade and utility items crafting? no? well it is), you probably won't be able to buy them (store inventories are also random, of course), all you can do is hope
someone drops that sweet +2/+2/+2 boost that will have you ahead by two points. If this setup was a vegetable, it would be a shit pickle.
A short note on the famous unfinishedness & bugginess of TSL: The tales of it have been greatly exaggerated. At least, post all the patches that Obsidian put out. Trivia: they also wanted to put out a content patch, but LucasArts said no. I find that hilarious. Anyway, I've seen precisely zero game-breaking bugs. A few quests refused to go away from the active list in the journal even though I solved them. Every so often, the cutscenes behaved as if someone put them on fast forward. This also happens with the famous Restored Content Mod, though. Which brings me to the point: don't feel that you must install it. It changes the game, in addition to fixing bugs and restoring content. After an interesting discussion with fellow forumer Novotnus (starts here
), my view of it has been somewhat tempered, and now I'd say install it for the second playthrough.