Published by: DiscGolfDiver on 2006-03-14
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Knights of the Old Republic II is a good game. Maybe even a very good game. Which is a pity, because its prequel was one of the greatest games of all time. The sequel doesn't live up.
The game mechanics are virtually identical to the original, which is fine. There are a few minor tweaks. The workbench can now be used to create items, not just upgrade them, and there's a new "lab station" that can make medical items and explosives. Both of these stations are much more common than the workbench was in the original. You can now switch among several "forms" which give bonuses to some attributes and penalties to others. Pazaak has been improved with the addition of some new cards, plus the first play alternates between the contestants. Other than that, there's not much in the engine that's new.
Which, again, is fine. The original's mechanics worked well and there's no need to change them. But the original achieved legendary status by building a powerful and compelling storyline on top of those mechanics, and here the sequel falls short.
The characters aren't as interesting. Your character's motivations are far less clear. There are times when a character's actions become cryptic for nothing more than the sake of being cryptic. The game shows you many cut-scenes where your main character is not present, so you will gain knowledge that your character is unable to act on, which can be frustrating.
I found KotOR II much easier than the original. Virtually none of the enemies provided a challenge. I frequently found myself opening a door, facing up to a dozen foes, and slicing through them like butter, only to open the next door and do it all over again. There is an adjustable difficulty level, which I left on Normal... I can't imagine what Easy must be like.
While leaving the engine pretty much alone, Obsidian abused it by throwing more at it than it can handle. Occasions where the frame rate drops are frequent, sometimes unacceptably so. In a few instances, it dropped to less than one frame per second. I also encountered one hard crash while playing. Fortunately, the game autosaves frequently.
Ironically, I was compelled to play the game almost continuously through and completed it in a single weekend. This was because I kept waiting for it to get better, waiting for the dramatic improvement that would make it a worthy sequel. It never came, and the ending was as disappointing as the rest of the game.
My advice to those who played and loved the prequel is to play KotOR II, but keep your expectations low. Perhaps then the disappointment won't be as bitter.
Related Link: Official Knights of the Old Republic web site
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