Verfasst: 8. Oktober 2014
"Perhaps you were expecting some surprise, for me to reveal a secret that had eluded you, something that would change your perspective of events, shatter you to your core. There is no great revelation, no great secret. There is only you."
That is the culmination of Obsidian's Knights of the Old Republic II, a game which flips the entire Star Wars universe on its head via deep character interactions and a unique spin on established aspects of the franchise.
Make no mistake - the original release of KOTOR II was a flawed, incomplete mess. Not only was it missing a large chunk of its ending (notably, what happened to the player's squadmates when they landed on the final planet), but it was buggy and prone to all sorts of glitches. Yet, despite all that, the game still remains a classic of the RPG genre for how often it defies standard conventions and plays with the series' established tropes.
You play the Exile, a former commander who committed a terrible sin to stop the Mandalorian Wars, and was exiled from the Jedi Order because of it. The game begins with the Exile waking up onboard the Peragus mining facility, alongside T3-M4 (a returning character from the first game) and an enigmatic woman named Kreia, who knows more than she lets on. Together with sprung prisoner (and ace pilot) Atton Rand, the quartet escapes the facility and discover that the Jedi have been driven to near-extinction. With the help of a cast of supporting squadmates, including a former Sith protegee named Visas, the fun-loving (well, as fun as a homicidal robot can be) assassin droid HK-47, a bounty hunter, the leader of the Mandalores and more, the Exile sets out to stop the Sith and rebuild the Jedi Order.
The biggest difference between this and KOTOR I is how linear this game is. Not that it diminishes the plot at all, but there's a definite rhythm to the way you approach areas and plot situations. Whereas the original game's only real goal was to activate the four pillars to find out the location of the Star Forge before assaulting it, II has you either aiding or working against a planet's internal war, taking part in a trial to exonerate a wrongfully-accused civilian, taking apart a crime syndicate and more. The plot is a lot tighter and focused than its predecessor.
The cast of characters is where the game really shines, though. Aside from Kreia (an enigmatic woman who stresses being neutral in all decisions), every character has some backstory that requires trust and increasing the "Force Bond" with them to access. I truly liked that you could upgrade various aspects of your teammates' abilities by either talking to them a lot or helping them with certain decisions.
It's pretty much a given that if you're going to play KOTOR II, you need the Restored Content Mod. Not only does it restore the bulk of the ending which was scrapped by Obsidian in their rush to finish the game for a Christmas deadline, but it also fixes a lot of the bugs and underlying coding issues found throughout the game. I used it the first time I played the game, and I can't imagine going without it. In the same vein, the M4-78 Enhancement Project fills in an unfinished questline and gives some great upgrades to your droid party members, along with some awesome consequences later in the game - I was so pumped to see the droid army helping me during a later encounter.
It's not all perfect, though. While the crafting system is very good (and has shades of Mass Effect, which came out three years later), it's far too easy to be stuck with a large amount of components and weapons that are unusable, and there's never any real need to upgrade your gear beyond a handful of weapons.
Likewise, the ending (even with the Restored Content Mod) is a huge slog. There's a mid-mission quest with a robotic remote, which you are forced into, which is impossible to complete if you didn't clear out all the enemies from the map just prior to starting it. Likewise, the final fortress is a huge slog and is only passable through spamming Force powers or avoiding the majority of enemies.
That said, KOTOR II is well worth your time and money. The way it turns many of the elements of the Star Wars universe on its head and keeps up the energy and characterization through its runtime is still near-unmatched in this day and age, and I heartily recommend that every RPG fan check this game out at least once.