Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords is a horror story. What happens when the force no longer favors you? If you walk away from being the chosen one, can you survive? kotor 2 shows you the dead, undefeated heart of an endlessly wide and unfeeling galaxy. Instead of dedicating itself entirely to space western fantasy like its BioWare-made predecessor, kotor 2 is a razor-sharp questioning of whether the war of stars The universe must exist at all. It holds back the gentle nostalgia evoked by that latest Lego Star Wars Gameand I respect it for prompting my skepticism about its narrative.
First published in 2004, kotor 2 only had a year of development, which resulted in a lot of trimmed content and technical issues compared to its relatively stable predecessor. When I played the PC version back then, you had to install one Content recovery mod just to watch a bunch of plot-critical cutscenes. So it’s hard to fret over Aspyr’s just-released Nintendo Switch port for being a buggy mess.
I’m disappointed but not surprised that the switch port randomly crashes for no apparent reason or keeps repeating a scene until I give up and reset the game hoping it doesn’t repeat next time. Such issues would give plenty of reason to move away from most Switch games, but as a seasoned gamer kotor 2 Player I’ve come to assume these bugs are the cost of entering Obsidian’s dull, messy, broken galaxy. Still, it feels a bit outrageous that it took Aspyr two weeks to make it Fix a breakthrough bug the prevented players from even completing the game.
I discovered the best feature of the Switch port by accident: Double-clicking the left movement stick brings up the cheat menu. Here you can manually add abilities, replicate items, jump to specific cutscenes, or zoom around in the free camera view. I felt this was an excellent compromise between staying true to the original game and trying to provide a less frustrating buggy experience.
The free camera is by far one of my favorite features: I explored the entire royal palace of Onderon and found the whole level floating in the air. Some games are content to just make fun of themselves. The switch port of kotor 2 stands by his warts and invites you to explore them at your leisure. The Aspyr port also restores certain story scenes that were cut from the original, but I had a hard time remembering which ones as I’ve always played the PC version with the content restoration mod .
The Switch port crashes less often than the PC version, but you don’t play this game to experience technical excellence or to monotonously traverse its sparsely populated environments. you play it because kotor 2‘s cynical, questioning perspective on the galaxy is just what we need at a time when all our institutions are falling apart.
The original from BioWare KotOR has a former Sith Lord who saves the Republic after originally conspiring to destroy it. In the Obsidian sequel, a Jedi Exile unearths the remains of a failed war, government, and spiritual philosophy. kotor 2 is much less encouraging to save the republic. Crucially, you feel no loyalty to the Galactic Federation or the Jedi Order. What do you owe to a government that has weaponized you? Absolutely nothing. But you can pick up your lightsaber for yourself, and you can teach others to do the same.
The game is characterized by telling several stories from the past and the present at the same time. The best example of this is the Peragus tutorial level, where the player escapes from a mining facility. An assassin trapped me in the asteroid belt and forced me to piece together video footage to learn about his other murdered victims and possible escape routes; All of this was part of a larger conspiracy orchestrated by a droid’s attempts to “fix” the shattered Republic. Exploring the ruins of the Sith planet of Korriban, I was trying not only to find a hidden Jedi Master, but also to shed new light on the protagonist’s role in the brutal Mandalorian Wars that took place before WWII KotOR Series has even started. And I felt horror as I investigated some strange signals on the smuggler’s moon Nar Shadaa, only to find my quest giver’s severed limb upon my return. There weren’t any clear answers other than those I deduced from context clues.
Like any good horror game kotor 2 thrives on making you feel isolated and uncomfortable. Unfortunately, not every philosophical inquiry makes the landing. One of those missteps happened when I decided to give money to a beggar on Nar Shaddaa. Instead of reacting like a normal person, your mentor says you weakened him by showing charity. That alone would have been fine, but the game then showed me a vision of the man being beaten up for his spare change. I laughed at the scene, which came across as awkward rather than thoughtful. kotor 2 can feel radical and liberating, but those moments coexist with those of Nar Shaddaa, where the game reproduces the cold, conservative logic of a dying empire.
kotor 2 is not a happy RPG where everything can be solved through the power of friendship. The characters reproduce the broken logic of a galaxy that has completely failed them, and the game ruthlessly dumps them. Years later, female developers claimed that the main writer and designer was Chris Avellone committed sexual misconduct while working at Obsidian, to which he replied sue her for defamation. Avellone wasn’t the only writer on the team, but I still found it difficult to part with the art kotor 2is the lead designer. The game depicts the galaxy in shades of grey, which makes the game feel liberating when playing as a struggling college student. Now, as a seasoned adult, I’m much more critical of the how kotor 2 represents moral ambiguity, which can often be used as a weapon to serve men in power.
Despite this, the game always hits emotionally harder than any other war of stars media ever had. My favorite moment happens towards the end when Your protagonist eventually encounters the Jedi Masters who had banished her from the order. The background music disappears entirely as the Exile’s mentors explain why they lost their connection to the Force, but it triumphantly continues as they begin to denounce their student’s existence as a danger to the galaxy.
“You were blinded,” accuses the master. In response, the camera abruptly snaps to the Sith Lord Traya lurking nearby: “And at last, you seen.” Though these lines aren’t as flowery as most of the script, the dramatic irony of the execution hits hard and makes this long-awaited encounter with Dantooine the most memorable scene in the game.
While kotor 2 Almost never commenting on the extreme perspectives of his traumatized cast, the cinematic techniques he applies to Dantooine make it clear that the Jedi teachings of detachment from worldly concerns are wrong. But the Jedi Masters hit the mark with one of their accusations: by slaughtering hundreds of faceless enemies and siphoning off all experience points, their character has indeed become the deadliest, most inexplicable villain in the galaxy. I admired that kotor 2 not only acknowledges these RPG mechanics in the game, but is willing to have a willing character speak up about why BioWare protagonists are, at large, bad for the galaxy.
Although your exiled Jedi is the most skilled killer, kotor 2 is also able to take away their agency by letting their mentor manipulate events behind the scenes. The Switch port retains the scenes where Darth Traya violently manipulates multiple characters to aid in the protagonist’s quest, all without their knowledge. Traya’s hatred of the Force stems from the mystical phenomenon actively manipulating history, yet she regularly uses it to dominate others. Watching her blackmail my friends while the exile was out of earshot felt horrifying.
But I also loved that these events were completely beyond the protagonist’s knowledge or control. In BioWare games, the player is usually omnipotent. Given enough time, the “Chosen” protags are always privy to the world’s darkest and cruelest secrets. But in kotor 2, your forsaken exile lacks the mandate of the galaxy. If you are truly Everyman, you are controlled by systems and people more powerful than you. Being privy to information about the exile that was completely disconnected from the protagonist’s own consciousness was fascinating. kotor 2 is a sequel to the critically acclaimed BioWare war of stars game, but undermines the studio’s protagonist-centric approach to storytelling. There are some mysteries the Exiled Jedi will never find out, and that’s no injustice. That’s just the reality of life.
Towards the end of the game, I had a private chat with one of my party members, Disciple. He was a former Jedi trainee who metaphorically worshiped exile. My character talked about how guilty she felt for leading others into a galactic space war and expressed doubts as to whether party members followed willingly. Disciple couldn’t quite convince me that he was completely unaffected by the sensibilities of the power of exile, but in 2004 it felt intrusive to him kotor 2 to question the ethics of RPG protagonism. It still feels relevant in 2022, when even the most ambitious, story-driven games can’t avoid revolving around the player. What a very important person you must be.
https://kotaku.com/star-wars-kotor-2-obsidian-nintendo-switch-1849318853 Star Wars KotOR 2 for the Switch is a broken but brilliant mess