Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2 isn’t much fun

I’m always looking for visual metaphors and here it is courtesy of a common motion-blur graphics bug: if you squint, Kotor 2 looks pretty good as a low-resolution outline. But to clear eyes it’s damaged by a severe lack of polish and glitchy, confusing details. And then deep beneath the surface, you can feel the pain of the unfinished product…

[First time for this blog, a game review! My brother recommended that I play Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords. I love my brother but… oh man I hated that game. I’ve really only written this post to explain to him why I disliked it so much, so forgive the fragmented, rambly style]

I try to avoid calling anything overrated, but the praise I see for Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords (Kotor 2) just baffles me. I can’t find a single serious negative review for it — even though it’s a buggy, broken, imbalanced mess that suffers from obvious development limitations. It has a solid enough narrative outline (but as I will explain, the actual narrative sputters) and I restored much of the content the developers cut to meet publishing deadlines with this mod. But the game still feels like such an incomplete, disjointed experience that I can’t recommend it to anyone. It’s awful or, at the very least, it does not hold up 15 years later.

First though, I suppose that I should address the elephant in the room early: Kotor 2 seems incomplete because it is. The publisher (Lucas Arts) pushed the developer (Obsidian Entertainment) into an early release, forcing the devs to scrap much of the work-in-progress content and rush out the remainder without much time to polish or address bugs.* But let me make this clear: I do not care about the game Kotor 2 could have been if it had completed its original production schedule. I only care about the game Kotor 2 is now, and even with support from post-release patches and fan-fixes via the Restored Content Mod, it’s still just… not much fun.

I don’t really have an argument here beyond a series of impressions on vague categories including level design, gameplay, characters, dialogue and narrative, role-playing features, and the so-called “philosophy.” Spoilers abound, but whatever, the game lacks a big twist like the original and it’s been 15 years anyway, so who cares.

* (Just a quick note on bugs because everyone will experience them differently: on my Windows 10 PC, dialogues skipped, cutscenes broke, graphics exploded, characters fell out of the map, voice lines didn’t play, framerates collapsed and I crashed over and over again across my 65 hours and 1.5 playthroughs. The game just doesn’t run well with my modern system)

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