In a galaxy far, far away is one of the greatest RPGs of all time, you just need to read my Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Switch review to discover why, but that’s not why we’re here. Instead, it’s time to visit its sequel, which, unlike the vast majority of sequels, can stand toe to toe with its predecessor.
In fact, if we go back to 2004, the year in which Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords first entered the galaxy, it came as a surprise to many, when in some ways, it’s superior to what came before it. To this day, I’m one of those people, this is a rare instance where I think the sequel is just as good, and it’s a special game in its own right. Particularly as KOTOR II: The Sith Lords is a standalone sequel, with a story that draws you in, thanks to the numerous twists and turns you encounter, not to mention the amount of freedom it affords you when it comes to choices you make.
It’s no secret that RPGs and narrative-driven titles are a favourite to me, and when a role-playing title features a story like this, it excites me. You see, it’s time to visit the darkest days of the Old Republic, a time when the Jedi are all but wiped out, and it seems as though all hope is lost. The galaxy is in disarray, as the Sith looks to enforce change in the galaxy.
When KOTOR II begins, you must select your Jedi class. One has a prominent focus on the force, another makes you a master with the lightsaber, while a different class essentially makes you a jack of all trades. I chose to be a guardian, which means I’m as proficient as it gets in close combat – I prefer melee, and I love to take an aggressive approach whenever possible, so you can probably guess what direction I went in, but we’ll get onto that later.
When you come to, you find yourself on a ship, known as Harbinger, and it’s soon discovered that your character is an exile, which means they were kicked out of the Jedi order – a ballsy move considering those with the force don’t grow on trees, but hey, we’re still standing while the rest of the order has become galactic shish kebab. Anyway, I digress.
Soon enough, you meet one of your faithful companions, Kreia, and work your way through this ship to plot your escape. Fortunately, given there’s a fair bit to master in terms of mechanics, the opening of the game serves as a solid tutorial, giving you plenty of time to familiarise yourself with everything – it’s relatively smooth sailing while also effective as it sets you up for what is to come.
Ultimately, you find yourself travelling to Telos, where you meet another exile from the Jedi Order, and this is where the events of the KOTOR II truly begin, as it becomes evident as to what the goal is for you and those that join you – build a resistance to rebuild the Jedi order and fight the Sith.
This leads me along nicely to what makes the KOTOR games some of my favourites in the RPG genre – your choices truly matter. Yes, I’m aware that any RPG worth its salt has impactful decisions, but KOTOR II lets you dictate your path entirely. You don’t have to join the light side of the force. You can go to the dark side, and team up with those you initially swore to defeat.
Better yet, if you go to the dark side, your transition occurs over time, with your appearance changing as you embrace those feelings more and more. Now’s the time where I should point out that yes, I am one with the dark side, and no, I’m not sorry for it. Bad guys have so much more fun, and I feel so powerful as a Sith. Also, I hasten to point out that the Jedi order exiled me… I’m still a wee bit salty about that, so when it came time to do some recruiting, I may have taken the chance to exact some revenge.
See, that’s what makes this so fantastic – do things your way, and watch your story unfold as you travel to luscious planets, explore incredible architecture, and meet a cast of enigmatic characters that all serve a purpose to the game and its plot.
Right, I’ve probably prattled on enough about the story and choices, so how about we move on to combat, which was a primary concern I had going into this. Allow me to explain. This is a port of the original game, Aspyr does little to change it, so you get an authentic experience (which I love), but games that are nearly 20 years old can pose a challenge in combat. However, I’m pleased to say that KOTOR II doesn’t suffer the same way.
The combat mechanics still work well. You get to select the weapon you use and get to work, or fire off some abilities to gain the advantage – it all comes down to your personal approach, which just adds to replayability. Furthermore, there’s plenty of gear for you to equip throughout your journey, each of which provides different benefits and drawbacks, as do the numerous attributes you can work on.
I have to admit, as much as I love using a lightsaber, there’s something that’s just so satisfying about inflicting damage through the use of the force. Throwing people around like a ragdoll just doesn’t get old. However, It’s vital to know your direction early on, for if you sink your points into the wrong attributes, it can bugger up the approach you initially chose – though I’d argue that any way you play is fun, so equally don’t be afraid to change things up if you want to.
As for controls, they’re smooth, and just what you’d expect from a port like this, with the button mapping being perfect too, and luckily, controlling the camera isn’t too restrictive, which is a pleasant surprise. It’s certainly nice to take in your surroundings once in a while in a game like this, because even though the graphics are dated (as it remains true to the original), it’s a reminder of the marvel it was in 2004, and why it’s still held in such high regard.
Honestly, the outdated graphics don’t bother me, though, in this day and age, they might prove bothersome for others, if you can, I implore you to look beyond KOTOR II’s appearance, as it offers you one of the finest RPG experiences in history, and Aspyr has done a phenomenal job in bringing it to a Switch audience.
As a result, I’ve nothing to say about performance, other than that the game runs well, and I experienced minimal issues during my time with it. The only hiccup that comes to mind, is that during the iconic opening credits, the words stretched a bit, but beyond this moment, everything runs swimmingly.
All in all, I can’t say enough kind words about Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, it’s an intergalactic nostalgia trip that takes you back to one of the finest RPGs out there, and dare I say that, even after almost 20 years, it withstands the tests of time. Aspyr has done an incredible job, and if you happen to be a Stars Wars or RPG fan, this is the game for you. Be you a new or old player, you really need to visit this galaxy far, far away.
A fantastic port of what just might be one the best RPGs of all time, it’s a fantastic sequel to its predecessor, and builds upon KOTOR perfectly. Your decisions in the world matter, so what are you waiting for, choose a side, and make the galaxy your own.