Star Wars Knights Old Republic II: The Sith Lords – XB – Review

Not too long
ago, in a galaxy you’re probably very familiar with, LucasArts and BioWare Corp
released Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic for the Xbox and made us
believe that the role-playing game genre could get even better. Imagine playing
in the familiar Star Wars universe surrounded by characters you’ll come to love
and getting wrapped up in an epic tale with one of the best plot twists in video
game history. Oh yes, and the fact that you can choose the Dark Side just sealed
the deal. In Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords,
the tale continues and us fans couldn’t be happier. Yet now with Obsidian
Entertainment taking the reigns from BioWare, is this still the same great game?

 


 

Thankfully
the answer is a big yes. In fact, very little has changed in the game’s format
so fans of the now classic original can relax. The Sith Lords still plays in the
same universe as the first game and, in fact, the story takes place roughly in
the same timeframe. Five years has passed since the events of the first game and
the Jedi Order is in ruins since Darth Malak and the Sith had played a hand in
destroying Jedi Academies (most memorably being the destruction of the Jedi
Academy on Dantooine). To make matters worse, the old Republic finds itself in
turmoil. You play a Jedi who wakes up with no memory of your past or why you
were hurled out near a mining station aboard a very damaged Ebon Hawk. You
suddenly find yourself being hunted down by the Sith and it’s with the aid of
others that you come to know your past and your role in the ongoing struggle
between the Light and the Dark Side.

 

You’ll be
surrounded by some new faces (and some old ones, particularly the downright
hilarious HK-47), but the twist here is that the 10 members of your party might
not be as reliable as, say, Carth or Mission from the first game. You’ll be
joined this time by Kreia, who replaces the Bastilla character from the first
game, your new mentor in the Force. You’ll even be joined by the suave Han
Solo-like Atton Rand, who doesn’t fail to get on your nerves the same way Carth
did. They, as well as many of the others (including the droids), will act
suspiciously, leaving you wondering if maybe one of these characters might just
turn on you at the drop of a hat. You’ll also find that one or two of them have
a reason to despise you, although their true motives won’t be revealed till the
very end. That doesn’t mean, though, that their help isn’t appreciated and there
are many times in the game where you’ll turn to individual party members for
their skills.

 

Here’s the
best part, though. Your choices made throughout the game have an influence over
your party. If you choose to go the Light Side route, the characters that have
aligned themselves to the Dark Side suddenly find themselves questioning
themselves and help you do good. On the other hand, if you choose to follow the
path of the Dark Side, you’ll find that many of the honestly good characters
begin to see your point of view and turn to the Dark Side themselves. The change
to whatever side you choose is a gradual one since these characters just don’t
blindly follow your path, they question your actions, often making interesting
points. Yet when you justify your actions, you’ll watch the change since it not
only affects their personality but also their physical features (those that
follow the Dark Side become pale and their eyes redden).

 


 

Speaking of
choices, the game throws several scenarios with the opportunity to choose your
path. Like the first game that offered plenty of side quests or mini-missions as
you made your way through each planet in search of the main objective, this
sequel isn’t any different. Again you’ll find yourself faced with committing
some pretty vile acts and even getting a chance to do the famous triple cross.
In one instance, you find yourself on a rescue mission with the opportunity to
do the right thing and return an enslaved victim of slavery or double cross the
person that sent you on the mission and become the new slave owner. Even the
manner in which you respond to members of your party or NPC characters can lead
to Dark Side or Light Side points. Like the original, it’s still more fun to be
bad but then you knew that since games like Fable borrow the same
good/bad option in a similar way. Yes, it’s so wickedly satisfying to be bad.

 

Combat hasn’t
changed at all and that’s not bad at all seeing as how the first game made
real-time combat so fun. You’ll find the same familiar weapons with some new
ones tossed in, but you’ll find yourself often turning to the good old
lightsaber or two. You’ll go up against a number of Sith assassins in this game
and depending on your level and skill progression you’ll find that slicing
through the hordes isn’t very tough. There are also the helpful Force Powers
that help even up the odds, especially if you’re out of thermal detonators. New
to the series is combat forms, a different Jedi fighting style that are acquired
and learned and are used in different combat situations. If you’re going against
an opponent with a powerful blaster it’s wise to use Soresu form, while if
you’re up against multiple enemies the Shii-Cho form is recommended. It’s not
difficult to learn what style is good for what encounter so you won’t find
yourself struggling to understand each form.

 


 

Graphically
speaking, The Sith Lords looks like the original game in almost every way. Now
this isn’t necessarily a bad thing since the backgrounds are still beautifully
rendered and many of the shiny reflections of the sun bouncing off smooth
surfaces are still easy on the eyes, but it’s disappointing for those expecting
an update for the sequel. You’ll still find a number of NPCs that look a lot
like the other NPC you met on a different planet, and we’re not just talking
about droids or aliens with the same features but humans. The character models
of the main cast, however, are expressive and have their own style. What does
steal the show visibly, though, are the visual effects. Explosions still look
amazing and many of the Force Powers won’t fail to impress, and I still love
watching lightsaber fights unfold.

 

As for the
sound, this is where the game really shines. We’re talking about a score that
would make John Williams proud. It’s beautifully cinematic and listening to it
punctuate each key scene just makes this game feel like a true epic. If that
wasn’t enough, the voice acting is top notch and this is great news since the
dialogue is so well written. The sound effects are still the best and you’ll
notice this right away whether you step foot in a crowded area or are deep in a
swoop race. Brilliant work!

 

Star Wars
Knights of the Old Republic II
is
more of the same but trust me when I say that‘s a very good thing. The original
formula is still present in The Sith Lords but with an even cooler story
and a healthy number of choices available to you, this one won’t fail to
recapture that same feeling you had when you discovered that this was an RPG
that changed how you looked at the genre. 

 


Review Scoring
Details for Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic: The Sith Lords

 

Gameplay:
9.5
Once again the story is better than
the recent Star Wars films combined and with loads of choices to be a good guy
or an all-out wicked Dark Side bad guy the game won’t fail to hook fans new or
old. The combat is, again, sheer perfection and this time you’ll need the skills
of all the members in your huge party. In short, this is RPG heaven.

 

Graphics:
8.2
Visually the game hasn’t changed
much as well, which can be a bit of a downer. Still, there’s some flashier
effects centered on the Force powers and watching lightsaber fights will not
fail to put a smile on your face. The environments aren’t bad and neither are
the character models.

 

Sound: 9.6
The soundtrack is, bar none, still
one of the most cinematic and wonderfully dramatic scores to immerse you into
the Star Wars universe. The voice acting is done right and it fits the
wonderfully written dialogue like a glove. Even the sound effects are great …
especially those cool lightsaber sounds.

 


Difficulty: Medium
You’ll find yourself up against a
large number of enemies at once and you best level up before going up against
some of the tougher members of the Sith. Remember going up against Darth Malak’s
apprentice in the first game in the Wookie planet? Yup, there’s some really
powerful villains in this one.

 

Concept:
10
The story has enough twists and
turns depending on what side you choose or what gender you choose so you’ll be
coming back if you want to see all of what this game has to offer. The
characters are fun and interesting (especially watching them turn to the Dark
Side along with you if you go that route) and you’ll even get to meet up with
characters from the first game. Overall, this is how you make a role-playing
game, period.

 

Overall:
9.3
Highly enjoyable from start to
finish, The Sith Lords won’t fail to keep fans deeply involved in a game
that should be among any Xbox owner’s library. If the wonderfully written story
and interesting characters won’t hook you, then you must not like brilliant
role-playing games or Star Wars. For those who do, this is a Must Buy.