Friday, February 18, 2005

Byte: KOTOR 2

Knights Of The Old Republic possibly rates as my favourite videogame ever, barring perhaps only Elite on the Spectrum. So, you can imagine my anticipation for the sequel, which was released last week. Pretty darned fevered.

Picture then, my confusion after having played the game for the best part of 13 hours over the last week, and still not having acquired a lightsaber. This time you're a Jedi from the start of the game, yet you don't have a lightsaber. Seems a little perverse, to me. The reason for not starting the game with one seems reasonable enough - your character is an exile, for participating in the Mandalorian Wars with Revan - but making you play the game for well over 10 hours with your first lightsaber not even remotely being in sight of being acquired? It seems like a method designed to alienate the audience.

That's not the only difference with its predecessor. KOTOR 2 is far wordier than the original game - so far I've had to sit through several cutscenes over five minutes long, which wouldn't be so bad (given that the quality of the script is good) were it not for a horrendous graphical bug that results in the graphics tearing across the screen whenever a cutscene is tripped. I like wordy RPGs, but not if you can't see the text you're meant to pick your responses from, because they haven't ironed out a graphical glitch, and it's smeared illegibly across the screen. Perhaps Obsidian have been taking QA tips from Troika (and you know what happened to them).

KOTOR 2 is a fine game - the improvements to the weapon upgrades and workbench system are good, plus the other minor tweaks to the game engine - but the edge is being taken off for me by the rather obtuse decision to deny your Jedi their signature weapon for so long (easily three times longer than in the original), the fairly slow start and by the technical glitches. I'm sure the game will improve as the story progresses (if there's one thing I have faith in, it's the storytelling ability of these ex-Black Isle boys), but even discounting the immense reputation KOTOR 2 had to live up to, I can't help being just a little bit disappointed so far.
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