Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Byte: KOTOR 2, continued

I took the opportunity to work from home today, which allowed me to spend my lunch-time killing off KOTOR 2, which I'd been steadily working my way through for the last couple of weeks.

I don't think I've ever been quite so disappointed by the ending of a game. This is because despite all the potential clearly shining in the game, despite all the things that Obsidian did right with the majority of the writing and the tweaks to the game mechanics, something clearly happened between developer and publisher that meant the tone of ending was completely and utterly at odds with the more thoughtful, even philosophical, tone of the rest of the game.

From the very first scene, it's practically spelt out that Kreia, your mentor, is Betrayer In Chief. It's right up Obsidian's alley, and to be expected for a game this dark. So, to defeat the two main Sith Lords, and then have to deal with Kreia wasn't a huge surprise. What was a surprise was just how poorly it was implemented.

The finale is absolutely laughable, and the closing cinematic is about as rewarding as half a lottery ticket. It's doubly galling, when you consider the original ending Obsidian weren't given time to do (or were ordered not to do) by Lucasarts. The final planet of Malachor V makes the Star Forge look inspired - all you have to do on Malachor is bludgeon your way through waves and waves of Sith, until you reach the centre of the Academy - only with no puzzles to solve on the way, or super-powerful inventory items to collect to ready you for the conclusion.

Then, after you defeat Kreia in an incredibly unbalanced fight (where the hell did she get those 1000 vitality points from?), she heals herself, and miraculously spawns three Mordenkaine's Flying Lightsabers to kill you. D'oh! Talk about throwing away all the credibility you've been building up throughout the game. And then, after you defeat the sabers, Kreia just keels over, and that's it. Cheers for turning up. Or, if you're so inclined, you can get her to tell the fortune of the Republic and your shipmates, and *THEN* she keels over and scurries up to the Jedi Rest Home in the sky.

It's completely incongruous to the rest of the game; it feels rushed and amateurish - as if they had to cobble it together a month before release - which they may well have done. Couple that to the considerable technical problems, and the perverse decision to deny your Jedi their lightsaber for well over a quarter of the game (at least 10, and up to 15 hours of the 40 hour total) and it all adds up to another potentially great game ruined by the money men who wanted a pre-Christmas US release on the Xbox, and wanted to leave the door open for another money-spinning sequel.

What a waste...
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