KOTOR 2 uses an interesting plot device to explain why your battle scarred, world weary Jedi character has such meager stats and force powers at the beginning of the game. In the original there was no such excuse because you simply started as a oridinary, human being and only gained force powers after going through the training on Dantoine.
KOTOR 2 on the other hand insists that you were a Jedi once, and that you are actually one of the last of the living Jedi knights in the galaxy. So why the poor starting characteristics? It turns out that you were exiled from the order, and the Jedi Council somehow severed your connection to the force. Ha! Clever stuff. Unfortunately while it does make some sense on the surface, and does make for a good story (why did they do it and how?) I don’t totally buy this explanation. It’s not very consistent with what we know about the Star Wars universe. If the Jedi Council had this power all along and could elect to neuter a Jedi knight at a whim by severing him from the force why was it done to your character (a virtual nobody), and not to the big bad Sith Lords that threatened the galaxy in the past? Someone is probably going to say they were to powerful to be dealt with that way or that the Sith training includes techniques that help one protect himself from such an attack, and I guess it is an explanation of sorts. Still it has not been addressed in the game yet. I will suspend my judgment on this until I finish the game but I’m not entirely happy with the forceful force removal idea.
On the other hand, I kinda like the idea of a failed, broken Jedi character. If I remember correctly the D6 Star Wars rulebook we used way back when (long log ago, in a galaxy far far away) actually included something similar as a playable character archetype. I think it was dubbed as the “Fallen Jedi”. The fallen bit was not referring to falling to the Dark Side though. In fact it was about failing more about falling. A fallen Jedi was simply a washed out failure and a nobody. The rulebook had this great sketch of a unshaved, unkempt inebriated drunkard slouching on a bar stool, with a drink in one hand, gambling cards in the other, the lightsaber hilt sticking out of some odd pocket of his jacket.
The idea was simple – you were taught to be a Jedi but you were either never really good at it, or your personal opinions clashed with the Jedi code – or perhaps you somehow dishonored yourself. Either way, you have no affiliation with the Jedi Council anymore and your life went down the drain. Now you spend most of your time getting drunk trying to drown out the past. And if you are not drinking you hire yourself out to do odd jobs here and there in order to afford the booze. Even if you were semi competent at using force in the past, these days you are rarely sober enough to actually actually be able to concentrate.
Not so long ago, Shamus had an interesting discussion about the difficulties of running a Star Wars campaign when someone in the party insist on playing a Jedi. I think the washed out Jedi is the ideal archetype to stick into a more traditional party of smugglers and bounty hunters. He would have similar motivations and aspirations as the rest of his company – money, booze and loot. His social and political influence would be diminished since most of NPC’s would be able to tell he has no backing of the Council and essentially is no more than some hired gun with a toy lightsaber. Additional bonus is that this character could actually have a good excuse to dabble in the dark side powers.
But let me get back to KOTOR. The game did take a turn for the better after leaving the initial area, and the Telos Orbital Station section was actually fun and interesting. I liked how the game allowed you to either work for the corrupt Czherka Corporation, or against it by help out the Ichtorian planet restoration efforts. There were some interesting missions there, and I liked how they were all clustered in the relatively small area of the base. Since the same locales were reused, or previously blocked areas became available it made the base seem more dynamic and alive. It was much better than running in the endless corridors of the mining station fighting hordes nameless droids at the begining.
That said, the story I still makes me cringe at times. For example, nearly every time you board some kind of a ship or shuttle you either get shot down or locked out and end up trapped in the new area. When you start the game your ship is sealed off in a differed section of the station, and you need to run around for hours before you can unlock it. Then you reach the Telos Orbital Station, and your ship gets confiscated, and then stolen. So you board a shuttle to the planet surface, which gets shot down and you end up trapped on the semi-hospitable planet. Somehow you manage to find another shuttle on the surface, only to get shot down again, and ending up trapped in the polar region of the planet. WTF?
It seems repetitive, to the point that I’m now actually expecting it to happen every time I travel from one area to another. Furthermore the game seems to alternate between seemingly open ended game play mode and interludes of very linear progress and story exposition. Which I guess is ok. I’m once again at a point in the game where I can once again choose my own quests. I also did so many good deeds that my character’s portrait is actually glowing now. :P
The dialogs seem to be a bit glitchy in this game. Sometimes the game will randomly skip a spoken line and you notice it because they usually change the camera angle after a full stop. When a line is skipped you can still see the change in scenery, and it just quickly cuts away to the next scene/line. It doesn’t happen very often, but it is noticeable. Also, the timing is sometimes off when you talk with aliens that speak in their own language. It’s almost like that subtitle gag in which you hear a character speak in a foreign language for a full minute, only to see this lengthy tirade translated to a single word in the subtitles. This actually sometimes happen here – the subtitle says something like “I will think about this…” but the spoken part in the alien language seems to be going on and on and on. It’s a little bit silly.
As I progress through the game, combat starts to become more strategic and the behaviors/stances you set for the party members you are not currently controlling actually do matter. For example, on the surface of Telos there are big open areas with enemies scattered all over the place. I left all my characters in the aggressive stance only to watch them scatter in all directions and aggro just about every single enemy on the map. After that fiasco I tend to keep the old lady as a force support character, and whoever else I have in the party as ranged. This usually keeps them following my main character who is in aggressive stance and prevents them from doing to much aggro all around. When needed I can switch to these characters and give them direct commands. I just wish I could have more than 3 people traveling with me at a time – if for nothing else just to exploit all the different stances at the same time.
As characters go, there are few new faces at this point in the game. There is a Zabrak mechanic and an Echani fighter. While I don’t care either way for the former, the later seems interesting. While she was trained to shield her mind against the force, she seems to be genuinely interested in it. She also has interesting concepts on combat as a form of expression. If you ask her to train you she will insist that you both strip down to your underoos. Yes, this is a character that I can grow to like. :mrgreen:
Despite all the complaining above, I’m actually enjoying this game. The story is slowly unfolding and the missions are interesting and not very repetitive, even if all but the most important NPC’s look the same using the 20-30 same models colorized in different ways. So far I haven’t been tempted to put it down which is a good sign. :P
[tags]kotor 2, knights of the old republic 2, sith lords, star wars, review, game[/tags]