Publisher: LucasArts
Developer: Obsidian (founded by five famous games developers, namely: Feargus Urquhart, Chris Parker, Darren Monahan, Chris Avellone and Chris Jones.
Platform: PC
Alternate Version: XBOX
Format: CD-ROM
Genre: RPG
ELSPA Rating: 12+
Release Date for XBOX: December 6 2004
Release Date for PC: February 10 2005

Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords (which will be referred to as KOTOR II) has been long awaited by fans of the original. Some may have become worried about the change in developer from Bio-ware to Obsidian. Rest assured the Star Wars magic is here, albeit not as fine-tuned as Bio-ware's masterpiece.

The story is involving and creative (what did you expect when some of the people working on this game created Planescape: Torment one of the best RPG games ever). You play as the last Jedi, an exile shunned from the Jedi Order for participation in the Mandalorian wars. You awake in an seemingly abandoned mining facility and have to work out what happened and how to escape. But after escaping you begin to uncover the plots against you and understand more about the characters past. But rather then spoon-feeding this to you (by having some an anonymous and mysterious character explain everything) and patronising you, this left for you to discover for yourself, which is how a good RPG should be. As you travel you'll meet people from the past, visit places broken by the carnage of the wars and finally confront your past.

When you awaken you'll find that the D&D engine is the same as last time (no complaints here) but certain things are better implemented. The skills you choose to increase now have a more direct role then just what it says on the tin. In the original, the skill "repair" was just a way to fix droids and machinery. Now "repair" can also be used to spot things out of place (like for instance, signs of sabotage...). A welcome change among many. What fans of the original will find different is that you can now change how your party reacts to you. You influence them and change their alignment (or even their class in some cases). How you get influence is through your actions and what you say to them- some are impressed through kindness or charity and some by vicious acts. You're no longer a stagnant being, not having an effect on the people around you. You have to consider carefully what you say and do. Although the system is impressive, at times it doesn't seem quite complete and isn't always well implemented for the characters you get quite late in the game.

Also good: HK-47 is back. Fans will love this, as a thousand meatbag references are born. Just like HK-47, non-of the party members are stereotypical and boring. One of them might start off looking stereotypical, but don't be fooled, because when you delve into his past it'll really surprise you. The choices you make aren't so simple any more- it is no longer a matter of how "can I get this reward and an alignment change"- it's a matter of ethics. Which is how an RPG should be as it is both stimulating and challenging. It has you questioning your alignment (which can be light or dark like the original). In fact choices like charity aren't always the best idea or the most beneficial for a person- something Kreia, your mentor points out. She makes interesting and insightful comments which leave you questioning your choice.

Unfortunately as good as the storyline is, the problems of the last game still hound it. Some of the quests are boring and tedious- take "A to B and kill C" (not all of them are like this but there is enough to annoy you). There isn't enough to the game either. It doesn't feel as big as the original and there aren't as many sidequests to get lost in. Something that I still don't understand (which was in the original) is how I can go around stealing stuff from lockers and no one comments on this fact. I would've expected an alignment change but there is never reaction to you stealing from people. There are only a few cases were a reaction happens- which should have been implemented all over the galaxy. The dungeons aren't as well designed and the layouts make you run around for ages, which can get quite tedious. The Transit system has been removed which means you end up walking even more.

Still these were problems in the first game and some improvements have been made. You can now create and upgrade items with a new system and get components to create the items by breaking down anything you don't need (or can't sell...). Your party members are also more implemented in missions on their own without you, which means they're more involved (a major fault of the original) in the plot and the game, although this means you might be stuck using a weak character you don't like.

There are some irritating bugs and missing parts to the game which annoy me greatly. Sometimes you can't walk through doors because of an invisible barrier. Some of the dialogue is missing and some of the story line has plot holes or parts which just seem to be forgotten (or were left in, but not implemented). What happened to the quests you got from your party members? The ones in the original that got you xp and would help you understand more about each member. The audio quality isn't as good as the original- particularly for the aliens who seem to repeat the same sounds. It also turns out that most sounds were recycled from the original and from other Star Wars sources. Another annoying bug- some of the sounds for T3 seem to have just disappeared when I talk to him leaving irritating gaps. Your party still has no battle co-ordination, which means they often end up doing stupid things, like running over mines and trying to get as close to the big enemy, which can kill you in a few hits. It's a real shame for a game this good.

That being said, the story is story brilliant and the game is as addictive and fun as last time. If you can ignore the problems it can be a fun game to play. I recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the last game, enjoys a good story or is just wondering where Lucas's movie magic went to.

Final comments
An intelligent, thoughtful, adventure with a minor annoyances here and there.

DirectX 9.0c
OS: Windows 98 SE/ME/2000/XP
CPU: 1 GHz(Pentium III or Athlon)
Memory: 256mb RAM
Graphics Card: ATI Radeon 9200 or NVIDIA GeForce4 recommended
Input Devices: Keyboard and Mouse