A long long time ago..in a galaxy far far away… (well here and in 2004 actually..). Obsidian Entertainment and LucasArts released their much anticipated sequel to Knights of the Old Republic on the Xbox system.
Imaginatively titled Knights of the Old Republic 2 :The Sith Lords. It generally received a great deal of critical praise, and warm reception from fans. Many out there, believing the sequel to be better in terms of characters and storytelling, and the only downsides on the critical front, being that the game was pretty much similar to the last title in terms of style and gameplay.
Now in this fabulous year of 2020. Both titles are available on IOS and Android mobile format. A great step up from the “anchored under the Tv”systems of old and technology allowing us to play on the go, at any time and in any place. But how has time fared with these open world RPG Star Wars classics, and for this review..KOTOR 2 ?
Let’s take a look …
The story is set some 5 years after the events of the first game and all is not well. After turning your back on the Jedi Wars against the Sith, your craft is suddenly attacked from an unknown assailant and left to spiral out of control into impending doom and destruction, and you suddenly pass out.
You wake up, not in heaven or facing some Jedi god with a harp, but some medical facility on a mining station situated somewhere in the galaxy.
It quickly becomes apparent that all is not what it seems here too. The station is a virtual ghost station with missing crew and absent droids, and the computer systems deliberately hijacked and locked off.
This scenario immediately delivers a creepy ambience and an air of uncertainty and suspense, as you explore and search for clues in vacant rooms and corridors around each station level. Calming the nerves is not helped by the discovery of your first helper and mentor, Kreia. A mysterious robed Jedi? guru, carrying the general character, and often mannerisms of a female Palpatine with all the stern words, philosophies and chilling mysticism. Friend or foe? You don’t have much choice but to listen and follow her advice..
You are the last remaining Jedi and intentionally locked into this mining station until the Sith arrive to kill you. Find a way out of the station, into the docking bay and take the last working spaceship out of there, with no time to waste!
The Light side of the Force….
Kotor2 starts as your typically traditional RPG set up. Pick a male or female character from a set lineup of characters boasting various additional talent traits, based on how you wish to craft your play style and approach. Jedi Guardian,Sentinel and Consular.
As you progress through the game and level up. Each class as a number of attributes such as Jedi powers, dexterity, strength, stamina, wisdom, intelligence and charisma that you can allocate skill points to or just “auto level”. Guardian a master of combat and light saber mastery, Sentinel specializing in all skills like computer hacking, negotiation and repairs, or for advanced players, Consular specializing in combat by using the powers of the force.
Your conversations with the many characters and the decisions and actions you make effect the powers of the force. There are many branches that can turn your character onto the light side or dark side, and is a fantastic inclusion with many dilemmas.
Typically, your first hour in the station acts as the games tutorial. There’s a significant amount of computer terminals containing story information, video footage of past events and instructions to reroute power systems in order to open doors. A staggering amount of time is spent traveling through the labyrinthine corridors of the station and finding your bearings. Opening lockers, searching crew corpses and broken inactive droids for precious items may seem overbearing and too much to take in initially. What’s pretty amazing here though is just how a great immersive story immediately involves you and dilutes the complexities or the overbearing prospects of the continuous tasks in hand.
Nothing comes easy though, and you soon start to encounter the first of many enemies stalking the station.
Combat in the game is a pretty basic affair as regards aiming and connecting with shots and blows.
The game will automatically pause when an enemy spots you. That allows players to change weapon and target the enemy by simply pressing the aiming reticule on the target. After unpausing, the fight will “play out”with the games random “roll dice”mechanic determining successful hits or attempted misses. As you progress, stats can be further improved, such as accuracy, strength or with stronger weapons and better armor, to swing the probability of successful battles in your favor.
What’s immediately noticeable from the very beginning and after load up is that this game is a straight port from the Xbox original, and from that and onto modern day mobile phones there’s an instant drop in definition.
Most of what you see can be best described as a variable mix of often superb cutscenes and main character face models, combined with some very odd looking human faces on side quest and side characters in the game. A lot of the alien races from the Star Wars universe are also included, instantly recognizable and for most part are visually impressive and with plenty of character.
The story and gameplay would not be as effective without a decent soundtrack. Star Wars is often renowned for its massive John Williams orchestrated score in the movies, and I’m happy to say the soundtrack, voice acting and sound effects are absolutely superb!
Not the main theme that we know and respect, but an orchestrated score that is a dramatic, military march-like piece and combined with the excellent voice acting, R2 type droid beeps and sounds of blasters in gunfights. This title really does make you feel like you’re part of an epic Star Wars movie playing out right in the palm of your hand.
By modern day standards, this is really still the best Star Wars experience you can get so far and for the most part, plenty still impresses to this present day.
And now the Dark sides of the Force…
Whilst this is a fantastic experience on your mobile phone. There are plenty of elements that make the overall experience bearable but leave players feeling that things could be better and overall..simpler.
For starters, the amount of menus and the overall size of the game and text. If you are playing on a standard iPhone, then I’m afraid you will have one hell of a job reading the small text and navigating menus and general character controls.
I played using an iPhone XR, which has a larger screen than a standard but there were still plenty of difficulties I encountered.
First, there’s the ability to enable Bluetooth for external wireless controllers, and on recommendation here, it’s the best way to enjoy this game to the fullest.
Second, even with a wireless controller, the game would be much better on the bigger range of iPhone models and iPads. For this review though, I found these issues on my iPhone XR..
Character controls are managed by swiping left and right to swing the camera around and holding my finger up on the touchscreen to move forward. Whilst this is responsive and a system you soon get used to, this game involves a lot of running around and exploring, and with large area sizes. Constantly holding fingers on a screen to keep moving starts to get tiresome and cumbersome at some point in your game.
There are also times you just want to swing the camera around, but as touching the face of a character in the area brings up the conversation screen, you find you are accidentally engaging in conversation when you just want to turn around and move on.
For the menus, items on your inventory seem so difficult to read and navigation and manipulation appears to be far too small and fiddly to give any degree of comfort.
Largely though, the gameplay mixes with some delightful interludes, like taking the role of a lone robot at the lower mining levels and the quest to hack a terminal and unlock a main door. Also, your main character’s small venture in a spacesuit as you walk along the outside of the facility to reach the other entrance on the opposite side of the station, just as a huge sith spaceship docks in space as you walk are just some instantly memorable highlights.
Of course, this is a 2004 title and with that comes areas that you’ve become accustomed with over the years, and points that just seem too basic.
Combat is the main offender here, and I found myself frustrated with the inability to cover and fire around corners or hide behind anything in the battle area. Especially on a “one to one” basis, most fights (that have a huge amount of skirmishes between yourself and spider drones) are literally just stand in the open and blast or strike until one opponent is down. At first, it doesn’t seem an issue, but after the umpteenth enemy and the pause screen constantly interrupting between each assailant fight…it grates!
On a larger note, there also seems a lag between responses with instructions in areas and battle zones and feedback from terminals. It’s an old girl but the lag is clearly an issue at times, when you can accidentally skip information appearing far later than anticipated, as you stare at a blank screen.
Things ease when you gain more members in your party and battles become auto fights between your allies and the enemy and a massive sense of relief as your character can move around and pick off enemies.
The save feature also plays a big part in easing issues, with the ability to save at any time and at any point. It’s a godsend and I can guarantee you’ll be using it often and praising its inclusion.
Its age does bring up issues, and in memory it’s a reminder just how this game inspired and influenced developers to branch out and create similar space epics but with more enhancements and improvements. The Mass Effect cover system in battle is one good example.
The mining facility does seem overly long and causes irritation with the mobile format adding more stagnancy that it should. But I would still highly recommend you stick with it until you escape and reach the planet of Telos. Things greatly improve with the options to work with factions, take on bounties and the open world nature of this title then begins to stretch out and seem less constricting and claustrophobic.
If you have a decent screen phone or tablet then you’ll massively enjoy what this game has to offer. Smaller phones, and you might have to think before you buy and deal with touchscreen over its entire 40 hour campaign, and strong replayability factor.
Yet it still stands as the ultimate Star Wars experience on the go,and at a decent price…
The Force is still strong with this one…
Thanks to Aspyr for the code.