Retro Review: Does ‘Knights of the Old Republic II’ hold up today?

One of the very first games I ever played as a child was “Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II,” an RPG that set players in the “Star Wars” universe long before the events of “A New Hope.” More than a decade later, I’m reviewing the same game.

The first thing I was reminded of was how grim this game is, especially compared to everything else with a “Star Wars” label. The prologue has the player control a droid as it attempts to fix a ship set adrift in space. The whole place is littered with bodies, there’s an ominous banging noise and there’s a creepy, robotic female voice guiding you through the repairs.

The protagonist, a former Jedi exiled for their role in a just war, does not get a voice actor, but does get an encyclopedia’s worth of dialogue with other characters. The whole game is shrouded in mystery, from the real reason the protagonist was exiled to who your enemies are and even who your allies are.

All of this dialogue is actually pretty good if you will spend the time to listen to it. Everyone has something to say about something, from the local wildlife to the political situation to opinions on the player character. It is a little odd, however, that for all the voice acting done for the humans, there are only a few sounds like aliens make, so the player will end up hearing the same familiar string of sounds as they talk to non-human characters.

I do remember the imbalance in weapons from when I was a little kid, and it is good to see that this has not been patched with the Steam release. Although the game recommends the “Jedi Consular” class for advanced players only, I found that investing in force lightning, a power that favors the consular class, makes you borderline unstoppable. Beasts, mercenaries and assassins specifically trained to kill you will fall if you just keep shooting lightning out of your fingertips.

The biggest advantage that “KOTOR II” has over the original is the characters. Most of the characters from the first game were more or less one-dimensional, either a kind and noble warrior or a battle-hungry savage.

The sequel, however, is full of diverse characters. You still have goody-two-shoes characters here and there, but most of the characters refuse to put themselves into the light side-dark side dichotomy that has embodied the “Star Wars” universe.

If other “Star Wars” games are about the light and the dark, then this game is all about shades of gray. Questions are constantly raised about the value of charity and whether it actually hurts those you are trying to help and whether the Jedi can truly claim the moral high ground over the Sith. As one characters says, “At least the Sith are honest about what they’re killing for.”

Like a fine wine, this game has actually improved with age. Maybe that’s just because I remember all the exploits from my childhood, but there really is a lot of depth to this game that I did not get to experience when I first played it years ago.

Overall, I’m pleasantly surprised that “KOTOR II” still holds up after all these years. For those looking to experience a story-driven game with a whole lot of force lightning, I would recommend taking another look at “Knights of the Old Republic II.”


Edward Pankowski is the life editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at edward.pankowski@uconn.edu.