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SummaryObsidian's debut, and a brilliant sequel.
The GoodBeing a fan of Black Isle's Fallout and Planescape Torment RPG's I was looking forward to seeing what Obsidian would do, as the company was founded by Black Isle members, as I'm sure your aware. Well it’s a sequel, and it's one of my favourite types of sequel, in the vein of DOOM2, Thief 2, Fallout 2 etc - i.e. essentially more of the same! Using the same engine for a third title in the series would of course be pushing it, but it's all good and proper for another 'once round the block'.
I played Bioware's KOTOR through with a female light-side character so I decided to play the second game with a male dark-side character, and it was a lot of fun, there's always opportunities to be irredeemably evil and belligerent, whenever there's the opportunity to be a pitiful goody two shoes, indeed as some of the dark-side dialogue responses were so funny in the first game I only managed to become a rather weak light-side character early on and it was only with an irritating level of self discipline and tongue biting that I managed to get on in this manner, and I'm pleased to say the laugh out loud responses are still crop up throughout the second game. There's some pretty major branches in the way you choose to solve problems or play throughout events in the story line, both light and dark-side characters will be presented with the same problem, but it's up to you which path you choose, may the force be with you...
The game is in 3D, but you can only look up and down about 30 degrees or so, although doing so often reveals the sheer scale of the surrounding architecture, some 'Wow" moments can be missed if you don't look up every now and then! As previously mentioned the game uses the same engine as the original KOTOR, so there's also no levels above levels, you can't jump over things or crawl under them, or swim - whilst playing the first KOTOR outing this kind of left me longing for the real-time fighting in and out of the scenery(and swimming) of Appeal's beautiful Outcast. These limitations are, however, soon forgotten or hardly noticeable as there is just too much fun to be had(incl. Force Powers), besides the 3D environments do add a good level of immersion, and did I mention that they offer some of the most fun gaming to be had in recent times?
So it's a while until you get a light saber, but patience is a virtue - as is collecting bits and bobs so you can construct one at a workbench. There's workbenches and lab stations dotted throughout the game, both enable the breaking down and creation of items, many items can also be upgraded. There's in engine cutscenes galore, and plenty of FMV sequences, I didn't nearly unlock all of them - as talking to your party members can gain or lose the level of influence you have on them, gain dark side/light side points and experience points and unlock extra background storyline or FMV's. Your party members, be they comrades or mere pawns in your destruction of the galaxy, are all very unique and hail from all walks of galactic life. Every single line in the game is voice acted.
The BadAlthough the game is stated to support Windows 98 on the back cover I experienced numerous and frequent crashes to the desktop, always whilst loading and transitioning to another area of the map, this was with an ATI radeon card the latest patches installed(at time of writing the latest version is 1.0b, it's about 12mb worth of downloading and is available from the LucasArts website). So I played it on XP and this solved the problem, only one crash throughout the majority of the game.
I encountered some other bugs when I first loaded up the game, there was one where the swoop bike got stuck on the roof of the track – but this got fixed in the latest version.
Some of the more 'dungeon-crawly' times can get a little tedious occasionally and the combat become a little easy on the normal difficulty during the latter half, though there is a hard difficulty and mowing down hordes of opponents did really add more to the experience;)