Star Wars Knights of The Old Republic vs. KoTOR 2
With the impending release of Bioware’s The Old Republic MMO, its time to look back on the two predecessors to this latest release, detailing there successes and failures along with analysing their respective triumphs within the gaming world. This article will explore the question of Star Wars Knights of The Old Republic vs. KoTOR 2, trying to search for an answer to which game is quantifiable better or at least presents something more telling than the other.
Both games realised immense potential in the franchise they were taking from, with Star Wars canon being a fervent hotbed of potential stories & plot threads, also creating a new pathos & philosophy to the universe through their gameworld. Taking the series back 4000 years before any of the films direct timeline helped Bioware and Obsidian after them to create a unique yet familiar Star Wars interpretation. It is only on further reflection that we see the inherent difference between George Lucas’ often naive utopian dichotomy of the subject matter and the substantive morality eschewed by the games developers.
KoTOR I: Famaliarity With The Source Material
The original Knights of The Old Republic, released by Bioware to general appraisal by critics and gamers alike, took the notion of D&D based rules and integrated them into its thematically charged RPG gameplay. The stop-start stratagem was co-ordinated through numbers behind the scenes, dictating whether your lightsaber would slice through an enemy or completely miss their often alien frame. Taking leave of the conventional framework of Star Wars games up to that point, either obsessing over lightsaber combat or the popular X-Wing series, by portraying a vibrant living galaxy with individuals willing to converse and exist in their own right.
Often the KoTOR I had a penchant for immersing you in this galaxy through proxy. Events would unfurl when you triggered them by entering a cantina or landing on a new planet, with lines drawn and sides all but readily taken. The shockingly restrictive morality of the source material made matters difficult however, with three distinct options for any situation becoming a tiresome cookie-cutter mechanic, due to the light/dark or good/evil divide constantly being touted and ingrained into the players consciousness.
KoTOR II: Finding A New Perspective
Surprisingly the epitome of KoTOR II remained largely unchanged. But a single difference made all the cardboard morals of the first game nigh-reprehensible. Giving context to your actions, as an example in the scene where Kreia scolds the player for giving a beggar some change only to see him then robbed of it, while reinforcing the impracticality of divine good or evil.
This is certainly where KoTOR II & Obsidian make strides toward disseminating the fundamental principals of their source material and even predecessor. Knowing that even positive dialogue choices or actions can still have a negative response makes the game that much more morally grey and mature in its storytelling.
A Look At Star Wars Knights of The Old Republic vs. KoTOR 2
Bioware & KoTOR I shouldn’t go without praise however, as they introduced us to the concept of morally gray choices through their hermit-like Jedi Jolee Bindo. With his cutting demeanour, scything candour and defensive posture, Jolee forgoes the logical assumption that all force wielder’s either devote themselves to constant good or heinous evil.
This sets up the events of the second game very well, with the idea of neutrally suspect moral judgement in veteran players minds, along with the idea that Jedi & Sith are both unrealistic constructs.
In its discoloring of Star Wars crystal clear moral scale, KoTOR II done away with a fixed alignment for the players companions, giving them a dynamic one to match the ever changing moral choices dealt with by the player. In a vein similar to Mass Effect’s three-choices-that-all-suck system; players had to seriously think about how their actions would affect the gameworld.
This was further reinforced during the players travels across the planet of Telos. With two factions vying to either restore or cultivate the landmass below the floating city structure. Czerka Corporation sees the restoration project as farce and wants capital gains in an all too familiar fashion, while the planets natives seek to restore the wildlife in an almost idealistic fervour, all the while showcasing the inherent moral dilemma to the player.
The One Problem Holding KoTOR II Back
Although on the surface, siding with the restoration project would be the light side choice and choosing to back Czerka would be negatively charged, the game tries to colour both sides in a way to make the player remember their actions can reverberate more than they initially suspect. Whereas a simple alignment statistic may change for the player; the options were influenced by the players sense of place within the context of the story and their investment in the universe, creating a harder and much more satisfying choice/experience.
With all this said, one problem still sticks out like a sore thumb, regardless of KoTOR II’s perceived accomplishment. It was never finished. While KoTOR I may pay homage to the Star Wars films in an overzealous & forthright manner, it is still tightly pieced together and well-rounded, cumulatively being one of the best RPG’s in recent memory. Due to time restrictions and publisher Lucas Arts judgement, KoTOR II ended up losing out on its own canonical ending, with plenty of extra content cut or disused upon release.
Which Is Better? Star Wars Knights of The Old Republic vs. KoTOR 2
Its disheartening to know that such a great game was bilked from the precipice of something remarkable due to time constraints and Lucas Arts rush for the Christmas market. If there was one positive to take however, it would be that ending the game on the dour note that it does, the second game helps to paint KoTOR I as the standout of the two. Alleviating its morally suspect machinations and letting the first game of the series showcase its presentation, story and above all characters.
Introducing game player’s to the repercussions of their actions is no small feat and KoTOR II at least attempted to explain to the player their implicit carelessness in moral actions or general choices. For that, its at least worth revising the question of which is better in the battle between Star Wars Knights of The Old Republic vs. KoTOR II, even if the first game still produces a greater Star Wars based experience.
This post is part of the series: KoTOR Reviews
Check out these other reviews for both the first and second Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic.