Knights of the Old Republic II: Restored Content Review
Something that is rarely addressed in the Star Wars universe is how often Jedi fall to the Dark Side. That s–t happens a lot — and what’s worse, when it does happen, it generally brings with it the senseless deaths of a whole lot of folks who happen stand in said evil Jedi’s way.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II is one of the few bits of Star Wars storytelling that really addresses the Jedi for what they are — secretive keepers of incredible power, which often corrupts them and for which many innocent people pay the price. When KOTOR 2 came out back in 2004, however, it was a little bit lacking; the game was buggy, and because of a rushed deadline, a fairly huge amount of content didn’t make it into the game. If you ever played KOTOR 2 when it was released and wondered what happened to your crew of adventurers in the final moments of the game — they seem to disappear without explanation — well, that was why.
Thanks to some digital distribution through Steam and the completion of the Restored Content Mod by a fortuitous group of KOTOR 2 superfans, however, the game can finally be enjoyed in a state that’s fairly close to the way it was meant to be enjoyed. It’s still buggy and has its issues, but if you’re a Star Wars fan who has never played KOTOR 2, there never has been a better time — and you really, absolutely should play it.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II (with Restored Content mod)
Platforms: PC (reviewed)
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Released: Feb. 8, 2005
Knights of the Old Republic II takes place five years after the end of the first KOTOR game, and in a number of ways it surpasses its predecessor. The story focuses on a character known as the Jedi Exile, one of those who followed the Jedi Revan to war against the Mandalorians before the start of KOTOR 1. The Exile is the only Jedi who returned from the war effort — the Jedi Council had chosen not to fight the Mandalorians, and the Jedi who left with Revan were in open defiance of their leaders. At the end of the war, the Jedi who survived and had followed Revan to war fell to the Dark Side alongside Revan; only the Exile returned to face the council and turned away from war.
The Exile (canonically, the Exile is female, although you can choose a male character) was cast out of the Jedi Order after the events that ended the war — namely, the Exile ordered the use of a weapon that destroyed the planet Malachor V, turning it into a huge gravity well that destroyed the Manadlorian fleet, as well as many Republic ships. The war was won there, but with an incredible cost. As a result of being cast out of the Jedi Order, the Exile also lost her connection with the Force.
All that tragedy and violence is at the heart of KOTOR 2; much of the game hinges on the characters coming to terms with the events of their various pasts. The Exile meets a gray Jedi early in the game, who takes her on as an apprentice and helps her reconnect with the Force. Kreia, this gray Jedi, constantly councils the Exile about the grater ramifications and consequences of her choices, and this is where KOTOR 2 excels — rather than cast everything as Dark Side and Light Side, the game constantly questions just what is good and what is evil, and the answers are not always obvious.
The game itself is must-play material for any Star Wars fan, simply because it does such a good job of widening the franchise’s universe and asking tough questions about its central tenants. Kreia’s instruction throws into question everything taught by Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda, and it constantly poses some extremely poignant moral questions. At the heart are the events at Malachor V and their direct consequence, the Jedi Civil War — in which Revan and his apprentice Malak returned to the Republic and nearly destroyed it. Lots of people died because a pair of Jedi and their followers thought the only way to save people was to go to war, and they wound up being worse than the thing they were trying to stop.