My general thoughts on the game and some of my problems (Spoilers)
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- Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords
- My general thoughts on the game and some of my problems (Spoilers)
Just so I make this clear, I don't dislike this game. In fact, I do think it's pretty good in it's own right. I am aware that a lot of people really love this game, and they have good reasons for loving it. I don't wish to speak for anyone but myself and I don't wish to invalidate anyone else's feelings about the game. That being said, I am not expecting to be exempt from criticism of my logic and reasoning. If what I'm saying makes no sense and my opinion appears to be unfounded, then feel free to call me out on it.
Anyways, as I said earlier, I really do like this game. In terms of gameplay, it's unquestionably an improvement over the first game. A lot of my issues stem from the story.
Firstly I feel that the story premise and tone dosen't fit in well with KOTOR 1. KOTOR 2 is much darker and a heavy desconstruction of Star Wars, in contrast with KOTOR 1 which plays the Star Wars universe more straight. I think KOTOR 2 takes place way too soon after KOTOR 1 and creates this gigantic mood whiplash that felt like it came almost completely out of nowhere. Playing KOTOR 1 and KOTOR 2 back to back felt incredibly jarring to me. Also, KOTOR 2's near complete irradication of the Jedi and having the Sith Lords reign supreme (albeit in secrecy) was also something that I don't think fits well with the narrative established in KOTOR 1. It basically makes the whole quest to destroy the Star Forge and save the Republic and Jedi Order almost meaningless, since the Sith Lords still nearly wiped out the Jedi and the Republic deteriorated anyway. It almost made me wonder what the point of KOTOR 1 was. I feel that KOTOR 2 should have taken place centuries after KOTOR 1, in a new era entirely. Severing any and all ties to the first game and standing by itself. That way, it can have it's dark deconstructive tone and bleak premise and not have it so contradictory and at odds with KOTOR 1. I think it would also help contribute to solving a problem I will touch on next.
What I think is this game's biggest story problem is the simple fact that it tried to do too many things at once. It tried to juggle so many different things, from The Exile's being hunted by the Exchange and the Sith and his/her struggle to survive, The Exile's search for the Jedi Council masters and figuring out what happened to her to sever her connection to the force, the whole deal with Kreia and her goals, Darth Sion's desire to kill Kreia and The Exile and then suddenly serving Kreia again (more on that later), Darth Nihilus and his interest in The Exile, Visas Marr's connection to Nihilus and her relationship with The Exile, Kreia reviving people and making them her servents, Atris' whole deal and struggle with the dark side, The Republic's attempts to recover, The whole what happened to Revan and his motives, the list goes on.
KOTOR 2's narrative feels like a mess in many ways because it spread itself so thin. This wasn't that much of a problem early on in the game, but it started to fall apart for me as soon as the Jedi Masters were assembled on Dantooine. Kreia comes in and starts talking about so many things that I just did not understand. The Jedi Masters react to her as though they know her, even though as far as I could tell, there was nothing that hinted at this and it came completely out of nowhere. And then she starts to talk them about things that I have no idea what she was saying. Seriously, I went back and looked up that scene on YouTube and I still have no idea what Kreia was talking about. Something about the mass pain and trauma caused by the massacres of the Mandalorian Wars I guess, but her wording is so vague that I don't know what point she was trying to make in that scene. I feel that there was an idea for a complex revelation of motivation, but it's communicated so badly that it's practically invisible, and it frustrates me to no end.
So after that, Kreia then goes to Atris and apparently Atris falls to the dark side. Once again I don't recall this ever being hinted at and it feels like it came completely out of nowhere. On top of that, this turn feels completely and utterly pointless. I don't think it really affected the overall plot beyond giving The Exile the option to kill her or spare her like the other Jedi. Especially since I don't think it's ever mentioned again. If anything, I think it just added to the clutter and confusion. Darth Nihilus was what was important at that point in the story, so that's what they should have focused on right then and there.
Kreia as a whole I think was the biggest contributor to the convolutedness of the plot, and even suffered the most because of it. She's a grand shemer and master manipulator, but her plans and goals are so complicated and massive in scale that the story collapses under her and the everything else's combined weight
Kreia's complexity in her character and plans could've been more successful if the game wasn't trying to balance it with everything else. As it stands, almost everything about her is sloppily communicated to the audience.
This game could've benefited from taking place in it's own era not just by preventing mood whiplash with KOTOR 1, but also by getting rid of the excess weight it's carrying by being directly tied to the first game. Kreia's plans and motives could be fleshed out in a way that the audience can understand, and Darths Sion and Nihilus could be expanded upon and developed further, among other things. KOTOR 2 would've had more room to breathe this way I believe.
There's also the whole thing where the game tries to make Revan while he was the dark lord seem like more than an unhinged warlord who wanted to conquer the Republic for the evils, but I think that they went about it was haphazard and didn't really work. So first Mical establishes that Darth Revan was probably trying to transform the Republic into a stronger government that could withstand the power of the true sith that he found. But then Kreia while confronting the council on Dantooine makes Darth Revan out to be an evil bastard from the day one who only used the Mandalorian Wars as a recruiting pool for his followers to turn them to the dark side. Kreia then further sells the idea that Darth Revan is a heartless bastard when she talks to Atris about him attacking Telos to shock and intimidate the Jedi. The she turns around after the final boss fight and says that Revan went back into then unknown regions to stop this evil threat. It makes this mish-mash of contary ideas that just confuses things further. Then again this is Kreia we're talking about: an evil manipulator who can't tell a truth to save her life, so perhaps all she said should be discounted.
But like I said, there are things I like about the story and I adore some of the characters (like Visas Marr, Mical, and Mira) but everything I mentioned prevents me from enjoying the story fully and overall makes it a less enjoyable experience for me than KOTOR 1.
I described on my Twitter that KOTOR 2 feels like a sequel to a really good grimdark AU Fanfiction of KOTOR 2, and I think that's a good way to describe it. I like it on it's own despite the flaws, but i don't like it as a sequel to KOTOR 1. I wanted to like this game as much as KOTOR 1, but I couldn't.
I hear a lot of people talk about this game like it's a masterpiece of writing, and how they love it more than the original KOTOR. It makes me feel like I'm missing out on something. I don't want to come across as a hater or someone who hates things that are different, I just feel like I'm not getting something that a lot of other people have been getting.
I hope I explained my perspective and people can understand where I am coming from. Perhaps even inform me on what I am missing.
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