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really overrated
(This will likely end up a shorted version of my Game FA Qs review on the game, see the full thing here )

Firstly Kot OR's story is... Very poor. "Find the 4 Plot Coupons to defeat The Empire." doesn't even pretend to be anything of interest. It wouldn't bad if that was just the front premise, but it is all there is too see.

The combat system plays really poorly and is horribly unbalanced. The "real time with pause" does not allow the player to have use any real strategy, limiting them to "walk up enemy, bash with lightsaber, heal, repeat, use force heal if someone gets a stats condition.", because of the way the system works you can't manage something as simple as a retreat, you must manaually threw WASD direct each character out of battle, and if you manage to do so, it doesn't really work, as the enemy stands by attacking every few steps you make, because the enemy keeps tied to your back, as you can niether take a turn, and useing your superior speed outrun them (as per turnbased, as increases in move speed in RTWP only matter over long distances you can't cover in battle) or avoid the enemy being chained to you in it's entirty (real time). Ballance wise, Jedi are quadriatric, vibroblade users are linear, and gun users are a flatline. Jedi get amazeing force buffs and higher damage in the first place, guns have low range, it is impossible to get out of melee range with a foe (see above) and do poor damage while gaining nothing but worthless skills for the buffs.

Party members are boring. You have the pilot with trust issues (the same trust issues Bioware can't stop using), a street urchin who wants to stop being treated like a kid, a nagging women who wants to be your moral compass, but is far from perfect herself. The two characters with the most deph are a snarky sociopath and Jolee Bindo who has to have been designed separately, as his combination of Grumpy Old Man and The Obi Wan is actually memorable.

Player choice is limited to Lawful Stupid Chaotic Stupid, and beyond a last minute choice, has no impact beyond that quest.
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The Sith Lords: Fighting is by far the worst part
Don't play this game fresh. Find the first two patches and then download The Sith Lords Restored Content Mod right now.

The writing in Koto R 2 is better than almost any other game. But the think that makes the game tick is integration. Every game mechanic is linked and has meaning. The people you travel with notice uyour actions, have opinions on what you say to them and from their opinion of you from that based on their own complex personality. And it's not just "be nice to them". One character admires you for displays of moral rectitude, hates being manipulated in any way but also likes the thrill of murder. Another is impressed by mechanical prowess. For another character the dialogue option to get her to like you is "I'll view you as disposable from now on". It makes it feel like a real relationship and challenges you to really think about what you say.

When you talk you talk. It's not "this is the bad option" but, this is the polite option, this is a pro robot action. You will pour over every line of dialogue for the one that suits you best and there is no clear answer. You will engage in dialogue battles with cold-blooded murderers and seek to persuade slimy merchants.

And you will learn. From your own dialogue choices. Rather than make you an amnesiac your character has a clear relationship with the world and people and the developers cleverly show you this through your own dialogue choices. You might ask an old friend about the war.

Morality is grey and thought provoking and in the end the culmination of the story will intertwine the very nature of RP Gs with it's message and make you stop and think "crud, I thought I was just playing the game". There is no gameplay story segregation. Even skills will provide you with vital dialogue options and your decisions can change the face of worlds.

In fact this game adds another dimension to the whole Star Wars mythology. It questions the nature of the light and dark side and about the larger impact of actions, but it;s not all serious. The restored HK factory has some of the funniest dialogue of all games.

But the combat sucks. You'll seek out conversations and do your best to learn about people but at the very end the game decends into a mind-numbing slog and it's very easy to build a character which only has a 1/20 chance of even being hit,
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Bright and Shiny vs. Dark and Inventive
The dichotomy between original KOTOR and KOTOR II could be summed up very roughly as KOTOR is to A New Hope as KOTORII is to The Empire Strikes Back.

Which is the better GAME? KOTOR has brighter, cleaner visuals and is more consistently entertaining. KOTOR is by far the MORE FUN of the two, and more obviously loyal to the "traditional" Star Wars mode.

KOTOR II is something very much different and the story stays with you, even if the drabness of the game occasionally becomes tedious. KOTOR II takes chances with the Star Wars universe, and feels richer and more mythical. Kreia is one of the more fascinating video game characters I have ever encountered.

One of the real downsides of original KOTOR is that Malak is such a weaksauce villain - little more than a boring Vader clone. KOTOR II on the other hand does something different - Darth Traya, Darth Nihilus, and, in some ways, Darth Sion are interesting takes on the idea of the Sith. Traya with her wisdom and, I would say, lack of absolute conviction in the Dark Side, Nihilus who is bizarre, dangerous on a cosmic scale, and nigh-on Lovecraftian, and Sion who, unlike Malak, could be read as a very subtle take on the Vader idea.

The way that KOTORII plays with the Light vs. Dark dichotomy is fascinating, and much more effective than previous EU attempts to justify the idea of a "Gray Side" of the Force. KOTORII even makes KOTOR retroactively richer by expanding our view of who Revan was and what his goals were.

I maintain that, had the original vision for KOTORII been completed, it would be the greatest work of the entire EU.
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Not a bad game for the time
The game is enjoyable for Star Wars fans, as it stays true to the spirit of the Star Wars franchise. The story, the turn based-realtime combat and Karma Meter are all very simple, but the game is overall clean and polished. It has a grand, Space Opera-like feel. It works well as a standalone game from 2002.

BUT...even as a fan, I have to admit, you aren't likely to play it more than once because the game is rigidly linear. Whether it suffers from railroading or not is YMMV. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who prefers their RP Gs as Wide Open Sandbox, as the galaxy is actually very small, but fans of Bioware will likely enjoy it more (and possibly JRP Gers, because despite being a western rpg, IMHO it plays like it's eastern cousins).

Basically: if you don't like linear gameplay and turn-based combat, you won't like it. If you didn't like Star Wars, this isn't going to change your mind. It can be a very enjoyable game, though, if you don't mind simpler games and don't care about graphics.
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