LSO Plays Knights of the Old Republic II: ENDGAME - The Loresworn Order

Oct
12

LSO Plays Knights of the Old Republic II: ENDGAME

We’re playing through a whole bunch of awesome games with stories that were memorable and inspiring to us, starting with Knights of the Old Republic II. We’ll discuss it section by section as we go, and we’d love to have you guys play along and add your thoughts. This week, we sprint to the finish, confronting three Sith Lords, plumbing the enigmas of Malachor V, and (hopefully) save the galaxy.

We encourage you to leave your own thoughts in the comments.

SPOILER WARNING: These discussions will contain spoilers, but only for the section we played this week. So if you’re following along, you don’t have to worry.

D.M.
Here we go- the Endgame. This is the time in every RPG, and every story besides, where the storylines start to sew up and the action hits its apex. We’ve scoured the galaxy for a bunch of folks, brought them back to Dantooine (minus the one not even the restored content project could save), and now we’re all gathering to discuss what to do next. It doesn’t take long for that fan to start spinning.

T.J.
And Kreia shows her true, true colors by electrocuting a whole room full of the aforementioned people you spent the entire game finding. I remember being stunned the first time through. I knew she wasn’t benevolent. I knew she existed in shades of grey. But I did not in any way foresee that she was going to murder several Jedi masters in front of my face. So yeah, her long con worked. But to be fair, if you go back and read the previous sections, I wanted to kick her off my damn ship as early as Telos.

D.M.
One of the reasons I thought that Kreia was an effective villain was she had such clear goals and worked so brilliantly to achieve them. The long con, indeed. At that final moment in that enclave, we see that the Jedi Order has no place for a light side Exile, and wants to put our protagonist away where they can’t move or shake anything up anymore. A Dark Side Exile is confronted by emptiness. Kreia takes her dues, and sets in motion the final confrontation between Nihilus, her greatest rival for control over the fate of the Universe, and you, her erstwhile pupil who has become a damn superhero. But before the time comes to board the Ravager, some Telos business needs to be resolved.

T.J.
The battle on citadel station was a nice touch, giving you that iconic moment of everyone you’ve helped showing up to pitch in (including the droids of M4-78 if you kept the factory going). And HK-47’s solo adventure is an interesting and humorous aside (though horribly unbalanced—HK is many things, but he is not a well-rounded endgame party all by his lonesome). Especially if you take over the HK-51 units and get to turn the tables on those smug bastards who have been showing up to annoy you from square one.

D.M.
Comic relief is part and parcel of almost every great adventure story, and HK-47 has become somewhat iconic for just how much he brought the KOTOR games. The HK factor was 47 at his very best- We got so many classic killer droid moments that it almost didn’t bother me how freaking difficult it was to combat hordes and hordes of enemies as something so squishy. Statement: Every party should include a character that fills a similar role to HK. His sarcasm, dry delivery, and surprisingly profound machine’s perspective added a lot to this adventure from the moment I turned him on. And I have to say, I liked helping him get one over on his less-funny, upgraded siblings.

T.J.
Then we get to the Ravager, which sort of felt like how the late late game should have been paced. There was just enough to do, just enough enemies per area, and it all builds to a conclusive and fun boss battle against that creepy, masked asshole Nihilus. It’s a nice place to stop playing and read a story synopsis, really. Because everything that comes after it is… Well, I wish I could say the Restored Content Mod truly fixes it. But I’d be lying to you. Malachor is still a mess.

D.M.
Nihlus was a great foe. Powerful, mysterious, and credibly a massive threat–not just to you, but to the setting in which you are playing. The problem with him was that he was so much an enigma, so much a force a nature, that he was always more Kreia’s antagonist than the Exile’s. He’s a threat to everything, sure, but he’s the new Sith Order personified. The Order that Kreia herself couldn’t keep control of. Finishing him off, cool and epic though it was, is simply the Exile playing the pawn one, final time. The story has to go to Malachor V. It has to end in a confrontation with your old mentor. Malachor can’t quite deliver the poetic and necessary ending, though, because it remains the least finished world that actually managed to make it into the final cut. The Restored Content Mod touches up some chipped and cracked corners, just enough to give a smidgen more context, but it’s still a rather weird ending.

T.J.
Man, I feel… deflated. I had my hopes up that this mod would fix the most broken part of KotOR II: the ending. But it seems like a lot of what has been added back in is superficial. The best restored bits are some new lines of dialogue that, as you said, add context. But the Ebon Hawk still gets crushed in an earthquake… and then mysteriously flies off at the end in pristine condition. Bao Dur still disappears for no apparent reason. Whatever’s going on with the droids and the Mass Shadow Generator is still poorly explained (though Wookieepedia does a fine job of filling you in on what the game didn’t). Mira and Hanharr’s little confrontation still feels pulled out of nowhere. Your party members are imprisoned with no explanation. And on top of all of this, there are just so many damn enemies everywhere that combat becomes bothersome.

Worst of all, we’re still dumped from Kreia’s death sequence straight to the credits without so much as an epilogue or brief scene of closure back on the ship. It’s nearly as anticlimactic and perplexing an ending as it was a decade ago.

D.M.
Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords remains one of the most poignant and pointed cautionary tales in gaming, in my humble opinion. When you gather talented men and women who are passionate about the source material, and who have a track record of delivering awesome experiences time and time again, you stand a good chance at getting a good end product. When you cut that project, though? When the game is left feeling half baked? You can still get a good game, but you miss your chance at creating a legend. That’s Sith Lords.
It’s a darker and more mature Star Wars tale, more layered and complex than most EU fare, and a majority of it shows off the wonderful writing that makes Obsidian such a beloved entity amongst RPG fans. But the missing pieces dash the whole thing on the rocks before it reaches true greatness. A superb story has a lukewarm ending. A chunk of the build up to that ending is warped and abrupt. The Restored Content Mod rounded it out a bit, gave us everything it could, but in the end, the game just wasn’t what it might have been. And it’s a shame, because the script, design, and story easily could have given us the greatest Star Wars tale told, and an all-time great RPG. Instead, as I always lament when the Ebon Hawk inexplicably ferries me out of that awkward and stilted final scene, we have a solid game and a very clever premise that falls just short. Obsidian has more than proved what they can do over the years, and knowing just how awesome they had the ability to make this one will always sting.

T.J.
It’s funny, though, how the blemishes and oddities almost seem to encourage us to always gravitate back to this game. It’s like a star athlete that got crippled in its prime, and we love to discuss what it might have been or where it might have gone. Amidst the rough, there are some truly great characters, plots, and moments of storytelling. I still think the hidden cave on Korriban could serve as a template to tell awesome, interactive stories that weave narrative and mechanics seamlessly. Kreia is a villain like no other in Star Wars, a canon that suffers from having basically the same sort of bad guys pop up over and over again. And learning the truth about the Exile, then deciding what to do with that information, is the sort of thing the conclusion of a great PC’s personal story should aspire to. It’s not just a twist, like the original KotOR, but a twist that makes you think for a long time afterwards.

Replaying KotOR II has made me feel many things, and it’s easy to point to disappointment as one that looms large among them. But it would be very unfair to say that disappointment is the legacy of this game (or the hardworking modders who loved it as much as we did, and put in a lot of work to make it better). We have a lot of awesome games ahead of us in this feature, but none of them are quite like The Sith Lords. For its successes and its failures, its moments of fanfare and of silence, it is unequivocally a discussion piece between lovers of game stories for the ages.

D.M.
A massive part of my affection for this game is that it’s a love letter to the imperfections surrounding gaming that enhance, not detract, from the beautiful experience of playing a game, over taking in other media. Obsidian did an amazing job with the time they had, and the fans stepped in where they left off to improve the experience. Sith Lords has faults, but it’s still a very good RPG, and one of the best Star Wars stories ever told. It shows the best of us, gamers and writers and developers and all, through the imperfection. I love this game unabashedly. The what ifs cause disappointment, yes, but you are entirely correct when you point out that they somehow elevate the piece and its legacy. I had fun replaying this title, and can confidently say that when a young me finished it on his Xbox, he became a fan of Obsidian Entertainment for life.

T.J.
Looking ahead, we’re getting ready to dive into the centerpiece of a company I’ve become a fan of much more recently. Harebrained Schemes’ Shadowrun: Dragonfall is a much smaller, much less flashy game. But the characters are just as memorable and the scenarios just as clever as any other RPG you could point to. It rolled out of almost nowhere and into my all-time favorites list, and I’m excited to run back through it again.

D.M.
As storytellers and connoisseurs, and lovers of all things gaming, of course, we were going to try Shadowrun Returns, and Harebrained Schemes’ opening campaign, Dead Man’s Switch. And I really, really liked it, for reasons I’ve laid out in my review of Shadowrun Returns: Hong Kong. I liked it so much, that picking up Dragonfall was a no brainer, and I’m so glad I did. It’s a masterpiece, a case study in the beauty of heart and simplicity in storytelling and gameplay, and was easily one of the best RPGs of our present era. Join us next Monday for Loresworn Plays Dragonfall Part 1!

Thus ends Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. We extend our thanks to all who have joined in this inaugural adventure. But we’re just getting started exploring the great stories of gaming history. Come on back next Monday when we introduce our second game, Shadowrun Dragonfall. If you want to get a head start, you can grab it on Steam today for $15.

About The Loresworn Order

This post was written in collaboration between multiple staff members of the site.

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