Author Topic: Thoughts on KOTOR2  (Read 4189 times)

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Offline Mr. Vega

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Thoughts on KOTOR2
This is really more of a follow up to the discussion Ace and I had on Planescape: Torment (since both games were written by Chris Avellone), but here goes.

I did play Planescape: Torment to it's conclusion, and my opinion of the ending was exactly what I predicted it would be. The revelation of the motives of the first incarnation of the Nameless One is so banal and cliched that it immediately sucks any air the story had left up to that point. The discovery that the Transcendent One was the lost mortality of the protagonist was very powerful and evocative, but ever since visiting the tomb of the catacombs it was clear that the real mystery was how the Nameless One had gotten to the point he had arrived at, especially how and why the original incarnation sought and gained immortality. And then you confront the three most common personality types of your countless numbers of incarnations at the Fortress of Regrets, and they are portrayed in a very simple and uninteresting manner; the Practical Incarnation is ruthless and selfish, the Paranoid Incarnation is, well, paranoid, and the Good Incarnation is simply good and remorseful. Extremely disappointing after all the complexity and subtlety that had come before. And then you find out that the first of you was the Good Incarnation, and you find out his motives for seeking immortality, which could have been guessed after about three tries at the beginning of the game...gah. That and the fact that approaching the end Avellone seems to be afraid to really try to answer the critical question "what can change the nature of a man?" and hides behind the player's freedom of choice. Those two decisions just destroy the power of the story. I mean, the game is just brilliant and inquisitive right through the confrontations with Ravel and Trias.....and then it just falls apart. The most disappointing gaming experience I have ever had.

So I really disliked Avellone for a while until I played KOTOR II. Mind you, the version of the game I base my opinion on uses a torrented mod by Team Gizka's that restores a lot of what Obsidian had written and even made full voice recordings for, before Lucasarts in their infinite wisdom bullied them to release the game for the holiday season before it was finished. It's not Avellone's fault the ending is still incomplete even after the restorations, and I've tried to make educated guesses as to what he meant to place in the gaps of the ending. But I digress.

The game still follows the familiar pattern of Torment; it asks intelligent, intriguing questions and doesn't quite have the guts (or the time) to answer them fully. The game is almost a deconstruction of the Star Wars mythos, in fact. The story primarily questions the codes of the Jedi, the Sith, and the existence and nature The Force itself. The flaws of the Sith are, of course, easy to understand, though Kreia also points out the strengths of the Sith as well. But that attacks on the Jedi code and Jedi morality are brilliant. It shows how the refusal of the Jedi to intervene in the Mandalorian Wars was not wise, it was suicidal, and how hesitating until one is sure of the right course of action can lead to the dark side as effectively as the worst examples of impatience and arrogance that the Jedi Masters so feared.

And most important, it asks questions about The Force that noone had dared to ask until now. Whether it is right for there to be a Force that dominates the free will of individuals and can doom them or save them. Whether it is right for there to be a Force that allows a Jedi or Sith to control the fate of the galaxy. If the Force is truly inseparable from life itself. If there would be much less suffering and misery if The Force did not exist. If a user of the Force can be so blinded by what The Force allows them to see that they ignore what is right in front of them. Whether a Jedi's study of the force has really made them more connected to life or if they have actually cut all of their real connections to others with their monastic and cloistered living style, sheltered from the day to day struggles of existence.

As the story progresses and it comes time to try to answer some of those questions, Avellone displays a bravery in his writing that I never saw in Torment. True, he never really gives an answer to the question of if the Jedi Code is wrong, then why is it wrong, and therefore what was the correct course of action during the Mandalorian Wars (or if there even was one), and I don't think that he was planning to answer it even if he was given the time to finish the game. But he gives answers to the smaller questions that give hints at the big picture, which is more than he ever did in Torment. And his questioning of The Force through Kreia, thank god, really did lead somewhere. The game showed how the Force can blind and obscure the truth, how the force might have a will independent from the life that spawns it, and even how life can turn away from the Force and not be itself extinguished, and thus destroy the Force outright.

My only real complaint is that by the end of the story we have no idea where to go from here. The movies, set thousands of years later, show a galaxy where the Force and Jedi are alive and well, where the Jedi code is still the path away from darkness. At the end of the Sith Lords things couldn't look grimmer; how did the Jedi reestablish themselves despite the disintegration of their beliefs, and why did they choose to embrace the Force again? Did they forget the lessons they had learned, or if not, were those lessons refuted in the years afterward? Or did they reach a new understanding of the Jedi Code and the Force that took what they had learned into account? I wanna know. That's why it has to be Obsidian that makes KOTOR3.

In conclusion, KOTOR2 is a flawed, incomplete story, but it still displays an intelligence and bravery in it's writing to the end, and thus redeems Mr. Avellone in my eyes. The combat is also much slower and more defensive oriented, to my satisfaction, and it's clear Obsidian squeezed every ounce of good gameplay they could out of the engine. My only other pet peeves are that HK-47 was too rationally witty and not as purely sociopathic as he was in the first game, and that the Disciple is a boring character and thus takes a lot of fun out of the female romance subplots.

And yes, I just wrote this whole thing about a little game. Oh well. It get obsessed with good stories in general and this is no exception. For those of you that made it to the end, thank you for enduring my writing style, and my apologies for boring you.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2009, 09:59:27 pm by Mr. Vega »
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Offline Sushi

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Re: Thoughts on KOTOR2 (beware, long and probably boring)
Unfortunately there will be no KOTOR3. Just a stupid MMO.

 

Offline Knight Templar

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Re: Thoughts on KOTOR2 (beware, long and probably boring)
This is really more of a follow up to the discussion Ace and I had on Planescape: Torment (since both games were written by Chris Avellone), but here goes.

...

The game still follows the familiar pattern of Torment; it asks intelligent, intriguing questions and doesn't quite have the guts (or the time) to answer them fully. The game is almost a deconstruction of the Star Wars mythos, in fact. The story primarily questions the codes of the Jedi, the Sith, and the existence and nature The Force itself. The flaws of the Sith are, of course, easy to understand, though Kreia also points out the strengths of the Sith as well. But that attacks on the Jedi code and Jedi morality are brilliant. It shows how the refusal of the Jedi to intervene in the Mandalorian Wars was not wise, it was suicidal, and how hesitating until one is sure of the right course of action can lead to the dark side as effectively as the worst examples of impatience and arrogance that the Jedi Masters so feared.

And most important, it asks questions about The Force that noone had dared to ask until now. Whether it is right for there to be a Force that dominates the free will of individuals and can doom them or save them. Whether it is right for there to be a Force that allows a Jedi or Sith to control the fate of the galaxy. If the Force is truly inseparable from life itself. If there would be much less suffering and misery if The Force did not exist. If a user of the Force can be so blinded by what The Force allows them to see that they ignore what is right in front of them. Whether a Jedi's study of the force has really made them more connected to life or if they have actually cut all of their real connections to others with their monastic and cloistered living style, sheltered from the day to day struggles of existence.

As the story progresses and it comes time to try to answer some of those questions, Avellone displays a bravery in his writing that I never saw in Torment. True, he never really gives an answer to the question of if the Jedi Code is wrong, then why is it wrong, and therefore what was the correct course of action during the Mandalorian Wars (or if there even was one), and I don't think that he was planning to answer it even if he was given the time to finish the game. But he answers to the smaller questions that give hints at the big picture, which is more than he ever did in Torment. And his questioning of The Force through Kreia, thank god, really did lead somewhere. The game showed how the Force can blind and obscure the truth, how the force might have a will independent from the life that spawns it, and even how life can turn away from the Force and not be itself extinguished, and thus destroy the Force outright.



These paragraphs essentially explain everything I loved about KOTORII despite it's incompleteness. I also never got to play a full version until I got my laptop, as it crashed on my home PCs. awesome.

It sounds silly, but sometimes when I feel I need a morality check myself, or at least an interesting philosophical perspective on decision making in general, I go back to this game to listen to the arguments it puts out there (and have some fun along the way.)

Unfortunately there will be no KOTOR3. Just a stupid MMO.

BLASPHEMER.
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Offline Scotty

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Re: Thoughts on KOTOR2 (beware, long and probably boring)
Quote
If the Force is truly inseparable from life itself. If there would be much less suffering and misery if The Force did not exist.

I agree.  If the Force were inseperable, and did not exist, by continuation, life does not exist.  I can imagine there being a lot less suffering and misery if no-one nothing was there to experience it.

Ah, but that's just me being a nitpicky ass.  Truly, the Jedi code is why I actually would prefer to be on the Mandalorians' side.  There, morality isn't so much an issue as proficiency.

 

Offline Mr. Vega

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Re: Thoughts on KOTOR2 (beware, long and probably boring)
I actually downloaded a beta version of the restoration mod that had been leaked without permission of the mod makers, but you can still use the updater to bring it to the most current build. I can't imagine going back to vanilla KOTOR2, just because the restored Dantooine is fantastic.
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Offline Mr. Vega

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Re: Thoughts on KOTOR2 (beware, long and probably boring)
Quote
If the Force is truly inseparable from life itself. If there would be much less suffering and misery if The Force did not exist.

I agree.  If the Force were inseperable, and did not exist, by continuation, life does not exist.  I can imagine there being a lot less suffering and misery if no-one nothing was there to experience it.
Well Kreia at the end doesn't seem to care if she kills every living being in the galaxy as long as the Force dies, but the whole point of the Exile's story was that you can sever yourself from the Force and still live.
Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assaults of thoughts on the unthinking.
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Offline Scotty

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Re: Thoughts on KOTOR2 (beware, long and probably boring)
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Well Kreia at the end doesn't seem to care if she kills every living being in the galaxy, but the whole point of the Exile's story was that you can sever yourself from the Force and still live.

Part 1: correct.
Part 2: I thought that the exile "severed" his/her connection to the force only to his/her own perceptions.  To other people, she wasn't so much "severed" as quieter, harder to hear.  As Visas says in one of the cutscenes "Sometimes I wonder if it has always been there, I merely could not hear it before."  Added to that, the Sith are hunting the exile even before he/she "regains" her connection.

 

Offline Mr. Vega

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Re: Thoughts on KOTOR2 (beware, long and probably boring)
Visas was referring to her perception of the dead spot in the force that is the Exile. She could still feel it just fine.

And Kreia at the end makes a point about how no Jedi previously had forsaken the force so completely and utterly as the Exile did after Malachor V. And remember when Master Vrook says on Dantooine, "You can feel the force, but you cannot feel yourself"? The connection was only superficially restored; the Exile can feel the Force and manipulate it, but it does not flow through and dominate her/him like every other living thing. There's a point where one can be deafened to the Force so much that it basically dies in them.

And the Sith (Sion anyway) were hunting the Exile only because Atris had given away the Exile's location to the Sith as bait.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2009, 09:15:30 pm by Mr. Vega »
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Offline Mefustae

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I don't want to say it wasn't a truly great story, but it didn't really hold the same impact for me. Maybe I was just going through the motions, enjoying the story without appreciating it. But honestly, my perception of the Force and the Jedi weren't really altered.

Comparatively, you've got the Republic Commando novel series. Not only did they completely change my view of the Jedi, I now actively dislike them!

 

Offline Pred the Penguin

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I actually really enjoyed playing KOTOR2 over and over again.... but I never ever finished it. Just got kinda boring at the end. Too linear, I say.
Comparatively, you've got the Republic Commando novel series. Not only did they completely change my view of the Jedi, I now actively dislike them!
Many fans are critical about the series, but I have to admit I'm starting to dislike Jedi, too. :P
My only real complaint is that by the end of the story we have no idea where to go from here. The movies, set thousands of years later, show a galaxy where the Force and Jedi are alive and well, where the Jedi code is still the path away from darkness. At the end of the Sith Lords things couldn't look grimmer; how did the Jedi reestablish themselves despite the disintegration of their beliefs, and why did they choose to embrace the Force again? Did they forget the lessons they had learned, or if not, were those lessons refuted in the years afterward? Or did they reach a new understanding of the Jedi Code and the Force that took what they had learned into account? I wanna know. That's why it has to be Obsidian that makes KOTOR3.
I guess you could that every era in Star Wars had it's own set of morals...

 

Offline Rick James

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KOTOR 2 is "eh."

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Offline Ziame

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 :wtf: KOTOR 2 rocks. the story is more complicated and "true" than the story of kotor the first. KOTOR 2 rocks. Though I have one complain about gameplay- > THE FIGHTS SUCK BIG TIME... they're so boring *click* *click* oh I slashed the bastard *click* another one ehh...

KOTOR 2 + jedi academy\assasin's creed style fights = epic win
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Offline Scotty

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*click* *click* oh I slashed the bastard *click* another one ehh...

 :wtf:  You must have chosen a different class than I did, or played on a lower difficulty.  I use a Jedi Weaponmaster with the full lightsaber proficiencies and master Two-Weapon Fighing III, and combat gets interesting when you get in one of the bigger fights.  Sometimes I like to save before an encounter and time myself to see how fast I can kill everyone, then restart and try it a different way, like a time trial.  That doesn't get boring very quickly (especially with an attack bonus of +42, +39 ;7)

 

Offline Demitri

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Am I the only one who prefered KOTOR to KOTOR2 purely because they prefer their SW vanilla, ie light/dark side with no "grey" area? No moral ambiguity ect?
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Offline Knight Templar

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Am I the only one who prefered KOTOR to KOTOR2 purely because they prefer their SW vanilla, ie light/dark side with no "grey" area? No moral ambiguity ect?

Yeah, for those reasons, you're the only one.

Though KOTOR was definitely a more solid game in terms of quality.
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Offline Flipside

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The thing that got me about KOTOR (1) was the fact it told you whether your actions were 'Light' or 'Dark', I think it would have been much more fun to never tell the player, and just let the character develop as-is, so you don't actually know how other people are going to react to you until they react.

 

Offline Knight Templar

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The thing that got me about KOTOR (1) was the fact it told you whether your actions were 'Light' or 'Dark', I think it would have been much more fun to never tell the player, and just let the character develop as-is, so you don't actually know how other people are going to react to you until they react.

TOR man, it's going to be epic.
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Offline Flipside

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I'd like to see some 'real' moral dilemmas as well, such as a mother with a dying child, it's possible to save the child if the mother is willing to surrender her own life to do so, but the mother is young and healthy, she can have more children, but shes willing to sacrifice her life to save the baby.

What choice is Light, what choice is Dark, kill the mother, or leave the child to die? Are you interfering with the natural order of things, but if that is so, if they cannot go beyond the 'natural order', what is the point of the Force being 'with' the player?

Those sort of choices make things like 'Good' and 'Evil' much more subjective, and leaves the player to guessing rather than questions like 'Should I mug this guy or not?'

 

Offline Mika

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I'm still waiting for the Restoration project to be finished.

From the setup, I found KOTOR2 much more interesting than KOTOR1, despite all its present flaws. It could have been great if it had been finished; I feel that KOTOR1 was more like a movie, while KOTOR2 let you define yourself from the start and is more like a game. Plus the original possibility of having two personalities for Darth Traya, both of them could have been travelling with you in your party. And sometimes the game hinted that Kreia could be the mother of Handmaiden, but this was never elaborated. So many possibilities, so many of them never used. Shame really.

I sure hope they can restore at least part of the game.
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Offline Mr. Vega

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Oh the Restoration mod's been released, a beta version without the maker's permission, but it was leaked. Not to hard to find via google, and you can use the updater to bring it to the latest build, and as far as I can tell there's only one showstopper bug that has an easy workaround.
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