PC ¦ PlayStation 3 ¦ Xbox 360 ¦ Wii ¦ DS ¦ PSP ¦ Others ¦ DGC Grade Table

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords Xbox

Published by LucasArts
Developed by Obsidian Entertainment
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £39.99

2003 saw not only the best RPG released on Xbox so far but also one of the best uses of the Star Wars licence in gaming history. Bioware, who almost single-handedly bought PC RPG's back from the dead managed to combine their expertise and the Star Wars universe into a very impressive RPG experience. The game was a huge success and it was excellent news when a sequel was announced last year. With Bioware already working on other titles though another development team would handle the sequel. Usually this kind of news is bad news but when this other development team, Obsidian Entertainment, is comprised of people who've worked on some of the greatest RPG's of all time you can rest assured that the sequel has been in safe hands.

The story for Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords is set five years after the events in the first game. You'll play as a former Jedi who was stripped of his (or her of course) status as well as his powers. At the beginning of the game your character is unconscious aboard a heavily damaged Ebon Hawk. You'll control a droid to get the Ebon Hawk up and running and be able to dock at the Peragus II mining facility so that your main character can receive treatment. Playing as the droid serves as a tutorial which will introduce newcomers to the basic controls of the game. Whilst it wouldn't be kind of us to give too much away about the story, essentially there has been a Jedi Civil War and all the Jedi are thought to be extinct. The Sith for some reason think you are a Jedi and have put a huge bounty on your head. As you can imagine this makes you a target for all the scum in the universe although at the start of the game you know little of this. After you've been revived you'll encounter a woman by the name of Kreia who will later join your party. Kreia is a mysterious character who seems to be neither a Sith or Jedi although she obviously has a dark past. That aside though Kreia is definitely one of the better characters in the game.

Whilst The Sith Lords is undoubtedly a very good sequel that fans of the original game will definitely enjoy, there are a few rough edges that take the polish off the game. The main complaint with the game has to be the frame rate which can dip very low indeed from time to time. It's not uncommon for the action to become a temporary slide show in big battles and this is disappointing. Fortunately though given the virtual turn-based nature of the battles this doesn't cause any problems despite being unsightly. You'll also find several glitches such as characters just appearing from nowhere and also disappearing. One instance springs to mind when Atton (who comes across as a Han Solo wannabe) is sitting in the cockpit of the Ebon Hawk and is typing away, however he has his back to the console he's meant to be using, so he's actually typing away on nothing which looks comical. None of these issues are problematic or spoil the game in any way but it's a shame that they exist given the production quality of the first game and also because there is no Xbox Live support this time around you know that an update for the game is never going to arrive.

Although The Sith Lords is in many ways similar to Knights of the Old Republic in terms of how the game plays, Obsidian have made a few adjustments. One of my niggles with the first game was that when you had taken items from a container it was difficult to remember if you had previously searched it for items when you returned to that location. The only way of knowing was to open the container again. This may not seem like a major issue but throughout the course of the game it proved to be a little irritating. In The Sith Lords though the text description of the object will now tell you that it's empty which is a small, but very useful, improvement. You'll also notice that when you equip weapons there is an alternate weapon equipping slot. Basically you can equip weapons in both and press X to choose between them. This is a useful feature carried over from games such as Icewind Dale 2 and it's another example of how small inclusions can improve the overall experience. You'll also notice how your actions can either lose or gain influence with other party members. Sometimes pleasing one party member will displease another one. Saying the right things to a party member might get them to open up to you and tell you some important information. This is a great inclusion and makes the game even more interesting and adds more depth to the game.

Visually the game is of the same quality as Knights of the Old Republic. Indeed much of the artwork from the first game has made its way into The Sith Lords. You'll recognise quite a few character faces, objects and items from the first game. I was pleased to see more options when creating a character. As before you'll have a choice of a male or female character and you can choose between three different types, Jedi Consular, Jedi Sentinel and Jedi Guardian. After this stage you can either choose a quick character or you can customise the portrait of the character and the choices for this are much better than in Knights of the Old Republic. Like Knights of the Old Republic, The Sith Lords has some great cutscenes that make the game a movie-like experience. There are better looking games on the Xbox to be truthful but on the whole the game does look good.

Knights of the Old Republic was fine for deaf gamers and The Sith Lords is also practically identical in this respect. Cutscenes (apart from the advert-like cutscene that runs when you first insert the game disk), conversations and tutorial messages are all shown in text. Actually there is one omission when you see a cutscene between the main enemy in the game and one of his minions. His speech is garbled and can't really be made out but there isn't any speech or caption at all to convey this to the deaf gamer. Even the beeps of the droids that don't speak are represented by nonsensical words. During a battle your characters will make the odd comment or taunt and these are not subtitled but this isn't really important and they say the same things over and over again anyway. You can access your journal at any time to find out what you should be doing next and what quests are available to complete.

Those of you that enjoyed Knights of the Old Republic will really enjoy The Sith Lords. Once again you can choose your own path, good or evil, through the game which means that you can double the play time of 30-40 hours if you want to see how everything in the game plays out. The Sith Lords doesn't make any radical changes but that's not really a problem as none were really needed. Despite being handled by another development team the game still retains that superb playability that Knights of the Old Republic had. There are a few issues with the game (which we mentioned earlier) but on the whole it's a great game and a much sought after top quality Xbox RPG (and let's face there's not that many).

Overall Game Rating: 9.0/10

Another great Star Wars game as well as another top quality Xbox RPG which is always welcome. The Sith Lords is just as enjoyable and engrossing as Knights of the Old Republic was although it could have done with a bit more polish in certain areas.

Deaf Gamers Classification:

(Click the letter or here for details)

The Sith Lords is almost identical in its provision for deaf gamers as Knights of the Old Republic and therefore is absolutely fine.