Following Star Wars Celebration 2022, Star Wars hype is at an all-time high. Like never before, new series, comics, books, merchandise, and video games abound in the Star Wars universe. The brief teaser for Star Wars Jedi: Survivor alone had gamers in a frenzy, anxiously awaiting the official 2023 release date. If you are like me and looking for something to hold you over until then, look no further than the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II—The Sith Lords port for the Nintendo Switch by Aspyr.
Improving on a sequel is never easy, let alone one as successful as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR). In 2004, Obsidian Entertainment attempted such a feat with the release of Knights of the Old Republic II. Overall, the reception was positive with a new compelling story, complex characters, and the ability to influence the galaxy like never before. However, Knights of the Old Republic II had its share of issues with various glitches and pathing bugs that left a sour taste in the mouth of gamers. The biggest question when the Nintendo Switch port of Knights of the Old Republic II was announced was whether or not the experience would improve nearly 20 years later.
Knights of the Old Republic II is set five years after the events of its predecessor. The story centers on The Exile—a Jedi Knight cast out from the Jedi Order following the events of the Mandalorian Wars led by Revan, who is the main character from the first game. Despite being close in the timeline, playing the original is by no means a requirement. There is plenty of exposition throughout the Knights of the Old Republic II that will inform much of what occurred years prior. In fact, players can determine the outcome of Revan’s story before The Exile disappeared. Early on, players can decide if Revan was a man or woman and the savior of the galaxy or its temporary conquer, allowing players to recreate their KOTOR outcomes or create something different. It’s here that Knights of the Old Republic II shows its promise of improving the original design.
Just like in KOTOR, dialogue options can pull players towards the Light or the Dark side. However, in Knights of the Old Republic II, there are more options, including more neutral options, which can shape how the galaxy evolves around the player. If you want to embrace your life as a “grey Jedi,” that is totally possible, whereas it was much more difficult to toe the line in KOTOR. While it may not be as extensive as other BioWare games like Mass Effect, I still had a different playthrough on this port than I did all those years ago by just taking my Exile in a different direction. This dialogue expansion also extends to companions. While there is no romance feature, the ability to turn various companions into Force users based on your influence (high or low) adds an extra incentive to probe deeper into the lives of those characters on your journey.
The combat in Knights of the Old Republic II follows the same d20 system from KOTOR. The combat improvements stem from players starting as a Force user rather than becoming one later in the story, like in KOTOR. This allows players to feel the power of a Jedi or Sith from the first mission. With thirty new Force powers and flexible lightsaber forms, there is more opportunity for players to play their way. The port stays very true to the combat from 2004, and by playing in a different style than my original playthrough, the gameplay felt fresh, even if it is very simplified compared to modern role-playing games. However, the authenticity of the experience does extend to some of the bugs found in 2004.
While controls were fluid and easy to use, whether using the pro controller or in handheld mode, the pathing issues could make combat clunky at times. When enemies are near, the game will pause for players to choose how to approach combat. This is great for preparing buffs, switching gear around, or setting companions in more aggressive or defensive modes. However, at times the game will recognize enemies that are either very far away or behind some sort of cover or behind a wall. Engaging in these situations often led to some wonky pathing that typically led to receiving a lot of unnecessary damage. Thankfully, this was more of a minor annoyance than a game-breaking situation, as the main battles in Knights of the Old Republic II weren’t affected.
The more frustrating glitches were when the port outright crashed. The crashes were sporadic and not as frequent as the original launch but happened enough times to warrant a mild curse. Luckily, Knights of the Old Republic II autosave features work well, and I never lost more than a couple of minutes of playtime. During my first playthrough in 2004, I had a similar crash just before the final battle. The crash would happen right after the autosave, and because I was so deep into the playthrough, I hadn’t manually saved it in hours. I was worried that I would be stuck in a similar situation with this port, but I am happy to report that no such situation arose.
Unfortunately, the bugs from 20 years ago have still made it into the Nintendo Switch port. With that said, the main mechanics and the story are still fantastic. While the ending still is limited to two, it doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of replayability. The companions have their own diverse stories, abilities, and interactions with other members of your crew. This led to many character moments that I had never experienced before despite multiple playthroughs of the originals. The focus on the characters and the worldbuilding surrounding The Exile makes for a plot that rivals its predecessor. Kriea alone remains one of the best characters in role-playing game history, let alone in a Star Wars game.
Overall, Knights of the Old Republic II for the Nintendo Switch is a fantastic time. Aspyr does a great job, just as they did with the KOTOR port in 2021, and the experience of the story far outweighs the inconvenience that stems from the glitches. There is something for every Star Wars fan, whether you are a long-time fan looking to jump back into your next playthrough or have never played before. With Obi-Wan Kenobi out now, Ahsoka on the horizon, and the success of the High Republic, the story of an outcast Jedi thousands of years before the events of the films has never been more relevant. Through the minor inconveniences, players will find joy in creating their own path as The Exile, and a sense of wonder that I believe can only be captured at this moment with the great Star Wars content surrounding Knights of the Old Republic II.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II—The Sith Lords is available on the Nintendo Switch on June 8, 2022.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II—The Sith Lords
Knights of the Old Republic II for the Nintendo Switch is a fantastic time. Aspyr does a great job, just as they did with the KOTOR port in 2021, and the experience of the story far outweighs the inconvenience that stems from the glitches.