Sometimes the best thing to do with a classic is just do it again. Especially when there're lightsabers.
Knights of the Old Republic was the best RPG of 2003 and remains one of the top titles on the Xbox. KOTOR 2: The Sith Lords shows Obsidian Entertainment taking over from former developers BioWare, and the transition is so successful that you won't even notice it. Just like the original, Sith Lords is an epic romp through the Star Wars universe.
Sith Lords takes place several years after the original game and a few thousand years before any of the Star Wars movies or other franchises. It's a turbulent time: the Jedi Knights have been all but destroyed by the evil Sith, and the galaxy is heading for another round of civil war. Far away from the action, somewhere on the fringes of space drifts a freighter named the Ebon Hawk, pilotless, with what may be the last remaining Jedi onboard in a coma.
You wake up in a medical tank with no idea of who you are or what you can do. The game's opening section, a creepy adventure on an abandoned mining colony, gives you clues: you can use the Force â€“ sometimes. You're missing a lightsaber. There are friends in unexpected places. And some very powerful, very bad people are interested in seeing you dead. Or worse. With the Dark Side of the Force, there's always an option on worse...
Though the story is different, Sith Lords brings the same overall structure and gameplay experience as KOTOR. Your journey across the galaxy mixes Jedi self discovery with high adventure, moving across multiple plotlines, planets, and characters. Along the way you gather companions who range from other Force users through mercenaries, runaways and droids. Once again the droids bring the Letterman element in spades: C3PO, that boring olden goldie standby, has nothing, absolutely NOTHING, on sociopathic assassin 'bots with a meatbag fetish.
All of the RPG mechanics and gameplay are virtually unchanged: the graphics, sound, combat, and character system will be instantly familiar to players of the original. Some things have been added, including lightsaber forms, more Force Powers and the ability to construct items on a workbench, but these don't alter the basic experience, which is rock solid. You divide your time between free-roaming environments, character interaction and combat, constantly upgrading your party and ducking into subgames. The upgrade curve is a little different, and it takes much longer to get your lightsaber this time, but when you finally get the snap-hiss up and running it's worth it. Slashing enemies to pieces is so much more FUN when there's a decent light show involved...
The wide moral curve on offer brings real depth to the Sith Lords. The game doesn't make you follow a virtuous path and constantly presents you with choices as to your actions: you can play girly and be nice or go for the Darth Vader-style approach. Though one is often more fun than the other, the game does a good job of balancing the rewards for both. Further on there's a final choice of Dark Side or Light, new elite character classes open up, and then it's a straight run through to the Big Confrontation with your destiny.
Sith Lords really is a second run-through of Knights of the Old Republic â€“ which is to say that it's a classic. Obsidian Entertainment have slotted neatly into Bioware's space and avoided either straying from the formula or churning out a retread. KOTOR: The Sith Lords brings all the galactic adventure, Force mystique, and big glowing hitstick stuff that any Star Wars fan could want.