A long time ago, in a country far, far away… I was gifted a Star Wars game and I hated it. That game? The original Knights of the Old Republic for the OG Xbox. I couldn’t stand the turn-based action. Why couldn’t I run around and swing my lightsaber at will? Why couldn’t I do cool double jumps? Why didn’t my so-called “friend” give me their copy of Jedi Outcast instead?
I was an idiot, and that summer, I became smarter. Due to a lack of funds because I was just a lowly teenager, I begrudgingly sat down one fine summer’s day and began my adventure with Knights of the Old Republic.
By the end of the summer I had two things: a serious lack of summer stories to write about for my back-to-school summer report, and a newfound respect for a genre I’d never bothered with before; RPGs.
At the time, I didn’t even know what I was playing was an RPG. In my tiny, infantile mind, games were either racing games, shooting games where you can see your character, or shooting games where you can’t see your character, and adventure games like Spyro. Oh, and FIFA.
20 years later, I’m finishing up what I started. I never got around to Knights of the Old Republic 2 as a kid. My story ended with Revan and that “WHAT THE FLIPPITY FLIP?!?!” plot twist at the end. Now, I’m back in the saddle, and much more comfortable thanks to my aged hands and a brain that’s steadily slowing down. The more relaxed and laid back nature of Knights of the Old Republic 2 fits me like a glove these days, mostly because of my aforementioned physical decline, but also because my reading comprehension has progressed passed the bare minimum required to not get held back a year at school.
Knights of the Old Republic 2 isn’t an action game in the vein of Jedi: Fallen Order or Battlefront. It’s an RPG with every conceivable RPG system in place. Dialogue options? Check. Numbers and stats for weapons and battle damage? Check. A slight jank to its controls? Of course, check.
Nobody is going into Knights of the Old Republic 2 expecting a graphical showcase or a full remastering effort. I’d guess that most players who end up picking this one up on Nintendo Switch (it’s only releasing on Switch for the time being) will be returning players looking to relive the glory days. Or, perhaps, old farts like me who played the original but missed out on the sequel, and now they’re being given a convenient opportunity to clean up some unfinished business.
New players should be warned: this isn’t a quickie that can be done in a weekend. I’ve had code in my hands for just three days prior to the review embargo, and by my best estimation, I’ve still got six years of intermittent playing before I’m finished. Not because it’s a game that’s too long, but because it’s only on the Switch and I have to battle/bribe my six-year-old son for Switch time. I’m down 20€ and a promised trip to the zoo, and I’ve only got about 12 hours of playtime to show for it…
While I’m not done yet, I’m a fair way through and it does feel familiar, even if I’ve never played it before. It seems to follow similar story beats and patterns to the original. For instance, your character is a former Jedi who wakes up with a bad case of The Bourne Identity. A few conversations here, a couple of battles there, and you’re teaming up with an old lady Jedi and a scruffy Han Solo-style scoundrel to start your adventure. Basically, the same opening as the original.
While the first game is amazing and I wholly recommend you play it, it’s not required to get Knights of the Old Republic 2, though there are numerous call backs to the events of the first game, and I was happily surprised to see some familiar names and faces on my travels.
The appeal with Knights of the Old Republic 2 is a lengthy Star Wars RPG that takes its time to build its worlds and characters. Taking place a thousand years before Anakin became a TikTok meme, it’s free from the constraints (and boxed-in writing) of George Lucas. There’s a different culture around the wholesome Jedi and the evil Sith. There was a Jedi civil war where the goodies shanked each other to the point of near-extinction. The evil Sith aren’t all runnnig around with red sabres and black hoodies. In fact, they wouldn’t look out of place having a scrap in Middle-earth with their shiny armour and light-less sabres.
There’s a lot to drink in and you’re welcome to explore the worlds at your own pace. You can chit-chat with the locals to gain some insider knowledge or even take on extra bonus missions that’ll put some Republic credits in your purse, some EXP on your character, or even some extra rare items to use in battle. Don’t want to tackle the story right away? No problem. Go to the local cantina and play a few hands of Pazaak, the surprisingly good card game. I normally stay away from such stuff in games unless I’m absolutely forced to (looking at your, Red Dead 2) but I found I’d genuinely enjoy playing Pazaak and winning a decent chunk of credits that can be used to buy gear or wet the hands of bribe-loving scum.
There are, of course, some downsides. Battles can sometimes be lost on the roll of a dice you don’t get to see, and therefore can’t swindle. If you’re underpowered, ill-prepared, and the background dice rolls aren’t favourable, lengthy battles can drag on only for you to go belly up at the last gasp, resulting in a reload of a previous save, assuming you’re a fellow save-scummer. No shame. I’ve save-scummed my way through many games, especially ones from the era that Knights of the Old Republic 2 hails from.
There’s also the issue of the game’s visuals. Don’t get me wrong, it looks decent enough considering its age, but it can still be a little sore on the eyes. For the most part, though, it’s serviceable and rarely takes away from the overall gameplay experience. The cinematics, on the other hand, are really poor quality with lots of artefacts that reminds you just how old this game is. It’s a minor nitpick, but I’ve seen some impressive A.I reconstructions of old videos and the like, so it’s a shame Knights of the Old Republic 2 didn’t get that treatment for its cinematic cut-scenes.
Something else I found myself doing was getting a notepad and jotting down important details – this is something I did with the original game, many, many years ago. There is an in-game journal, but it’s not all that detailed and it can be difficult to keep track of where you’re going, what you’re doing, and what you need to do to progress. If you tend to rotate between a few games, or just put one down for a couple of days, it’s easy to lose the flow, so I found my trusty notepad helped keep me in check. This isn’t really the fault of the game’s porting developers, but it’s worth noting all the same, especially if you’re an old hat coming back two decades later with a slightly mushier brain.
I’ve still got a long way to go on my adventure and then there’s the free DLC that’s coming soon, too, so I won’t be done with Knights of the Old Republic for a good while yet. But I’m happy enough to say that it’s a damn good game that, unlike many others from its time, stands up and remains a compelling experience, even in the face of modern releases.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Primary version tested: Nintendo Switch