Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thou shalt not kill: KOTOR 2

No, this is not the Star Wars Blog your looking for. but let me assure you, more professional blogposts are on the way.
Kotor 2 is short for "Knights Of The Old Republic 2", a sequel to Bioware's KOTOR, made by Obsidian (risen from the ashes of Black Isle Studios, who you might remember from classics such as Baldur's gate 1&2, Fallout 1&2, Planescape Torment and Icewind Dale...).I'm going to throw in a few (minor) Kotor2 and Bioshock spoilers, so if you don't like that sort of thing, skip this read. But they are neccesairy to link the two.

Kotor2 is a RPG based in the Star Wars universe. That doesn't mean it's badly written though. It shares the same special vibe with the Jedi Knight games. It's odd how these kind of "extended universe" titles are able to catch the original Star Wars vibe a lot better then, for example, the prequel trilogy could. The game features a pretty elaborate story and retelling of Kotor 1. Along with the moralistic lesson that every being should be left to their own individuality and that they will become stronger if they themselves overcome their problems rather then count on others to solve it for them. As a player, you get to comment on that idea through the gameplay. Speaking of which, the gameplay is of the highest standard, the one you might expect from a studio like Obsidian.

But the thing I wanted to share, aside from the recommendation, is something a bit more special. Those of you who experienced Bioshock, you will recognise this kind of phenomenon. Just before the final chapter of Kotor 2, you have to face the jedi council, apparently for advice and answers, story wise. But what also happens is that the council judges and condems you, rather unexpectidy, for playing the game. They aknowledge you have become powerful indeed, but since you've become so through killing critters and people, you are Sith. Even if you played it "light side". I thought this was an interesting point. In most RPGs you gain a fair bit of experience through killing stuff and this game is no exeption. And in these kind of games, it's a mechanic that defines the genre. But Kotor 2 judges you, or more precisely the gameplay and thus it's own genre, for it labelling you Sith either way. And it comes as somewhat as a shock, since you had no idea this was coming. It's like a stealth story element that crawls up on you. Just like "would you kindly" did in Bioshock, even though that particular example was more obvious. You are being played.

As a little by the way, this shows what true talent can do with a universe that might be dismissed by some as childish and shallow. Impressive, most Impressive.

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