The genius of Bioware was to set their game 5000 years before Phantom Menace. Lucas's universe is a rich one and, while his films do not necessarily live up to the dream, it remains an ideal place in which to set an intricate, ethically driven RPG adventure. And this time around, that adventure is being written by Chris Avalone, who wrote the literate and much admired RPG Planescape: Torment. KOTOR II is thus a sequel that we looked in on recently with something of the excitement of seven-year-olds on Christmas Eve.
While tweaks have been made to Bioware's engine (most crucially allowing dozens more characters on screen at once), it all immediately feels comfortingly familiar. However, this might well be one of the few comforts going. Inspired by the morally challenging nature of Bioware's original, Avalone has set out to create a darker, more complicated moral world. Previously, choosing between Light or Dark was often a stark and obvious choice. Do you do good, do you do bad? Avolone's intention is to blur that line and make decisions more complex.koto
As you'd expect, there are also piles of new Force powers and feats, 60 of them, with more elaborate animation routines that develop as your characters become more powerful. It appears that more emphasis has been put on battles, increasing their importance in your progression.
As for recognisable characters, T3 is present at the start, and others will cameo. Don't tell anyone, but thanks to an accidentally loaded level, we are pleased to confirm that an HK model droid also appears, with a very familiar voice.
LucasArts tell us that various team members cried during testing, and not because of bugs. If it can reduce those developing it to emotional wrecks, just imagine what it could do to us.
Knights of the Old Republic II will be released for PC and Xbox in February