A solid follow up, but another victim of the holiday push.
A return trip to the Star Wars universe was more than a welcome trip. A sequel was a sure-fire thing, after all of the awards that the first game won. But, with Bioware no longer doing the development, many people were worried. Rest assured, the game holds true to the original. Furthermore, you don't need to worry if you never played KotoR I. While playing through the original will give you a little more understanding of what is going on around you, it is not required. Some of the characters from the first game arise again, but it is only for a few brief moments.
The gameplay consists of a few different planets, and you again have the ability to travel to them in whatever order you feel. While this ends up being linear in the end, its a very nice way to make you feel like you have some control over what you are doing. You also still have the ability to follow a light, or dark path. Quests as well have been added everywhere. If you want to stay on the same planet for another hour or two solving them all, you can. If you just want to progress the story line, that's fine too. Some of the gameplay, I found to be very boring though. There are two planets where you can wander around for nearly three hours without a battle. Sure, if you are the dark side, you can pick a battle or two, but it's very bland for the light side.
Once again, you are given quite an assortment of allies to have in your party. What ones you use, are personal preference though. If there is a major plot point that requires you too have a character in your party, the game will force you to have them there, or they will show up long enough for the story to happen. No matter what type of player you are, be it Force user, blaster, or melee, you can customize those around you to fit your play style.
The graphics are pretty much untouched however from the original. They still seem to be a tad low on the resolution side, and indoor environments still look very "flat." The outdoor environments look just as good as they used to, though. The environmental effects on some planets really add to the overall presentation. There are quite a few new glitches though, more so in the cities. For example, there were a lot of doors that I could walk right through. The sound however puts you right where you need to be. The orchestrated soundtrack is better than ever. Even the little sound effects seem a lot more "real."
Alongside the glitches are the bugs, and there are lots of them in this game. During the loading screens, there are little bits of info, and tips. One of them says "Save, Save Often, and in Different Slots." They could not have been more right. This is obviously where the game suffers the most, and where you can tell it was rushed. There are points in the game where you can tell something was not supposed to happen, but did. This includes people coming back to life with no explanation and entire areas being reset with monsters again. There are four areas in the game where unplayable bugs have been discovered. I came across one of these in my path through the game.
Without ruining the story line, there is a part where one of your party gets captured, and another party member comes in to revive someone. When I was cleaning out the room where this happens about forty minutes before, I left two Sith alive (didn't even notice). When the cut-scene started to play, these two enemies killed the character that was part of the cut-scene. All of the sudden, the character that was captured was back alive, and in the area I already completed. After searching online, I found out what was supposed to happen, and I was forced to reload a game about 2 hours back, because there was no possible way to escape the place I was in. From then on out, I used three different save slots, and alternated between them. If you have a modded Xbox, take caution. Even more glitches and bugs will daunt you when you go through the game.
If the game had not been rushed out for the holidays, it could be another Game of the Year contender with the added QA and polish. After all that is said and done though, I am glad I bought the game. The ending leaves something to be desired, but the gameplay before that is what we were expecting.