I'm working sick from home today, so maybe it's the my foggy head talking here, but I am suddenly compelled to say this unequivocally, in no uncertain terms, once and for all: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords is my favorite video game.
So imagine my surprise and delight when I saw that an update was issued on Steam today for the game. Then imagine that surprise and delight doubling in volume when it turned out that this update was actually something meaningful and substantial:
Welcome to the newly updated KOTOR II! Mac and Linux users can finally play one of their favorite games natively, and we've added a host of new features to this beloved classic!
Steam Workshop support! We've proudly teamed up with the Restored Content Mod team and TSLRCM will be available on day 1!
Achievements can now be earned through gameplay
Native widescreen resolution support
Support for up to 5K monitors
Steam Cloud saves
This is fantastic, but maybe I should break it down a little bit.
Obsidian Entertainment's KOTOR II is a great game, but it's also a game that originally shipped unfinished, janky, and only to PC and Xbox. The last time I wanted to play it was in 2011, just after I'd read about The Sith Lords Restored Content Mod (TSLRCM), which aimed to properly finish the game by polishing and integrating lots of extra content that was found floating around on the disk but which had never been put into place into the game itself. We're not just talking an extra little side quest here or there, either. TSLRCM restores major combat encounters and character arcs that had been left on the cutting room floor.
At the time, I was exclusively running OS X on a MacBook Pro, so I had to install a bootcamp partition of Windows 7 to play it. Then I had to fight with a collection of mods and edit a couple of .ini files just to get the thing to run well on my setup. Next, I had to figure out which restoration mod I wanted, and which version of that mod I wanted, since there were some disagreement in the fandom about which content was Truly Meant To Be Played, and which was cut because it just wasn't very good.
All of this was a huge hassle. Which didn't mean that the game wasn't worth the hassle, but it did make it hard to recommend KOTOR II to anyone who wasn't already as committed as I was. Now, with this update, I don't have that problem. So:
Go play KOTOR II. It is my favorite game.
The team at Obsidian got a hold of the Star Wars license and they decided to poke and prod and pull at it until they could shape it into something unique, but not all together disconnected from the rest of the franchise. Like Metal Gear Solid 2 or Dark Souls II, KOTOR II is a sequel that plays with (and often subverts) many of the assumed truths about the setting and narrative, and it uses the player's knowledge against them to surprise and teach. It forces the player to confront the sometimes uncomfortable subtext of a world where magically (and/or genetically) superior, self-appointed vigilantes are the heroes. And it does all this through a collection of characters who are deeply human, even when they are forces of alien horror. KOTOR II dramatically changed how I felt about Star Wars, and it did that without ever really giving in to nihilism. It asks us to reject the classic Jedi morality of Light and Dark, but then also insists that we build a new mode of ethical being for ourselves and our communities.
Also, I really like the way they mixed up lightsaber combat. My guy used a cool, single silver-bladed lightsaber. He was great.
So, any of you dive into this yet? Any other long time fans of the game stoked for this update? Your comments will act as a sort of psychic salve for my sickness.