After the culinary and video game excesses of the Christmas season, January always feels like something of a comedown. Luckily your mobile’s got your back with a joyous mixture of weirdness and quality, whether you enjoy the potent retro appeal of Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic 2, or the rank insanity of There is No Game: Jam Edition and Death Pool.
Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic 2 – The Sith Lords iOS & Android, £14.99 (Aspyr)
Set thousands of years before the films, and five years after the first Knights Of The Old Republic, the sequel takes its conversation-rich action-RPG-with-consequences in a darker, but no less fascinating direction.
Once again you’ll be talking and fighting your way across the galaxy, with an increasingly populous band of Jedi and their supporters, in a game that plays very similarly to its predecessor – although that’s no bad thing when they’re both this good. Its graphics and mechanics are starting to seem a little creaky after 20 years, but the small screen is forgiving, cloud saves let you play across multiple devices, and the allure of labyrinthine tales inside the Star Wars universe remains powerful.
Review from Pcket Tactics
It’s a great setup, and allows for some of the most memorable bad guys in all of Star Wars. Whether it’s Darth Sion, a stone-skinned Sith Lord who is functionally immortal, or Darth Nihilus, essentially a Sith ghost who eats planets – and has become pretty iconic for his mask. In contrast to the first game, KOTOR 2 sees you explore the darker side of the galaxy, from the crime moon of Nar Shaddaa, to Telos IV, the declining jewel of the Outer Rim.
BLASTING MEATBAGS One of the few characters to return from the first game is the assassin droid HK-47. He still remains one of my favourite Star Wars characters ever, and is enjoyed by fans far and wide for his wit and tendency to refer to all humans as 'meatbags'
Another of my favourite things about KOTOR 2 is its depiction of how conflict changes people. Most of the game’s important characters are veterans or had their lives – or as with Darth Nihilus, their identities – shattered by warfare. Just as with conflict and disparity across our own history, the resulting fallout is what allows these Sith Lords to rise to a position of power. But KOTOR 2 feels like the closest Star Wars ever comes to recognizing the endless cycle of war that the Sith and Jedi have doomed the galaxy to.
In terms of the game itself, it plays very similar to the first. It still has the simple yet effective real-time combat, allowing you to pause at will, and queue up attacks. It also has the same great side quests and dialogue choices, allowing you to create a paragon of the light, or a denizen of the dark side. Your appearance even alters depending on the choices you make – fun stuff.
IT'S ONE OF THE BEST RPGS OF ALL TIME AVAILABLE ON YOUR PHONE, AND THAT IN ITSELF IS INCREDIBLE
As ports go, this is a damn good one. It isn’t a remaster, and doesn’t improve upon the original visually, but it does capture the feeling of playing KOTOR 2 on PC. The control changes are functional for the most part, such as having drop down tabs that allow you to select attacks, items, or grenades when queuing them in combat. You tap your character portrait to get to the character menu, and the mini map to bring it up in full – it’s all pretty straightforward. There is also an extremely useful quick-save button on the UI, which of course makes up for the lack of a PC quick-save shortcut key.
My only real criticism of the controls is that they aren’t dual stick, meaning you can’t move and change the camera at the same time. If you want to change the camera manually – beyond the basic one that follows your movement – you have to stop moving and shift it with the other hand. You can somewhat negate this by increasing the touch sensitivity, so you can shift the camera while moving, but it still does feel a little fiddly at times. Still, it’s a significant improvement over Aspyr’s movement system in its port of the first game, where you’d have to swipe up and down to control movement speed.
And that’s it in terms of negatives. Though it may not be an improvement per se, it’s one of the best RPGs of all time available on your phone, and that in itself is incredible. The KOTOR series has aged exceptionally well in comparison to some other games of the same period, and KOTOR 2 will provide lots of enjoyment to any RPG fan who is willing to take the leap back to something a little older.