First Impressions: Can you resist the power of the dark side?
The Star Wars movies have been some of the most influential science fiction films of all time. One of the biggest questions in these movies was: why did this promising young Jedi hero Anakin Skywalker become the evil and feared Darth Vader? I think that was one of the main reasons why the first Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic game was so successful. Not only did the game have great RPG style game play but you had the option of picking a good or evil path for yourself. Now Lucas Arts and a new developer are ready to give us more with Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords.
The story takes place 5 years after the events in the last game (that's around 3,995 years before the events in Star Wars Episode 1). The Sith army, led by Darth Malak, have left both the Republic and the Jedi Order in ruins. In this moment of crisis the Sith Lords are now ready to take over the galaxy -- but there is still one hope. You play the role of an exiled Jedi (yeah, now you start out as a Jedi this time) the only one left who can possibility restore the Jedi Order. Of course that doesn't mean you have to; just like in the first game every choice you make can lead you on a good or evil path, and so you have the option to become a Sith warrior as well. Depending on which side you choose there are also new classes to master. If you fight for truth and justice you can either become a Jedi Watchmen, a Jedi Weapon Master, or a Jedi Master. If you fight for the dark side you can earn the ranks of Sith Assassin, Sith Marauder, or Sith Lord.
The story isn't the only thing that has changed. Canadian developer BioWare is not working on the sequel this time since they are busy with their new Jade Empire project. Instead, LucasArts is getting famed PC developer Obsidian Entertainment to use BioWare's original engine for the Sith Lords. If you don't know who Obsidian is, then maybe you heard of these games before: Baldur's Gate, Fallout, Icewind Dale, and Planescape? In one way or another; the employees of this company have been a part of these big titles.
Obsidian isn't changing the formula too much, but that doesn't mean that they aren't adding new stuff. There are going to be 30 new Force powers in The Sith Lords, for example. One new Force move can let you crush and mangle an opponent from a distance, while another technique can get simple-minded enemies on your side. You can also find several new and old characters along the way like Mira the Bounty Hunter, Kreia the former Jedi, the returning droid T3-M4, and many others to help you on this long adventure across 7 planets.
After seeing The Sith Lords in action, the game really doesn't look too different from the first game at all. It still has a lot of detailed environments, but the character look as plain as ever since there isn't much shading. Even the menu system was identical. One cool change I saw, however, was in the battle system. Characters now had more realistic animations so they appear less robotic during fights.