Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords (KOTOR 2) was released as a sequel to the original Knights of the Old Republic game in 2004 for the original Xbox. Five years after Malak’s defeat, it follows the journey of a Jedi Exile who once followed Revan into battle against the Mandalorians before the Jedi Civil War. You play the exile, who gathers companions along their journey to find the remainder of the Jedi after Revan disappeared and figure out what new danger is threatening the galaxy.
After it’s release, KOTOR 2 had some mixed reviews. There was disappointment that the story didn’t continue Revan’s journey and the lackluster ending after such a big buildup. Since Obsidian Entertainment took over development while BioWare was working on other titles, a lot of the blame was placed on Obsidian for the “lackluster” storyline and motionless characters throughout the game. Now that KOTOR 2 has been re-released as backward compatible on Xbox One, I had the chance to replay it and see if the story holds up 14 years later.
Here’s the thing: I really enjoyed my first playthrough of KOTOR 2 when it came out. I was still riding the high of experiencing the big twist at the end of KOTOR and I wanted more. It was a great follow-up that I had assumed would lead us to KOTOR 3 but, of course, the third game never came. Perhaps that’s where the negativity stemmed from. The unspoken promise of an ending to Revan’s story. We would finally be reunited with the character we had created, along with the original companions, and finish what they sought out to do. But Revan’s story ended in KOTOR and their legacy became rumors and dust in the wind.
I think that is why KOTOR 2 is such a great game. Revan was built up as a legend and, depending on how you talked about Revan, they were someone who fell to the dark side and redeemed themselves to take the Republic back from the clutches of Darth Malak. When you play as the Exile, you are relying on the accounts of others about the Jedi Civil War and what happened to Revan. As you piece information together, the lines between what the Jedi consider good and evil begin to blur. There’s no one clear answer to the questions you have and each decision you make can be justified in some manner.
By playing as the Exile, the spotlight is taken off of Revan and is placed on the people who suffered at the hands of the Jedi and Sith. There are refugees who have been displaced because of the war and are being threatened by criminals from The Exchange. KOTOR 2 breaks down the decision of Revan to fight and the decision of the Jedi to wait in such an intricate way. Regardless of the outcome, people suffered – especially your companions. All of your companions were affected by Revan and the war in some way. Atton killed Jedi, Boa-Durr served with you and killed innocents, and Mira’s parents were lost in the Mandalorian Wars.
Revan was placed on a pedestal by the Sith, the Jedi, and even the Mandalorians. I remember when I first played this game and, the longer I played it, I would get more and more disappointed about not encountering Revan in some way. Only if I went through the caves of Korriban would I see some figment of who they were. But I think that was the point of this sequel. KOTOR 2 had deconstructed a figure of legend and left behind the reality of their consequences. KOTOR spent the entirety of its game building up a legend and it only took a few moments for KOTOR 2 to tear it down.
You see the chaos that has happened because of Revan’s indecisiveness and the Jedi’s lack of action. Revan is no longer a legend, but a person who chose to run rather than face their judgment. Even as the Exile, you return to face your trials and still take on three Sith Lords head-on. Your companions have more of a background and you can learn more about them based on how much you gain their influence.
Rather than tying up loose ends, the ending of KOTOR 2 leaves more questions than answers as well as a disappointment for such an idolized hero. It’s a great lesson in making your own decisions – not choosing to abide by the Jedi creed or by the Sith’s lawlessness. KOTOR 2 made you question the validity of the council and Revan’s decisions. The big twist of KOTOR 2 wasn’t why your character was exiled: it was that Revan wasn’t as great of a legend as we made them. If you haven’t had the chance to replay this game, it’s available on Xbox’s store, as well as your PC, and I highly recommend another playthrough of it – especially if you’ve seen The Last Jedi.