Defending the Obsidian Knights

It is now common knowledge that Obsidian was forced to rush the release of Knights of the Old Republic II. As a result, one of the most common complaints about the game is that it has an abrupt ending. As a matter of fact, whenever I would tell any of my videogame savvy friends that I had finally picked up KOTOR II they would almost always unanimously say something along the lines of: “it’s good but the ending is rushed.” I believe it was Jay who actually told me that the game has bits of unfinished dialogue coded into it that the developers were forced to scrap due to time constraints.

After having beaten the game in just over 55 hours (and that’s long enough for me) I don’t see what the big problem is. First of all, the game does not just end abruptly, as I was expecting it to after so many warnings. It resolves every single thread of the plotline. At the end of the whole thing, when all the secrets and mysteries were revealed, (…the force is inside all of us) I was left completely satisfied. And second of all, the manner in which the game was shortened was actually creative.

I’m not disputing that Obsidian had more material than what ended up in the game. (Kind of like David Jaffe did for God of War, and what we eventually came to know as: “God of War II: now with wings.”) I’m saying that the manner in which the game’s makers dealt with the demands for speed from the soulless business assholes at Lucas Arts, and the manner in which they cut some material from the game, was exceptional. I just think Obsidian deserves some credit for managing Lucas Arts douchebaggery as best as anyone could. Let me explain.

The game’s producer, Chris Avellone, has stated that an eighth planet, one that would have been occupied entirely by droids, was cut from the game. If we put aside the fact that this in itself is a shame and that it would have been cool to traipse around a droid world, we don’t really have a problem with the central plot. The planets in KOTOR, both I and II, are almost entirely self contained; the absence of one of them (which the player of course would never be aware of) does not hurt the overarching narrative. Now, an extra planet may have deepened the narrative, but it is still quite cohesive without it.

Aside from scrapping a droid planet, it is quite obvious that a lot of material was cut from the planet of Korriban. You could tell this simply from playing the game. There are seven planets in the game that one could explore. On average, it takes about eight hours to anally (read: like you should) explore a single planet. Korriban took me about two hours, simply because there was not much to do there. But Obsidian worked this into the plot by turning Korriban into a ghost planet. If we take into account the devastation you wrought there in the first game this actually fits within the plot quite nicely. Besides, I actually enjoyed the creepiness of it. It was cool to come to a desolate, crumbling planet, with traces of a long dead evil force where all you can do is fight a few remaining feral beasts and loot the skeletal corpses of foolhardy adventurers. I liked that there was no one to talk to on Korriban, especially after having just explored six other worlds where I talked incessantly with every singly inhabitant.

KOTOR II does have some noteworthy problems, (tons of glitches, lack of innovation) but unlike this article, an abrupt ending is not one of them.

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16 years ago

OMG – I found out that Chris Avellone, the man pictured above (and thanks Jay for finding the hunkiest picture of him) has worked on… get this:

* Star Trek: Starfleet Academy (1997)
* Fallout 2 (1998)
* Descent to Undermountain (1998)
* Baldur’s Gate (1998)
* Planescape: Torment (1999)
* Icewind Dale (2000)
* Icewind Dale: Heart of Winter (2001)
* Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance (2001)
* Icewind Dale II (2002)
* Lionheart: Legacy of the Crusader (2003)
* Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel (2004)
* Champions of Norrath (2004)
* Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith
Lords (2005)
* Neverwinter Nights 2 (2006)

Jesus! Thanks Chris Avellone!

16 years ago

I remember hearing that KOTOR2’s ending was a slideshow of sorts that wrapped up what happens. Or something. Whatever.

All I know is that as a game, Obsidian did a better job than Bioware. If I liked the KOTOR structure a bit more I’d have finished this one to the end.