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August 13, 2012 8:45 AM   Subscribe

Released in 2004, Obsidian's Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords ("KOTOR 2") was said to be a good game, crippled by the push to get it out in time for the 2004 holiday season. Beside the frequent bugs, a huge amount of story content was cut from the game, but remained on the discs. Now, three years after its inception, The Sith Lords Restored Content Mod has been completed. The goal? To get "the best possible chance to get the full experience Obsidian tried for when making the game." Rock Paper Shotgun has high hopes: "If you missed it the first time, you really should check it out. It’s ... Chris Avellone (who?) and co really going to town on Star Wars."

How to get KOTOR/KOTOR 2 running on Vista or Windows 7

via MeFi.
posted by griphus (59 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
I actually really liked the improvements to the game mechanics compared to the original KOTOR. Both the combat and out of combat systems were tweaked in ways that made the game more enjoyable. The main problem was that KOTOR 2 pretty much didn't have an ending at all, which for a story-heavy RPG is a big deal. But overall I think it's unfairly thought of as being a bad game when aside from the ending issue it's really a great game.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:56 AM on August 13, 2012


Well, I enjoyed the original, burnmp3s, but it was clearly not finished. It had a list of problems as long as my arm. It could have been one of the all-time greats, but instead ended up being merely good.

Looking forward to trying this out, but KOTOR2 isn't on Steam. Hmm.
posted by Malor at 9:05 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Does anybody think it's actually a bad game? As far as I can tell everybody knows it's a good game given short shrift by rushed production.
posted by kmz at 9:07 AM on August 13, 2012


I might have to reinstall KOTOR II and check this out. While it was fun to play, the story made no goddamn sense at all.
posted by dortmunder at 9:13 AM on August 13, 2012


It's a poorly-executed game, which makes it a bad game to play. If it was just buggy, okay, people played through Arcanum, for instance. If the storyline was chopped up but the game itself was fun, okay, that works too. God knows what passes for storylines in most games is crap by default. But when you combine the two, you end up with an objectively bad game.
posted by griphus at 9:17 AM on August 13, 2012


It's maybe 5 years since I played KOTOR 2, but I remember enjoying pretty much everything about it until it fell apart at the end. For the first 80-90% of the game, I found it a lot of fun. The supporting characters in particular were genuinely entertaining. Objectively bad? It objectively fail to achieve its aims, certainly, but I'm not sure how a piece of entertainment can be objectively bad.
posted by howfar at 9:23 AM on August 13, 2012


I am thinking back on it now, and part of the problem may have been the PC at the time exacerbating the issues. I ran into game-breaking cutscene dialogue bugs and rendering issues maybe three or fours hours in. However, I was running the game on a PC that barely pulled KOTOR on minimum settings.
posted by griphus at 9:24 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


While it was fun to play, the story made no goddamn sense at all.

I think it was less that the story didn't make sense (I don't think it did, I'm trying to think of a summary of what it even was), but that the two guys who are presented as the villains don't really do anything or have anything to do with the story such as it is. Seriously, what was the importance of Darth Sion and Darth Nihilus to the game? They could have completely left them out.
posted by DecemberBoy at 9:25 AM on August 13, 2012


Although, I really can't put two and two together as far as cutscene bugs and a slow computer. The fact that my PC crashed every time the engine tried to generate particle effects for fog, I can see.
posted by griphus at 9:25 AM on August 13, 2012


(that said, I liked the game and the stories of RPGs rarely make sense anyway, one of my all time favorite games is Final Fantasy VII and just try to sum up the story of that game)
posted by DecemberBoy at 9:27 AM on August 13, 2012


It's unfortunate that LucasArts won't allow any digital release of the game. They're being absurd for not cashing in on the mod.
posted by spiderskull at 9:29 AM on August 13, 2012


Also, if RKO released Citizen Kane under similar conditions, and the movie went into slow motion once in a while, or characters would be talking to walls or the wrong characters, and half of it was cut out and the other half re-arranged, then I would say that this movie RKO is showing me and calling Citizen Kane is a bad movie even though the real Citizen Kane is under there, somewhere.
posted by griphus at 9:30 AM on August 13, 2012


If it was just buggy, okay, people played through Arcanum, for instance. If the storyline was chopped up but the game itself was fun, okay, that works too. God knows what passes for storylines in most games is crap by default. But when you combine the two, you end up with an objectively bad game.

I played it through twice on the original Xbox and I didn't run into any major bugs that actually affected gameplay as far as I can remember. It did not seem like a "buggy" game in terms of playing it although I've heard there are actual logic bugs that can effectively end your game if you make a complicated set of actions at certain points. The PC version might have had more bugs though since I haven't played it. For the Xbox I would say with its flaws, it's still the best RPG on that platform.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:30 AM on August 13, 2012



I think it was less that the story didn't make sense (I don't think it did, I'm trying to think of a summary of what it even was), but that the two guys who are presented as the villains don't really do anything or have anything to do with the story such as it is. Seriously, what was the importance of Darth Sion and Darth Nihilus to the game? They could have completely left them out.


My main complaint was that I had no idea at all why I was fighting Kreia at the end, or why some of the NPCs got angry at me throughout the game. It was obvious there were huge chunks of the narrative that had been removed.
posted by dortmunder at 9:47 AM on August 13, 2012


one of my all time favorite games is Final Fantasy VII and just try to sum up the story of that game

Amnesiac mutant uses magical crystals to defeat space alien clones with the help of his dead platonic girlfriend.
posted by Nomyte at 9:49 AM on August 13, 2012 [15 favorites]


That summary poses more questions than it answers.
posted by griphus at 9:55 AM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I remember nothing about KOTOR2 so I have a hard time saying it was anything but mediocre.
posted by bardic at 9:59 AM on August 13, 2012


As far as im concerned, apart from the old school arcade game where you flew into the death star, every single star wars game has been a pile of wank. I know it, you know it and george lucas doesnt know it.
posted by sgt.serenity at 10:19 AM on August 13, 2012


As far as im concerned, apart from the old school arcade game where you flew into the death star, every single star wars game has been a pile of wank. I know it, you know it and george lucas doesnt know it.

Tie Fighter is one of the best games ever made and you are so, so wrong.
posted by IjonTichy at 10:30 AM on August 13, 2012 [12 favorites]


Tie Fighter is one of the best games ever made and you are so, so wrong.

Also Dark Forces was a really well-made early FPS.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:36 AM on August 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I enjoyed that pod racing game a good deal. Also, Tie Fighter, KOTOR, Battlefront.
posted by muckster at 10:39 AM on August 13, 2012


Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight was a bad-ass game and I will hear nothing said against it. (And yes, Kyle Katarn is canon.)
posted by grabbingsand at 11:05 AM on August 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'll throw out Shadows of The Empire as another great Star Wars game.
posted by Midnight Rambler at 11:10 AM on August 13, 2012


As far as im concerned, apart from the old school arcade game where you flew into the death star, every single star wars game has been a pile of wank. I know it, you know it and george lucas doesnt know it.

No. Incorrect. Your opinion is invalid.
posted by tracert at 11:15 AM on August 13, 2012


Just to state the obvious but the original KOTOR was great by any standard (Star Wars or otherwise) and frankly it's the reason that one of the more popular games in recent times (Mass Effect) is one that puts quite a bit of stock in story, character, and setting.
posted by sendai sleep master at 11:15 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the early Lucas Star Wars games were outstanding, better than the movies, if anything. X-Wing, TIE Fighter, Dark Forces, and Jedi Knight were incredibly good for the era. Of those four, Dark Forces is all but unplayable for modern gamers, because it's just too primitive. But the other three hold up extremely well. It's best to have a joystick for both X-Wing and TIE Fighter, though, as you need to be extremely precise in your flying. Thumbsticks won't cut it. JK also needed a joystick for the lightsaber duels, but I think that one might be okay on thumbsticks. And Knights of the Old Republic, while actually done by Bioware and just published by Lucas, was probably the high point of all five.

After that, the quality started going downhill, and recent Star Wars games in particular have been just terrible. Well, the MMO isn't dismal, but it's not particularly special, either. It's got some good points, but fundamentally, it's just a coat of Star Wars paint on Everquest.

But those early games, man, they were high points in gaming as a whole, not just in the Star Wars universe.
posted by Malor at 11:20 AM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Regarding the instructions to get KOTOR 1 and 2 to run on Vista/Windows 7: holy sith, that is a crazy mess. I am going to dig out my old discs to give this a try, but still...
posted by insert.witticism.here at 11:24 AM on August 13, 2012


TIE Fighter was great, if you like flying an unshielded tin can on suicide missions on behalf of an evil galactic empire.

Personally, I preferred single-handedly taking down capital ships in my B-wing in the X-Wing Tour of Duty: B-Wing expansion. Man I wish I'd saved a screen cap of all the badges and medals I earned in that thing.

There are some games where after I stopped playing I looked back and felt bad about how many hours I wasted on them. This was not one of them.

Anyway. I liked the first KOTOR just fine, never really got into the sequel.
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:24 AM on August 13, 2012


Oh, I have to say this about KOTOR 2:

One of the very first things you have to do is spacewalk. And if you remember KOTOR 1, spacewalking (and being under the ocean) was so tedious you could tape the "forward" button down, make a sandwich, eat it, come back and you'd still be about halfway to where you needed to be.

Anyway, so you start this spacewalk section minutes into KOTOR thinking FFS, not this again and it turns out to be FAST. Like fast-motion fast. It was nice to see such an overt apology for wasting my goddamn time.
posted by griphus at 11:37 AM on August 13, 2012


There are some games where after I stopped playing I looked back and felt bad about how many hours I wasted on them. This was not one of them.

I still like to brag how I'd "warm up" on X-Wing for about 40 minutes before flying my actual missions.
posted by Atreides at 12:15 PM on August 13, 2012


this movie RKO is showing me and calling Citizen Kane is a bad movie even though the real Citizen Kane is under there, somewhere.

I believe you are referring to The Magnificent Ambersons
posted by lumpenprole at 12:26 PM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had 1 & 2 on the Xbox. I never got past the 3rd planet on 2 because I just ran out of fucking patience with the epic loading times. They were murderous.
posted by Brocktoon at 12:49 PM on August 13, 2012


Well, I just ordered a new copy from Amazon. I'll try to remember to report back on how difficult it is to get going, at least, and possibly on my final reaction to the game, if I'm done before the thread closes.
posted by Malor at 1:06 PM on August 13, 2012


I played soooooooo much X-Wing and TIE-Fighter. Why don't they make games like that anymore ?
posted by Pendragon at 1:14 PM on August 13, 2012


I blame the consoles. Why exactly I'm not certain. But I'm sure it's their fault somehow.
posted by Justinian at 1:49 PM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Just to state the obvious but the original KOTOR was great by any standard (Star Wars or otherwise) and frankly it's the reason that one of the more popular games in recent times (Mass Effect) is one that puts quite a bit of stock in story, character, and setting.

Indeed. While waiting for Mass Effect 3 I went back a replayed KOTOR and it's amazing how similar they are.

And come on, who didn't get chills the first time the "big surprise" was revealed in KOTOR?
posted by ShutterBun at 2:04 PM on August 13, 2012


KOTOR 2 had great VA performance/writing for the character of Krieia, and a really intriguing plot that never goes anywhere. I played a slightly less finished version of this mod last year and it doesn't really help as much as you would want it to. Still a fun game with the usually good Obsidian writing, but I think the KOTOR 1 plot, while less creative, was better executed.

And technically it pretty much sucks... the PC version manages to look a lot worse than the first game and run like a dog.
posted by selfnoise at 2:08 PM on August 13, 2012


Although, I really can't put two and two together as far as cutscene bugs and a slow computer. The fact that my PC crashed every time the engine tried to generate particle effects for fog, I can see.
posted by griphus at 6:25 AM on August 13 [+] [!]


So PC gaming is objectively bad?
posted by Sebmojo at 2:13 PM on August 13, 2012


I am not grasping the analogy you're trying to make.
posted by griphus at 2:19 PM on August 13, 2012


I blame the consoles. Why exactly I'm not certain. But I'm sure it's their fault somehow.

Joysticks for consoles went out of fashion with the Atari?
posted by AugieAugustus at 2:45 PM on August 13, 2012


KOTOR is in my top 10 games of all time, although I suspect the gameplay wouldn't hold up well if I went back to it today. KOTOR 2 was fine, but their biggest mistake was not including enough HK-47.
posted by Sibrax at 4:03 PM on August 13, 2012


I'd blame the consoles if not for Jade Empire, which was a perfect example of how to do a game like this on said devices.
posted by Brocktoon at 4:36 PM on August 13, 2012


Released in 2004, Obsidian's Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords

And I still don't have a computer that will run KOTOR 1.
But at least now when I get to KOTOR2 it will suck less.
posted by Mezentian at 4:51 PM on August 13, 2012


Seriously, what was the importance of Darth Sion and Darth Nihilus to the game? They could have completely left them out.

They're you; the Jedi Exile, the player.

Darth Nihilus devours life through the force to make himself stronger. Light side or dark side, you spend the game killing and growing stronger.

Darth Sion has used the force to make himself immortal. He gets up whenever you kill him. You pretty much do the same thing. You cannot be stopped or permanently killed unless as a player you decide to stop.

Darth Treya is a master manipulator who bends people to her will with a word. You convince people to abandon their lives and follow you, killing and facing death because you order them to.

There are people in the game who will point each of these comparisons out to you. Atris talks about how terrifyingly easy it is to obey you, one of the villians comments on how you're impossible to kill, one of the Jedi masters mentions your habit of feeding on death.
posted by Grimgrin at 5:40 PM on August 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


KOTOR 2 hates Star Wars, and that's why I love KOTOR 2.

KOTOR 2 was Lucasarts handing the franchise over to a team of writers who proceeded to call bullshit on the half-assed idiocy of the Force and the philosophy that permeates the Star Wars franchise, and on "moral choice" systems in video games generally.

Compare to KOTOR 1. You can pretty easily predict the outcome of nearly every choice you make. But KOTOR 2 is all about the unforeseen consequences. Give a beggar some alms? How kind of you. What a shame that the money you gave him made him a target for mugging.

KOTOR 2 doesn't give a shit for the Star Wars universe's philosophy and morality. And that's why it owns.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:57 PM on August 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm so tempted to pull out my KOTOR2 discs. I've got the box in the other room. But as others have posted I've heard it is a beast to run on a modern OS.

Has anyone here successfully run it on Windows 7?
posted by Justinian at 7:14 PM on August 13, 2012


There are patches for KOTOR specifically designed to allow it to run on Windows 7. Can't really post them here, but if you search the Bay area, you'll find it.
posted by ShutterBun at 7:46 PM on August 13, 2012


Pope Guilty: If Jedi need to be killed, I would ask that you permit me to kill those annoying pseudo-pacifists for you.
posted by Grimgrin at 9:12 PM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


But can you run KOTOR under WINE in Linux?
posted by Mezentian at 10:22 PM on August 13, 2012


Opened up my KOTOR2 box. There's a keyboard map! How long has it been since I've played a game with a keyboard map?! I blame consoles!
posted by Justinian at 11:50 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


So my KOTOR2 showed up today, thanks to Amazon Prime. It's the European UK version, slightly different than the US version, so this is what I've done with it so far:

1. Put the first CD in, and adjusted properties on Setup to run in administrator mode, and in compatibility mode for XP Service Pack 2.
2. Ran the install. (four disks! There are only three disks on the spindle, the fourth is under the manual.)
3. Downloaded and ran the European patches. There are two of them, first going to 1.0a, and then going to 1.0b. You have to run them in order. The regular US version can patch straight to 1.0b in one shot.
4. Installed the mod.
5. Installed the replacement mss32.dll file from the link in the original post.
6. Adjusted the swkotor2.exe file, now on disk, to run in XP SP2 compatibility mode and administrator mode, just like Setup.
7. Created my own desktop shortcut, since I told the installer 'no', for no particularly good reason.
8. On first run, it wouldn't scale correctly to fill the screen, even though I'd told the NVidia card to do GPU scaling. (my monitor doesn't have a scaler of its own.) I had to set the GPU driver to 'override application settings' to get the scaling to work.

At this point, it seems to be up and running. Total time spent: probably about 30 minutes, with probably only about ten of those actively doing something, as opposed to waiting for the disks to copy to hard drive (which took a long time).

This was on Windows 7 64-bit, but I suspect the process should be exactly the same on 32-bit 7, or any version of Vista. Dunno about Win8, I'm not touching that steaming pile of crap with a ten meter pole.
posted by Malor at 3:13 PM on August 15, 2012


I installed it today and it worked fine right out of the box on my Windows 7 system. Didn't have to run it in compatibility mode or anything.
posted by Justinian at 8:15 PM on August 15, 2012


It seems to be running well, but I don't know how to tell whether the mod has worked or not. I guess I'll have to look through the Readme.

One warning for anyone who installs this game: there is a very bad bug that's easily fixed. You will lose control of your character after combat; you can still click on things and activate the interface normally, but after many combats, your character will be stuck for an extended period of time, possibly permanently(?). The crappy way around this problem is to quicksave and then quickload, which unsticks you.

But there's a better way; turn on vsync in the advanced graphic settings. Vsync isn't a bad thing to have on anyway, in these older games, because it's quite common for them to have severe video tearing from their nutty framerate on modern hardware. VSync means that it generates frames only as fast as your monitor can display them, typically 60/second, so you won't get any tearing. Happily, it also fixes the 'sticks after combat' bug in both KOTOR and KOTOR2.

VSync can seriously impair your frame rate with more challenging games, so anytime you're running something that's advanced for your hardware, consider turning it off. But on old games like this, leaving it on will both improve image quality and, typically, will let your video card run very cool, just loafing along. It probably doesn't take a lot more effort to run KOTOR2 in vsync mode than it does to render the desktop in Windows 7.
posted by Malor at 8:19 PM on August 15, 2012


If the content mod is installed the launcher should look quite different and will say "Restored Content Modification" underneath the logo. If your shortcut is not to launcher.exe you won't see this, of course. Just launch the game from launcher.exe once to check.

The only problem I'm experiencing is that movies and cut-scenes have a tendency to go pear shaped, either minimizing themselves constantly or replaying over and over. But I will persevere. I made a Jedi Sentinel! Now I'm driving this little droid guy around fixing things. And by fixing things I mean I bash him into containers over and over until they break open and I can take stuff.

I wanted to try making a character with 1 intelligence to see if if goes the full Planescape Torment route and only lets you communicate, and I use that term loosely, through grunts and the like. But alas no. I suppose that doesn't make sense for a Jedi. Torment was so far ahead of its time that we haven't even caught up to it yet.

You can really see how UI has evolved in the last decade and how significantly games like Mass Effect were influenced by Obsidian. I hope Chris Avelone follows up his work on Wasteland 2 with a Torment 2 kickstarter. I would give him all my monies.
posted by Justinian at 12:25 AM on August 16, 2012


So, after a marathon weekend, I'm pretty mixed on the game, still. I still don't think it's as good as KOTOR1.

First, improved or not, this game is still buggy as hell. It is just awful. Many many conversations would just drop out, exchanges five or six lines long just flashing by in an instant, with no sound. Fortunately, they're stored in the conversation log, so you can still read them, but you have to manually go back and look, and that can mean you're expected to make conversational choices without knowing what you're responding to, and with no way to check.

The movies lost sound all the time; I'm not sure if that's because they're buggy, or if the cut content didn't have sound in those movies. The whole game crashed on me a number of times; running around the planet Onderon was particularly bad. The game crashed about half the time when I tried to enter the map with the Skyway access point. It got to the point that I was quicksaving constantly, especially there.

There were lots and lots of 'interaction sequences' on the ship, even including outright attacks by one character on another. I saw two separate robots fried in different attacks, but then when I actually went to see what had happened, everyone was smileyhappy and normal, the 'destroyed' robots roaming around like usual. And I got the feeling that additional sequences were trying to trigger, and failing, because the screen would briefly go black after I entered the Ebon Hawk each time, but would never show a cutscene.

The overall plot was reasonably coherent, but it wasn't very interesting. And I wasn't able to really develop my 'trainees' properly; only two of them could take instruction from me. I'm not sure if that's because we shared classes (I was a Sentinel/Watchman), but the one Consular was never able to learn anything from me. And it felt like I was locked out of a lot of the conversational tree for Mira; for some reason she just never liked my character much. She didn't dislike me either, it was just sort of meh on her part, as far as I could tell, and I could never figure out how to improve that rating. I'm pretty sure I played a Jedi Master in the original, and they're supposed to be more influential over the people around them, so that may explain the difference.

The ending still felt pretty anticlimatic. It wasn't particularly confusing, but neither was it particularly good.

Overall, I still only think of this as an okay, verging on good game. I just played KOTOR1 again within the last year or so, and had a lot of fun with that, so I think it's just flat not as good as the original. Some of the philosophical musing is quite interesting, and I especially liked how normal people were coming to truly hate and fear Jedi, with their constant religious wars against the Sith. But, probably because the writers were bound by LucasFilm, they were only able to tug a little in the direction of the more advanced thinking, and ultimately were mostly hobbled by the old Good versus Evil thing in Star Wars.

In Lucas' world, KOTOR2 would probably qualify as subversive, nearly dangerous thinking, but I see it as fairly weak sauce.
posted by Malor at 3:38 AM on August 19, 2012


Oh, I should also say that the voice actress for Kreia, Sara Kestelman, was outstanding. If anyone made that game work, it was her. Wow, can that lady deliver a line. She was Jennifer Hale before Jennifer Hale was. :-)
posted by Malor at 3:44 AM on August 19, 2012


out now on steam btw, so presumably one wouldn't have to jump through quite as many hoops to get it running on a modern OS. No idea if it presents additionally difficulties in getting the mod running though.
posted by juv3nal at 4:47 PM on August 23, 2012


I was dicking around in Peggle between calls, quit, and the KOTOR 2 now on Steam thing came up. "We'll be taking your $10 now."
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:27 PM on August 23, 2012


Quick guide to getting the mod running w/ the Steam version of KOTOR 2.
posted by griphus at 7:51 AM on August 24, 2012


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