Hands on with Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II, a worthy mobile port of...
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This story was originally published 2020/12/17
6:00am PSTon Dec 17, 2020 and last updated 2020/12/19
7:15am PST21 hours ago.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II was recently released on Android after a six-year wait. Since this mobile port was many years in the making, I figured a hands-on would be in order. This was a AAA game back in the old days, so how good can it be on Android? How does it perform, what options does it provide, and how does it translate to a touchscreen? We're going to answer all that, so strap in and get ready to hit lightspeed. There's a new RPG on the Play Store that's actually worth playing.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II is an old game. It was developed by Obsidian Entertainment and originally released on Xbox way back in 2004. The story serves as a sequel to Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, delving into a scenario where the Sith have nearly exterminated the Jedi. While I wouldn't call this story groundbreaking, in comparison to recent films, I believe it's a masterpiece. So if you enjoy Star Wars lore and have yet to play this title, you'll easily get a kick out of the tale within.
As I mentioned above, Knights of the Old Republic II is an older game, so the graphics are dated. While I wouldn't go so far as to call them ugly, animations are stiff, transitions can be jarring, and the in-game menu can be confusing. The title's age shows, but I have to give credit to Aspyr because the game looks pretty sharp despite these minor issues. For a title from 2004, everything is extremely clean looking. Sure, some textures could be improved, but for the most part, the game looks great on both my Tab S7 and OP8. Colors pop, and many characters offer just enough detail to look convincing on a small screen.
A cluttered menu system that's difficult to read on a phone, the only downside of this release
As far as the graphical options, things are more limited than in the original game, but the settings are serviceable. You can turn off shadows, grass, and force effects, which will probably come in handy if the game is chugging on your device (though, in my experience, the game flies). Heck, there's even a framerate option, where you can choose to cap the game at 60fps or unlock the framerate entirely, which looks as smooth as silk on high-framerate devices like the OnePlus 8. Thankfully, the game is optimized very well for mobile. I'm impressed a game of this age can still look so good on mobile.
What an adorable bot, and it's a killer
At first, I wasn't too sure about the controls, but I warmed up to them quickly. You can choose to play with touchscreen controls or a physical controller, and both options work well, though I personally spent most of my time using a controller. Things are designed in such a way that the UI doesn't get in the way too much, and luckily, all of the touchscreen camera and movement controls are invisible. The rest of the UI is pretty close to what the original game offered on consoles and PC, with a couple of larger buttons in the corners of the screen. Sure, the UI looks dated, but it gets the job done, allowing you to control the game freely without too much hassle.
Sparse control options, but glad to see you can reverse Y axis
Controller support works great right out of the box, something I wish I could say about all mobile games. I tested both a Stratus Duo controller and an Xbox controller, and they both worked as expected. Thankfully the entire game can be controlled this way, so you won't have to touch your screen unless you want to, which is perfect if you use claw attachments to hold your phone to the controller, allowing you to keep your hands stationary.
Large icons take up the corners of the screen, but it's not too far off from the original UI
36 minutes of uninterrupted gameplay recorded at 1080p 60fps
If you're curious about the gameplay, I've recorded a 36-minute video of Knights of the Old Republic II in action. This is indeed an RPG, and it's a good one. Combat is action-based, and it's intuitive. You'll also get to solve puzzles in order to advance, so there's a nice mix of action and puzzle-based sections to keep everyone on their toes.
Lots of corridors, but everything looks clean
Things start off a little slow as you're learning the ropes, but since this is (at minimum) a 30-hour RPG — you probably won't even get a lightsaber for several hours, but there are a lot of game mechanics to learn in the meantime. Really, the only issue I had with the gameplay is the cluttered menu system, but that's how the game was originally designed. I can't fault the port for that. Beyond that, this is a solid action RPG where you'll eventually level your skills to become a badass Jedi. Of course, you get to decide if you will use your powers for the light side or dark side.
Couple of interactions in the game
Much like the original Knights of the Old Republic mobile port from Aspyr, Knights of the Old Republic II is a premium release. You'll be able to pick it up on the 18th for $14.99, and while some may scoff at this price, let me tell you the game is well worth it. While the Android release is more costly than the Steam version, there's something to be said for the portability a mobile title brings to the table, and at the very least, you won't have to worry about any in-app purchases or advertisements interrupting your experience if you decide to plunk down your hard-earned cash.
I'm pretty impressed with Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II. It performs well, the framerate is smooth, the graphics are colorful and sharp, and frankly, it's nice to have a full-fledged RPG on mobile that not only offers a worthwhile story but won't ask for money every five minutes. This is a game you can easily spend some serious time with, which is a fantastic release for this time of year as we all wait out the pandemic. So, I'm happy to assuage everyone's fears. Aspyr has hit this one out of the park. I have no major complaints, which is rare indeed.
So if you're a fan of Star Wars or are simply looking for a quality RPG to dig into this winter, I highly recommend you check out the Android version of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II.
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