Modding is a funny thing, from Thomas the tank engine instead of dragons in Skyrim to naked people in Fallout 3; it was something I never really took seriously. That was until I found out that some people who mod games do it to make them run and look better. It was then I asked myself “Would it add anything to the experience?” or more accurately, “Could it add something new to an old experience?”
I have previously stated that I have upgraded my PC, so I chose a game that I’ve played dozens of times, Knights of the Old Republic II: Sith lords (I had previously played it on Xbox). Unlike last time however, I could ramp the graphics up to 11, see how it looks (bugger me with a brush if it doesn’t look amazing) and find out for myself if modding does change the overall experience.
With that I downloaded Knights of the Old Republic II: Sith Lords (or Kotor II), installed and ran it at full spec with a bunch of mods. For those who don’t know the Xbox version had some bugs and glitches as well as cut content due to a short deadline. The PC version would be a new experience, even before mods.
The mods I added included cosmetic changes, such as better rendered backgrounds and environments. These changes immediately made the game feel like a new experience, yet still familiar. A complete overhaul of the ship interior, making it look brighter, more colourful and generally just better looking.
When I played previously, I always played a Light side Jedi and always used Jedi party members (because they had the best abilities) but one of the mods that I downloaded added new skills and powers to the game. Such as the power to cause an enemy’s weapon to explode (which completely changed how I fought), a feat that made all enemies drop money (which altered how I played my character) or the sadist power, the ability to double damage by exploiting the dark side. Non-Jedi characters also get new abilities, such as more powerful shields, grenades and better healing capabilities, which makes me favour them over other Jedi’s unlike previous play-throughs.
I found myself leaning more to the dark side for the first time ever playing the game. This is simply because the new options allow my characters to be more powerful, earlier in the game. In short, my character is going to the dark side because I can be more powerful, sooner and with less effort. Not only does that add more options but it adds a whole new dimension to the role-playing aspect of the game.
These subtle changes have completely changed how I have been playing the game. As new dialogue options now appear and NPC’s interact with me in a more cautious manner to accommodate my “fall to the dark side”. Which in turn is making party members treat me differently and it really does feel like a different game.
Without these mods installed, I think that while the game is still fun, it would be the same as the last time I played it. With that in mind, it has completely changed the game for me. It has me wondering what other games play differently with mods? What other old games have had some life breathed back into them just because a passionate fan had a fun idea? It has certainly opened my eyes to the modding scene as a whole and will absolutely be using them in future games.