Released in 2005, Obsidian’s Knights of the Old Republic II is still hailed by many fans as one of the greatest Star Wars games ever made – so perhaps it’s appropriate that, like the greatest Jedi Masters, it has been given life after death.
The PC version of the game, originally released in a notoriously buggy, unfinished state, has just received its first official update in over 10 years. And it’s huge.
Not only has the developer finally fixed the game’s crippling problems, the team has also made it run on Mac and Linux machines. It now supports gamepads, added achievements and cloud saves, and boosts the maximum resolution to a monitor-busting widescreen 5K.
The initial release of the game was so broken that players took to fixing it themselves, releasing their own homemade fixes. In doing so, they discovered that the installer included a vast amount of content that had been cut from the original game, so they cleaned it up, and added that back in as well, calling it The Sith Lords: Restored Content.
Now, on top of all the fixes, the game even includes support for Steam Workshop, the gaming platform’s tool for applying mods. It sounds like a small change, but it means that players can install The Sith Lords easily, directly from Steam, boosting the support for that mod as well.
So could the idea of patching long-released games catch on? Here are a few we’d love to see fixed:
Far Cry 2
The sequel to the beloved open-world shooter was praised when it was released in 2008 for transplanting the first game’s island setting to a sprawling African landscape with an exotic menagerie of wildlife from zebras to wildebeest.
But it was also broken on release, with crashes, freezes, corrupt save files, and mission characters who would just … disappear. Even after a patch came out (seven months later), many of the crashes still exist, and as operating systems have progressed, more have been introduced, such as the inability to download custom maps or join servers.
It’s only been six years since the last patch for the game, and even the console versions are still on relatively well-supported consoles; but publisher Ubisoft is probably willing to watch players give up on the older games and migrate to the newer Farcry 4, released in the tail-end of 2014.
Frontier: Elite 2
The 1993 sequel to 1984’s Elite, Frontier took an already ground-breaking game and made it even more ambitious, adding procedurally generated star systems, a cold-war-based universe, and colour graphics to the space exploration sim. But the initial release was littered with bugs, major and minor, which were perhaps an inevitable consequence of a game of that scale.
One bug tracker lists a few: “You can fly through planets, mountains, civilian buildings and domes … If you crash during a failed attempt to rough land, the game may crash with a memory exception, or an illegal operation … the police are stupid.”
The last good Sonic game is almost old enough to enjoy an alcoholic beverage, but it’s never really been fixed. It was initially developed for the Sega Saturn, but eventually came out as a key Dreamcast title in 1999. As the years went on, it would be rereleased for the Gamecube, and later a downloadable release for the Xbox, but at no point did anyone pause to think “should we fix this game so that Sonic, a character intimately linked with speed, doesn’t fall through the floor if he goes too fast?” Because they really should, if for no other reason than Sonic fans need some good news these days.
We also like this one, from a fan-made online bug list: “in the Shower Room, with Sonic, if Sonic takes a shower, Sonic appears to take a shower with Tails.”
Wait, is that a bug or a feature?
There’s a trend here: big, open-world games are generally difficult to properly beta test, especially if they’re large enough that they’re partially procedurally generated. Fallout 3 is no exception, filled with exploits and bugs throughout. You’ll be having a conversation with an NPC when their face will explode in a mass of warped geometry; or an enemy will lock on to you and follow you halfway across the world for no good reason.
For many players, those bugs lend the game an air of charm, and the unpredictability of developer Bethesda’s worlds is certainly aided by the knowledge that sometimes things just won’t go as you expect them. But with the game’s upcoming re-release, in preparation for November’s Fallout 4, there’s actually a chance that this may see a patch sometime soon.
This article was written by Alex Hern, for theguardian.com on Friday 24th July 2015 13.24 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010