Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 2 Tweak Guide
[Page 3] Troubleshooting Tips
This section contains specific troubleshooting tips which address many of the most common problems experienced by Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 2 players. Several of the tips below are drawn from my guides mentioned in the Essential Optimization section. This is no coincidence, since some of the common problems with KOTOR 2 are not game bugs, but general sub-optimal system conditions. However Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 2 also has several quirks and bugs which can either be minimized following the instructions below, or by waiting for another official patch for the game. In any case it is very important to take the time to go through the checklist of advice below, as well as the rest of this guide, if you're having problems with the game.
Official & Unofficial Support: If you have a problem with the game, the first thing you should do is read the Official Troubleshooting Guide which comes with KOTOR 2. This document is called Troubleshooting Guide.rtf and can found in your \Program Files\LucasArts\SWKotOR2\Docs\, along with an electronic copy of the game's manual (Manual.pdf). The troubleshooting guide covers all the known issues and incompatibilies for KOTOR 2 and is a must read. You should also read the Readme.txt file which is in the same directory as it has more information and corrections for the game. Once you've read the above material, you can try further avenues for support. These include the LucasArts Official Support Site for patches and updates (See page 4 of this guide), the LucasArts KOTOR 2 Official Forums, the Obsidian KOTOR 2 Forums, and finally this KOTOR 2 Guide written by Kevin Scully.
Recommended System Requirements: The minimum system requirements for KOTOR 2 are not very steep, however you should definitely try to meet the recommended requirements to ensure the best playing experience. The minimum and recommended specs for KOTOR 2 are in the Readme.txt file in your \Program Files\LucasArts\SWKotOR2\Docs\ directory. Get acquainted with them since even if one of your components doesn't meet these requirements or cuts it fairly fine you will experience slow performance, not to mention graphical glitches and crashes.
Windows Vista Users: If you're having problems running this game under Windows Vista, first make sure that you're using the latest Vista graphics and audio drivers for your hardware, and the latest version of this game (see page 4 for patch details). Next, make sure you don't change your UAC settings after the game has been installed, as due to Virtualization this can change the location of the game files and settings. If you can't launch the game successfully when UAC is enabled, you will need to run the game with full Admin privileges. To do this either right-click on the launch icon and select 'Run as Administrator', or right-click on the launch icon, select Properties and under the Compatibility tab tick 'Run this program as an administrator' then click OK. I strongly recommend that you refer to the TweakGuides Tweaking Companion for Windows Vista for more information - in particular check the 'Gaming in Vista' section of the Graphics & Interface chapter; the UAC section of the PC Security chapter; and the 'Personal Folders' and 'Directory Junctions & Symbolic Links' sections of the Windows Explorer chapter. These will tell you how you can fix game-related issues and also explain the relevant differences of Vista.
ATI Graphics Cards: If you run an ATI graphics cards, there are several known problems which can occur with KOTOR 2. However you should make sure you use the ATI Catalysts 5.4 or newer which contain fixes specific for KOTOR 2. These include a resolution to issues on Dantooine. However there are also some remaining known issues yet to be resolved, such as display corruption when changing the in-game options from Low to High on 9800 Pros, and selecting optimal quality in the ATI Catalyst Control Center then selecting 1600x1200 resolution in KOTOR 2 resulting in graphics slowdowns in the game. These will hopefully be resolved in future driver updates as well as a KOTOR 2 patch.
Loading Issues: Just a note about those of you who may be experiencing a frozen black screen when loading up KOTOR 2. The main reason for this is typically an incompatible setting which causes problems with KOTOR 2's movie files. To make sure you don't experience these issues, firstly disable any refresh rate overrides/fixes you may have applied (such as Refresh Force). Secondly, make sure you only use the modified movie files at the end of this guide if you want to skip the introductory movies - rather than just creating blank .txt files and renaming them. Make sure you are running the latest graphics drivers for your card - see the ATI Catalyst or Nvidia Forceware Tweak Guides listed on page 2 of this guide. Finally, make sure your graphics card meets the minimum specifications for the game - most integrated graphics and laptop chipsets will experience problems with this game including black screens, crashes and graphical glitches.
Audio Problems: KOTOR 2 has several issues with audio, however there are a few things you can do to minimize these problems. To begin with, make sure in Windows that you go to Control Panel>Sounds and Audio Devices>Advanced, and ensure your speaker setting matches your actual physical speaker setup. Note that sometimes if you crash out of KOTOR 2, these settings may be altered without your knowledge, so check back on these often (and in detail) if you are having audio problems. Then under the Performance tab, you can try reducing the Hardware Acceleration slider one notch to see if it removes some of your audio problems. If you have an EAX-capable sound card and are using any EAX in KOTOR 2, go to your AudioHQ and open the EAX Control Panel. Click the 'All Effects Off' button at the bottom left. Finally, EAX may cause problems on some audio cards regardless of settings, so disable it in the Advanced Audio settings of the game.
Once again note that there are issues with certain sound hardware in KOTOR 2, so check the game's Troubleshooting Guide for more details and recommended solutions/workarounds.
Virus Scan: Do a full scan of all your files using a virus scanner such as the following excellent (and free) tools: AVG Virus Cleaner for viruses, A-Squared for trojans, and Ad-aware SE for spyware. Viruses, trojans and spyware can cause unexplained behavior, general file corruption and system slowdowns. It's very important to make sure your system isn't infected before moving on to other measures. However make sure to disable any background scanning programs once you're done (See below).
Background Programs: Disable all background applications, especially virus, trojan and spyware scanners and messaging utilities. These applications can and do use up valuable CPU resources, take up precious RAM, cause memory conflicts and crashes to desktop, but most importantly they interfere with read/writes to your hard drive effectively slowing it down and causing in-game freezes and loading pauses. Full instructions on how to identify your startup programs and services and how to correctly disable unnecessary ones are in my TweakGuides Tweaking Companion. This is a very important step you should not miss.
Overclocking: Just like many other games, Knights of the Old Republic 2 can be sensitive to overclocking. If you have overclocked any components on your system and are having problems such as crashes and reboots, or 'artifacting' (graphical anomalies) set everything back to default speeds and try running the game. If you don't experience the same problems at default speed then your overclock is the primary culprit. Just because other games run fine at your current overclock, doesn't mean every game will, especially newer games. Overclocking generally exaggerates any system problems.
Memory Subset: Regardless of how much RAM you have you must ensure that you optimize your Virtual Memory settings by following the step-by-step instructions in my TweakGuides Tweaking Companion. Combined with the tweaks covered later in this guide, this should help resolve many issues. A lack of RAM and sub-optimal virtual memory settings, especially when combined with overclocked memory (and/or aggressive RAM timings), can lead to lots of small in-game loading pauses, longer loading times and memory conflicts leading to freezes, crashes to desktop, and even sudden reboots.
Defragging: Another vital tip is to make sure that after you have installed KOTOR 2 you run through the system maintenance procedures detailed in my TweakGuides Tweaking Companion. If you only do one thing on that list though, make sure you run the Windows Defragmentation utility. Defragging ensures that the game's files are all on the same place on your hard drive, greatly reducing loading pauses/freezes and loading times. It may take a little while but it is well worth it, and you should defrag every time you add or delete any major files from your hard drive (e.g. when you patch a game or update a driver).
Antialiasing and Anisotropic Filtering: If you have mysteriously low frames per second despite being certain that your hardware is capable of more, then one place to check would be your graphics card's Antialiasing and Anisotropic Filtering settings. These are explained in detail in my Gamer's Graphics & Display Settings Guide. I strongly recommend that you set any forced Antialiasing and/or Anisotropic Filtering in your graphics card's control panel to 'Application Preference'. KOTOR 2 also has its own Antialiasing and Anisotropy settings (See In-Game Settings section), so if you want to use AA and/or AF then use these settings in the first instance, although once again using AA/AF will reduce performance noticeably.
That's just a basic rundown of troubleshooting tips. Remember, some game bugs can only be resolved by an official patch for the game, however read the remainder of this guide for more specific settings and tweaks which can help improve your performance and may help resolve any problems.