Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 2 Tweak Guide

[Page 5] In-Game Settings



This section contains full descriptions of all of Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 2's in-game settings. I note the performance impact of each setting, but keep in mind that it's impossible for me to give exact performance impacts - it all depends on your specific hardware combination and your other game and system-wide settings.



KOTOR 2 Launcher


When you start KOTOR 2, the first screen you will usually see is the Launcher menu which contains the Game, Configure, Update, Register and Exit options. See the last page of this guide for details of how to speed up your KOTOR 2 startup by skipping this launcher screen.


For the moment however, I will cover the options under the Configure button of this menu, which you should access and adjust as appropriate. The main advantages of using the Configure option are that adjusting these settings here results in the least likelihood of performance slowdowns or graphical glitches in-game, and in case the game is crashing and you can't get to the in-game settings, you can alter relevant options here for troubleshooting purposes. The available configuration options are covered below:


Click to enlarge

Resolution: This determines the number of pixels displayed on the screen, and hence the clarity and detail of the game image. The resolutions shown are in pixel width x pixel height format, and are limited firstly to what your monitor and graphics card are capable of displaying, and secondly by the fact that by default KOTOR 2 primarily supports 800x600, 1024x768, 1280x960, 1280x1024 and 1600x1200 resolutions. If you are not seeing a full list of resolutions, this may be due to the use of a Refresh Rate fix/override - see the Troubleshooting section as well as the Refresh Rate setting below for more details. To attempt to configure a custom resolution see the Advanced Tweaking section.


Refresh Rate: This setting works in conjunction with the Resolution setting to determine how many times per second the image is 'refreshed' (redrawn) on the screen. The higher the refresh rate, the less flickering is visible and hence the less stress on your eyes - therefore you should always select the highest available refresh rate value possible. Note that if the VSync setting (see below) is enabled, the refresh rate caps the maximum number of Frames Per Second (FPS) which can be drawn to equal the refresh rate value. For more details on refresh rates, see this page of my ATI Catalyst Tweak Guide or my Nvidia Forceware Tweak Guide as well as the Vsync option below. Note that using a refresh rate fix like Refresh Force can cause problems in KOTOR 2 - see the Troubleshooting section for full details.


Texture Pack: The available options for this setting are Low, Medium and High. Textures are the 2D images used on the surface of every 3D object in the game. The higher the Texture Pack quality used, the more detailed the textures will appear, however your performance may drop as a result. Textures are dependent on the amount of Video RAM on your graphics card, and in general I would recommend those with cards which have less than 128MB of VRAM select Low, and those with 128MB or higher select Medium or High. In most cases High should be fine for most people since the textures in KOTOR 2 are relatively low quality anyway.


Vsync: VSync is short for Vertical Synchronization, which is is the synchronization of your monitor and graphics card's abilities to draw a certain number of frames per second (or FPS) on the screen. This is referred to as the Refresh Rate (see above), and is measured in frequency (Hz). Different monitors can achieve different refresh rates at various resolutions, for example my monitor can provide 85Hz refresh rate at 1280x1024 this means the screen is redrawing itself 85 times per second at this resolution. If Vertical Sync is enabled, your maximum FPS cannot exceed your monitor's refresh rate at your chosen resolution, and your FPS may in fact be reduced overall. If Vertical Sync is disabled, your FPS will improve, and it can now also exceed the refresh rate cap, however you may notice some screen "tearing" the top portion of the screen being slightly out of alignment with the bottom. This causes no damage to your monitor, and in general it is strongly recommended that VSync be disabled (unticked) for maximum performance. For more details see my Gamer's Graphics & Display Settings Guide.


Enable Hardware Mouse: When ticked this option uses your graphics card hardware to optimize rendering of the mouse cursor, which gives the best performance and functionality. However, if you are experiencing problems with your game crashing during loadup or any types of mouse-related problems, untick this option. Mouse lag is is usually caused by low framerates or audio issues and not this setting.


Disable Sound: If you are experiencing sound-related problems or crashes in KOTOR 2, you might want to tick this option for troubleshooting purposes. It disables all sound in the game, and if your problems no longer occur with this option ticked, then it is highly likely that your sound hardware and/or drivers and/or general Windows XP sound settings are the cause of any difficulties. See the Troubleshooting section for more details. For all other intents and purposes however this option should remain unticked.


Force Software Sound: By default Knights of the Old Republic 2 uses your sound card hardware to implement higher quality audio effects in the game. However if you tick this option the game will only use software-based sound, which can improve performance at the cost of audio quality. Note that almost all sound cards have some issues with KOTOR 2, and you should again see the Troubleshooting section for details of these. Generally, you should leave this option unticked unless you are desparate for performance and/or experiencing a great many audio glitches in the game. Also see the Advanced Tweaking section for details of how to reduce 2D/3D channel usage for improved performance.


Disable Movies: Once again this is a troubleshooting-based setting, and if ticked all in-game movies will be disabled. This will quite obviously mean that you will miss out on much of the storyline of the game, so it is not recommended. However if you find that your system crashes just prior to loading (or during) a movie cutscene, then ticking this option can resolve the issue in the short term. In the long run you should see the Troubleshooting section for details of likely causes of these crashes (e.g. Refresh rate issues) and leave this setting unticked.


Once done with adjusting these settings click Apply, then select the Game button on the launcher menu, then when the KOTOR 2 menu loads up a list of additional options will appear, each of which is covered in detail below:


In-Game Options


New Game


Starts a new game of KOTOR 2. This option should only be used if you want to start playing the game from the very beginning, including the generation of new characters etc.


Load Game


Loads an existing saved game from the list of saved games available on your drive. Note that by default KOTOR 2 saves your games to the \Program Files\LucasArts\SWKotOR2\Saves\ directory on the drive where you installed the game. Even if you uninstall/reinstall the game you can opt to keep these saved games.


Movies


This screen shows the list of unlocked in-game movies which you can view again. Movies are 'unlocked' by viewing them during the normal course of the game. Note that due to a bug with the game, there may be some movies here which you haven't seen in the game yet, but you can access here. Be careful as viewing these movies in advance may ruin certain plot elements for you. Also note that you can unlock movies by editing the .ini files as covered in the Advanced Tweaking section.


Note, you can view all of the movies at any time by going to your \Program Files\LucasArts\SWKotOR2\Movies\ directory, and opening any of the movie .bik files using the free Bink Video utility.


Music


Just like the Movies option above, this section allows you to listen to pieces of music from the game which have been unlocked during the course of the game. You can play these songs by highlighting the relevant track and selecting the 'Play Song' or 'Loop Song' buttons below it. The slider to the bottom right of the screen controls the volume of the music. Once again you can unlock additional music by referring to the Advanced Tweaking section of this guide.


Note however that all the music in the game is encoded in 22KHz Mono (not Stereo) by default, hence the poor quality. Playback of music cannot be improved to stereo as the original music files for the game are encoded this way. To improve music quality you must install the media update patches, see the Patches, Maps & Mods section for details.


If you are interested in extracting the music from KOTOR 2 to burn to CD or listen to outside the game, the only way possible that I know of is by using a utility like Creative Recorder and setting it to "What U Hear" mode, then pressing Record during the playback of individual tracks. For Creative sound card owners, this utility is free and usually already installed on your system (search for the file CTRec.exe on your hard drive). If you don't own a Creative sound card, you can try a utility like Sound Recorder. These types of utilities work by recording the sound directly from your sound card, hence they can record any sound or music playing on your machine.



The next section continues the In-Game setting descriptions.