Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 2 Tweak Guide

[Page 6] In-Game Settings (Pt.2)



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Options


This section contains five sub-sections: Gameplay, Feedback, Auto-Pause, Graphics and Sound. Each is covered in detail below. Settings under this section may have significant performance impacts, and if so this will be noted against the setting.



Gameplay


The Gameplay Options screen has a range of options which primarly relate to general gameplay features, as well as control mapping.


Difficulty: The option at the very top of this screen relates to the overall difficulty level of the game. The available options are Easy, Normal and Difficult. The game is most balanced when playing on the Normal skill level, as the other Easy and Difficult skill levels primarily affect ease of combat and damage from attacks rather than any changes in the storyline.


Auto Level Up: If selected, this option automatically 'levels up' (increase the level of) a character when they acquire enough experience points to be eligible to increase in level. This means that all their additional attributes and skills will automatically be chosen - similar to pressing the Recommended option. If you prefer to manually level-up and assign skills and attribute points, untick this option and keep an eye out for the yellow flashing arrow on each party character's portrait indicating they are ready to level up. Set this according to your preference, it has no impact on performance.


Mouse Look: If ticked, moving your mouse in the game will move the camera, and you can bring up and move the mouse cursor by clicking and holding down the right mouse button. If unticked, moving your mouse around will move the mouse cursor, and you will have to hold down the right mouse button to look around using the mouse. Set this according to your preference, it has no impact on performance.


Autosave: If ticked, your game progress will automatically be saved every once in a while, unless you have manually saved within the last 15 minutes. If unticked, your game will not be autosaved as often, however when entering certain key areas the game will still initiate an autosave. I recommend leaving this setting ticked, and also manually saving as often as possible. The only impact on performance of autosaving is that periodically when the autosave kicks in you may notice your system stutters as information is written to your hard drive. If you experience stuttering more frequently, that is most likely due to other factors than autosaving - see the Troubleshooting section.


Reverse Mouse Y Axis: If ticked, when using the mouse to change your view pushing the mouse forward will cause the camera to look upwards. If unticked, pushing the mouse forward will cause the camera to look down. Has no impact on performance or to your cursor movement, so set to your tastes.


Reverse Mini-game Y Axis: Similar to the 'Reverse Mouse Y Axis' setting above, however only has an impact on mini-games such as using a turret or swoop racing.


Combat Movement: If ticked, this option allows you to manually move your characters when in combat. If unticked, your characters can't be manually moved. Has no impact on performance, set to your tastes.


Mouse Settings: Clicking this button takes you to a separate screen where you can adjust two important mouse-only settings. The 'Mouse sensitivity' slider determines how sensitive your mouse is to your movements in the game. The further to the right the slider, the less you will have to move your mouse to achieve a shift in the cursor/camera view in the game. Note if you are experiencing 'mouse lag' even with the sensitivity slider further to the right it is likely a general performance issue (low framerates) which needs to be addres sed. The 'Reverse Mouse Buttons' option if ticked reverses your left and right mouse button functionality. This is not recommended unless you are left-handed for example, but in both cases neither of these functions has any impact on performance so set to taste.


Key Mapping: Clicking this button takes you to a screen where you can assign different keys to the various functionality in KOTOR 2. Note that on the 'Keyboard Configuration' screen which opens, there are three categories at the top: Movement, Game and Mini-Games. Take the time to click on each of these and assign the appropriate keys to each function. Note you can also alter your key mappings in the game's .ini files - see the Advanced Tweaking section.


Once you're done assigning keys to functions, click the OK button to exit.


Feedback


The Feedback Options section contains a range of options which affect what you see in the game's GUI (Graphical User Interface) and on-screen information elements. None of these settings has any noticeable impact on performance, so set each to suit your preferences.


Hide Unequippable: If ticked, when viewing the Equipment menu of a character all items which that character cannot equip for one reason or another will not be shown. If unticked, unequippable items are shown, but highlighted in red.


Tutorial Popups: If ticked, whenever you first encounter a new function or feature of the game, a small popup window will appear describing its usage in more detail. If you are a seasoned Knights of the Old Republic player, or if you just find these annoying, untick this setting to prevent these popups.


Subtitles: If ticked, all spoken dialogue in movies and within the game will have subtitles.


Mini-map: If ticked, a small map of your local area appears in the top left corner of the screen. If unticked, this map will not be visible. Disabling the mini-map may improve performance slightly on some machines, although the impact is negligible and almost certainly you should set this option to suit your preferences and not simply for performance's sake.


Floating Numbers: If ticked, whenever your experience or vitality points change, or if you miss an attack, floating numbers indicating the scale of these changes will appear above characters' heads. If unticked, these numbers will not appear.


Status Summary: Whenever a feedback icon appears, a small popup with a status summary will also be provided. For example, whenever you receive experience from using an item, details will be provided in the Status Summary window.


Hide Quick Menu Buttons: The Quick Menu buttons are the eight buttons which appear at the top right of the screen. If ticked, this setting will remove those buttons from view on the main screen. If unticked, the buttons will remain visible. In either case their functionality remains the same; this setting only affects whether the buttons themselves are viewable or not.


Enable Tool Tips: Tool tips are the small pieces of text which pop up over various screen items when you hover your mouse over them. For example, when Tool tips are enabled if you hold your mouse cursor over a Quick Menu button, the full name of that button will appear in a tool tip.


Auto-Pause


Auto-pause options relate to the way in which the game pauses during combat or dangerous situations allowing you to choose your next action carefully. Note that the options below have a cumulative effect - that is if you select all of them for example, the game will pause for each and every situation selected, not just the most important one.


End of Combat Round: If ticked, the game will automatically pause at the end of each combat round.


Enemy Sighted: If ticked, the game will automatically pause when a new enemy is sighted.


Mine Sighted: If ticked, the game will automatically pause whenever a mine is detected.


Party Member Down: If ticked, whenever a party member reaches 0 vitality points and collapes, the game will automatically pause.


Action Menu Used: If ticked, whenever the Action menu is opened the game will automatically pause.


New Target Selected: If ticked, the game will pause as soon as a new target is selected during combat.


Graphics


The options in this section have a significant impact on the image quality and performance of the game.


Brightness: This slider controls how bright or dark the onscreen image will be. The further to the right the slider, the brighter the image. Make sure the slider is set so that the image is not too dark, and not so bright that everything appears 'washed out'. Has no impact on performance.


Shadows: If ticked, all characters will cast complex shadows. This can increase realism, but reduces performance. If you want to improve your FPS, untick this option and all shadows will be removed.


Grass: If ticked, grass will be shown in relevant areas. If unticked, all grass will be removed. Unticking this option can significantly improve performance in outdoor areas with large patches of grassland.


Screen Resolution: The options under this button are the same as the Resolution option in the Launcher Configuration screen (See the KOTOR 2 Launcher section). It is recommended that you do not alter your resolution during game play, as this may cause a performance slowdown. If you do change your resolution here, I recommend saving your game, exiting, and restarting KOTOR 2.


Clicking the 'Advanced Options' button will bring up the advanced graphics options, as covered below.


Advanced Graphics Options


Texture Quality: The options here are the same as those under the 'Texture Pack' setting in the Launcher Configuration screen (See the KOTOR 2 Launcher section). The higher the texture setting, the lower your FPS will be, but the better the image quality. Those with low amounts of Video RAM (i.e. less than 128MB) should set this to Low for the least amount of video stuttering.


Antialiasing: The available options here are No, 2x, 4x, 6x and 8x. Note that ATI graphics cards only go up to 6x AA, while Nvidia users can go up to 8x AA. Essentially the higher the sample rate of Antialiasing used, the smoother jagged lines in the game will appear, but the greater the performance hit. The precise performance impact depends on your graphics hardware the latest X800 and GeForce 6 series graphics cards for example will not suffer as great a drop in FPS from higher antialiasing modes as older cards which take a significant hit. To find out more about precisely what Antialiasing is read my Gamer's Graphics & Display Settings Guide. Regardless of whether you want to use Antialiasing or not, I strongly recommend that you set any forced Antialiasing in your graphics card's control panel to 'Application Preference'. You can then set the Antialiasing level in KOTOR 2's in-game settings. Forcing AA in the control panel may conflict with the game's settings and cause slowdowns.


Anisotropy: The options here are Anisotropy Off, 2x, 4x, 8x and Anisotropy 16x. Anisotropic Filtering determines how clear textures remain as they fade into the distance the higher the Anisotropy mode used, the clearer distant textures will appear, especially when viewed at sharp angles, but the lower your performance. To find out more about Anisotropic Filtering read my Gamer's Graphics & Display Settings Guide. I strongly recommend that you set any forced Anisotropic Filtering in your graphics card's control panel to 'Application Preference' first before using KOTOR 2's in-game Anisotropy setting. Forcing AF in the control panel may conflict with KOTOR 2's texture filtering setting and cause problems.


Frame Buffer Effects: If ticked, this setting enables a range of special lighting effects which can significantly enhance the realism of KOTOR 2. These include glare and flare effects around lightsabers and lights and motion blur effects. However enabling Frame Buffer effects can also reduce performance, especially for older or less powerful graphics cards. I recommend leaving this option enabled given it has a major role in KOTOR 2's graphics, and find other ways of improving FPS. If you are having problems with graphical glitches with this setting enabled, see the Troubleshooting section, or simply untick it. Note however that camera feeds and comlinks don't work correctly if this option is disabled.


Soft Shadows: If ticked, this setting uses a hardware-based technique to soften the 'hard' edges of shadows (if the Shadows setting is enabled). However this can also significantly impact on performance, particularly for ATI graphics cards. If you want improved performance, or if you don't have the Shadows setting ticked, untick this option. Otherwise you can leave it enabled for more realistic shadows. If this optional is greyed out, that means your graphics hardware doesn't support this functionality. See the Advanced Tweaking section for a method of attempting to re-enable this option.


VSync: The VSync setting is described in detail under the Launcher Configuration screen (See the KOTOR 2 Launcher section). I recommend you leave it unticked for optimal performance.


Sound


The options in this section have a significant impact on both the audio quality and general performance of the game.


Volume Sliders: The Music, Voice-over, Sound Effects and Movie volume sliders each control the audio output level of their respective sounds/music. Adjust them to suit your tastes since they have no impact on performance.


I recommend however that before you adjust the volume levels you first click the 'Advanced Options' button and alter the following settings.


Advanced Sound Options


Force Software: This option is the same as the Force Software Sound option as covered under the KOTOR 2 Launcher section. Only tick this option if you are experiencing sound glitches in the game and/or you really need a slight performance boost at the cost of reduced audio quality.


Environmental Audio (EAX): EAX is Creative Lab's proprietary sound effects engine. The available options here are EAX Disabled, EAX, EAX 2 or EAX 3. Environmental Audio adds special effects to the sound effects in the game, which can greatly improve its realism at the cost of some performance. The EAX level you can select from here depends on your sound hardware. EAX 3 for example only works on Creative SoundBlaster Audigy or higher sound cards. For most people, selecting the base EAX option should provide the best performance, quality and compatibility compromise. If you find you are having audio problems you should disable EAX altogether.



The next section covers all the known Advanced Tweaks for Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 2.