Regarding the second part of your post, you're correct; KotOR has never been a sandbox and never will be.
Regarding the first part, I've played through KotOR I and II around 20 times each in their entirety aaaand this game isn't KotOR, or anywhere remotely close to it. KotOR is actually an amazing game... This is a VERY mediocre game in every way possible except for the voice acting (which is great).
Actually, KotOR (and TSL) are VERY mediocre games in every way possible except for the storyline (which is pretty darned good, but still not perfect).
Let's leave those rose tinted glasses off. The gameplay mechanics and graphics were pretty awful in KotOR and TSL. Even for their time.