The Sky is Falling: Day One with the Inquisition

Inquisition_membersAir…  I need…  AIR.  *deep breath*

Okay. Now that I’ve come up for air, it’s time to talk a bit about what I’ve been doing down in the gaming depths.  The past two days have been filled with little else other than one. Singular. Activity.  That being Dragon Age: Inquisition.  Now, of course, I’m known for my somewhat heretical enjoyment of the “Not cool to like” Bioware titles – Dragon Age 2 and Mass Effect 3 – so my opinion is going to be a bit suspect on these things, but I have to say that Dragon Age: Inquisition is probably one of the more addicting games I’ve played in a long time.

The story is pretty simple at first.  There’s a giant hole in the sky where the veil between the magical Fade world and our world have been torn asunder and now demons are pouring out like it’s a Necronomicon Spring Break in Transylvania.  You also fell out of the hole, being the sole survivor of the explosion that caused it and with a weird glowing thing on your hand that can actually close the smaller holes dubbed Rifts.  So now it’s up to you and your buddies to close the hole! At least at first that’s what is going on.  I have a sneaky suspicion after 15 or so hours of game play that something else is waiting in the wings.  Considering I know there’s a place called Skyhold and I haven’t seen it yet, but we’re already marching to close the big hole… yea.

The characters are diverse but there’s none that I immediately latched onto as favorites like I did in Dragon Age 2.  I’ll admit that the characters were the big selling point for the second installment for me.  From Merrill’s innocent quirkiness and dark reveals to Isabella’s love of life and even Anders and Fenris and their opposing view of the mages.  Here we are treated to a veritable menagerie of characters and sadly to say only a handful of likeables thus far.  Cassandra comes off as a cross between Miranda from Mass Effect and an ill tempered drill sergeant. Solas (pronounced Soul-less) feels pretty much soul-less due to having that elven “I’ve lived more than 100 hundred lifetimes and am all knowing and all seeing and thus don’t need to care much” thing going on. Varric is… Varric, I can’t really describe the fast-talking, double dealing, best example of a bard in gaming I’ve ever seen any other way.

About the only character I actually dig thus far on a personal note is Sera and that is because she is completely bat-$#!* insane.  Her introduction can be boiled down to she has just killed a lot of people and stolen all their pants for absolutely no reason except maybe to sell them.  Too bad my first playthrough is a lawful good mage.  My Chaotic Neutral rogue playthrough however is gonna love her.

There insane amounts of little things to explore, collect, and unlock but each of these little things will help you in some way.  Seriously!  Either by granting experience to your character, giving you more power which you use to send people on missions, or giving you Influence which is kind of like XP for the entire Inquisition and lets you unlock overall power boosts like being able to open harder locks or getting extra XP from codex entries or kills.  I spent the first day doing absolutely nothing with the main story quest and just wandering around the hinterlands doing little odd jobs and finding doodads and resources.

Yes, resources.  Because crafting in this game requires an insane amount of resources.  But it’s not all annoying.  See unlike MMOs where you need a certain kind of metal and a certain kind of wood to make an item, DA:I boils it down to just need 10 metal and 2 wood.  Any 10 of one type of metal and any 2 of any kind of wood will do.  Now which metal and wood you use will affect things like bonus stats or color and pattern of the item, but the fact that creating things requires categories of items instead of specifics is much easier.  Especially when you will need specific crafting materials to fill requisitions from your army, essentially researching things to help your forces and thus help yourself like better weapons or gear.  For instance, I don’t know how much of this was me clearing up territory and claiming it protected by the Inquisition and how much of it was me filling up requisitions but as I kept playing I noticed that a pair of Inquisition soldiers would just appear in random spots with chests of a few useful items for you.

On that note, another great thing about this game is that it actually feels like you make progress.  You know how in Skyrim you would do something insane like almost blow up Winterhold but then afterwards no one pays even a single thought let alone any lasting effects? Or in well ANY MMO you can clear out an entire fortress of baddies and kill their leader only to have them all just waiting for you in a few minutes?  NOT HERE.  If I bring a band of bandits under my command, every bandit in that company of rogues is now an ally and will no longer attack me.  If I clear out the mage and templar strongholds, suddenly the mages and templars go from open war breaking out everywhere to nearly gone save for maybe a random pack wandering the wilderness.  Yea, those strongholds and camps you clean out? STAY CLEANED OUT.  You control that territory now. It’s yours.  Oh geeze does that feel good.  Because that means you can clear out the major conflicts in areas and then have nothing to contend with exploring except beasts, demons, and the occasional highwayman or Carta team (dwarf thugs) to deal with.

So thus far this game has been so much more addicting than Skyrim ever was.  It’s that right blend of basic to use but expansive to master mechanics, a truly consistent world, and engaging characters that I might not instantly cling to like in previous installments but are interesting enough for me to want to see where their character paths take them while we try to save the world.  Except Solas.  He’s kinda just boring.  Screw you, Solas.

Big Hero 6 Review: Satisfaction Guarenteed

INTRO_Disney_BigHero6_guideI got a chance to go see Disney’s newest flick ‘Big Hero 6′ this past weekend.  I really didn’t know what to expect going in to the theater.  I was roughly familiar with the source material: a 90′s-tastic Japanese super hero team created by the ever loathsome Scott Lobdell and starring every Japanese movie stereotype known to man – ninjas, samurai, giant monsters, robots, etc.  I was also aware that the team working on this film were also the ones behind Wreck-It Ralph, a film that now ranks among one of my all time favorites.  So what does this strange collaboration of Disney magic and horrible 90′s comic schlock produce?  Actually something pretty fun.

While the film was based on an American comic book, it doesn’t really draw its overall influence from there.  In fact, I’d say the film has stronger ties with Eastern media like Astro Boy (in many ways this film reminded me of the underrated 2009 Astro Boy film that Imagi Animation made).  The film centers around a young genius named Hiro who loses his mentor/best friend/pseudo-criminal-accomplice big brother in an accident leaving him horribly depressed.  Hiro also comes into possession of Baymax, his brothers final invention.  Baymax is a big inflatable robot designed to help take care of people who are injured or in need of medical or psychological help.  With Baymax at his side, Hiro discovers the accident that took his brother may not have been an accident after all but the works of a super villain. So Hiro, Baymax and Hiro’s friends must suit up as super heroes to stop the villain.

If that sounds a bit run of the mill, it kinda is.  One of the films…  I hesitate to say “flaw” because it really isn’t but one of its traits is that it is a very formulaic film.   If you’ve seen super hero movies, you’ll recognize all the major story beats here.  From the fact that the group isn’t coordinated at all in their first fight with the villain and end up taking each other out, to the newly energized and ready to work as a team battle that gives them more direct challenges to overcome from the villain which they use a lesson from earlier in the film to help overcome.  If that sounds familiar to you, then the rest of the story will probably as well.  It gets to the point where superhero comic book fanboy character Fred even starts pointing out tropes. However, as they say, god is in the details.

What makes the film wonderful is all the little details that break the mold.  From the vividly diverse cast of characters, voiced by an equal diverse cast, to the fortitude to risk releasing a Disney super hero movie without a love story stuck in there in anyway.  Think about that.  Disney AND Superheroes.  Two groups who are known for the token romantic interests with guy gets the girl endings.  Not here.  Not even a hint of it.  Which is quite the breath of fresh air actually.  In the original comics, Hiro and Honey Lemon WERE an item and I was wondering how they would pull that off, especially since the main character is around 14 years old and the rest of the cast is 18+ and in college.  There’s been some complaints against Honey Lemon, that she has the quickly becoming cliche “Disney Face”.  You know, that Rapunzel, Anna, and Elsa all use the same rough face.  Luckily, they did change it up a bit with Honey.  She is somewhat implied to be a Latina character (voiced by a Latina actress who brings that out with various vocal inflections) and she is also a friggin twig.  Like not “princess skinny” where they are thin but still have hips and a bust and toned legs, etc.  No.  Honey in profile would like more like a straight line.  Not like anorexic sickly skinny either.  Just a twig.  Reminds me of my real life sister who is also a twig.  So at least there’s SOME deviation there.

At its heart, the film is about a young man coming to grips with loss and dealing with the grief that resulted from losing someone close.   From isolation and depression, to lashing out in anger and accidentally hurting your friends in the process.  It handles it magnificently as well.  With the care and understanding that such a story deserves.  You never feel Hiro’s actions are because he’s being annoying or going over the top.  The film is very clear about his actions coming from a place of deep hurting, and it conveys that to audience perfectly.  At the heart of this is Baymax, who serves as the emotional foil for Hiro.  Baymax is designed to be calm, gentle, and understanding.  He’s a robot whose sole purpose is to help those in pain, be it physical or emotional and as such is there to help Hiro through this journey.

While this film isn’t the amazing, jaw dropping experience that was Box Trolls or Book of Life, it does bring a lot of heart, fun and originality to a fairly predictable formula.  So yea, you may have seen this story before.  But at least you can sit through it knowing that at least its a well done iteration of that time worn tale of capes & cowls. If I actually used stars, it would be a solid 4 out of 5 from me with a definite recommendation to see it at least once.  It’s more debatable whether it will be just as enjoyable on subsequent viewings (definitely will be just as quotable), so it may not be a “BUY IT DAY ONE BLU RAY NAO!” kind of flick, but definitely a go see it once. Preferably in the theaters for that big screen experience.

Neptune’s Bounty of Buddies! | Vry Versus BioShock Pt 6

Nothing like visiting a brand new place, is there kiddies? A chance for new friends, new toys, and new MAYHEM.Nothing like visiting a brand new place, is there kiddies? A chance for new friends, new toys, and new MAYHEM.

State of the Land: The Force Falls Asleep

Oof.  If you ever needed a reason to feel burnt out on a game, it’s trying to burn through all the class stories during a small window of 12x experience.  Holy cow.  I just finished up the bounty hunter storyline again, and don’t worry faithful readers the reviews are currently in the draft pile on that one.  But between just playing the game, and then trying to write some NINE THOUSAAAAAAAAAND words or so trying to summarize each class story, I suppose burn out was inevitable.  Just like… /whew am I right?  So where does that leave us?

Well, it means I clearly need to clear my head for a bit.  Cleanse the pallet of TOR a bit before the new expansion drops and I dive head long back in.  Oh trust me, true readers.  I am far from The Old Republic.  The reviews will be done in good time.  But the Class Story Summaries ARE done, and I always considered that the more important of the two projects since they offer people an idea of what the class will be like chapter by chapter without spoiling it.  I am proud of that and it is pretty much the most visited thing on the website right now, trailed only by the occasional visit from the once HUGELY popular couple of World of Warcraft Achievement guides I did way back in another life as a blood elf.  /awkwardcough.

So what is there to look forward to?  Well, I have finally gotten set up to start delivering semi-regular Let’s Play videos.  The BioShock ones have proven to be quite popular so far.  I mean I’m not Markiplier or Pewdie Pie or anything. But I’m not trying to be.  I’m trying to be me and my usual silly self while playing games I love.  I’ve got a massive steam library of stuff to play and a bunch of console games as well.  So I plan to keep those up as long as they’re fun.  I’ve taken feed back from quite a few people and made them much shorter, usually 10-15 minutes in length.  So folks put off by my original 45 minute video of Shadowrun Returns back in the day need not worry.  You can always check out my videos by using the YouTube link at the top of the page and hey feel free to show your support and subscribe!

In the online front, I’ve hopped over to my favorite palette cleanser of choice: Final Fantasy XIV.  If you also dabble in there you might bump into me on either the Gilgamesh or Jenova worlds under the trademark name of “Vrykerion” (Shocker) or the lesser known “Puff Tanix” (My default gnome name and also the name of my chinchilla.)  There is just something wholly appealing and being at the opposite end of the spectrum of The Old Republic as a game where you can level every single class with a single character and never need to switch alts for crafting or other play experiences.  So you can probably expect some rambling from that end soon.

Also there’s one other thing in the works, but it is a sloooow burn on that one so I don’t want to say too much about it.  But the design work on it has been going on for nearly a year and it’s finally getting to a workable point, so there may some news on Vry’s Super Secret Project as well.

So worry not faithful readers and viewers, between all that and my usual yakking about offline games and movies (Speaking of which, Book of Life. Go see it.  The Hat demands it.)  There will be more then enough content to sink your teeth into during this minor vacation from the galaxy far far away.

Vry Versus Video Games: BioShock part 5 – SAVE or SLAY?

HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE!

You were asked! You chose! And now you have only yourselves to blame! Now the fate of the Little Sisters of Rapture shall be revealed in this fifth installment of Vrykerion Versus Video Games: BioShock Let’s Play series.

Vry Plays: Bioshock – Episode 4: A Game of (Corpse) Catch

You can pick up your friends, you can pick up your enemies, but you can’t pick up your friends and throw them at your enemies.  Wait… you can? Huzzah!

VOTING IS CLOSED. CHECK BACK ON HALLOWEEN TO FIND OUT THE FATE OF THE LITTLE SISTERS IN VRY PLAYS BIOSHOCK PART 5!

Vry Plays Bioshock – Episode 3: Bullet Hole-Istic Medicine

Doctor Vry will see you now. Take two shocks of plasmid to DA FACE and call me never cause your dead, ya splicer. Exploration of the sunken city of Rapture continues into the Medical Pavilion, with more Luigis, more explosions, and more insanity!

You can find the previous episodes here.

Catching Up With Korra

LoK

They always find a way to pull me back don’t they?

My twitter followers may remember a while back when I ranted and raved about the ending to the first season of Korra, where they stripped the villain of any back story or motivation they had thoroughly established for the sake of a less than satisfying plot twist and how the civil movement pushing for equality for non-benders in a world run by benders is immediately dropped upon finding out that the villain was a bender.  Which is kind of like if a white person spoke up in defense of civil rights, all African Americans realize that hey things aren’t so bad and immediately dropped it.  Yes, Amon’s motivations were sinister but no one in the movement knew that.  They just said “Oh, he’s a bender.  So I guess it’s back to happily living in fear of fire-bending mob bosses. Oh well.”

Suffice it say, the ending left me a bit irked.  But I had hope.  Maybe season two would continue the equalist storyline in some way as the Avatar works to restore balance between benders and non-benders – a very interesting issue in the world they inhabit.  What’s that season two premiere? Six months later you say? Everyone’s talking about Mako and Korra dating?  No one is talking about equality?  Well &%$* me.  So I walked away from Legend of Korra and decided it just wasn’t worth trying to get excited again only to be let down.  But then they tease bringing Toph back.  Toph.  My favorite character in Avatar: The Last Airbender.  Drat.  Now I have to catch up.

So I sat down and binged my way through Books Two and Three, praying that maybe they improved from the ending of Book One.  I mean, everything up to the ending was pretty good.  Downright awesome at times.  So did the rest live up to my hopes?  Well…  kind of?  Let me explain.  The absolute worst thing about seasons 2 & 3 of Legend of Korra is quite honestly Korra herself.  The villains are more interesting than our hero, the side plots are more interesting than the main plots, and Korra seems to be there to carry us between the better storylines while she is just trying to not die most of the time.

In Book Two, we’re treated to the history of the very first avatar. It’s a great story that quite honestly could have been its own season. The season is also book-ended with the start and end of a civil war between the Northern and Southern water tribe which we barely get to see any of. Also the reconciliation of the three children of Aang and facing the truth that maybe Aang wasn’t the greatest dad. In Book Three, you have the reformation of the Air Nation, the world of humans and spirits learning to co-exist for the first time in forever, and the reunion of the Bei Fong sisters  – all of which are far more interesting than a group of anarchist benders trying to kill Korra because Avatars are a force of balance and not chaos.  Heck the spirit/human relations thing is only mentioned for like two episodes and then Korra leaves and we get no additional resolution until the prologue of Season Four which mentions that 3 years later and everything is fine and dandy between humans and spirits.  It goes from everyone hates spirits and wants them gone to peaceful coexistence in 3 years AND WE GET NO EXPLANATION AS TO WHAT CHANGED.

The villains are equally baffling in some regards.  In season two, the villain seems to be motivated by a clear power grab under the influence of a dark spirit, but then in Book Three its revealed he was also a member of the anarchists who broke away for his own goals.  But even before that when they were younger, he made a power grab for the Northern Water Tribe…  so was he an anarchist or not?  “I’m against governments and order except when I’m not.”  The book three villain at least is fanatically driven by his beliefs, but out of his team of four he is the only one to get any kind of personality or development.  Making claims like “Just one of these four can overthrow a nation, all four can destroy the world” seem a bit of an exaggeration when there appears to be one threat and three flunkies.  Queen Beryl’s minions got more development and their entire purpose was to unleash the monster of the week.

But as I said, there are some great stories in these two seasons.  It’s just unfortunate they’re side plots and not the main course.  Instead we get Korra who spends her time shouting about how she’s the avatar, having extremely forced romance troubles (honestly, some of the fights she has with Mako can only be the product of bad writing.  No one argues like this in real life) and acting without care of the consequences of her actions.  She serves as a bridge to the better stories without offering much herself.  Even worse is that when all is said and done in the main plot, Korra’s lot in life is to just suffer.  Book Two ends with her connection to the past avatars destroyed leaving her without guidance of her past lives, and book three is just a straight ‘kill the avatar permanently’ mission that leaves Korra in a wheel chair. Which is a shame and something I’m hoping season four actually fixes with a lot of previews showing Korra striking out on her own and abandoning the avatar identity and hopefully will be a chance for Korra to actually grow instead of just being repeatedly broken.

So would I recommend it as someone who felt burned by the first season?  Sure.  Just go into it knowing that there are diamonds in the rough that make the rough worth it.  Here’s hoping the final season has a bit less rough to it.

Final Thought after seeing the first episode of season four:  What is with the Earth Kingdom having TERRIBLE leadership?

Vry Plays: Bioshock – Episode 2: Mr. Fix It

With all of Rapture going to hell, it’s up to Vry to give psychological help, fix marriages and save lives.  Or end them.  Which can also be helpful!

Class Storyline Review: Sith Warrior – Chapter Three

<– Chapter Two ||

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the Star Wars: The Old Republic class storyline for the Sith Warrior.  If you would like a spoiler-free summary of the third chapter, please look here.  You have been warned.

sithwarrior_act3_01

Now that you’ve crushed Darth Baras’ opposition, secured his power, and help him ascend to the Dark Council, what reward shall you reap for all your loyal work?  Well, how about being blown up in a cave and left for dead by Darth Vengean’s former apprentice turned Darth Baras’ replacement for you?  Oh yes.  That Sith that worked side by side with you to create a vacancy in the Dark Council for Darth Baras to fill is now after your job – at Baras’ request no less!  Luring you to Quesh for a mission and then collapsing the cave on you and leaving you to die.  However, you have a pair of mysterious rescuers and no, they’re not a pair of mice.

They call themselves the Servants of the Emperor’s Hand and suddenly I’m having Elder Scrolls Dark Brotherhood flashbacks.  They have come to tell you that you have been more or less drafted by the Emperor (Yes, the actual real Sith Emperor) to be his “Wrath”. Essentially, you are to go around and kill whoever stands in the Emperor’s way or whoever the Emperor wants.  The Servants tell you that your now former master Baras is telling the Dark Council that he is the Emperor’s Voice, essentially the guy the Emperor talks through to the Dark Council and whoever.  But the Servants know that this isn’t true, and the Emperor knows it isn’t true, so it’s actually Baras making yet another power play to be above even the Dark Council.  What a jerk.  Or what a Sith.  They’re interchangeable really. Chapter Three is essentially set up as trying to break Darth Baras’ power base and stop his attempt to be declared by the Council to be the Emperor’s Voice and to be obey Baras’ no matter what.  The Council seems kind of dumb like that.

Belsavis

Your first task is stopping Darth Baras from freeing his insane sister, Darth Ekkage, from Belsavis prison.  Go ahead and take a moment if you need a second to wrap your head around the fact that Baras has siblings.  I’ll wait.  Ready?  Okay.  There really isn’t much more than that.  You are chasing/racing with Baras’ goons to the deepest depths of Belsavis where the whackjob Sith is locked up.  Okay, there is kind of this whole B-plot where you have to work with a Jedi who wants to stop them as well and more or less forces you to team up with him to accomplish your goal (He’s the only one around the let you out of a sealed room.  Why you don’t just cut your way out with a lightsaber Qui-Gon style is beyond me.  Maybe Breaking and Entering is a Jedi only technique?)

What’s funny with a Sith and a Jedi teaming up to take down the baddies is that it turns the whole planet into a buddy cop movie almost.  The Jedi is constantly scolding you for unnecessary violence, and you keep telling him that he’s weak and your going to kill him when this is all over.  It’s cute.  Ultimately, you do end up tracking down Ekkage, who just gets freed and then immediately kills the goon that frees her ‘because’. You fight her with the Jedi and then get the choice of killing Ekkage because that’s what your told to do or turn her over to the Jedi to be taken away and face justice.  Just for a bonus, if you kill Ekkage you also can kill the Jedi if you really want to.  You can also just let him go for helping you.  But then again, Jedi-cide.  Is there any better way to end a planet? I think not.

If it seems like I’m not going into a lot of detail here it’s because there really isn’t a lot of details to go into.  Belsavis is just a really simple planet where you have a clear cut object and you just have to keep overcoming the crap tossed in your path along the way (traps, foes, etc) until you get what you want.  It’s not bad in that way, it’s just simple.  Which is fine for a single planet.  Plus Ekkage is just gleefully chaotic evil.  It’s worth it all just to watch her kill people just for the lolz but at the same time seem bored by it.

Voss

In case you’ve been wondering how the Servants and Emperor know that Baras’ isn’t the Voice of the Emperor, it’s about to be explained on Voss.  You see when an aspect of the Emperor (voice, wrath, etc) is destroyed or killed, it reverts to the Emperor.  It’s a part of him, so he kind of would know if his Voice was killed.  But then how does the Dark Council NOT know?  Well, that’s because apparently Darth Baras has trapped the Voice somewhere on Voss, the last place the Voice went for some kind of spiritual journey to get dark power or some Sith thing.  It’s up to you to find him and free him.

Your first objective is to go and find the old Voss sage that guided the Voice when he came.  This involves mostly just doing a bunch of tedious rituals in order to get him to show up.  Which I will tell you, puts my Sith in a BAD mood.  You finally talk to the damn Voss who tells you that the Voice wandered off into a place called the Dark Heart in the Nightmare Lands, a place of powerful dark side…  energy…  stuff.  But the only way to follow him is to get a blessing from the Shrine of Healing and a Talisman of Bone from the Voss soldiers fighting in Gormak territory.  Now I am already suspect at this point because I will tell you, I’ve been to the Dark Heart before on other characters, and I didn’t need ANY of this crap.  But whatever.  I wander off to the Shrine of Healing and they explain that in order to receive the blessing it must drain life energy from someone and possibly even kill them (spoiler: No, it doesn’t kill anyone. At all. Not even close.)  You are given the choice of sacrificing your own life energy, one of your companions’ life energy, or forcing the Voss healer to sacrifice her own life energy to perform the ritual.  I personally forced the Healer to sacrifice her own to do the ritual, because my team and I needed to be in peak condition.  We’re going to the Nightmare Lands! You get to sit in the Shrine of Healing.  HEALING.  I mean really.

The talisman however is where I drew the line with these people.  The Voss always get on my nerves so this mission was probably a god send.  The troop of soldiers will only agree to part with the talisman if you help defeat a bunch of Gormak because they have some insane superstition that the trinket is helping them win.  So only by killing their enemy will they no longer need it and be willing to part with it.  So you go and do their jobs for them and come back only to find that they want you now to go back and kill MORE gormak.  You have got to be killing me.  Are they gonna keep stringing me along and having me run back and forth through enemy territory until every last gormak is dead?  I guess I never will found out.  Because blessed be Bioware they give you to option at this juncture to just straight up kill all the Voss commandos and take the damn talisman.  Oh and I did.  There are no words for the sheer amount of joy beaming through my skull at the appearance of that option.  It’s a big ‘Skip the BS’ button for a measly 150 dark side points.  HOW COULD I SAY NO?

So you finally get the Dark Heart, which to my shocking surprise has NOTHING to do with the second Care Bears movie.  Inside you find the Voice of the Emperor, but there seems to be a slight problem.  The host body of the Voice has gone insane in the face of the Dark Heart’s madness.  The ancient evil that slumbers there has claimed the body of the Voice so you are faced with the dire situation of having to kill the Voice in order to free it.  Once the body is dead the Voice can return to the Emperor, but at the same time it means that until a new host is found that for all intensive purposes Baras wins.  Either the Voice stays trapped in an insane body on Voss, or the Voice dies.  Either way, no evidence to prove that Baras’ isn’t the Voice.  Which is one of the reasons that the Sith Warrior storyline is actually really fun is because you’re not up against a stupid opponent.  Most are so blinded by their beliefs or convictions that they become desperate and stupid, but Baras has had this all set up way in advance and has clearly proven himself to be a chessmaster in the previous two chapters.  Now he’s guaranteed that the actual Voice can in no way be used against him and his pursuit of power.

sithwarrior_act3_02

Interlude

So after you finish up with a less than successful mission on Voss, your trusted right hand man Malavai Quinn tells you that he has located a space station that contains some highly useful items to take a stab at Darth Baras with.  After congratulations all around that Quinn has scored a big win for the team, he leads you to a station and then proceeds to turn two massive war droids on you.   Wait.  What?

Yes, it would appear that our dear Mr. Quinn was and is firmly in the pocket of Darth Baras.  Serving him loyally since you first went to Balmorra and keeping him regularly informed of your progress.  So in case you were curious of how Baras’ goons got the drop on you continuously on Belsavis – look no further.  Quinn has calculated that these two droids which have been specifically constructed to kill specifically you have a success rate of 99% of doing so.  So naturally, you completely dismantle the damn things and beat Quinn around like a ragdoll.  Channeling the full power of the Emperor’s Wrath you are pretty much unkillable and deal insane damage during this fight even without a companion.  It’s awesome to watch really.  But not nearly as awesome as force choking Quinn and then flinging him around the room into the walls and floor over and over.  That, my friends, is what we call “Stress Relief”.

Unfortunately, the aftermath of this whole betrayal only ends in one of two ways: Angrily allowing Quinn back to the team, or forgivingly allowing Quinn back to the team.  No matter what he renounces Baras now and forever and swears fealty to you and only you and totally isn’t lying this time he promises for realsies.  This is probably one of those points back during the beta of the game where you could kill a companion but was taken out for reasons that have been explained hundreds of times by now.  Way too much buyers remorse and lack of saves in a MMO mostly.  But damn do I wish I could do something to not have that weasel on the ship anymore.  Or at least put Vette’s shock collar on him.  She’s been loyal! Quinn not so much.

Guess I’ll have to just survive with me knowing that I beat the ever loving &*%# out of him for even thinking of trying to kill me.

Corellia

Well, it seems that Baras is getting really good at keeping you on the ropes.  So now it’s time for the big one.  We’re going after his power base.  To do that we’re going to need some help though.  Turns out that the only Sith that is outright opposing Baras’ claim to being the Voice is overseeing the war on Corellia and unfortunately that has him completely vulnerable for an assassination.  So not only do you have to break into the secure REPUBLIC fortress he’s hiding out in and stopping all THREE assassins coming after him and then having to prove that you’re not an assassin and you need his help.  *deep breaths* Okay.  You get all that?  Luckily the convincing is pretty easy when you stop the third assassin right in front of him but dang hasn’t anyone in this galaxy heard of texting?  This is getting ridiculous to just ask for some help. Yes, all that is solely for asking for the help of a Sith.  For some planets, that could encompass the entirety of the story but here it’s only the first area you visit. Welcome to Corellia, where Sith gets real.

However, once you have gained the help of the Dark Council member, things fall much more into line with what you can expect.  There are three areas left on Corellia and each one has one thing that Baras is using to maintain control over the Dark Council and his power base in general.  That fits a bit better with what you expect.  The first area you have to tackle is the a large database in a secured bunker that holds all of Darth Baras’ blackmail information.  With this wiped out you pretty much remove the leash that Darth Baras has on the other Dark Council member.  These missions really aren’t ridiculously over the top, it’s mostly just fight through a secured area and hit the button to do the thing or kill the person or something.  So beyond the context of what each of these things are there sadly isn’t much to talk about here.

The next task is to eliminate the source of information and scheming that Baras has on the Republic side.  It turns out to help manipulate things in the war to his favor and tip off his own forces to give him seen downright clairvoyant, old Barry has himself a plant in the Jedi.  Yes, a loyal Jedi is on a Darth’s payroll.  Such a shame.  Luckily the best way to deal with that is to simply sever the source of information and to do that we can simply murder the Jedi.  However, before that you can also try to expose him for the traitor he is and then kill the Jedi.  Which is fun.  It’s always nice to shatter the spirits of the enemy.

The final strike against Baras comes in the way of breaking his connection to a powerful dark side spirit that he literally has chained up in a basement…  or a tower…  somewhere not on a first floor.  What’s interesting about this bit is actually the mystery around who this dark side spirit is supposed to be.  It’s been hypothesized that the spirit is actually Kreia from KOTOR 2, and supposedly the writer of the Sith Warrior story confirmed that this was the intent but I really can’t find a primary source on that, just forum talk.  It definitely seems from some of the dialogue that the spirit is more than just some malevolent dark side creature, but there really isn’t a confirmation one way or the other. I still like to assume that its supposed to be Kreia when I play through it though.

To break the connection with the spirit and Darth Baras, you need the help of the Dark Council member that you saved at the beginning of the planet.  However, there’s also a trap waiting for you.  Lord Draahg (yes, that’s his name) – the apprentice to Chapter 2′s Darth Veggie – is waiting for you to finish what he started at the beginning of Chapter 3.  He is going to prove he is the bestest ever to Darth Baras and then Darth Baras will love him like a son and they’ll be happy forever and ever and you will not mess it up! Okay, not really, but it sure as heck comes off like that sometimes.  Draahg uses some sort of life draining force curse on the Dark Council member (in case you weren’t convinced that the Force is just a re-skinned version of Magic at this point) and fights you to the death.  The only real advice for the fight is to keep moving a bunch because he likes to drop a crap ton of AOE attacks that stick around for a while and hurt like heck.  If you’re using a healing companion, keep Draahg away from them because he will drop AOE on their heads and they won’t be smart enough to move 3 feet to the right (QUIIIIIIIIINNN!)

With this Dark Spirit freed, the Dark Council dude saved, and the rest of Darth Baras’ power base left in tatters, the time has come to head for Korriban and confront Darth Tubby himself.  The Dark Council dude says he will happily announce you and will meet you there.

sithwarrior_act3_03

Grand Finale

Wow. When was the last time I got to write about an actual grand finale?  This is pretty much the ultimate showdown that’s been built up for three chapters.  You enter the Dark Council chambers and face off with Baras who demands the Dark Council destroys you because he is the Voice of the Emperor.  However, you are the Wrath of the Emperor so it’s kind of a stand off.  Each of you says the other is lying.  So the Dark Council in their infinite wisdom (or complete lack there of) decrees a duel, and whoever wins is clearly the true servant of the Emperor!  Which honestly seems kind of a weird line of logic to me, and at this point its becoming increasingly clear that the Empire’s government is a complete mess.  The Emperor sends off bits of himself to do different things?  Why?!  Just call the Dark Council and say “Yo. Do this.” But no, now we have a duel to decide who gets to run this whole thing…   which to be fair is a lot more entertaining than actual elections.

Of course, you ultimately beat down Baras after multiple rounds of smacking him.  Honestly, I didn’t find Baras to be harder than Draahg.  Baras does have some slow cast abilities that probably do massive damage but are easily interrupted.  He finally stays down (after you finally get to see him without his helmet on finally) and the Dark Council declares you to be the real Wrath and him not to be the Voice.  Yay?  Couldn’t the Servants of the Hand tell you that?  Oh do they only speak to other Emperor body parts?  I dunno.  It’s weird.

The only thing to note here is this is chance to see some other members of the Dark Council that pop up in the storylines like Darth Marr who recruits you for the Rise of the Hutt Cartel storyline.

My Thoughts

Chapter Three honestly does a great job of feeling like a culmination of everything before it.  Darth Baras’ treachery and tactics are well established by this point and to find yourself on the outside of his forces now fighting against him is a way to put a lot of that to use.  If there was ever a real weak point it would be Belsavis where the struggle to stop Darth Ekkage from being freed doesn’t seem to have much of an impact beyond killing his family.  Yes, she’s a psychopath that would have brought ruthless and unrelenting power to Baras’ cause, but compared to a genius plan to trap the true Voice and destroying Baras’ power base, it seems a bit lesser in ways.

The betrayal of Malavai Quinn could have been done better if Quinn actually had tipped his hand at points showing that he was willing to listen to Baras over you.  But he may have and I just didn’t pick up on it.  Again, more to look for in the second playthrough.

I just really don’t get the incredibly weird way the Emperor runs things.  Like seriously, what the hell.

Looking Back

If the Imperial Agent shows life outside the ranks of the Sith and cleaning up their mess, and the Bounty Hunter shows what life is like outside of the Empire in general, then I would describe the Sith Warrior storyline as the definitive Sith experience.  In service to a master, the careful dance of treachery and loyalty, betrayal and internal power struggles – everything that I would view as a Sith trait is found in this plot line.  It has a ton of memorable moments that stand out such as the corruption of Jaesa, the betrayal of Quinn, the revelation of Draahg backstabbing you on Baras’ orders…  there’s some great stuff here and at no point do I find myself shaking my head at like some of the other stories.  While some parts don’t seem to have the impact as others, nothing feels like a waste of time or anything to make your character feel unworthy of his position.

Most importantly, the storyline feels like a whole single narrative.  The chapter breaks are not clear lines of this is a different plot like you find in the Trooper storyline.  The events of chapter one help set up the events of chapter two and likewise with chapter three.  It’s far easier than almost any other storyline for me to think of it as “The Sith Warrior Story” instead of “Sith Warrior Chapter X’s story.”  And I really like that.  Definitely worth a play through in my opinion.

<– Chapter Two ||

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