Category Archives: Class Storyline Reviews

SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Imperial Agent – Chapter Three

<– Chapter Two || IMPERIAL AGENT ||

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the third chapter of the Imperial Agent storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  To see a spoiler-free summary of the storyline please check this page instead.

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Chapter Three starts right away after the events of Chapter Two with you returning to Imperial Intelligence to be debriefed from your deep cover mission in the SIS.  However, instead of being debriefed by Keeper, you meet with her predecessor the current Minister of Intelligence. He states that he is completely aware that you stole files from the archives and that you broke your mental programming.  He also assures you that no, he has no plans to tell anyone what you’ve done.  In fact he confesses that he only went through with using the Castellan Restraint because the only other option was killing you to insure you didn’t attack another member of the Dark Council.  However, if you serve as the Hand of Jadus this conversation is a bit different.  The Castellan Restraint was invoked by the Dark Council to have ‘insurance’ on the Jadus’ actions and you tell the Minister that what he has done is essentially treason and that his days are numbered.  The Minister is not phased by your threats.  He’s far more concerned with Hunter and whoever his true employers are.

It seems they found Ardun Kothe’s shuttle abandoned in deep space with all traces of the Shadow Arsenal erased and no record of a SIS agent code named ‘Hunter’ ever existing.  However, judging by the fact that Hunter was able to easily infiltrate the SIS as well as having access to your code phrase it is clear that his employer has access to both Imperial and Republic resources – a concern unto itself.  Working the Hunter lead, the Watchers were able to find someone matching Hunter’s description heading to the Isen IV Mining Colony.  This actually raised flags because the very next day, Isen IV contacted the Empire directly to discuss terms of surrender.  The Minister isn’t sure if the two are directly linked but it is worth investigating.

You arrive on Isen IV to find the place as a complete wreck. Reprogrammed droids have begun killing any and all citizens and everyone is under the assumption that the Empire did it. You trace the disruption back to a computer being remotely controlled by some strange unknown technological device and sure enough the person controlling it remotely and calling you right now is Hunter.  He warns that you need to stop interfering with him or he will make your whole operation VERY public.  He also drops hints that if you want to start a war, you need to grease the wheels which is why he arranged it to look like the Empire slaughtered an entire Republic colony of non-military civilians right after they surrendered.  Watcher Three agrees that if anyone finds out about this that it will cause a major incident and that the situation must be silenced.  You have the choice here to either refuse and save the people unconditionally or save them and use it as blackmail to keep them silent. You also have the option of just killing everyone outright or sabotaging the oxygen generators and leaving them all to die.

When you return to Dromund Kaas, the Republic announces that the Empire has broken the Treaty of Coruscant and the war has begun anew.  The Minister of Intelligence however is more concerned with the strange technology you found.  He notes that there have been ‘incidents’ in the past where something similar was found just before a pirate ship was miraculously destroyed right before it annihilated an Imperial outpost.  He dug deeper and found over sixty cases of similar ‘lucky’ incidents dating back centuries to a time before the Sith Empire revealed itself to the greater galaxy. They even found a recording from one such ‘lucky’ incident where Hunter is speaking to an unknown person.  While the former Keeper acknowledges that the start of a war is not time to chase conspiracies, it can’t be helped: Someone is manipulating this war and that someone may have been manipulating for a lot longer than just these few recent events. The Watchers have drawn up a list of targets to investigate, with Belsavis being your first stop.

That is unless you are the Hand of Jadus, in that case you have one additional stop – Darth Jadus. Your master was notably absent for most of Chapter Two and sadly won’t be around much here either. He’s leaving the field of battle to the other Sith Lords to prepare for the future – namely that he has discovered the Emperor’s true goals and as he puts it “either way will be victorious”. He instills you with all his authority. Anything you do, you do in his name and with his power. But he also cannot protect you while gone either.  He warns you not to make needless enemies with this newfound authority but if the conspiracy is worth your time, destroy it in Jadus’ name.

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Belsavis

Your goal on Belsavis is to find a structure that the Conspirators had built when they first helped finance the Republic’s conversion of the old Rakata facility into a Republic prison.  The structure, known only as “Megasecurity Ward 23” was sealed after its construction and has supposedly never been opened since.  You will need to break into it.  However, it will be impossible to do alone.  Your mission is to infiltrate the prison under the guise of being an inmate and create a gang with the express purpose of breaking into the Ward and finding what the conspirators hid in there.  You retrieve mission details, explosives, tools and prisoner dossiers from the Imperial base and then go around planting the explosives to blow the doors to the cells from a central location.  You make them a demand: You freed them and now they will help you.  You direct them to a safe house to meet in person.  Before you head off however you are greeted by a voice identifying itself as “The Scorpio Sanction” who notes that your choice in criminals is subpar and that your slicer is only the third best on Belsavis. The Sanction also notes that it killed the other two slicers which confuses me because that means my slicer WOULD be the best then, right? Maybe this Scorpio thing can’t count.

You meet at the safe house/cave to talk with your group of criminals: a space Texan whose brother tried to break into Ward 23 a few years back and died, the first/third best slicer on Belsavis, a bug man with a knack for technology and a big guy named Ohta.  If you want to exert your dominance over this pack you can just kill Ohta the first time he opens his mouth to complain.  Then you order them to make a list of what you need to break in.  The first goal is the medical facility to pick up what you need.  While in there The Scorpio Sanction activates again and decides to fill the room with gas that increases aggression and while you are immune to chemicals that alter the mind, your companion and newfound gang are not.  You have to break the vents and defeat your friends to snap them out of it and then they get to shopping.  They find almost everything but are missing a couple things. This includes stuff like a carbonite trap, a power battery and an anti-radiation serum.  You go grab all that while the rest of the team moves into the next zone of the prison where they find a guard to beat up on.

The next big task is dealing with the Scorpio Sanction.  Whatever it is it’s quickly proving to be a pain in the rear and that could prove deadly when you’re down in the ward.  The slicer on the team has deduced that the Sanction is based out of Megasecurity Ward 23 and has access to all of the prison’s security systems.  The gang’s suggestion is to take control of a bunch of warden droids so you can trigger alarms all over the prison to distract the program.  You upload the virus to the droids and then head into the maintenance plant to shut down the auto-repair functions that would remove your virus.  The Scorpio Sanction chimes in again and says it released nano-machines that will drill through your companions body and I will just tell you right now – This. Does. Not. Happen.  At all.  It’s a complete lie or it was something that BioWare changed after the dialogue was already scripting and in the game. Once that’s done you head back to the rendezvous to grab your gear only to have your team try and turn on you wanting some kind of assurance they’ll get rich from this. You can pay them some upfront cash, assure them with promising words or just threaten them into obedience.  I mean, these are criminals after all.

Finally with the plan all set in place, it’s time for the big heist. I mean mission. I mean heist.  You find the entrance to Megasecurity Ward 23 way back in the deep prison in the center of a volcano lava lake.  Makes you wonder if our secret conspirators were Sith cause they sure took a page from ‘Evil Lairs Quarterly’ on this one.  If you think I’m joking, the elevator down is a death trap that will shut down and leave you locked inside if it detects any life signs.  So pretty much just droids and corpses can go down into the Ward.  Luckily, you grabbed a carbonite trap earlier that your ‘friends’ in the loosest sense have rigged up to automatically unfreeze you on a timer so you can get past the check.  Beyond that is a bunch of killer droids guarding a massive door of completely unknown metallic composition (My guess is week old Olive Garden breadsticks) that requires you to erode to metal using that radioactive battery and then blowing up said battery after the radiation turns the wall into hours old Olive Garden breadsticks.  Oh, and take that anti-radiation scrubber serum before you die.  That’d be a good idea too.

The final security lock (Yea, apparently there’s only three if you don’t count the easy to kill droids) is a series of force fields operated by the Scorpio Sanction.  The slicer is ready to trigger every alarm on the planet, but the other prisoners – namely the Space Texan – wants to use this opportunity to “re-negotiate” the deal.  Yea, of course. The guy who wanted money upfront is now trying to screw me for more money. Not shocked. Essentially he (and Ohta if you didn’t kill him before) want to be paid out NOW and enough to make sure they can leave Belsavis.  You have two choices here: You can pay them out yourself and they take their leave, or say you won’t bow to blackmail which coincidentally the bug man who has done nothing much in the plot so far decides he agrees that blackmail is wrong and kills the troublemakers for you, and the slicer will then chew you out for risking her life with a gun against the temple.  Meh.  So long as the security goes down.  Which it does when the slicer throws the switch and the Scorpio Sanction screams in pain causing the force fields to momentarily glitch out.

Now you can finally see what the big secret kept in the depths of Belsavis is – people in jars!  Actually they’re in kolto tanks but able to communicate through holocall terminals on each tube.  They speak to you and reveal that they are former members of a galaxy wide conspiracy dating back over 800 years to the end of the Great Hyperspace War.  In the wake of the Jedi and Sith nearly destroying everything in their conflict, some of the most influential members of technology industries, commerce, politics and even spies and criminals got together and asked how the hell they – the most powerful people in the galaxy – could have let this happen?  Their resolve was to begin gently manipulating the Galaxy through their influence to ensure that nothing like the Great Hyperspace War happens again. From then on forth, for generations, this group of the Galaxy’s elite has been its secret masters: THE ILLUMINA-  I mean, Star Cabal. They maintain secrecy by letting the Jedi and Sith believe that their orders wield the supreme power locked in with force power and hereditary might instead of technology, money and information. But unfortunately, over the generations the Cabal has become corrupt and greedy with their power.  So in the spirit of stopping the malformed descendant of a noble organization, these tubed ‘trophies’ of former members decide to help you by showing you how to reprogram and add restrictions to the heart of the Scorpio Sanctions – a hyper-intelligent self-improving AI droid – that holds the key to the Cabal’s database.  That is how you recruit your last companion: Scorpio.

With Scorpio in tow, you head back to the rendezvous to find the Slicer and Bug Man where you can either keep your bargain and pay them out for their loyal services and get them off world, tell them that their freedom IS their payment or keep the whole thing under wraps by just killing them right there.  You would think that’d be it, right? Just head back to the ship and see what this database that Scorpio has contains?  Oh no.  We have one more visitor: Pashon Cortess, heir of House Cortess!  I know what you’re thinking: Who?  Well, House Cortess and its leader Baron Peyar Cortess helped/hindered things for you back on Alderaan.  This is the Baron’s kid apparently.  He wants revenge for his house’s fall from glory (Ha!) and a unknown “friend” of his told him that you were to blame and where you were going to be.  Oh really? Was this friend maybe named Rogue? Or Mage? Or perhaps…   HUNTER? Well you give the spoiled brat a worthy spanking and can choose to deal with him by having him imprisoned for assaulting you, send him back to House Thul to have them deal with the wayward vassal house, or just outright kill him.  There. Now we can leave.

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Interlude

The Watchers have been working their own angle on this whole thing with Keeper.  They apparently dug up a more recent holocall between Hunter and an unknown party but all they can find is the record that the call happened but not what it was about.  Keeper wants you to find an actual recording of said holocall by infiltrating the Rings of Tytun – a cyberized planet-size data nexus with rings of scrapped ships that serve as extra storage that archives every single bit and byte of HoloNet data that has ever been transmitted since the nexus went online.  Holy. Flipping. Yoda.  Are you serious? That thing EXISTS? And we are just now learning about it?  Screw the Cabal-inati, THIS is the real interesting thing that shows up in this chapter. I have SO many questions.  Who controls it? Who maintains it? Can anyone access it? Can ANYBODY access it normally?  Why won’t the game give me any more answers?!

Sigh, so we go there and piece together the conversation using a bunch of terminals and fighting droids.  The conversation is actually a bit interesting because it drops some revelations like Nok Drayan being part of the Star Cabal and calling in for what would be his ‘last meeting’ thus indicating the call had to happen right at the end of the Smuggler’s Chapter One story, and another part of the call mentions The Old Man from the Tatooine terrorist cell who apparently had some Star Cabal links before we dealt with him.  You take the rest of the pieces back to Dromund Kaas where the Watchers assemble the whole thing to watch.  Apparently it’s a conference call featuring Hunter, an unknown person simply called The Prince, Yem Leksende the CEO of the Czerka Corporation, another strange figure just called The Creeper, and Kolovish the Twilek matriarch from Tython that was part of the Jedi Knight story.  The call references a lot of other events that occur in the other storylines such as the power plays of Darth Baras (Sith Warrior) or Darth Angral (Jedi Knight) and the awakening of the Children of the Emperor (Jedi Consular) but they also note that for each problem that arises on the Imperial Side, a Republic countermeasure has been prepared (the Jedi Knight and Consular respectively.)

However, while watching the Holocall there are frequent glitches of what appears to be a bald man that kind of reminds me of Watcher X but without the cybernetic implants or the filth.  One by one everyone else in the call blinks out, then the actual people in the room blink out, until in the end its just the bald man and Keeper.  The Bald Man then tries to choke Keeper. Snap back to reality where everyone is just watching the holocall and Keeper suddenly screams followed by her and every one of the Watchers collapsing.  Well… that sucks.  Seems that the recording was laced with an overlay to fry the minds of anyone with an augmented brain like the Watcher, coincidentally the only people who code decode the damn thing. So now Imperial Intelligence is without their Keeper or their Watchers.  It’s going to be a rough go.  Not to mention Hunter calls in as soon as you get back to the ship to rub it all in your face and flirt a bit.  You can actually respond that he obviously honestly cares about you to which he admits that he enjoys saying sweet nothings to you and promises that once the Empire is destroyed, Intelligence broken and if you are still alive – your freedom shall be his gift to you.  Yeah.  He says that.  I’ll be right back. I need a hot shower and some steel wool to feel clean again.

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Voss

With the intelligence part of Imperial Intelligence pretty much rendered comatose for the foreseeable future, the only remaining Watcher that wasn’t present at the ‘brain hacking’ – Watcher Three – passes along Keeper’s files on your next lead.  She apparently arranged a meeting for you on the planet Voss with a tea shop owner named Bas-Ton.  When pressed as to why, Watcher Three has no idea and mentions clearly Keeper saw something in this data that eludes him but Keeper never operated on a hunch.  Okay, Call me curious.  You arrive on Voss to find that Bas-Ton is actually an Imperial in deep cover who underwent intensive cosmetic surgery to appear as a Voss.  He replaced the real Bas-Ton and has been living out his days with Bas-Ton’s wife and children while extracting information on the Voss for the Empire.  Keeper had him dig up some intel on a human who showed up five years ago and went from completely untrusted outsider to lavishly honored voss-friend in mere weeks.  Something that the Empire and Republic have found impossible to even inch towards.  This man, named Albathius to the rest of the Galaxy and “The Shining Man” to the Voss, knew everything about Voss society and culture, not just what to do but also how to do it and how to use it all to move up the ranks.  He died and was buried with honors not long after unfortunately. Bas-Ton recommends starting with the tomb and that he’ll arrange a dead drop with a disguise for you.

You investigate the tomb of the “shining man” only to find that the sarcophagus is empty other than some dust and a scroll.  There’s no real way for a body to decay into dust in such a short of time, so you grab the scroll and take some sample and hoof it back to Bas-Ton.  Bas-Ton invites you to sit down for dinner with his “family” and you get to know some of them, namely the son and daughter who have taken an interest in an outsider like yourself.  After dinner, Bas-Ton says he sent the samples of the dust to be analyzed but he can translate the scroll which talks about The Shining Man as “A Man of Prophecy who was made whole in the Wellspring of Healer”.  The Wellspring is located in the Shrine of Healing where mystics heal the spiritually wounded but Bas-Ton warns you to heed the mystics’ instructions.  Once you arrive the mystics offer you a chance to go through a ritual to revisit your past to help cleanse yourself.  You can skip the whole thing with a dark side choice to just knock out or kill the mystic and move on.  Either way you’ll end up in the ‘Vitalicron’ (No, I have no idea what it is or what it does. I just assume its like a Force Fitness App) chamber where you can snatch The Shining Man’s vitalicron and using the genetic code from the ashes (which according to the lab analysis I guess actually was The Shining Man) you unlock the glowing box and see a scene that talks about The Shining Man emerging from the forbidden Nightmare Lands with a scroll of prophecy from the “Chamber of Ash” that was one thought lost.  By a complete coincidence, if one were to say forge a scroll of prophecy you would need materials from said Nightmare Lands. Hmm. Food for thought.

When you get back to the Tea House – and yes, in case you haven’t noticed EVERY portion of this mission ends with you going back to the Tea House in Voss-Ka, and YES. IT IS ANNOYING. – There you find that Bas-Ton has been taken hostage by a bounty hunter who is waiting for you in the Gormak’s territory.  You do some more hoop jumping with finding corpse that have more messages and shorting out security stations, but ultimately you get to meet this bounty hunter and something is up.  First of all, the cave you’re meeting in isn’t stocked with Mandolorians like you’d expect, but Hutt Cartel Security. Oh. That’s not good.  That’s not good at-  Oh Hi Faathra.  Yup. Another face from the past, or technically face of someone associated with something you did in the past as you never met the young Cortess heir nor Faathra in person. But someone is sure making sure that these people know what you did to them.  You take on Faathra and his goons but Bas-Ton is fatally wounded in the process. You can spare or kill the Hutt, but Bas-Ton is pretty much done for and has to be left to die in a cave because while he looks Voss, he sure as heck don’t bleed like one. He tells you to ask his Voss family to help you get into the capital and find a map to the Chamber of Ashes in the sacred carvings stored there before he passes.

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So believe or not this is where it gets tricky.  See, only a Voss may view the sacred carvings.  The only way to get you in would be for Bas-Ton’s family to make you a Voss and the only way to do THAT is to marry one of Bas-Ton’s kids.  So yea.  You get hitched right there and then.  Congratulations?  Okay, you don’t HAVE to marry one of the kids.  You can always threaten, injure and force them to fetch the carving for you.  I mean, torture is momentary but marriage is forever right? So which is REALLY the Dark Side choice?  Okay, yea. It’s the torture.  Anyway, the carving will detail how to reach the Chamber of Ashes and when you find it, you’ll find something you probably weren’t expecting – a starship.  Uh huh.  Around the ship you find a gormak named Xanar who is waiting for the Shining Man to return because he watched the Shining Man and he too wants to “shed his skin and become Voss”.  Well, that’s wonderful.  And impossible. But mostly wonderful. But bad news, Xanar. Shining Man is dead.  Oh, and Xanar doesn’t like that one bit. He attacks you and then activates the ship’s self destruct when he loses. The only positive things out of this is ripping a copy of the Shining Man’s data archive out of Xanar’s hands and  a recording of The Shining Man begins to play that reveals exactly what the deal was with coming to Voss anyway.  Apparently, The Shining Man was an agent of the Star Cabal who was scouting a location for the Cabal to send initiates to learn how to resist the Force.  The Nightmare Lands was apparently one such possibility but it proved to be too much.  The Shining Man also asks to “Send Hunter his love” once again hinting that same sex couples were in the game before the Rise of the Hutt Cartel expansion.

Pretty much as soon as you leave the exploding Chamber of Ashes, you get a call.  The Three – the leaders of all of Voss – would like to speak to you.  So first thing is first – I prepare my defense: “Hey, I never even MET these %*&holes before, okay?”  Excellent. Now let’s go politics.  Inside the grand ol’ chamber of the Three, you are told that you have been brought here to meet just as the Shining Man was because the prophecy that applied to Shining Man also applies to you.  They explain that when the Shining Man came, he offered a deal to the Voss: Remain neutral from both the Empire and the Republic for 3,000 days and in exchange the Gormak will be defeated, no outsiders will ever step foot on Voss again, and the Empire and Republic will cease to be.  Since the Three viewed it as a very small risk for a potentially great reward they agreed to the Shining Man’s and thus the Star Cabal’s terms.  They then dismiss you and you can go on your merry way.  Of course you can also turn it back around and say that since the prophecy said they would help the Shining Man, that you should be able to ask something of them as well.  This gives you the choice of either asking them to aid Bas-Ton’s family (obvious light side), for the Voss to join the Empire or just to give you guns, lots of guns (That’s the dark side in case you’re curious).

When you get back to your ship, there’s a call from Watcher Three informing you to return to Dromund Kaas and head back to headquarters.  These orders come from the only higher source than the Minister of Intelligence – The Sith themselves.

Interlude II

This is a fairly short interlude that mostly sets up the last world’s storyline.  A Sith Lord named Lord Razer (giggle) has come to announce that Intelligence has failed to pull its weight in this war and thus will be dissolved.  The Operations Division (The Ciphers) will be distributed to more “deserving” Sith Lords who can better utilize their talents.  If that heartbreak wasn’t enough, Razer has Kaliyo arrested for being an anarchist and she’s dragged away screaming about how she’ll kill you and everyone else.  Finally, Lord Razer personally delivers your reassignment.  You will serve under Razer directly on his conquest of the frontlines of Corellia.  Interestingly, he mentions that you were given this post at the request of the Minister of Intelligence.  He then sends you back to your ship until you meet again on the battlefield.  To kick you while your down, there’s a message waiting when you get back on the ship.  Hunter has called to let you know that the dissolution of Intelligence was the Star Cabal’s way of getting back at you for poking around on Voss.  Okay, this is starting to get ridiculously personal.  Even with all that, your remaining crew asserts that they’re with you till the end of all of this, so it’s off to Corellia.

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Corellia

Ah Corellia. The last world on our little circuit where the Empire is making their big push into the Core Worlds.  Lord Razer directs to meet with his top brass in the war room, where if you aren’t playing a human be prepared to have some racist… species-ist… hate speech uttered in hushed tones as you walk in.  You’ll be assigned for the rank of Lieutenant for being ex-intelligence or Major if you are the Hand of Jadus.  Razer calls the meeting where he declares his first mission for you is to pinpoint precision targets for his bombers on the ground so that they can lay siege to the outer defenses of the Republic’s precious and highly fortified Aegis Base.  Once the defense have been destroyed, you are to take a portable warhead and detonate it inside the base.  You SHOULD have enough time to get out.  As you leave, you are contacted by an unknown female voice who refers to you by your old intelligence codename – Cipher Nine – who wants you to transfer troop data from the Republic computers to her to help identify patterns of the ‘Invisible Enemy’.  The data is a bit of a shocker: Massive reinforcements coming from General Garza’s special forces (That’s the Havoc Squad assault on the Stronghold from the Trooper storyline) and a contingent of alien races bringing a myriad of troops (I can only assume that’s the Jedi Consular’s army) but the Empire is completely in the dark about all of this. The female voice tells you that you are free to warn Razer about this, and that you should finish up dropping off that warhead.

After blowing up the Aegis Base, you report back where you can warn Lord Razer about the reinforcements where the news is met with general uninterest.  After all, who can stand against a Sith? Right?  Anyone?  Oh bother.  Everyone begins to back up and leave the war room to move to another forward location and you get a chance to contact that female voice.  Turns out it’s Keeper. She’s used the reports of her being ‘brain dead’ as a cover to work on setting up a final strike at the Star Cabal.  We know that the Cabal has been manipulating military intel, but to know how much the numbers are being changed Keeper will need the raw data of the current standing forces and units lost on Corellia from Moff Zamar who is just finishing his report. If that report is entered into the system, the Cabal will change everything and we will never know how much they are altering.  So you need to get his skyhopper to land prematurely by setting up false signals of attacks around Labor Valley so they think they have no choice but to land. Keeper gives you a code phrase to give Zamar if you want but warns that it will either make him comply completely or make him incredibly suspicious of you.  When you reach the landed ship at the top of a building, you can skip the code phrase entirely and just shoot your way into the ship or actually use the handy code phrase which will cause the guards to escort you in where Zamar states that he “owes him this much.”  They never actually say who ‘he’ is but considering all the possibilities of people who can’t be dead at this juncture in the story, I’m gonna go with the Minister of Intelligence.  He gives you the report and then you get another choice to either ditch him there as the Republic closes in on his position for some Dark Side points, just flat out kill him for even more Dark Side points, or score a couple of Light Side points by escorting him out of the building and past the Republic assault team.  Once you are done with however you choose to handle things, you send the intel back to Keeper who tells you that every advantage that the Empire thinks they have is an outright lie. Between Darth Baras, Darth Vowrown and Darth Thanaton all blowing troops on personal power plays (That would be the events of the Sith Warrior and the Sith Inquisitor storylines on Corellia) combine with the Republic’s reinforcements, the Republic and Empire are poised to completely wipe each other out.  Unfortunately, in the wake of such a huge reveal, Lord Razer calls all his troops to the new forward base to push back against the Jedi.  Argh! Stupid Razer and his stupid war.  I hope someone just kills him.

So you arrive at the forward base to see a Jedi just kill Lord Razer.  Huh.  However that leaves all his subordinates now officially without a boss and they’ll just wander back to be assigned to a different Sith.  You can always make a Light Side choice to tell them to go AWOL and form a guerrilla fighting force instead. Probably a good idea considering the completely boned odds we have just learned about, but how the heck is THAT a Light Side choice? “Yea, disobey your orders, go completely AWOL, kill people with no oversight! +10 Good!”  Keeper has a better plan for you than either a guerrilla group or reporting back however.  There’s apparently a deluxe airship floating around Corellia decked out with a massive party while observing the war.  You get docking codes from some mercs, use them to sneak aboard when they are refueling their snacks (Pizza rolls don’t refill themselves!) and then once on board your goal is to get captured and leak fake intel about Imperial reinforcements coming to cause the Cabal to scramble to change things and giving you a window.  There’s just one snag with all of that.  Hunter is here.  Well, okay he’s on holo.  Apparently, this whole shindig is his ‘Apocalypse Party’ to occupy Corellia’s movers and shakers to keep them distracted with their own decadence so they won’t try and “do something” about their world burning down.

He finally lays out the Star Cabal’s big scheme (because it’s that point in the Bond films, kiddies.) Get the Republic and Empire, the Jedi and the Sith to wipe each other out completely, so for the first time in 1,400 years the ‘normal people’ can rule the galaxy for themselves.  Naturally, the ‘normal people’ will be ruling from under the guiding hand of the Star Cabal, but is that really that much of a change?  And right on queue from your Bond Movie Script for Dummies, the droids gas you with sleeping gas (or activate a neutralizer field if you had the forethought to bring Scorpio along for this) and take you downstairs to torture you for information.  Why do they want information if they rule the roost already?  Well, I can only assume it’s because there had to be some dumb reason to convince you to just stroll on up to the party like a boss so they better find out what.  That’s when you get the chance to drop that fake intel that Keeper gave you which you can immediately follow with a quick break out by beating them up and running or just wait till they’re tired of hurting you and they’ll just drop you in a bush saying something about not being able to kill an Imperial officer without arousing suspicion.  “No, I’m just going to leave them there to die, go someplace else, and just assume my evil plan went as planned.”  /sigh.  Whenever you escape or wake up I guess, you call into Keeper to get updates.

Keeper has one final move to make on the chessboard now that the Star Cabal is distracting with altering their master plan: eliminate the Star Cabal.  But first, she needs you off the radar.  You get some explosives and rig them around a building that has an escape tunnel hidden beneath it so you can fake your death.  Right when you finish, an SIS operative who was a former member of one of the Eagle’s terrorist cells (apparently after the Eagle’s demise, the SIS went on a recruiting spree for former terrorists. Not shocking how you managed to get in during Chapter Two.)  This operative is named Nyella Hawkins and if that scratches a memory or two it’s probably because she is the sister of Mia Hawkins, the terrorist cell member who helped you on Tatooine back in Chapter One. You fight her off and the SIS demands your surrender via holocall where you just taunt them, blow the building, and escape in the tunnels below.  However, there is an alternate version of the events here that only take place if you spared Ardun Kothe and his team in Chapter Two.  Ardun shows up and you can convince him of what Hunter is doing.  Ardun will offer to help you take down the Star Cabal.  So yea, there’s an option if you really liked those SIS guys who used your brain against you earlier.  Once you leave the tunnels, Keeper contacts you with coordinates to the Starship Tenebrous to meet.

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Grand Finale

You arrive on the Tenebrous to find both Keeper and Kaliyo who was extracted en route to prison and has been doing jobs and getting payback from behind the scenes for the remnants of Intelligence.  Keeper is less than well herself, trying to recover from the damage done to her mind by the Star Cabal.  However, reunions are cut short by the Minister of Intelligence who needs to speak to you in private.  He tells you that they have pinpointed a small space station in the Null Zone (which is apparently a thing that exists because I had to look it up on Wookiepedia but I’m not going to explain it here because it REALLY isn’t important to anything. Simply put it’s just a big area of empty space.)  The Minister wants you to get on board, eliminate everyone, and retrieve any records they have that deal with their members, projects or dealings.  This way the Empire can hunt down every last one of them.  Then of course the Sith will want to keep that knowledge in ‘good hands’.  That thought apparently takes the former Keeper down memory lane about how we started off in Intelligence thinking it was a distraction, then a means to enact change as he rose in the ranks, but slowly all of his ideals and dreams where replaced with goals and objectives.  He states that for those in your line of work, you can only change so much. He then dismisses you and says that you have a ship waiting and a timetable before the Cabal escapes.

You arrive at the Star Chamber, the home base of the Star Cabal.  The entrance is decorated with flags of every society, planet and great house you can encounter in the game.  You sneak in and infiltrate through the air vents to reach the inner sanctum.  There you can spy on the Cabal proper and identify the members.  While they’re talking you can pick up on the mention of the death of Tol Braga from the end of the Jedi Knight Chapter Three story. You can wait and try to identify them all but Hunter will catch you and bring you down to fight, you can also choose to interrupt as a Light Side and talk to them but this pretty much has the same effect of a few fighting you and the rest running away, or you can shoot at them as a Dark Side choice which instantly kills one of the people you normally would fight which makes the combat a bit easier.  If you’ve been Light Side and walk in announcing yourself, Hunter will sound overjoyed that you are alive before he makes a break for it, otherwise he’ll just express annoyance at your intervention.  Once you deal with the members of the Star Cabal that didn’t run away (which is two provided you didn’t shoot one in the cutscene which in that case it would be… one) Hunter shouts out that you don’t just ‘get’ all the secrets of the galaxy.  You then have to chase him through a series of insane puzzles that makes me wonder if The Shroud designed them.  Finally, you reach Hunter in the chamber of the Black Codex, a datacron holding the collected knowledge of over a millennia of secrets that the Star Cabal hoarded and within it the power to reshape information and knowledge at will.  But to get the Black Codex you must defeat its guardian – Hunter – who is willing to die to protect the Star Cabal and its mission.  You have a fierce battle until Hunter collapses, on his death bed he reveals his final secret:  He is a she.  Trained by the best spies and assassins, including the Old Man on Tatooine, “Hunter” used the hard light holographic disguise technology that the Old Man offered The Eagle to pose as another person.  It was easier she says than trying to remember her real name and homeworld that were “erased” by the Cabal when she was just a child.  That’s why she liked you so much.  You of all people could understand her plight.  To have no real name, no true self, and forced to wear mask after mask until there’s was nothing left of you inside at all – just the job.  If you played a male agent, she’ll admit that she’s even fallen in love for you.  So I guess just take back all that stuff I said earlier about Hunter and same sex romance options.  Boo on you Bioware.  But hey that was actually great foreshadowing for this reveal, so kudos Bioware.  Male agents can also kiss her just before she kills herself having failed her goal.  Of course, if you chose the Dark Side option earlier in the conversation you just blew her brains out before she reveals ANY OF THIS, YOU MONSTER.

At this point is where the endgame for the storyline begins and it’s a doozy.  A total of five different endings are open to you and while some of those are just variations on each other, they are different.  So let me boil down what happens bit by bit.  After Hunter’s death, either a pair of Sith will arrive and ask you to turn over the Codex to them.  There are two different versions of this depending on whether Jadus is alive or not.  However, if you didn’t kill Ardun Kothe and his team in Chapter Two and DID choose to ally with them on Corellia, Ardun will show up instead and ask for the Codex so it can be kept safe from those who would abuse it.  At this point you have three choices: Take the Codex, Give the party that shows up the Codex, or Destroy the Codex.

Let’s start with that last one since it’s the easiest.  You tell Kothe or the Sith that NO ONE should have the power of the Black Codex and destroy it, you go back to the Tenebrous and get yelled at by Keeper for letting a prime opportunity slip through your fingers.  That’s endings #1 and #2 (Sith or SIS).

The middle option is to give the party that shows up the Codex.  For the Sith this will either mean it gets turned over to Jadus or to some unknown party, a promise from the Sith that the traitorous Minister of Intelligence will be punished, and you are given a promotion in the new Sith Intelligence founded by Darth Zhorrid (or Darth Jadus if he’s alive).  You get a chance to go back and give the Minister a piece of your mind and chew him out by either telling him that you were just looking out for number one and Sith have all the power, or that you want to help create an Intelligence where such blatant racism against Aliens isn’t so damn prevalent, or I think there’s a few other options.   Or if you give the Codex to Ardun Kothe, you are invited to help make the Galaxy a better place by becoming a double agent for the SIS inside the Empire. All of your own free will this time – no mind control. Choosing to become a double agent is especially notable because it triggers an extra scene at the end of the Shadow of Revan expansion where you report in the Ardun Kothe after dealing with Revan.  So that’s endings #3 and #4.

The final ending is taking the Codex for yourself. You give the Sith or Ardun a fake and take the real one back to the Minister of Intelligence.  He tells you that he’s proud of you and that now you have the power to become a true force of power in the Galaxy.  From the shadows, you will right wrongs for the Empire with no oversight from the Military or the Sith. True freedom to act by your own discretion or with your own conscious.  Your first step is firing up the Black Codex and erasing all trace of yourself from existing.  You are now a ghost and it’s time to get to work.  That’s ending #5.

Some people say there’s a sixth ending as well, but try as I like I can’t really find one.  I think they probably count the Jadus is alive/Jadus is dead versions of the ‘Give the Sith the Codex’ ending as seperate because there is some different dialogue between the two and I think a few different choices for your dialogue.  Like being able to cite the ‘equality of fear’ doctrine that Jadus put forth as part of your reasoning for supporting Jadus.

All the endings end the same though. Sending out the intercom call on your ship and calling the entire crew to meet. One by one, they break from their usual tasks on the ship to join you.  It’s a messy galaxy out there, people.  Time to call in the cleaning crew.

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Looking Back

A lot of people say that the Imperial Agent is the best story the game has to offer, and it is not hard to see why they think even if you don’t agree.  It’s bold, it’s daring, and it does things that none of the other storylines dare to do.  From the sheer mind#%@$ery of the second chapter, to the ruthless moral choices of who lives and who dies where there isn’t a clear cut line.  It’s the ultimate gray morality play where there are no right or wrong answers.  If you like playing a character more than a role, you’ll have a fun stress-inducing time here.  I spend a lot of time on my first playthough standing up and walking around the room before deciding which button to push.  I’ve played it three times and I would be happy to play more.  But let’s talk about it in a more individualized aspect.

The first chapter was all about realizing exactly what Intelligence’s role in things are.  You make deals with enemies, you let thousands die to save millions, and you pick up the messes of the Sith.  There’s a real exploration of the fact that you are both the most terrifying thing in the Empire with the ability to silence and make vanish at will but in actuality are forced to cow tow to the Sith in almost every way imaginable as shown by the tiring ordeals imposed by the not entirely stable Darth Zhorrid who comes across more Queen of Hearts than Emperor Palpatine. The twist of Darth Jadus being the mastermind behind his own assassination really did a good job of setting the tone of ‘don’t trust anyone’.  A theme that gets firmly cemented the further the story goes on.  You get backstabbed by Imperial Intelligence, you learn that everyone and everything is having its strings pulled by the Space Illuminati, and the Sith are only interested in their own petty agendas.  In the end, your crew is about the only people who don’t betray you at any point and even that seems to be on borrowed time with the likes of Kaliyo and Scorpio.

Speaking of the Space Illuminati, oh boy was that a base breaker in this chapter.  Apparently people either love the Star Cabal being behind everything or they hate it.  But honestly, I didn’t get that they WERE behind everything.  They just nudged things.  They didn’t create the Jedi Knight, but just set things up that they would be a counter to and be on a collision course with the Sith Emperor.  The idea was to keep both size at dead even without letting them know that, so when the time came they would blow each other up with none left standing.  The big threats seem to be countered through the individual storylines but how much of that was the Star Cabal ‘playing the player’ and how much of that was laying breadcrumbs and letting the natural hatred of the Jedi and Sith or the Republic and Empire opposing each other do the rest.  That’s the way it felt to me at least.  I did like how much of the other stories got tied in here though.  It made the Imperial Agent feel like the center story that all the other stories overlapped just a little bit with.  It’s not new.  I mean, Risha from the Smuggler story was childhood friends with Vette from the Sith Warrior story, and Doc from the Jedi Knight seems to know Kaliyo somehow. But the Imperial Agent overlaps with most of the storylines instead of one or two.

Not only does it crossover with those storylines but explains some of the mysterious background details of the setting as well.  Why are the Voss neutral? The Cabal arranged a deal. How did the Empire end up losing Corellia? In fighting between Sith and faulty numbers about how many loses there actually were.  What the heck is ‘Sith Intelligence’ that comes out of nowhere at the end of Shadow of Revan? It was founded by Darth Zhorrid or Darth Jadus in the wake of the Star Cabal dissolving Imperial Intelligence.  There’s just a lot to be gained by playing through the Imperial Agent if you enjoy the story of SWTOR.  Even more so it contains a very possible hint of whats to come: Darth Jadus is still out there.  While he can be stopped, he is never killed only imprisoned.  He knows what the Emperor’s true plans and whether you join him or not, we know he flees the known galaxy to amass power and return to enact his plans to take over.

…Are we sure that Valkorian was Vitiate? Hmm.  But hey, that just a theory – a SWTOR Theory. Thanks for reading!

<– Chapter Two || IMPERIAL AGENT ||

SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Imperial Agent – Chapter Two

<– Chapter One || IMPERIAL AGENT || Chapter Three –>

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the second chapter of the Imperial Agent storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  To see a spoiler-free summary of the storyline please check this page instead.

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Welcome Back, Agent.

Aaah, what better way to relax after Annihilation Day than a nice vacation?  Yea! No.  Your back on the clock, Agent.  Chapter Two kicks off with a call with a call to report back to Intelligence ASAP for a meeting with Keeper.  However, when you arrive at Keeper’s office you only find Watcher Two there.  Like in Keeper’s chair.  All by herself.  Oh no.  No no no no no.  Sigh.  Yes.  It seems that there’s been some promotions handed out while you were out.  Watcher Two has been promoted to Keeper, and the former Keeper is now the Minister of Intelligence.  You still don’t learn their names. They just get referred to as Keeper and Minister.  Anyway, we have a job yes?  Well it seems that the new Keeper wants you to take on a job of going under deep cover to track down Ardun Kothe – the Republic’s best spymaster that has been turned loose from SIS and now is operating with unlimited budget and no oversight in pursuit of crushing the Empire.  You need to infiltrate Kothe’s team as a defector from Imperial Intelligence.  Keeper and the Watchers have been dropping leaks and hints of a top Cipher wanting to defect for some time now, and it’s time to cash in.

You head off the Nar Shadaa where you meet your contact with Kothe’s band of spies: Hunter.  Hunter has been assigned to test you to make sure that your capable and willing to do what’s needed for the mission. Not long ago the Empire arranged a partnership with a notorious Hutt crime lord called Nem’ro.  That partnership built a massive new droid factory and Hunter wants you to blow the place up.  While on the mission, you are introduced via radio to two more of Kothe’s band of miscreants – Chance the Slicer and Wheels the tech expert droid.  Once you’ve stolen the droid blue prints and blown up the factory, you meet up at the team’s hide out.  That’s where you meet the last member of the team – Saber the weapons expert and sniper.  There at last you get to have your meeting with Ardun Kothe.  The mastermind himself.  He invites you into his office where he assigns you your codename: “Legate” which is either pronounced Leg-Ette or Ley-Gah-Tay or a few other ways over the course of the next three worlds, once again confirming that there was very little communication with the voice directors on this game.  However, the whole things goes topsy turvy on you in a second as Kothe utters a single phrase: “Keyword: Onomatophobia.”  You black out and hear the familiar voice of Watcher X run through your mind.  When you come back to, you find yourself obeying Ardun Kothe’s every command.  He explains he just activated your mental programming and that you cannot tell anyone that it has been activated or that it exists and you cannot enact any harm on Ardun or his team.  You can try to express rage, or question the situation but no matter what conversation option you choose on that dialogue wheel that shows up – you simply acknowledge Ardun’s orders.  Kothe orders you to go to Taris as his double agent inside the Empire.  When you get back to your ship, Keeper will contact you to see if you met up with Kothe and ask if you’re alright. Again, you can’t mention the programming so any option you choose will result in a monotone “everything is fine”.  Before you head off, you hear Watcher X’s voice once again telling you to wait and watch for your chance.

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Taris

Your mission on Taris is to use your Imperial strings to track down a rogue Jedi named Ki Sazen who has reportedly been building up a power base on the planet. Chance, the geeky little slicer, will be your mission contact and watchdog for your time here.  Your first objective is an old laboratory that Sazen was snooping around in and try to find what she was after.  There you find another member of Imperial Intelligence – Doctor Lokin or ‘Fixer Fifteen’ as he is called in Intelligence – who says he was sent by Watcher Four to scavenge anything he could from the lab of Doctor Godera – a name Jedi Knight player’s will recognize – but it appears that Ki Sazen got there first and stole one ‘Ultrawave Emitter’.  Lokin says he has no idea what it is capable of and thus probably shouldn’t be in the hands of a crazy power hungry Jedi (Best keep it for a mad power hungry Sith, right?)  Lokin offers to join forces so he can triangulate the next lab that Sazen will strike that was lost somewhere in the swamps.

As your scouring the forsaken swampland of Taris, Chance gets in touch to tell you that he checked out what he could on Doctor Lokin and confirms that while there wasn’t a ton of information available, he is confirmed to be Imperial Intelligence. So he wasn’t lying. Chance also mentions that he doesn’t ethically agree with the mental programming and won’t use the code phrase on you unless he absolutely has to.  You finally dig out the lab in an old transport station. No, I don’t know why a Bio-research Lab was sitting in a subway station.  Maybe there was a reason these people were all dumb enough to get bombed 300 years ago. (You don’t need to correct me on that in the comments, I’ve played KotOR1 and yes, I know how Taris got this way.)  Here you find a cult of Nikto who worship Ki Sazen.  The three nikto leaders are each finding some item for Ki so that she can use the Ultrawave Emitter and create a Rakghoul army to take over all of Taris.  The Nikto here are getting Rakghoul biological data, and the others are looking for info on colony movements and the last is looking for a Republic doctor to help finish the device.  Chance says that the best well… chance you have is to split up.   You take the colony movement investigation and he’ll go save the scientist.

Your task is pretty much just running around to various spots and fighting a few waves of enemies before taking out the Nikto leader.  To do this you get a tip from Lokin on where he would look and he gives you a stim that will help your combat proficiency that I don’t think actually does anything beyond reinforce the plot point that Lokin is a biologist.  You think the elimination of two-thirds of the necessary components would be enough to halt Sazen’s plan but oh well.  After you take out the second Nikto commander, you get a call from Chance who unsurprisingly has failed his mission.  He’s been badly hurt and uses the code phrase – the prick – to force you to come to him.  He does this regardless of your intent – even if you wanted to come help him (Chance is the nicest of the Republic scum after all.)

Chance says that you should split up, he’ll find the scientist if you find the colony movement investigation nikto. You’ll need Lokin for this, so it’s back to the old lab.  Lokin gives you a tonic to help boost your combat proficiency and tells you that if he were to try something like this, he would use the colonist’s sensors to set up a sweep.  So you travel around the swamps, shutting down sensor towers until you fight and kill the Nikto leader.  Then Chance contacts you, he failed his head and took some bad hits.  Fearing death, he uses the code phrase and commands you to come to him.  Even if you already say you were going to do that. Like before, any response you make is replaced by the monotone acceptance of the command but the Watcher X voice reminds you that they can force you to take action, hell they can’t resist doing it, but you can still think and that is your escape.  You go track down your handler – feels like that should be the other way around but the SIS are incompetent little lemmings – and find him bleeding out on the ramp leading into the Hospital where he tells you that Doctor Ianna Cel is waiting to meet with an SIS agent who will use the code phrase ‘Gemstone’.  He needs you to make the meet since he can’t.  He apparently had trouble with the four packs of not-even-gold mobs leading to the doctor.  Friggin’ lemmings.  Before Chance passes out however, he tries to order you with the mind control phrase but can’t get the words out.  Well, well, well, looks like we have an opportunity.  Of course you get some light side options. Namely ‘save him’ or ‘save him begrudgingly’ but the one I have no doubt everyone is eyeing is the dark side option.  See, you can’t HURT Chance.  Your programming won’t allow it.  But you don’t have to fetch any help either.  The Dark Side choice is just to simply let Chance die and go on your merry way.  I like that option.

You go down the ramp and kill the all too easy mobs that slaughtered poor Chance (May we never forget his… snrk… ‘heroism’… lol…) and meet with Doctor Cel who has been hiding in the hospital after getting repeated threatening holocalls from Ki Sazen.  While talking to Doctor Cel, you’ll get a call from Lokin who has an idea. You can hear him out or just hang up on him.  If you hang up, he’ll appear RIGHT NEXT TO YOU from some sort of cloaking tech.  Apparently he’s been following you around. Either way he’ll suggest the same plan: Let Lokin pose as Doc Cel’s assistant and then let Sazen capture him.  From there, you can trace Lokin right to both Ki and the Ultrawave Emitter. But to ensure that you can receive the signal, Lokin has you disable some Republic Jammers in the area.  Once you do, the call comes in that tells you where Sazen is holed up with her Nikto cult.  Time to deal with a Jedi.

Or not? As you approach the base, you get another call from Ardun Kothe.  He tells you that Chance is either injured (Probs.) or missing (Oh no. Say it isn’t so.) and that you are the new ‘primary agent’ on this mission.  He also uses that damn mind control phrase to tell you that retrieving the Ultrawave Emitter is now the primary goal and dealing with the Jedi is an optional secondary thing.  No, he won’t tell you why. Did you really expect him to? Once inside you get to meet Ki and boy is she the textbook definition of the fallen Jedi.  Okay, so she wants to use the rakghoul and the nikto to conquer all of Taris and turn it into a savage utopia but only for those who swear undying loyalty to her.  Wow.  Just… wow.  So I kicked her butt with the quickness and then you get several choices of what to do with her.  You can kill her (naturally), send her back to the Jedi to be redeemed, put her skills to use elsewhere by hiring her into the SIS, or you can fan the fires and send her to be trained at the Sith Academy (In the name of Darth Jadus no less if he’s still around).  The choice is entirely yours as beyond a letter following up your decision, I don’t believe Ki ever comes back to the plot in any way.  Though apparently if you send her to the Sith, she catches the eye of Darth Serevin.  So she’s probs dead by the time Makeb rolls around anyway.

You go to the lab to get the Emitter and to find Lokin, but instead you find a big ol’ rakghoul that turns into Lokin.  Huh.  Apparently he’s been working on a ‘perfected strain’ that allows him to turn back and forth but currently it only works with his DNA.  I’m sorry if it seems like I’m treating that as an afterthought, but the game seemed to think it was one too with how it’s just kinda tagged on the end of the quest chain like a sticky note.  “Oh btws, I can totes become a rakghoul whenever I want and maintain my human mind. Shall we go back to the ship?”  Doctor Lokin, man.  His entire story does that.  Even back on the ship.   Never really liked the guy, but apparently he gets along with the Bugboy from the diplomatic service. They discuss opera.  That is given more screen time in this story than the rakghoul transforming thing.  Seriously.

Once you are back on the ship, you contact Ardun Kothe who asks you to connect the Ultrawave Transmitter to transfer over… something.  Again, he doesn’t specify.  After the call, you start to break down however. Hallucinations of people you know, tiny versions of your crew flying out of the giant mouth of Ardun Kothe, a flaming Darth Jadus, those jerks from Alderaan lounging and drinking with a giant monster…  freaky stuff. It all ends with you passing out with a vision of Keeper (the old one… the Minister of Intelligence one) shooting you in the back.  You then see a vision of Watcher X who can’t confirm if you’re seeing him because of the stress of being a double/triple agent, the breaking down of the mind control, or the chip he shoved into your spinal cord back on Nar Shadaa. However, he does know that it wasn’t the SIS that brainwashed you – The Empire did.  He recommends you scoot back to Dromund Kaas to have a look at your personnel file and to try and be careful. You don’t have friends anymore.

ia_chap02_03

Interlude

Back on the homeworld, you infiltrate Imperial Intelligence and descend into the archives below the main room.  Yea, that elevator on the south side? That’s where this goes. The mission has you cutting the security systems so no one knows what you are up to down there and then slicing into computers to piece together the data on what they did to you.  What was that?  Well, in the wake of the end of the last chapter, the rest of the Dark Council expressed concern over either you attacking Jadus or being given such a distinguished position of power by Jadus.  Either way, they feel threatened by you.  However, instead of killing you outright they agree with the newly appointed Minister of Intelligence that you should be fitted with something called The Castellan Restraint.  A form of mental programming performed by injected a serum dubbed  IX (that’s ‘Eye-Ex’ not ‘Nine’) into the brain which will rewrite neural pathways over the next three to thirty days depending on the person.  Once it has finished, the individual can be programmed a key phrase and any commands.

Sadly, the Restraint doesn’t have a way to reverse it.  You find out that the only way to do anything with it is to ‘reset’ the whole process and assign a new phrase.  However, doing this can apparently be ‘inhibiting’ to the subject.  Not that they go into detail in the recordings about what that means. In the end that seems like your best bet so you gather up a list of supplies of what you need to mix up a new batch of the IX serum but sadly the Empire is fresh out of Dimalium-6.  The only known source is a backwater planet called Quesh.  So we have to go to Quesh.  Yay.

Quesh

Your first stop on the poisonous swamp of a planet is the chemical warehouse where you meet with Administrator Kroius about the chemicals needed to make the IX Serum.  He has everything on the your list except the Dimalium-6.  Which would line up with the whole ‘out of stock’ scenario.  Luckily, there’s a mine where the Dimalium is harvested just north of here. Bad news is that the Republic has taken over the operation and you’ll have to er… “liberate it” from them.  The spectral voice of Watcher X can’t help but chime in as well to inform you that Kroius is the one who has been providing Imperial Intelligence with the chemicals needed to mind control you and anyone else in the Empire.  This leads you to the choice of either ordering Kroius to stop distributing Dimalium all together, killing Kroius by igniting the flammable and explosive chemicals in the warehouse but then having the deal with the security droids, or just leaving.  After you decide what to do with the good Administrator, you are off to the mine which is actually little more than a hole in the side of a mountain.  I’ve seen Wampa caves bigger than this.  You snag the Dimalium-6 from the Pubs and then use the chemical mixer in the cave to whip a fresh batch of Serum IX and then shooting it right into your veins.  Seems… hasty?  Then again, what do you really have to lose here?  It might kill ya but the alternative would be being a mind controlled puppet of both the Empire and the Republic. Naturally, it’ll take some time before the Serum does its job and rewrites your brain again, in the mean time Watcher X says you should go back to working with the SIS until the time is right.

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Hoth

Looks like Kothe has another job for you.  He wants you to go to the planet Hoth and find a lost spaceship called the Starbreeze from the infamous Starship Graveyard.  Well, that should be easy.  It’s like finding a random person in a graveyard of unmarked graves.  How long could that take?  Luckily, an Imperial admiral named Davos is assembling a mission to the graveyard to find scrap to use – supposedly including the Starbreeze.  Oh, and apparently your liaison for this mission will be Hunter.  Joy.

Unfortunately, your first encounter with Davos is not a positive one.  He greets you, asks what you need, then informs his men to torture you until they find out everything you know and then kill you.  Oh because no one ever just wants to chat.  Still, having your goons try to kill an Imperial Cipher?  That takes guts. Not to mention it immediately shifts you from the asset column straight into the super suspicious bucket.  When you finish with Davos’ men – because let’s be honest, did they really stand a chance? – you are contacted by a Chiss named Thrent who you bumped into when you first arrived and asks you to come to a frozen lake nearby for answers about Davos.  The lake is actually a cover for a large underground Chiss Ascendancy base operated in secret from even the Empire. This is where you encounter Ensign Raina Temple, an Imperial who requested to work with the Chiss that has been monitoring the Davos situation.  Apparently the Chiss have been watching Davos ever since he started building up what seemed to be a private army of men, weapons and machines to head into the Starship Graveyard and then bribing people to look the other way.  The Chiss formally ask for Imperial Sanction to act from you so they can help deal with Davos, which you naturally grant. It’s good to have friends.

Your first task is to investigate supply drops that Davos had been leaving across the icy plains as he headed out to the Graveyard. You run around and find several drops to find that they are stolen Imperial tech and weaponry that was left as tribute to a group of pirates that control the region known as the Marauders to gain safe passage.  Of course, you always have the option to steal the tech and guns for yourself to the delight of Kaliyo if she’s with you.  Also while you are out hunting down boxes, you get a call from Hunter who has finally arrived on Hoth.  He asks for a status update, but none of the answers you can give are a direct answer or at least not a satisfying one to Hunter, so he uses the code phrase to demand an update.  This causes him to laugh and say that loyalty is so much easier when you don’t have a choice before hanging up on you.  I really, REALLY don’t like Hunter. He seems like the kind of jerk that kicks puppies or watches MTV.  Anyway, after your investigation Temple wants to meet up to take on a lightly enforced Marauder camp to try and get some answers.  When you arrive, the Chiss are severely pinned down until Raina uses a force trick to confuse all the pirates so you can attack and turn the tide.  Here you finally get the details on why an Imperial like Raina has been serving with the Chiss:  She’s force sensitive but not strong enough to survive the Sith Academy.  Thus if the Empire discovered her abilities, it would pretty much be a death sentence. She knows as the ‘secret police’ of the Empire, you’ll want to pursue this information but she asks that you please hold  off on that until you’ve dealt with Davos.  Meanwhile, the rest of the Chiss have got the intel you came for. Davos was bribing his way through the pirates territory and is currently meeting with the pirates in their base.  Attacking head on would be suicide, so they recommend going through the Bone Pit – a slightly less suicidal approach… slightly – and tapping the walls to get into the security system to spy on the meeting.

Turns out that the ‘Bone Pit’ is a stinking wampa cave…  and yes it IS bigger than the “mine” on Quesh.  You get to the back and tap into the security system to learn some of the details behind Davos’ scheme.  Apparently, he fought in the Battle of Hoth.  The one that resulted in most of the Starship Graveyard being there.  However he was shot down and crashed on the surface.  There he began to collect treasues, technology and Republic secrets then hid them all away so that someday he would be able to retrieve them and become insanely rich.  Wow.  That’s it?  I mean, that makes sense and all but I was hoping for something more grand than a get rich quick scheme with buried treasure.  Well, we can’t all be Darth Jadus. Your spying is interrupted by a pack of wampa that attack you but luckily Temple was listening in remotely and got all the details you missed while almost getting your head ripped off. Davos apparently struck a deal successfully and the Marauders will act as protection and escort for Davos’ team to the Graveyard.

In the Starship Graveyard you meet up with Aristocra Saganu, the leader of the Chiss on Hoth.  He explains where Davos’ treasure hoard is and proposes a plan on how to stop him.  Namely, you take the risks and the Defense Force will back you up.  Not a shocker, but I think its funny that a squad of trained Chiss commandos are worth less in an infiltration assault than a single Cipher agent.  Really puts the whole Agent position in perspective doesn’t it?  Anyway, once you infiltrate the super dreadnought ship that Davos is in and meet up with Temple, you go ahead to deal with Davos and the Marauders and Temple with the Chiss will deal with keeping the White Maw pirates who live in the dreadnought at bay.  Davos is actually quite reasonable when you find him.  He wants to make a deal and essentially pay you off to let him leave with the treasure.  You can choose to either demand his surrender or just try and kill him – both of which lead to a big fight with the Marauders and Davos – or you can take him up on his offer and ask about the Starbreeze.  He doesn’t really want to part with it but if you are willing to keep quiet and say… give him the location of the secret Chiss base under the frozen lake he’d be willing to part with it.  I really don’t know WHY he wants the location of the Chiss base.  I mean, yea, in general the Imperials and the Chiss don’t see eye to eye out of just generic xenophobia and racism, but Davos himself has never expressed a burning hatred for the Chiss.  But if you don’t mind selling out your new pals secrets you can walk away with the Starbreeze with no mess.  Well, almost.  As you finish up, Temple will show up and regardless of what you chose to do pretty much all the Chiss are dead and Temple is injured.  You bring her along with you on the Starbreeze to the meet up with Hunter who poses as Minder-Seventeen.  The “Minder” suggests that Raina should be promoted for her actions and then asks to speak to you in private.

Hunter tells you that Raina needs to die.

You can try to defend her and Hunter will sympathize or you can agree and Hunter will just mock you saying that you don’t really want to and that you want to keep her like a lost puppy.  Honestly, it seems like this was another moment where they originally planned on letting you kill her off permanently early in the game’s design but changed it later because the ‘I agree, let’s kill her. Oh no, you don’t want to do that.’ thing comes off terribly forced and completely out of left field. In the end, you get a new companion in the form of Ensign Raina Temple who is nice and serves as something of a protege to you, learning the ways of the Agent to be more like her father who was a Cipher as well.  However, Hunter does use that damn code phrase again and puts a command in your head that if Raina becomes a problem or learns of the SIS’s involvement at all that she is immediately terminated.

As you get back on the ship, you receive a call from Ardun Kothe.  He is happy with you.  Which is… yay?  He says that Hunter gives you high praise which is a feat in itself.  Not really considering he just mind controlled me into doing what he wanted.  Kothe says it is time for the final phase.  He wants you to meet him on a death trap of a planet called Quesh.  I er… uh…  never heard of it?  I certainly have no connection to a group of dead Republic miners or anything.  Oh! Also, if you happen to be a Chiss Imperial Agent, Aristocra Saganu will contact you and make you an honorary member of his house in the Ascendancy. That’s nice of him.

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Finale

When you reach Quesh, Ardun has you meet up at a facility called ‘The Shadow Arsenal’.  There in a group holocall wit Hunter, Wheel, Saber and Ardun, it’s explained that the Shadow Arsenal houses 200 stealth rockets with built-in hyperdrives to allow them to jump right to their destination and explode, and one single rocket carries a payload big enough to level Kaas City. The Arsenal was developed by Doctor Godera and a team of other scientists during the last war, but the cowards grew a conscious about their actions and sealed the whole project away on Quesh.  Kothe has been seeking out a way to find the Shadow Arsenal and wants to use it to win the war.  The Ultrawave Transmitter on Taris had Godera’s signature activation codes built into it and then the Starbreeze had the coordinates of where the Arsenal got stashed.  With both in hand, Ardun Kothe has the keys to the cookie jar.

Hunter starts assigning tasks to the team.  Your job is just to deactivate the shields around the place so they can land and load up the missiles.  Oh and to make sure of it, after everyone else disconnects from the call, Hunter uses the code phrase again to implant the order to open the shields and do everything you can to ensure the SIS claims the Shadow Arsenal.  That prick.  You infiltrate the facility and find a security station to deactivate the shields.  Easy.  Now you just go and… wait.  Oh.  Kothe calls you before you can do anything and while they are loading up the weapons.  He uses the code phrase to force you to stay behind while they leave with everything.  Kothe wants you back in Intelligence for a few months laying low until they call upon you again.  The voice of Watcher X chimes in once more to tell you that they are abandoning you and that the time has come to break the programming.  Oh sure, there’s a risk it could put you in a vegetative state, but there’s not exactly a lot of time here. Watcher X asks if you want anything else to be done with your programming which gives you the choice of ‘having payback’, ‘being free’ or ‘break the limits of your body’.  Beyond a line of dialogue, I don’t think this actually does anything.  I do wonder what your companion thinks of their boss talking to no one in particular about all of this.  They just kind of stand there.  Ultimately, the programming is changed and you will no longer accept any outside commands from anyone.  Now the real mission begins.

You head into the Arsenal proper and find Wheel and Saber handling the automated droid security inside to cover Kothe.  They’re shocked to find you there since you were just ordered to stay put.  You can bluff them into appealing to let you help Kothe and letting the pair live – Wheel will even give you some extra supplies for it – or you can just kill them.  After dealing with them, it’s time for the primary objective: Deal with Kothe.  You find him opening the vaults of the Shadow Arsenal and deactivating the security turrets.  A massive room full of some of the deadliest weapons that were ever created.  You confront Kothe, who reveals that the SIS tactician was once a Jedi who couldn’t bring himself to live up to the Code.  He pulls out his lightsaber and attacks you. You fight until you either kill him or seal him inside the vault and let the turrets blow him to pieces.  There’s also apparently a ‘good ending’ to this section where you let Kothe live.  I was never able to find the dialogue option to get that but I will say that it does open another ending at the end of Chapter 3 if you do. So be on the look out if you want the ‘True Light Side’ ending?

The story isn’t over yet though.  As you are leaving you get a holocall from Hunter.  He laments that you managed to break out your programming and that while he was done with Kothe, he still had big plans for you.  He notes that in the end, history will forget about ‘Imperial Intelligence’ and ‘Republic Strategic Information Service’ and now history will also forget you since he called in some bombers to blow the entire Shadow Arsenal sky high.  Before you flee, you ask Hunter who he REALLY works for and he just smiles and notes, “The Winning Side.”

Final Thoughts

Chapter Two is a complete mind #%$& of a story.  It’s more than just ‘you are brainwashed and must do as your told’ but also shows the effects of your mental state deteriorating as you start seeing hallucinations and hearing voices,  and then to actually take the whole thing further and use the fourth wall breaking technique of using the games own dialogue system and choices to emphasize the mind control aspect.  Giving you three choices of different things you can say and then disregarding your choice to reply in the same stock monotone phrase when prompted is just chilling to me every time it happens.  That kind of stuff doesn’t happen anywhere else in the game.  It makes the lack of free will personal to you the player as much as it does to the character, because you actual FEEL the frustration of being aware of making a choice and having your choice disregarded because of an outside force controlling you.  As Watcher X mentions, the programming affects your actions and responses, but not your mind. When you choose a dialogue option, your character is thinking that and trying to say that but the Castellan Restraint is overriding it.

Speaking of Watcher X, his role was primarily the biggest let down of the whole chapter (which is saying a lot because it’s not even BAD as much as confusing).  Not so much what he does but what he doesn’t do – that being explaining what the hell he is doing there.  It’s left frustratingly vague why Watcher X of all people becomes your mental guide through breaking your chains.  Is he just a fragment of your mind trying to help you piece yourself together?  Is it actually something to do with Watcher X’s implant as a back up plan from Nar Shadaa?  I’m more inclined to say the former than the latter because after this he never shows up again.  Oh no, instead we get to deal with Hunter and his true employer from here on out and THAT will be fun indeed.

We also meet two more companions over the course of the chapter and while I jest about them quite a bit, they at least have interesting personalities.  Lokin is a seasoned veteran of Imperial Intelligence, he almost comes across as a Watcher X type but with an actual personality.  He is actually a great adviser on matters of espionage and counter-espionage which makes him a good teammate with Vector who knows people and how to be diplomatic through tricky situations.  It’s easy to see why the two are often found chatting away. Raina Temple on the other hand is the fresh faced new recruit despite not being either.  She is part Elara Dorne (Trooper), part Nadia Grell (Consular).  A firm believer in the Empire but eager about becoming an Imperial Agent to serve it better.  Her own storyline gets more into what that means as her own secrets force her hand and seem to maybe jade her a bit to the idea.  The romance gets somewhat into the creepy teacher-student thing but is less squicky than the Jedi romances.  I’d say it’s more of a tutor/student situation.  Which I guess is better?  Eh, at least Kaliyo is still an option if that’s not your cup of tea.

Unlike a lot of Chapter Two’s in these class stories where the entire point is to set up the third chapter the same way that the prologue sets up Chapter One, the Imperial Agent’s second chapter acts as a bridge that connect the first and third chapters.  It’s made very clear that the situation you are in is the result of your actions in the first chapter, and will adapt itself properly depending on how that chapter ended (either by stopping or joining Jadus) but then also introduces you to the primary villain of the third chapter and starts the bigger mystery of the storyline.  On top of that, it actually begins to tie in other things from some of the other storylines – namely the Jedi Knight’s visit to Taris.  That’s where you first meet Doctor Godera who has gone into exile out of guilt for his creations made for the Republic during the war.  These creations were various doomsday weapons that the Knight must stop or retrieve.  It’s safe to say that the Shadow Arsenal were among these weapons that were clearly better hidden.  However, this also may explain some of Watcher One’s interests in finding Doctor Godera during that story as well.  The Shadow Arsenal may also have been what The General was referring to with ‘Missiles that could blacken out a sun’ during the Black Talon flashpoint.

Overall, I’d say that despite a couple of hiccups, this is probably the BEST chapter two experience in the game in terms of both story and a willingness to shake things up and offer a mind blowingly unique experience.

<– Chapter One || IMPERIAL AGENT || Chapter Three –>

SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Imperial Agent – Chapter One

<– Prologue || IMPERIAL AGENT || Chapter Two –>

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the first chapter of the Imperial Agent storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  To see a spoiler-free summary of the storyline please check this page instead.

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The hunt is on the find ‘The Eagle’ and all his little terrorist buddies across the Galaxy.  But before that can start, you’ve been called to a special meeting, with a special little insane someone.  That someone would be Darth Jadus’ daughter – Darth Zhorrid.  She has taken her late father’s seat on the Dark Council and she’s not about to give it up to anyone.  Of course, she also delights in being an utter disappointment to her daddy.  Where Jadus was cool, calculated, and seethed with a undercurrent of hate, Zhorrid is just plain batty.  She sics her guards on you as soon as you walk in the door, then giggles when you kill them for instance.  She comes off as completely insane right at the go and worse yet, you HAVE to work for her.  She demands it.  Of course, even that isn’t simple because while she is fine with you running around and going pew pew with terrorists, she wants you to also find the REAL killers of her father.  Which in her head are decidedly not the terrorist but some vast conspiracy within the Dark Council.  She wants that dealt with.  Not for revenge on her father though. Oh no.  But because she REAAALLY likes having his seat on the Dark Council and doesn’t want anyone to try and oust her.  With that demand given, she shoos you on your way where Watcher Two drops your next assignment – destroy the terrorist cells on Balmorra and Nar Shadaa.

And since this is the last time I will be talking about a ‘Chapter One’ story…  what the heck is the point of giving you both of these at the same time?  They do the same thing with Alderaan and Tatooine.  Watcher Two even mentions to handle the order you do them in “your discretion” BUT there’s a clear leveling curve to the game.  The enemies on Nar Shadaa are several levels higher than Balmorra.  You are meant to do them in order, but then they hand you both quests and say “Do them in any order” but you CAN’T.  I dunno. That irritated me all the way back in Beta and I just wanted that off my chest.

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Balmorra

The war torn planet of Balmorra is just ripe for trouble.  It’s not exactly a shock that the first terrorist cell would turn up here.  Actually what’s more surprising is that it’s just a singular terrorist cell.  The Eagle could probably have the entire resistance and the Republic “defectors” in his back pocket. Instead, it’s just one dude named Gray Star and his team.  Aside from the fact that Gray Star sounds like a character on some weird SatAM space western cartoon, this should be cake, right?

Well your first job is to get in touch with your local contact in Imperial Intelligence who hangs out in the office of a warehouse.  He points you to HIS inside man who has already infiltrated the Resistance – one Sanju Pyne.  You go and get the official introduction with the Resistance’s number two: Chemish Or (Her last name drove me nuts, because the quest instructions always say ‘Return to Chemish Or’ and EVERY SINGLE TIME I immediately asked in my head ‘Or what?’ before it finally dawned on me at the end of my third playthrough that it was her name).  She wants you to do a quick job to run over to the Droid Factory and snag a crate of power cores.  Depending on your conversation options, Chemish can be quite upfront with you about what they’re for – turning them into explosives to blow up Sobrik, the Imperial town on Balmorra.

Honestly, this is probably one of the more annoying missions here simply because it uses one of those big square rooms with a pit that you have to fight around clockwise to reach the destination (it pops up a few places in the game, and I always hate it) but you eventually find the power cores and get contacted by Sanju.  Sanju warns you that a lot of innocent imperials will die if you hand back those power cores but he suggests a way that there is no possible means to detect foul play but render them harmless.  Stick them in a giant magnet.  Okay, not really but that is pretty much the idea. You run the crate through the machine and it fries all the cores.  This is your Light Side option and the results work out in your favor.  Kind of?  Sure, Chemish is still super suspicious but there’s nothing she can pin directly on you. Even her own people attest that the cores are old and could have failed at any time.  The dark side option of course is just bringing Chemish the cores.  She pretty much trusts you that point.

How you chose to resolve the last mission determines how the next one begins.  Either you are in the doghouse with Chemish and get one last chance to prove yourself, or she has a vital mission for her new cohort.  The job is pretty much just ‘Go into a cave and download some data before wiping it’ but the complication comes in the form of the entire place being gassed with toxins that either drove the terrorists insane or just killed them.  So you get to fight your way through to get the data.  Again though, Sanju calls in with some brilliant advice.  You should send him a copy of all the data so he can make sure that the Imperial spies on the list can all get extra protection or removed from the planet.  Which you know, won’t be suspicious at all.  I’m starting to think that Sanju is trying to get me killed.  But it turns out I’m wrong.  See, if you give them the data you are immediately make Chemish’s ‘suspect list’ but you are given a dark side option to instead throw Sanju under the bus and blame him for it all to keep your cover.  Which may seem cruel, but if you don’t give Sanju the data, he’ll try and duplicate the list on his own and start sending off protection anyway and he will be killed by the Terrorist Cell (or you) when you return to their secret base.

So at this point, you are either on the Cell’s bad side or their star quarterback (or um… a midfielder I guess for anyone outside of the states?) regardless there will be one final super-special-awesome mission that only you have the skills to complete.  So of course the game disregards your choices, right? Well, not exactly but we’ll get to that in a moment.  The mission is to break out an unknown terrorist cell member from the Republic base holed up in the Balmorran Arms Factory.  To do this you need to find said agent, deliver a package as well as coordinates to a safe house.  Now when you arrive, provided he is still alive Sanju will contact you to reveal that this ‘agent’ is actually Gray Star himself, and Sanju has a plan to divert Gray Star to a different safe house where he can be apprehended by the Empire with Sanju replacing him and sending out dummy orders that essentially turn the cell into an unwilling arm of the Empire.  This is probably Sanju’s best plan yet, but it can only come about if you make all the right choices leading up to this point (Light Side at the ‘Get the List’ mission, don’t take the dark side to sacrifice Sanju) otherwise you’re only real option is to just kill Gray Star and make a split back to Sobrik for debriefing.  When you get back to the ship, Watcher Two contacts you to update you that they have intercepted terrorist information that refer to a mysterious new weapon called “Eradicators”.

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Nar Shadaa

Our next stop is Shadowtown in Nar Shadaa, an Imperial prison for dissidents that need to just be tossed someplace to rot away the years.  Our contact here is in the high security cells and goes by the name ‘Watcher X’.  X was imprisoned when he went mad and starting becoming more and more paranoid and making strange connections claiming conspiracies everywhere.  But  he’s still trustworthy as a former Watcher he has the sensation of physical pain when he disobeys are an order from a superior (part of the Watcher genetic programming and training) and if that doesn’t do it, he also has a bomb lodged in his head.  So you know, incentive to not mess around.  That doesn’t mean it’s not risky because Watcher X is a genius and been playing the game a lot longer than you have, as demonstrated by his ability to walk you through the steps of sizing him, the room, and the situation up when you first meet.  Watcher X gives you the run down of the situation: the terrorists are manufacturing and testing a new genetic modification called ‘Cyclone’ that enhances the users speed and agility allowing anyone off the street to become a natural assassin.  Downside is that the stuff is lethal, it will burn you up from the inside not long after injecting it.  You need to shut down the manufacture and distribution of this stuff to cripple a potent tool of the terrorists.

Watcher X however will need a sample of the drug in order to track down its maker.  This can be done by getting a sample of the stuff or having it in the bloodstream by getting it injected.  He points you to a genetic modification black market dealer that would probably have connections and then offers to make it more convincing as a buyer by injecting you with a toxin that will temporarily mimic genetic damage (No, I don’t know how that’s possible. It’s science. I don’t have to explain it.)  You can take the shot and it will give you a better ‘in’ with the buyer if you plan to go the peaceful route, yet sadly the dealers (a brother and sister pair) tell you that they just sold their last vial of cyclone to some evocii (The natives from Hutta).  If really play up the fake the weak and broken act though, you’ll get some extra dialogue from Kaliyo.  You then can track down the evocii dead in an alleyway and extract a blood sample.  Of course, if you want to go the dark side route with this you’ll quickly find out that those sibling dealers were lying as after you blast their kneecaps and say some nice threatening words, they’ll take you for a slaver and hand over anything you want to leave them alone – including a vial of cyclone.

The next bit of the mission has Watcher X sending you to Duros to find a Bio-scanner in an old lab.  This will lead you to discover the…  /sigh ‘genetic markings’ identify that the company who produced it is called Synchet.  Synchet however went out of business five years ago. Luckily there’s a former Synchet executive holed up still here on Nar Shadaa in a palatial casino suite that no one but his droids (and his one non-droid assistant) can gain access to.  What you need again is an ‘in’, something to make this guy – Jordel Tlan – NEED you.  Watcher X’s suggestion?  Poison him.  Use the chemicals in the lab with the bio-scanner and whip something up, then give it to a drink delivery droid and enjoy.  Or I suppose if you didn’t want to be needlessly cruel (although not earning Dark Side points), you could just convince Netula, the assistant, to let you speak to Tlan by telling her to tell him it’s about Cyclone.  There’s that I suppose.  But really it’s much more fun to watch the fat jerk squirm a bit while you interrogate him and dangle the antidote like a juicy bait.  Either way will net you the intel you want:  VerveGen, the subsidiary of Synchet that dealt with genetic mods, was sold off in the liquidation years ago to an anonymous buyer who paid in cash.  Well if that ain’t a big yellow “TERRISTS IZ HUR” sign, I dunno what is.  Tlan points you to the VerveGen offices in upper Nar Shadaa where Watcher X has you hack into the HoloNet around the area because he’s blockaded from doing so.

You head back to Shadowtown to meet with X who has discovered a rather large deal is about to go down for a batch of Cyclone.  Undoubtedly, the terrorist cell leaders will be in attendance and thus security will be higher than ever and all employees dismissed early for the day.  The only ones permitted to enter or exit will be the mindless droids.  Which thankfully Watcher X wants to turn you into.  Okay not really, but he does want to stick implants into that will fool any sensors as well as project a hard light holoprojection giving you the appearance of a droid.  He offers to give you anesthesia to knock you out for the surgery but you can refuse to let yourself be unconscious around Watcher X and get the implants put it while fully awake and not numbed up at all.   You make it into the VerveGen offices no problem and can sit in on the meeting with the local terror cell leaders on HoloCall with The Eagle, and you are given ample chances to ‘spring the trap’ and announce your presence or just keep waiting until they all start wondering why the heck there’s a droid standing behind them.  If you wait, you’ll get the option of letting the non-terrorists corporate flunkies go for some Light Side points.  Then you fight!  Afterwards, you find the sole survivor – a cyborg – shivering on the ground and you get the moral choice of either letting Watcher X hack his brain or convincing him to confess in exchange for his safety.  Either way, you get your final target now that the leaders are dead: a massive communications hub used to schedule meets and drop offs with other terrorist cell members.

The adventure on Nar Shadaa ends with you destroying the massive array which sends a ripple effect across the HoloNet and glitches out systems planet-wide… including the Shadowtown prison complex.  Yeah, you get a call from Watcher X right after who explains that yes, he has escaped.  Yes, this was his plan since the moment you stepped into his cell.  But the whole thing was mutually beneficially.  He asks you to lie to Intelligence about his escape and in exchange will give you a ton of intel on everything from Watcher Two and her mental conditioning to Kaliyo’s full background and all known aliases.  A tempting offer really without much time to decide since his call is nearly interrupted by Watcher Two’s.  If you choose to confess that Watcher X escaped, you are tasked with hunting him down at the spaceport and eliminating him.  Otherwise, well, good job agent. Head back to your ship. Job is done.  Oh and Kaliyo thinks you’re a coward.

Interlude

Did I say we were done with Nar Shadaa? I’m sorry. I meant Darth Zhorrid is here to be a pain in the patoot and send us right back there.  Oh yes, how could we have forgotten our new dark lord Darth Zhorrid?  She is most cross with us for failing to find Jadus’ REAL assassins.  Not those silly terrorists, but the Dark Council members who are planning to usurp Zhorrid as well! Of course!  But the Darth has a job for you to redeem yourself with.  Go back to Nar Shadaa, find this guy named Vyord Yanol who used to be an advisor of Darth Jadus, and drag him back to Zhorrid so she can extract all of her daddy’s secrets from the “force-blind” (which I can’t help but feel is some manner of slur in this context, like mudblood or muggle) in exchange for a pat on the head.  Or you can kill him and get slapped in the face.  Also, fun fact about this interlude:  If you do the mission normally, you find that Zhorrid’s office is covered in corpses from people she’s been torturing to make ‘music’ (Why do the good Darth’s all die and we get stuck with fruitcakes?) but if you make mention of blaming Keeper in the dialogue with Zhorrid at the start of the mission, you’ll arrive at the end to Keeper being tortured by Zhorrid instead.  After that, Watcher Two contacts you with another clue about the Eradicator weapons:  the terrorists want to “burn the galaxy” with them and they require targeting codes.  My guess is either a satellite or an internet mob.

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Tatooine

Tatooine is home to a terrorist cell called the ‘Ghost Cell’ due to their expertise in stealth and infiltration.  Watcher Two directs you to a recent defector from the cell who left as a ‘matter of conscience’ who will only meet you in person.  You then get in touch with them from holocall terminal.  Not entirely sure that this person knows what “in person” means.  She asks you to destroy the Imperial but easily hackable holocam droids all over the city and then trade them to a junk dealer who will give you a mouse droid for them.  In your confusion about the trade, the mouse droid rushes off and you chase it to your meet location.  Where the defector gasses the room and then points a gun at your head.  Ah, isn’t a government job grand? Once its clear who you are and that neither party was followed, she apologizes and introduces herself as Mia Hawkins.  Mia is a former resistance fighter against the Empire turned member of the Ghost Cell who left the cell when they started kidnapping civilians to use as ‘target practice’.  She explains that the cell is insanely difficult to track because not only are they stealthy masters-of-disguise, they have hard-light holoprojectors that allow them to look like anyone.  Crazy? Not really when you pulled the exact same stunt to pass off as a droid not one planet ago.  The Cell is instructed by an individual simply called ‘The Old Man’ who carries out his teaching in ‘The Village’ (Not associated with M. Knight Shammylammy). Unfortunately, despite fleeing from there, Mia has no idea how to reach the Village.  But she does know that there is a supplier that hangs out in the local cantina called ‘Dragon Eyes’.  She suggests tagging suspicious people with trackers and then follow anyone that heads off when you announce you are looking for Dragon Eyes.  Sure enough, Mia lets you know that she’s got the beat on a rodian who rushed off right after, but also that you have Ghost Cell assassins tailing you.  Mia says she’ll go after the rodian, and directs you to a windfarm to deal with the assassins and… uh… hide the bodies afterward.  Well, at least there’s an honest understanding between the two of you.

When you reach the wind farm and clear out the former inhabitants (Tusken Raiders, nothing lost) and set up some traps to blow up the assassins.  After which, Mia shows up!  She even starts to flirt with you some.  How nice of her.  And not suspicious at all that you said you were going to tail a rodian but are instead here and suddenly have become very attracted to me and oh gee is that your knife impaling my gut?  Yea, if you don’t call her out on being a fake she stabs and poisons you.  It’s actually one last assassin using that holographic disguise mentioned earlier.  So you really don’t have an excuse to fall for this one.  I mean, your not the Sith Inquisitor. HA.  Meanwhile, the REAL Mia has tracked down Dragon Eyes who turns out is actually a goon for the Exchange named Milosh Varta.  You head up to his home to find he’s not there, just his wife is home.  And some of you right now are realizing the dire consequences that sentence poses especially in the wake of the ‘hiding the bodies’ comment and you would not be wrong.  Indeed there are a variety of ways you can deal with Varta’s wife: you can force her to leave, you can force her to stay and then threaten and/or harm her to gain leverage or you can just kill her as a message to Milosh that you are not messing around.   When Milosh finally comes home, the pay out of your previous action comes full circle with the addition of a few more things like blackmail or bribing Milosh into helping. In the end the result is pretty much always being that Milosh tells you that he has no idea where The Village is and that he leaves the supplies in crates in the desert to be picked up.  When you return to Mia, you find that she has fled offworld knowing that no matter how things went down, you’d be forced to eliminate her as well.  Aww.  And we were having a nice/vaguely threatening relationship depending on which characters I was playing.  She sent all her intel files to Keeper though.  That’s nice.

So you hide in a box in the middle of the desert only to be whisked away to the far corner of the map. You fight through the Village to finally find the Old Man… and Mia.  Apparently they used the holographic disguise to pose as some Imperials and arrested her.  Apparently, Mia was part of the Old Man’s Big Plan (which would be a good name for this episode) in which he singled out Mia as the most likely to defect and ultimately lure an Imperial Agent out to the middle of nowhere to get killed and replaced by a Ghost Cell holo-disguised doppelganger.  Which I would criticize as a plan where a lot of things could go wrong, but at the same time it actually worked out for him and I came. So uh… who’s the real fool?  Anyway, you fight the Old Man and his team and then get a light/dark choice that ultimately doesn’t matter because if you don’t kill him, he’ll just kill himself.  Then you can deal with Mia by either: letting her go, asking her to surrender, or just kill her.  And that’s another cell wrapped up.  Back on the ship, Watcher Two has another update.  Intelligence had a failed raid on the Eagle’s base of operations.  They found the place trashed and the Eagle already gone.  However they have gained new intelligence on the ‘Eradicators’.  They are techno-organic weapons with organic batteries fitted inside a weaponized technological shell and that means the terrorists can grow more wherever they have land to grow crops.  That’s bad.  Yea, we’ll go with ‘bad’ for that news.

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Alderaan

Last we have Alderaan, home of the never ending dumb politics.  Here we are supposed to make contact with a man named Vector Hyllus who has been absorbed into the hive mind of the local insectoids, the Killiks.  He will hopefully provide direction to a financier of the noble houses that has been funneling money to the Eagle’s terrorist network.  Vector is our first new companion since we met Kaliyo way back on Hutta, and he’s also the female agent love interest.  He’s apparently also quite popular with the ladies?  I know of several people I’ve met online over the years that profess to adore the bugboy but honestly I always found him a bit off putting.  He’s kind and curteous as would be expected of a diplomat but everything is coated in this veneer of ‘not right’ that comes from his Killik joining.  Be it the black eyes, the tendency to refer to the first person as ‘We’ instead of ‘I’, or just the weird offhand comments about the songs and colors of the universe…  Vector always strikes me as a guy who is one secret away from being a stereotypical serial killer. As opposed to Kaliyo who is possibly an actual serial killer.  Anyway, Vector informs you that based on the documents he was given, the financier deals with a large number of Alderaan’s noble houses including House Cortess who is a vassal of the Imperial aligned House Thul.  He mentions that would be a good place to start your trail and then gives some tips on how to approach them (like show strength, be courteous, and DO NOT MENTION YOU ARE FROM IMPERIAL INTELLIGENCE.)

House Cortess follows in the same vein as pretty much every other house on Alderaan: They like to make you work for it.  Favors, go here, go there.  For instance, before Cortess even lets you in the door, you have to go and find their droids that disappeared.  Not even their men.  DROIDS.  Then you get to meet the Baron and Baroness who have nothing more than a name to give you: Denri Ayl. The one person that seems to fit the profile given to you by Vector.  But Denri has been missing for months, and no one knows where he went.  The Baron assures you he will do his best to find it, but it’s probably not best to rely on the guy who lost droids five minutes from his front door, so we should probably check in with Vector again.  Luckily, the Killiks come through using their weird hive mind thing.  They ‘remember’ a member of House Alde who had dealing with Denri Ayl and that the House had extensive records kept their.  This leads you to break into the massive estate of House Alde and find Ayl’s journal in their databanks.  There you have some insight into what Ayl has been doing:  he brokered a deal with the Mindak family on Dromund Kaas (See: The Prologue),  helped set up a construction effort in the Broken Valley on Balmorra, and also meetings with individuals only referred to as “C” and “EE” that warn him away from dealing with House Thul (who has Imperial ties) just before the Jadus assassination.  Hmm.  Presenting these and more to Vector allows you to confirm that yes, it appears Denri Ayl bankrolled the terrorist attack on the Eradicator.

Taking the info you’ve gathered to the Baron will also net you an additional clue as he assembles your intel with his vaguely never defined gathered intel (my guess is that it’s actually nothing and he’s just reading the documents you have with local knowledge in mind), and he tells you that it appears that Denri’s last dealings were sending him to House Rist – likely for protection – and that since they are a house of assassins and thugs that you should avoid them and just wait for Denri to finish his dealings there. Should only be a month or two.  Which is kind of a no go.  Then the Baron’s wife – Chay – chats with you after her husband leaves.  She confides inn you that she believes you can turn the tide and show the other noble houses not to fear Rist.  Also she tries to seduce you.  For some reason.  I mean you can take her up on it.  It doesn’t really change anything from I can tell.  Just happens.

The trip to Rist is a pain in the rear – dealing with Rist always is in these missions.  Who the heck builds their home in a single long winding corridor? I get the whole Rist = Hiss sound alike and poison assassins thing but you don’t have to make your home into a giant snake too.  Anyway, you finally find Denri Ayl there and he taunts you saying that he knew you were coming and that you have his files before sending Rist goons at you while he runs away.  You kill a bunch of faceless mooks and then fight Denri proper to be given the choice to: Dark Side – Kill him OR Light Side – Offer to help and then have him die anyway.  These Light Side options don’t ever seem to work out in this storyline, do they? Well maybe his computer will have some info.  Oh lookie he had a phone call just before we got there. With Baroness Chay Cortess.  She cheated on my cheating with her! Or something.  Well perhaps we should just have a chat about that in person and see what she has to say about- oh.  We’re not allowed in anymore?  Siccing the attack droids on us?  Do they shoot bees?  Or is that Vector? Speaking of Bugboy, he’s got a plan to get us into House Cortess – break the generators using “fingerlings” (small killiks who nest on the fingers of big killiks. Which is disgusting. And creepy.)

Once the generators are blown, it’s back one last time to House Cortess to “visit” that is to say team up with the Killiks to completely rip apart their defenses until you get inside.  There you find the Baron and his wife arguing about what she has done.  The Baroness defends her actions as doing what was necessary to protect House Cortess’ interests which confuses me a bit.  Which part was protecting their interests? Joining forces with a faction of Anti-Imperial Terrorists? Sending a representative of the Empire to their deaths and then threatening them directly when they returned alive? Seducing you?  What part of any of this actually would have helped House Cortess in the long run?  You are a vassal of House Thul who is aligned with the Empire.  Your estate is literally adjacent to Thul’s territory.  There is no way this ends well for you.  The Baron seems very much aware of the utter stupidity his wife has committed and has her killed right in front of you to prove his loyalty.  However regardless of if view this as unnecessary, sufficient, or not enough it doesn’t matter. The Killiks want their share for helping out in this plot too and they’ve decided that they want House Cortess’ lands and estate for the expansion of their nest.  That means the er… ‘removal’ of the former residents by some means.  This is where it falls down to you to make the choice.  You can choose to defend House Cortess right after they put you through hell and tried to have you killed, thus having to fight several waves of Killiks and making Vector betray the nest out of loyalty to the Empire or you can give the killiks what they want and kill the remaining members of House Cortess who would rather die than have ‘bugs’ live on their land (It was established on the annoying droid mission way way waay at the start that Cortess dislikes the Killiks to the point of being borderline racist about it.)  Once the decision is made and the battle won, it’s time to send off the Baroness’ files back to the Watchers to comb over and to get off this planet.  Keeper contacts you to let you and Vector know that he has contacted the Diplomatic Service to have Vector permenantly reassigned to your command.

OH! And fun side note, after the Vector recruitment cutscene you can run back inside House Cortess.  If you gave the place to the Killik’s they’ve already begun converting the place into a hive.  Just a little easter egg that I missed the first few times.

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Finale

Back on your ship, there’s an emergency call from Watcher Two: They’ve tracked down The Eagle to a swamp on Hutta.  You take off and head into the base, fighting your way to the rear where you find The Eagle letting his people know that they need to scour the swamps for something.  As soon as they leave, he reveals that he knows you are there and the mission was a pointless errand to spare them from you.  The Eagle then waxes on and on about the growing revolution and how the rebellion won’t stop regardless of what ever you do to him. Typically freedom fighter rhetoric.  However there are a few bits of info that he will drop that is useful to know.  Namely that the Eradicators that have already been launched will not be stopped by killing him.  They are designed to just start randomly blasting things if they don’t get orders after so long.  Also that The Eagle has an accomplice, a mysterious partner that has aided him from within the Empire and provided him with the technology for the Eradicators.  The Eagle only holds half the codes for the Eradicators, and the unknown partner holds the other half. The battle with The Eagle is short and ends explosively as the terrorists seems to prefer taking himself out with a thermal detonator than be taken captive.  In the wake of the explosion, Watcher Three arrives with a team of soldiers to confirm the Eagle’s claims. The Eradicators will begun randomly blowing stuff up unless you find the mysterious partner and their half of the code.

Back on Dromund Kaas, Keeper has called a meeting with you and Watcher Two.  An operation to start dismantling Eradicators is underway based on the unlaunched one you found on Hutta, but the projections aren’t looking good.  It would take up to weeks to find and dismantle them, and there is no way of knowing how long it will be before they activate.  The only sure way to deal with this threat is to find the codes.  Luckily, Watcher Two has been analyzing the transmissions from The Eagle’s base and found a number being sent to the uninhabited Artus System, so that’s where your search will begin.  Before you leave however, Darth Zhorrid would like a word.  You can also have a brief aside and romantic entanglement with Watcher Two before you leave.  You find Zhorrid battered and bruised from going to make a scene at the Dark Council demanding respect and power and the Council in turn decided to kick her Sith butt.  She demands her revenge on the terrorists since they are the ones who put her in this un-respected position before her tutelage under her father & master was complete.  Naturally, you will be the one to do this for her because you are her most trusted agent or the agent who owes her for failing so many times.

When arriving in the Artus System, you find and land on an Imperial Dreadnaught drifting in the depths of space.  You rendexvous with Watcher Two who gives you an ear piece so she can talk to you through the ship.  Then you begin exploring the place.  There’s a bunch of crazed people who will wildly attack you if you get close all over the ship and some brief journal entries that just go to explain exactly how this all ended up being like this: The ships residents began as 100 or so survivors of a year long trip that became a disaster before they were saved and subsequently abducted by one they only refer to as The Master.  The Master subjects the survivors to psychological torture – depriving them of resources, randomly trapping them in darkness for unknown periods of time, and various other stress inducing acts – driving some to insanity, some into gibbering messes of fear, and others into a pure rage.  You eventually find the helm of the ship and find out who the Eagle’s ally, the Imperial Traitor and The Master is:

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That’s right. Darth Jadus.  The Sith whose assassination launched the entire drive to find The Eagle. He apparently faked his death to fall outside of the eyes of both the Empire and the Dark Council, he manipulated and supported the terrorist cells into uniting under the Eagle to manufacture the Eradicators and disperse them across the Empire, and then he drop all his responsibilities onto his inept daughter to ensure that the Dark Council had their hands full dealing with her spoiled tantrums and whiny demands.  Why did he do all this?  To use the Eradicators to annihilate the rest of the Dark Council’s power bases and strongholds, to spread fear of an unknown threat in the sky, and then to return from his self-exile to claim the Empire as his own and begin his ‘Epoch of Fear’.  All he needs now to complete his master plan is you and your half of the codes.

Watcher Two begins crunching the numbers in your ear and laying out the odds of survival in the various possibilities to counter Jadus’ plan.  Watcher Two recommends that you activate the Eradicators just long enough to gain Jadus’ trust and allow you to sabotage the ship so it can’t escape, then trap Jadus in a ray prison until the military arrives.  Of course if you don’t want to risk the few tens or hundreds of thousands of lives that might get wiped out while you handle things in Watcher Two’s plan, there’s the much riskier plan of shutting down the Eradicators completely which will leave you to directly deal with Jadus’ wrath and even if you manage to get away from him, it’s a suicide run to go set the ship to explode and then get off before it does – worse yet, if gives Jadus a chance to escape.  Of course, there’s the third option.  One that I don’t think you can actually do in any of the other storylines: You can join Jadus.  Yea.  Sign on with the villain.  We are talking about a man who wants to disable the Imperial’s obsession with a hierarchy of lineage and power and establish equality for all under a regime of eternal fear and terror.  Especially if you’re an alien in Imperial Intelligence I can’t say that would sound horrible.  I mean, your treated like scum despite being the secret police.  Watcher Two will protest, but if you agree with the “bad guy” you can by all means join him.  If you do, you won’t have to scramble across the ship, you can rat out Watcher Two in the hanger, and Darth Jadus names you his “Hand” (Formally, The Hand of Jadus) and sends you to Dromund Kaas while his Eradicators rain down destruction to clear up his chair – in other words he wants you to kill Darth Zhorrid.

The first chapter pretty much ends right after the mission.  Either Jadus is arrested, Jadus escapes or you serve Jadus.  The eradicators either did no destruction, minimally acceptable destruction, or ALL the destruction.  Now, of course, what becomes of you from some of these choices…  well, well see when we get our next big mission in Chapter Two.

Thoughts

The Imperial Agent story has been compared to James Bond in a favorable sense, and this is the chapter where quite honestly it probably shows that the best.  You are traveling around the galaxy in pursuit of an evil organization bent on destroying your government, and you have to infiltrate, sneak, lie and kill your way to success.  Each planet brings a little bit of something different to the formula, from working under cover to infiltrate the cell on Balmorra to dealing with a dangerous rogue agent on Nar Shadaa to having to work with the enemy on Tatooine.  Honestly, of any of the worlds it’s Alderaan that is probably the weakest.  I mean no one’s motivation is explored or even makes a lot of sense.  The secret intel you get from the financier does very little to give insight to the plans even once you know the truth of the ending.

Speaking of the ending, I will say that I am NEVER going to get tired of that twist.  Even more so than the first time I saw it, which had my jaw on the floor, the second and third times I had the fun of actually getting to see exactly how much of that twist is set up in advance.  Oh and it is.  The first time I saw it did seem to come out of left field, but damn there is PLENTY of hinting in the Prologue about what Jadus is planning to do. All his talk of the democratization of fear and showing people his new vision of the galaxy.  Yeah, that’s this.  That is exactly what the Terrorists are doing.  They are democratizing fear.  How did Jadus survive? Well, he knew the attack was coming.  He was the one commanding the terrorists.  That’s also why he would do seemingly stupid things like demand that one lone agent be sent to stop them in the Dark Temple instead of squad.  He wanted you specifically – his chosen – to see his machinations.  Jadus was evil, but a genius as well.  Heck, I was honestly expecting that The Eagle didn’t even really exist outside of holo-broadcasts.  Then the fact that you can actually join him?!  Oh man, how different would that be if the Jedi Knight could chose to join Darth Angral at the end of Chapter One?  Or have the Trooper realize that Tavus was right and go rogue?  That’s pretty much what this story is offering you.

Now is the first chapter flawless? Naw. There’s little bumps and problems here or there. The interlude mission here is pretty pointless, then again it’s a job for Zhorrid so isn’t that just par for the course.  The characterization can seem weird on some of the NPCs, especially the one-world-only characters.  Darth Zhorrid pretty much only exists to be annoying and make you hate working with the Sith that rule over you, and then she just vanishes from the story completely without closure unless you chose the join Jadus and kill her.  Supposedly she comes back to play in one of the six endings of Chapter Three as the founder of Sith Intelligence, but she has no affect on the rest of the story.  The Intelligence team however is given a lot of time to shine and get to know them, I had no issue recalling Watcher Three when he came back at the end of the Eagle’s base, Watcher Two is a great character as well as Keeper.  The only new companion you get here is Vector, and as I said before I have never been a fan of the bug man.  Though to be fair, I think that was part of his design.  He seems to be very ‘alien’ in a Lovecraftian sense in terms of what he says, how he speaks and of course those pure black eyes.  More power to you if you like the guy, but honestly I think he fits in more with the ‘In the Mouth of Madness’ crew than on my ship.

I will say that just like the prologue before it, this chapter does a wonderful job of setting up things of whats to come.  From plot elements that will become more relevant further down the line, to just setting the tone of mistrust and deception that oozes from every chapter of this story.  This isn’t the Jedi where good and evil are oh so easy to differentiate and this isn’t the Sith where power plays are these massive spectacles on par with the Red Wedding. This is the world of espionage – and you have no allies here.  Till next time.

<– Prologue || IMPERIAL AGENT || Chapter Two –>

SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Imperial Agent – Prologue

|| IMPERIAL AGENT || Chapter One –>

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the prologue of the Imperial Agent storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  To see a spoiler-free summary of the storyline please check this page instead.

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Welcome to the cleaning crew, Agent.  From this day forth you will have no identity, no friends, and no allegiances to anyone but us.  You are a ghost, a shadow, a passerby that is forgotten as quick as you are seen. Your mission will be to protect the Empire’s interest across the galaxy, to serve the orders of the Sith and to tidy up their messes.  This is your life now, Agent.  Welcome to Imperial Intelligence.

The Imperial Agent is exactly all that and more.  While the bounty hunter claims a paycheck, and the Sith war for power with each other, it’s you that will be behind the scenes of everything, picking up the pieces and ensuring that no matter what happens – the Empire wins.  Imagine James Bond, meets Ghost in the Shell, meets Mission Impossible, meets the Bourne Identity, all tossed in a blender of intrigue and action with a finger fully pressed on frappe. That’s what you are in for.  You’ve probably heard murmurs across the internet about how the Agent story is probably one of the best stories in the game, and this is not blind hyperbole.  But that’s for later, and now you are a fresh faced agent, just created, completely green and arriving on Hutta.  Let me give you the sit rep on the Prologue for the Imperial Agent.

Hutta

Oh of all the places to get stuck on your first mission.  This has got to be some kind of form of Imperial Intelligence hazing.  Hutta, the stinkball, is home to a powerful hutt named Nem’ro.  Nem’ro controls a ton of the resources here, and it’s up to you to secure a partnership with the hutt and the Empire by any means necessary.  Your handler, named “Keeper”, which I guess is supposed to be cute because of the ragged mangy akk dogs we are that we need a keeper not a coordinator or a commander, wants you to secure a new identity from an alien in town and make a good impression with the Hutt-in-charge and get to working on setting up an alliance.  The alien – Jeeg – has the identity of ‘The Red Blade’ set up for you.  It’s the name of a criminal of some renown, no one knows what they look like and the Real Blade is supposed to be on the other side of the galaxy by now.  The only real hiccup with this plan is that a couple of low life parasites made off with the crate of goods you were supposed to present to Nem’ro, so it’s up to you to get them back and get to Nem’ro for a meeting.   The meeting can go well or decent based on your choices really.  Either way you get introduced to several members of Nem’ro’s crew: Karrells the old timer, Kaliyo the muscle, and Tothrezen the…  uh…  dumb one that Nem’ro likes?  Really Toth doesn’t do much other than he’s the current favorite, a complete jerk, and dumber than bricks so Karrells always has to pick up his messes.  Keeper identifies as Karrells as the best target to get buddy buddy with and you go off using a bit of overhead info to help put Karrells back in Nem’ro’s limelight.

How you do that is pretty much taking care of problems for Nem’ro around the planet. Doing things like reclaiming ore from the renegade evocii (the locals that sold their planet to the hutts) that was stolen from Nem’ro’s mines, and breaking into the the rival hutt Fathra’s factory and blowing up a drilling shaft that’s being used to pillage Nem’ro’s gas deposits.  You’ve pretty much ensured yourself a man on the inside with Karrells until a slight problem arises.  Karrells’ kids?  His sons that he won’t shut up about?  Turns out they were just killed.  By a Sith.  So the chances of Karrells being sympathetic to joining the Empire pretty much will be blasted into space as soon as he gets the news.  Thus Karrells turns from your best asset into your biggest liability and we all know what to do with liabilities. Actually, beyond the straight order to just kill Karrells, you can technically just tell him to lay low, get the heck out of town, and not to contact anyone in order to spare his life.  Which seems counter to doing your job, but hey, he was a nice guy for a gang leader murderer thug.

The plan at this point radically shifts as you actually pin the murder of Karrells (or the attack if Karrells hid) on the rival hutt Fathra and using a Republic computer spike so it looks like the Republic and Fathra joined forces to take out Nem’ro.  But Nem’ro needs proof before he goes to war.  You volunteer to find said evidence for justice for poor Karrells (he was your buddy after all. Mwahaha.) and Tothrezen accepts your help.  However, Kaliyo is more suspicious.  She follows you to your room and confronts you about killing Karrells.  Your only choice really is to let her in on the loop because as it turns out – She’s not mad!  She actually wants in on the heist.  So you introduce her to Keeper and he offers her a job working for Imperial Intelligence under your command.  She takes the job under the condition that if Keeper ever refers to her as a loyal servant of the Empire again she’ll break his jaw.  With that settled it’s off to Fathra’s!

The ultimate goal inside the palace is pretty easy.  You kill lieutenants to get their security badges and then download the altered files that show that Fathra has been dealing with the Republic.  Of course, a bunch of Fathra’s goons try to stop you but that really doesn’t slow you down.  The actual choice to the whole thing comes in the form of whether you scorch part of the files or not.  Why?  Well these are all of Fathra’s records.  This shows that Fathra has had dealings with the Republic now, but also that he’s been in cahoots with half of the businesses that work for Nem’ro.  If Nem’ro finds out, Hutta’s gonna run red with blood which will make Nem’ro happy but destroy a lot of his merchant empire on the planet.  So it’s actually a nice real difficult choice.  You risk exposing this whole thing as a scheme if you damage the files, but you protect Nem’ro’s assets or you can just focus on keeping Nem’ro happy and if he slaughters his own city it’s his own dumb fault.  Either way, the records are proof enough that Nem’ro’s hated rival is working with the Republic and that he needs just as much help, so he gets on the holo contacting the Empire for assistance.  Mission complete.  Almost.

It would seem that on your way off world that the actual, real Red Blade is here and he’s not pleased that you’ve been using his identity.  How did he find out?  How did he get here so quick?  I dunno, but I blame Jeeg.  To me though he’s just another loose end to wrap up.  And by that I mean bury in the ground completely.  Or I suppose technically just leaving him dead on the hangar floor.  That works too.

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Dromund Kaas

Welcome to the home world, Agent.  Here you are the secret police and the clean up crew.  Which is a weird position to be in when people are terrified of you and at the same time you have to clean up their messes.  Speaking of messes, no sooner than you arrive at Imperial Intelligence HQ and you bump into Keeper and Darth Jadus himself.  Jadus is a creepy ol’ big sith dude who always wears a mask.  Honestly, he’s probably one of the cooler Sith NPCs in the game.  He’s very philosophical, not afraid to exert his power, has a unique agenda (more on that in a moment), and looks bad ass.  He’s not interested in the power plays like Baras or untold hidden power like Zash.  Best of all (or worst of all depending on your outlook) he seems to have taken a liking to you in particular, and tells Keeper he wants you to be the agent for the job he was apparently describing before you arrived.  That job?  Eliminating a terrorist cell on Dromund Kaas.  A uniquely boring terrorist cell at that, as they have no formal name, no motive or connections, and their only reason for resorting to terrorism is literally “we are not satisfied with Imperial policy.”  I’ve seen tweens on Tumblr with better reasons to get upset, let alone resort to terrorism.

Keeper sends you out to go find an alien slave that was once used to transport messages between political dissidents and supposedly kept copies of said messages “encoded” in his native language.  It’s encoded in the sense that Imperial nobility are too fricking racist to bother to learn any language other than Basic, I guess. Oh yea. And if you play an agent that’s not a cyborg, human or pureblood? Get used to putting up with the incredible racism from your team mates and other Imperials. They love bringing it up. Like calling you a ‘creature’ or ‘alien’.  Lots of “you people” crap.  You can also get to know the rest of the Imperial Intelligence team before you head out.  They are:

  • Watcher Two: Genetically engineered to be a ‘Watcher’.  But she has a quick tongue and can even keep up with Kaliyo in the insults department.
  • Lodenth: The token alien. He’s here to help understand Alien stuff. Like psychology. Or reading something other than Aurebesh.
  • Fixer Twelve: A former agent turned mechanic. He claims to be the guy who keeps the whole place running, which makes me wonder what the hell the other eleven fixers do.
  • Watcher Three: The new guy. I will not be shocked if he dies.  He is after all, the new guy.

If you are wondering where Watcher One is at the moment, he’s gone supposedly AWOL working with Darth Angral in the Jedi Knight storyline.  Anyway, you head off to find the slave in question – one Jurithus by name – who got caught up in the slave rebellions surrounding the giant statue in the jungle.  You hunt down and question a rebellion leader named Rebellion Leader and inject him with a serum you picked up before you left HQ.  This pretty much turns his mind into Jello so you can extract info from him.  Unfortunately the info you get is that Jurithus died in the jungle (or on the opposite platform from the one you’re on it turns out. Again, Jello.) You can then put rebellion leader Rebellion Leader out of his misery and shoot him (Dark Side) or command him to turn himself in (Light Side).  You go grab the datapad and since it’s “encoded” it’s off to Lodenth to translate.  Keeper checks in with you and tells you to head back right away – Darth Jadus wants a word with you.

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Darth Jadus finally lays out his grand design to you personally, since you are his ‘personal agent’ now it seems.  He no longer wants Dromund Kaas and the Sith to be central repository for hate and fear in the Empire.  He wants to ‘democratize fear’ so that every citizen of the Empire on every world – be they human, Sith or alien – can experience true fear and absolute hatred.  This is something he clearly cares deeply about and it’s weird.  On one hand, that’s messed up.  On the other hand, he wants everyone – not just the Elite – to experience the same thing.  Which is a unique perspective in the Empire where society is firmly divided between Sith and pretty much everyone else.  Jadus is planning on taking a starship with a few thousand dignitaries, sith and even slaves around the Galaxy to show them his ‘vision’ for the Empire and he wants to ensure that these dissidents don’t do anything to stop this.  He asks you to trust absolutely no one, since he knows that the terrorists to have contacts in the highest levels of power throughout the Empire.  He finishes the meeting by asking you to kneel before him.  Which you can. Or not.  If you choose not to – he kills you.  Not just in a cut scene. You die.  You have to rez.  He seems to expect you to be able to come back from being killed also.  Which officially makes Jadus the first character that I know that is aware that death is temporary and may in fact be leaning on the fourth wall a bit.

After the meeting and possibly coming back from the grave, Watcher Two sends you to the cantina for your next lead. Apparently, a weapons designer by the name of Theovor Mindak has contacts with the terrorists. But Mindak works for the rogue sith lord Grathan.  You need a better in.  Luckily, Mindak has a spoiled party girl daughter who is upstairs at the moment.  You can try to use diplomacy to cut a deal where she inherits all her daddy’s wealth and power (Light Side), flirt with her (She’ll see through it), or just beat her (or a combination!) to get the info out of her and get her access codes.  You can also kill her when its over if you want to tie up loose ends (Dark Side).  Using the access codes, you can find Mindak in his lab and you find out why he helps the terrorist – because he is dissatisfied with Imperial policy.  Okay, actually he’s a bit more specific.  It seems that Imperial Intelligence grabbed his wife one night and hauled her off to who knows where and she was never seen again.  No word on WHY she was hauled off, but I can see how this would sour his outlook.  It doesn’t matter if you go light or dark, sincere or snark with Mindak, you’ll have to fight him and his robots either way.  Once he’s dead, you grab his files and head back to base while Watcher Two deciphers them.

Once you get back, it’s time for a meeting.  Darth Jadus phones in as he’s readying his ship – The Dominator – for launch. We know the terrorist’s target: The power conduits to Kaas City.  By blowing just one it would set off a chain reaction that destroy every power source across the capital.  All the conduits are under strict military guard save one – the one that lies under the Dark Temple.  At this point we finally get some explanation as to what the deal with the temple is.  Like that apparently the temple was only opened up just under a month ago and after workers started vanishing to an ‘unknown phenomena’ (ghosts) they blocked access to it.  No I don’t know how they built a conduit under it without ever being able to go inside until just recently.  Especially since the access tunnel is IN the Temple. Though I suppose the terrorists could have just used that tunnel to blow a hole into accessing the conduit.  Still, this is the first but far from the last time we’ll receive information about the game’s setting that is exclusive to the Agent’s storyline.  Keeper wants to send in a squad of agents to suppress the terrorists, but Jadus says that the Temple is sacred and he will not allow non-Sith to just run about willy nilly in there.  Jadus decides it will be you and you alone that goes into the temple.  Keeper is not pleased, doubly so if you thank Jadus for the job.

The mission is actually really simple.  You bust in, take down three whole bombs, and then find an injured terrorist to interrogate.  You can talk or hit him all you want but what you get out of him is this:  There are multiple cells across multiple worlds.  Their reasons for doing this are vague but seem to center around the idea of standing up against Imperial Intelligence in particular.  And if you let him talk long enough instead of straight killing him when given the opportunity, he’ll reveal he’s terrified of the ghosts taking his mind more than he is afraid of you.  You can help him out by getting him out of there (Light Side) and he’ll be more ‘cooperative’ in looking for the Cells, or just ditch him in the Temple to let the ghosts have him (Dark Side).

When you get back to headquarters, the entire place is in chaos.  It would appear that while you were out stopping the terrorists, they had a secondary target in mind – The Dominator.  That’s right.  They blew up Darth Jadus’ flagship just as it was leaving Dromund Kaas, killing all three thousand-ish people on board including Darth Jadus himself.  This is followed by a proclamation by the terrorist leader – The Eagle – to the entire Empire.  He explains that they have proven that the Sith are not all powerful by killing Jadus.  That they will continue to strike.  That the Empire is bad and needs fixed.  That Imperial Intelligence can just grab you if you even think anything bad about the Empire and make you vanish.  Really, it’s mostly generic freedom fighter rabble rousing but we know who was behind it.  Time to go ge-  wha?  Oh there’s one more mission?  Ah yes.  The exciting conclusion of chasing down a starship before it leaves and planting a mouse droid on it before the military blows things up.  You run in and click a crate, then watch a cutscene before leaving.  That’s it.  Whoo hoo.  Despite the ‘we must beat the military there’, they never do show up.  Kind of a let down after the awesome reveal of the Eagle and the destruction of the Dominator.  I guess they had a quest quota to fill for the XPs?  Meh, we get the new title of “Cipher Nine” out of it, and our own ship.  Also, don’t be a goof like me.  Just because Keeper says that they’re trying to leave the starport.  THEY ARE NOT AT THE STARPORT.  They are at a docking area just across from the Cantina in Kaas City.  I quick traveled all the way to the actual starport only to be left very confused.

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Final Thoughts

The start of the Imperial Agent is a full blown taste of what you’ll be getting in Chapter One.  There’s intrigue, deception, manipulation and eliminating lots of enemies of the Empire.  In a lot of ways it feels very straight and by the book, but on the other hand it offers you a real chance to get into the headspace of the secret police of the Empire.  They aren’t exaggerating when they say that Imperial Intelligence can show up out of nowhere and make you vanish.  You are fully authorized to kill whoever you want and rest assured that the Watchers will make sure that no one else finds out if need be.  The only place you have to be cautious is outside of Imperial jurisdiction as shown on Hutta with Karrels.  It’s kind of scary to think about what you can do as an Agent if you look at it from the outside.

It’s also quite interesting coming back and playing this story a second (and third I’m sure you noticed with the screenshots) time.  While everything seems straight laced and by the books missions, there’s actually a metric ton of foreshadowing given in the prologue about the events that will transpire in the next chapter.  Not to get too spoilery, but the Prologue gives you all the clues you need to piece together the mystery in Chapter One.  But it also sets up red herrings, misdirection, and a sense of you don’t know who is on the level.  Simply put, there’s a lot more going on in this chapter than you will realize on your first play through it.  Which is awesome.  You can come back later on a new character after you finished an agent and go, “Oh. OOOOOOH. I GET IT!”

We also get our first companion, Kaliyo. Who coincidentally at the time of this writing has just been re-introduced in the Knights of the Fallen Empire storyline.  Kaliyo is anti-authority to the point of being an “anarchist”.  Anarchist like punk bands in the 80’s and high school kids who draw that ‘A’ symbol on their folders use the word, not like the actual political manifesto way.  She’s also a love interest of the male Agent.  I have only had a few chances to flirt with her, but honestly Kaliyo comes off a LOT like Jack from Mass Effect 2 without all the emotional baggage and breakthrough that can come from that romance.  So I’m not sure I can say I personally am the biggest fan.

Overall, I think the Agent has a good start.  I can see how it can be deceptively simple and straightforward to a first time player. I remember thinking it didn’t get good until the end of Chapter One.  But now re-playing it, I can see all the awesome connections and set ups that were actually going completely under the radar on this one.

|| IMPERIAL AGENT || Chapter One –>

SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Smuggler – Chapter Three

<– Chapter Two || SMUGGLER ||

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the third chapter of the Smuggler storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  To see a spoiler-free summary of the storyline please check this page instead.

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When last we left our intrepid smuggler, they had just foiled a scandalous attempt on the life of Senator Dodonna using cybernetically enhanced beasts of unknown origin.  The Senator tasked us with the job of hunting down where these beasts came from and how Rogun the Butcher got them.  To find this out, there’s only one place to go and one person to talk to: The man with his hands in every plan – Darmas Palloran who sits chilling at Port Nowhere.  Turns out that Darmas is completely on the ball on this one and has already got your answer by the time you arrive.  The animals come from the planet Voss, a newly discovered world with insanely strict laws governing the coming to’s and going from’s the planet.  Somehow Rogun managed to get these beasts off world, and that means going to Voss for answers.  Sadly that will take some time.  See, you’re not a fancy Jedi and you ain’t Republic special forces, so you’ll have to get to Voss the good old fashioned bureaucratic way – by getting a permit.  That means it will take time.  Luckily, Darmas has another lead you can pursue in the mean time.

Belsavis

It seems that our good friend/headache Rogun the Butcher has a bit of business on the secret prison planet of Belsavis.  He’s apparently aiming to break out his old mentor who goes by the name ‘Ivory’.  Ivory taught Rogun everything he knew, so he’s a powerful asset to Rogun AND to you against Rogun.  Also I feel its worth mentioning that somehow it is actually easier for me to get access to super secret prison planet than it is to get a parking pass on the diplomatically neutral world of Voss.  Keep that in mind the next time you go through there.  That every other class is pretty much in the express lane to getting to go to Voss compared to the Smuggler and the rest of the galaxy.

So your first task to go get Ivory from his cell.  Bit of a problem there though. Belsavis is in the middle of the biggest prison riot in the planet’s history thanks to the Imperials. So the guards aren’t exactly sure if Ivory is where he should be nor can they guarantee safe arrival to the cell. Could be worse though. They could be out of Space Coffee and Donuts, which they clearly aren’t given the ABUNDANCE of guards and prison personnel just standing around at the main compound. Get to work, you lazy pieces of trash.

It turns out that the cell is not empty at all. It’s full of explosives!  Seems like when Ivory flew the coop he wanted to leave a goodbye present.  You find a tunnel after taking cover that was dug into the stone that clearly indicates good ol’ Ivory has been contemplating getting out of here for a while.  I mean that’s not poured cement we’re talking about. It’s solid rock.  That’s determination!  So you know that Ivory is out, and it seems from reports that a lot of Ivory’s crew is being busted out as well.  Except for one.  You race to a guard station where they have the last member of Ivory’s team in holding to see if she has any ideas on where Ivory has gone.  But sadly, the girl is insanely fanatical and just spouts gibberish.  The bad news rolls in as it becomes very clear that the guard holding her their was holding her not for you – but for Ivory.  Ah, corrupt prison guards.  Nice to see that even in the level 40’s that we’re still slumming it as a smuggler. One of Rogun the Butcher’s personal assassins joins you from the rafters and kills the girl, so you quickly have to take out both the assassin and the corrupt guard.  And we’re back to square one with the whole ‘no clues’ thing.  But wait!  The guard has a list of names.  Names to set free!  Potentially for Ivory!  Another lead! HUZZAH!

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This lead sends you down to the prisons to meet up with two more members of Ivory’s crew whose names I never bothered to learn because I immediately just started calling them Bebop and Rocksteady.  Their comedy relief henchmen essentially who you can – through no great effort – convince to fight each other instead of you.  With them out of the way, it’s time to deal with the big ol’ gendai they let out and try to get some answers.  Honestly, I don’t know how we really plan to defeat a friggin gendai since they establish on Imperial Nar Shadaa that they essentially can regenerate from almost nothing to the point that they had to run the corpses through meat grinders to stop them from coming back.  Here you just blast him and walk off.  Maybe he does regenerate.  Not much reason to worry about him staying down so long as you can get out the door.  Anyway, you get your next clue about Ivory’s location – the Deep Vaults.

Now where in the Deep Vaults?  Never really pinpointed but the mission marker tells me where to go and I follow.  Apparently, Ivory headed to what at least appears to be an ancient Rakata starship hanger complete with repaired starship.  I’m suddenly having flashbacks to the end of John Carpenter’s The Thing.  Ivory says he’s going to use this ancient starship (Up next on The History Channel) to blast off and leave Belsavis.  This is actual fairly funny considering that a few scenes back with Ivory he was ranting about he was mastering the ancient Rakata technology and no longer needed to escape.  Meaning that he was going to use the Rakata technology to escape?  I’m not sure.  But sinister plotting is a foot as that assassin you killed earlier isn’t dead!  But he is!  He’s actually just got like a dozen identical twins!  What the fu-?!

Cornered by the baker’s dozen, you quickly learn that they’re not just there for you.  It seems Rogun considered Ivory too risky to have alive in or out of prison.  This opens up the brilliant opportunity to negotiate.  You and Ivory team up to wipe out the goons and then you can press your leverage on him to either get intel on Rogun from him and send him back to the prisons, just flat out kill the guy or – my personal favorite – bring him with you and smuggle him out of the prison to work under you and teach you the ways of being an underworld boss.  Heck. Yes.

Interlude

This first interlude is just a really weird brief break.  A Jedi Master, Sumalee, who is apparently yet another old friend of Risha’s gets a hold of you and asks you to retrieve another old friend of Risha’s who is an SIS team member from Hoth.  She’s pinned down and on a mission investigating something that isn’t really important to the plot at all but because of this she can’t trust anyone in the Republic base.  In other words, she needs to be smuggled off world.

I honestly don’t know what the point of this was beyond reminding you that you are a smuggler and to introduce Sumalee who has a minor presence in the story ahead on Corellia.  Beyond that it’s just an experience buffer.  You could have easily stuck this in the Interlude-less Act 2 (unless you count Quesh as an interlude. Might as well given how short those class story missions are.) Sumalee isn’t so vital that she needs introducing, and we already know that Risha is friends with everyone in the galaxy (Heck, she’s friends with Vette from the Sith Warrior storyline! That’s cross storyline friendship!)

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Voss

Well, looks like those permits have finally come through and we can land on Voss.  Or more accurately the space station orbiting Voss and then take a shuttle down.  But we’re totally allowed to be there now. Unlike all those riff raffs and undesirables.  Like the Exchange.  Who run a massive criminal base just outside of Voss-Ka…   Why did I have to wait for the paperwork again?  I thought I was a smuggler.  Like just in the last mission I smuggled friggin PEOPLE. Can I just smuggle things off of planets?  Can I not smuggle myself?  To make things worse is that the Voss assign you a chaperon to keep an eye on things. That won’t put a kink in these plans at all.  Seriously, Dodonna has to be the worst negotiator ever to get me here on just these terms.  Luckily, our nanny isn’t completely useless.  He actually leads us to the aforementioned Exchange base.  Seems our babysitter has a eclectic taste for offworlder music that the Exchange can get him.  He introduces you to a fixer who is willing to put you in contact with Rogun’s smuggling ring for a meet if you help him gather up some Voss artifacts to sell.

So once you get him set up, he sends you off to this meeting with Rogun’s team and this may come as a shock to you but Rogun’s lackeys recognize Rogun’s number one kill on sight most wanted.  I know. I didn’t see it coming either.  Shock.  They’re not dumb either. These guys not only have found a way to work with the Voss’ hated enemies – The Gormak – but found a way to smuggle Gormak modified cybernetic animals off world.  Better yet, they actually got a plan together as soon as the fixer arranged the meeting.  They’re going to pin the whole thing on you.  They knock you out and take off just in time for the Voss Commandos to show up and see only you and an entire smuggling operation.  Wow.  This sucks.  Luckily, my chaperon is willing to do the talking while I sneak off.  He apparently trusts me implicitly as long as I tell him that I’m not lying. How the heck have the Voss survived contact with the outside galaxy?

You rush back to the Exchange Fixer (Honestly, more than anything else I am utterly shocked how somehow the Exchange ends up being the good guys here) and explain what happened.  He feels terrible about how sour the deal went since after all he’s a business man and has a rep to think about.  But if the Gormak are involved, he does have a shipment going to the Gormak later and he can freeze you in carbonite (you know, it’s easy. Like going to pick up some milk from the store. Just a quick carbon freezing and then back to work on Monday. Takes years off your face, dahling.) so you can sneak past their lifesign scanners and get into Gormak territory.

When you arrive, you come face to face with “Gormak Zac” the ‘Human Gormak’.  Essentially, a human who went native.  He was momentarily in the earlier scene with the smuggling meet but we didn’t really get that much about him other than he was the contact between Rogun’s goons and the Gormak.  However, he’s not loyal to Rogun and defnitely not on his payroll.  Once you explain the situation and what Rogun’s been doing, Zac will happily help you since its against even Gormak law to sell abominations from the Nightmare Lands – a market Rogun’s female lackey is hoping to bust in on.  He helps you escape if you promise to help stop her.  Turns out that it’s two birds with one stone since while going after her in the Nightmare Lands, you get a chance to record a meeting between her and a Sith Lord that proves that you weren’t the smuggler to the Voss.  Well, not THAT smuggler at least.  You fight the abominations, the Sith and Rogun’s henchwoman and head back to Voss-Ka for your big fat… criminal… trial.  Damn.

The trial isn’t even remotely fair either.  You prove your innocence handily with the recording but then they change the rules after the fact and charge you with all this other crap you did while on the planet that you weren’t on trial for.  So, in Voss law, it doesn’t matter if you can prove you didn’t murder a guy if you even DARED to jaywalk while proving your innocence. Forgive me, honeycomb eyes.  You can choose to take your licks will gives you an entirely optional and don’t-need-it-to-progress side mission of delivering packages to various planets, OR you can throw your babysitter under the bus when he volunteers to shoulder the blame for the whole incident.  Don’t be a dummy, kids! If you do the crime, let your buddies do the time.

Interlude #2

So the words gone out.  Between the hit on the Voss operation and the royal mess up with trying to eliminate Ivory, Rogun is calling in all his remaining lieutenants to a secret meet on Tatooine that you just happen to have got the deets on.  Time to put an end to this pain in the rear once and for all.  However, as you confront Rogun and square off with his goons, a pair of strange Sith appear.  They delight in revealing the twist:  The Voidwolf is the real bad guy! Okay that’s not the actual twist.  It turns out that Darmas Palloran and Senator Dodanna are in league with the Voidwolf.  They’ve been pitting you and Rogun against each other so the two of you wipe each other out, leaving Darmas to control the criminal underworld.  Senator Dodanna’s privateer “project” was actually just a front for you to acquire things FOR the Voidwolf so she can earn ruling over an entire planet once the Imperials conquer the Republic.  They both have been playing you for a sap!

Next comes the big choice.  Rogun’s been hounding you since level 1.  He’s come after you time and again.  This is your chance to kill him.  But that’s not the only option.  You can also force him to work for you and for him to give you his share of the criminal underworld.  Revenge or profit.  It’s a race between my two favorite vices.  Take your pick!

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Corellia

With Rogun dealt with in one way or another, it’s time to go for the Voidwolf and his partners in crime – Darmas and Dodanna.  You reunite with Master Sumalee (Yup. Super vital to establish earlier for this express purpose) and try and convince her of the Senator’s guilt but without proof there’s not much hope.  After all, Dodonna’s a well respected senator of Coruscant, not scum like Darmas.  Speaking of which, you do scope out Dodanna’s partner – Darmas’s – safehouse and find he’s working with the Corellian rebels to blow open Supply tunnel 26, which happens to be the ‘artery’ of the underground tunnel network that many soldiers died to seal up so the Imps couldn’t use the tunnels to invade all of Corellia.  You find Darmas preaching to a bunch of Corellian revolutionaries who have all been told that you were a traitor who stole White Maw cloaking tech and Balmorran weapons for the Voidwolf (Technically accurate, but not knowingly).  You can respond by either opening fire, try to convince the angry mob that Darmas is an Imperial, or you can be like me and convince them that Darmas is trying to steal the women of Corellia – which apparently turns out to be somewhat true as he’s been flirting and asking girls back to his ship since he got there. (Who knew?)  He flees back to the Imperial’s base when cornered by siccing droids on you.

To get to Darmas, you need to get inside the Imperial base that is in a commandeered hospital.  Only way to get through that many guards is to attack various targets to lure them out and then sneak in using the revolutionaries’ doctor contact. Once you make contact with the doctor, he mentions he was expecting a captain with an injured leg and notes that the only way in is on a stretcher – so he shoots you. Once inside you find Darmas talking to a weasely Corellian politician that helped sell out the planet to the Imps, and here you can either kill him, turn him into the Republic to testify against Dodonna, or let him escape in exchange for all the info he has on Dodonna.

Next is to get to Dodonna, who fled to the Voidwolf’s men as soon as she caught wind that this was going down.  They’re holed up in the Museum of Alien History, but the only ‘safe’ way in is through an old abandoned selonian tunnel that was caved in.  After blowing through some walls, and fighting escaped zoo animals that decided to live there (Raising the question of how long they’ve been down here. Did they escape the zoo during the invasion and get stuck? Or did the zoo just really suck at its job?), you find Dodonna affixed with a slave collar and cleaning the floor for an Imperial Lieutenant.  She’s willing to tell you about the Voidwolf’s plans – that he’s building a pirate fleet to attack the Republic ship yards – but will mock your attempts to arrest her since she knows she’ll just walk free in exchange for all she knows about the Voidwolf.  Instead she wants ‘free free’ – to just be turned loose and let vanish into the greater galaxy.  You can let her do that if you want, or you can lie to her and then kill her once she’s turned over the evidence.  After all, it’s just a lie for a lie. However as a nice touch, if you do take the lie and kill route, your smuggler will look away as they pull the trigger.  Just one of those ‘not completely heartless’ moments that I really enjoyed.

Finally it’s time to go for the Voidwolf. To get to him, you’ll need to break into the weasely senator from earlier’s home and stow away or catch a ride with him to the Voidwolf’s flagship.  After the Jedi Master Sumalee gives some not-so-Jedi advice on breaking-and-entering (She was Risha’s friend, remember?), you go and deactivate all the cameras and sensors from around the house.  Then you defeat the guard captain and force him to walk you through the security system that will fry anyone who isn’t authorized or not with someone who is.  You then meet the senator who offers you a deal to work with the Voidwolf.  In the moment you might sped thinking that offer over, he calls the guards on you.  What a toad. Then you have to chase him down to get the codes to take off in his shuttle by either just killing him or forcing him to give you the codes before letting him go.  Either way you take his ship and we’re off to see the Voidwolf.

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Grand Finale

The finale starts IMMEDIATELY as you board the Senator’s ship, so be ready. From there it’s your standard ‘fight through the ship’ mission that if you’re like me and are playing every class mission – you’re quite used to.  There’s a mini boss in the form of the Voidwolf’s Underboss at the end of the first area which is actually a refreshing change of pace.  There’s also a small easter egg I found of a female officer kicking back with her feet on the table watching a double than life size holo of a female twilek pole dancing.  So there’s a fun bit of same sex…  uh…  interest?  When you finally reach the end of the ship, the Voidwolf is ordering his new pirate fleet around when you interrupt, and the various captains decide that they will serve whoever wins.  Because as pirates they all work on some weird Mad Max style set of rules where only the strongest is worthy of loyalty or some such.  You fight and defeat the Voidwolf, who tries to trick you with activating a thermal detonator when you kick over his assumed dead body, but you throw it back at him blowing him up.

With the Voidwolf dealt with, your new pirate fleet wants to know orders.  You can tell them to pay a tribute to you and then disperse, to attack the Imperials, or to serve you as pirates and to plunder from the Imps AND Pubs while they fight each other.  Then, because the Voidwolf is an ass and has to pull ever villain card from the deck, your crew informs you that a self destruct is imminent so you have to go find an escape pod. AND THE IMPS ARE STILL FIGHTING YOU ALL ALONG THE WAY.  WHY?  DO YOU WISH FOR DEATH THAT MUCH?! And in case you didn’t finish up any business planet side – good news! You crash back down on Corellia after escaping.

The ending of the story depends entirely on what you chose on the Voidwolf’s ship. I’ve done this storyline twice and have got two completely different endings to this story: When you chose to have the fleet attack the Imperials or take the money & have them disperse, you get a medal ceremony with Supreme Chancellor Saresh and Master Sumalee where I was proclaimed a Republic hero.  If you choose the pirate option?  Well the three captains show up to give you a share of the haul, Ivory and Rogun show up too if you had them join your team.  They announce that galaxy wide you are being called ‘The Bandit King’ and you can reopen Port Nowhere as your personal pirate fortress.  So Galaxy’s greatest hero or greatest crime lord. Not bad for a two bit smuggler who just wanted to run some guns to a bunch of freedom fighters on Ord Mantell.

My Reactions & Looking Back

Chapter Three is a really solid cap on an overall solid storyline.  Again, I think the thing that seems to really encapsulates the smuggler story is momentum.  The stakes keeping getting raised, the dangers escalate, the threats get more menacing – that kind of thing and Chapter Three carries on that whole process really well.  I was initially very worried when Skavak was defeated at the end of Chapter One that we would have a repeat of the situation in the Bounty Hunter or Trooper storyline but no, because the story had the foresight to neither string us along with the annoyance of Skavak for three chapters but to also include a secondary villain to wait in the wings and occassionally send goons after you to remind you of his presence with Rogun the Butcher.  Rogun is first mentioned right there on Ord Mantell and you don’t actually ever come face to face with the guy until right before Corellia. All the while he exists as a threat to you.  The Voidwolf may write you off as insignificant but Rogun wants your head on a plate and he keeps gunning for you the entire storyline.

That’s the kind of momentum this story has.  No matter whats going on, there isn’t a lull in the danger.  It never diminishes or even stays constant. It’s always growing.  From Skavak to Rogun & the Voidwolf to the surprise betrayal of Dodonna and Darmas, you find yourself constant fighting an uphill battle – which is what good drama should do.  In the Trooper storyline, there is no major threat to fill the gap of losing the first chapter’s villains.  The Bounty Hunter kind of meanders around in Chapter Three without a clear cut idea of what you’re doing beyond ‘earning favors’ to cash in for the ‘where to fight the bad guy’ coupon.  Here though? Everything ties together.  Everything plays a part in the overall story.  That junk robot Skavak wanted from the Seperatists? The ‘freaky trophy’ from the Imps? All used as items for trading to get what you need for the treasure.  Your seemingly unrelated privateer missions? That’s how Dodonna and Darmas buy their way into the Voidwolf’s inner circle.  The only point where the connections are stretched at best is a few of the interludes and even they aren’t pointless – just not necessary.  The smuggler story just builds until you – a lone plucky starship captain with no backing from any major organization – either takes down an Imperial admiral and his pirate fleet to save the day or rises up to become the most notorious pirate king since the days of Nok Drayan.

The one other perk to the story is that it’s funny.  Like honest to goodness funny.  I found myself constantly laughing while playing through this.  Especially if you play it with kind of a gray morality.  The light side stuff falls on the side of ‘help the innocent, save the day’ and the dark side stuff is mostly ‘get paid and kill anyone in your way’ but the gray choices usually fall firmly in the snarky category, and it is SO worth it to pursue that route.

There’s a reason I listed this storyline so high on my list of Worst to Best storylines.  It really is a well constructed and fun storyline.  It has two distinct endings that change based on your choices instead of just some basic fluff of a changed line in a default ending like the Jedi get.  It never feels like it slows down or stalls, and it always has some new wacky card to pull out to put a smile on your face.  It also exposes you to a side of the Star Wars universe you don’t get to see much of in the other storylines – the seedy underbelly.  Oh sure the bounty hunter starts on Hutta and there’s scum everyone on a Hutt controlled planet but beyond that your clientele seems to be those who can afford your fees.  Here?  Your a smuggler.  By definition you are working below the legal line.  Which leads you to meeting the more colorful characters in Star Wars.

Seriously, I don’t think anyone will be disappointed playing through this storyline. Do yourself a favor and give it a try.  I never thought it felt like a slog and I’ve played through it twice already.

<– Chapter Two || SMUGGLER ||

 

SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Smuggler – Chapter Two

<– Chapter One || SMUGGLER || Chapter Three –>

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the second chapter of the Smuggler storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  To see a spoiler-free summary of the storyline please check this page instead.

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So you’ve got the riches of Nok Drayan, you got a new partner who is the former crimelord’s daughter and the heir to the throne of an entire planet, you got nothing but wide open space ahead of you.  What better time than to sell out?  Yeah, well it seems like we had to put something in the story to justify why the heck the smuggler is a “Republic class” and not just some third neutral faction.  The Bounty Hunters have that whole ‘The Mandalorians are on permanent contract with the Empire’ thing, so now Smugglers get this.  What is this?

Well, after a quick holo call from Darmas Palloran (He’s that cheerful fellow from Coruscant that you beat handily at Sabacc and helped you find Skavak) telling you to come to Port Nowhere.  Unfortunately, Port Nowhere is essentially a starship turned into a hangout for smugglers and pirates, which means it’s a rough crowd.  Doubly so once they get wind about that bounty Rogun the Butcher put on your head.  Rogun’s goons are even there waiting for you and they got Darmas!  So now we have to save the gambler but for good reason. He’s got us a gig: Becoming a Republic Privateer under Senator Dodanna.  Essentially becoming an officially government sanctioned smuggler.  Doing the more nebulous jobs that can’t officially be on the Republic’s books and what not.  All with a fat paycheck.  Well, as they say: “A gig is a gig.”

However just as your leaving, Port Nowhere is attacked by the Voidwolf.  Who is the Voidwolf?   Well, he’s a big shot Imperial admiral who apparently has teamed up with Rogun the Butcher.  And he’s got the place surrounded.  Darmas sends Port Nowhere off into the hyperlanes to get away and you run off to your first official job as a privateer.

Balmorra

Our first job is the war torn world of Balmorra.  Oh boy. Yay.  Nothing like a stroll through the war ravaged hills of the factory and droid part ridden country side to get back to work and remind me that I’m not retired after scoring the treasure of a lifetime.  Apparently, the job here is to work with the Resistance and smuggle some much needed provisions (You know, food, water, medical supplies, grenade launchers) from their double agent contact in the Empire codenamed ‘Golden’. All the while you keep bumping into a Mandalorian zabrak named Akaavi Spar who is looking to kill a man named Moff Tyrak to avenge her destroyed clan.

You eventually track down the shipment to an Imperial base warehouse, but low and behold it’s not actually there.  However, ‘Golden’ is.  And Golden is actually Moff Tyrak.  And he wants out.  In fact, there wasn’t any supplies.  He just said that to the Republic so they’d send someone that could extract him because the Empire seems to be on to his whole double agent act.  Something about not normally being able to afford multiple mansions and luxury speeders on a Moff’s salary.  Shocking, I know.  Moff Tyrak quickly proves to be an annoyance – but an entertaining annoyance.  Kind of like that butt monkey that you like to see get kicked, and boy howdy do you get plenty of options to kick him.  Since no one is willing to extract Tyrak just because he can’t manage his money without the actual shipment, Tyrak leads you to where you should be able to get what you need – the Balmorran Arms Factory.  What a weird place to keep completely innocent humanitarian supplies.  Huh.

You break into the factory with minimal assistance from the Moff, but as soon as you take your eyes off of him for like two minutes he ‘scouts the area for anyone coming’ and then somehow – I’m sure he has nooooo idea how – they all show up to stop you.  With him in tow.  Aaaand with him shouting crap like “That’s him! That’s the one!”  Nerves on a Jedi on this guy I’ll tell you what.  Luckily, Akaavi shows up again to help and to get her ultimate revenge on the weaselly Moff.  She declares that she is here to avenge the deaths of Clan Spar.  But the Moff doesn’t know what she’s talking about.  She states that she knows that Moff Tyrak signed the order to kill her entire clan that had faithfully worked with the Empire until then.  Tyrak then realizes what happened.  See, he just signs any death order that comes across his desk.  He doesn’t even read them.  After all, their wouldn’t be a kill order if they didn’t deserve it.  Akaavi is to say the least flabbergasted that her arch-nemesis is no mustache twirling super-villain but a moronic bureaucrat. You can encourage her to just let it go, or to take her revenge and be done with it before she decides on joining you on your ship because quite frankly she has nowhere else to go.  You also get the choice of what to do with a fleet’s worth of high tech weaponry that you’ve just acquired.  There’s a few options including give it to the Republic (you know, what the Republic sent you there for) or sending it to Port Nowhere to be sold off to the highest bidder (Because money).  I took the Port Nowhere option myself.  Being King of the Pirates isn’t cheap you know.

On your way off planet, you get word that your success in pillaging the Empire’s weapons has caused The Voidwolf to execute several captains under his command for the failures to stop you.

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Quesh

As you head off world and deal with the consequences of maaaaybe the Republic not receiving those high tech goodies like they were expecting, you also get a message of a bunch of other Republic privateers pinned down by the Voidwolf’s fleet on the Planet Quesh.  They claim that if you help them, they’ll help you and I like people owing me things, so it’s off to the poison planet!

You make it to the hidden landing area and wipe the Voidwolf’s forces there, but the other captains explain that unless you take out the targetting computers in a nearby Imperial base, that the Voidwolf will just lock on and blast them as they try to leave.  Also, as an added kick you find out that Beryl Thorne is there with the other Privateers. Beryl was the nice smuggler lady you met way back on Taris that A) Didn’t like Risha and B) You had a chance to sleep with.  This naturally will make things awkward if you A) have romanced someone, B) Brought that person along and C) Triply so if that person IS Risha.

So once you blast your way into the base, you finally get to meet the Voidwolf.  Sort of.  It’s a hologram. He’s still on his ship.  But you get to see him finally, and talk to him in person.  He explains that you are no threat to his plans, that he is completely ready for anything you can throw at him, and he will see you dead.  You can naturally point out that he’s going to a lot of trouble to be ready for you and wanting you dead for someone who is no threat to him.  In fact, for being such a non-existent threat, he’s really gone out of his way to study up every detail of your personal adventures and life.  His response is naturally to send more goons after you.  You kill them and blow up the computers.  You go back to the privateers and can tell them that in exchange for saving their worthless lives, they can either go back and do their duty for the Republic (Light Side) or that they now work for you instead and should report to Port Nowhere for further orders (Dark Side).

No, I wasn’t kidding about being the King of the Pirates.

Hoth

For once, I actually enjoyed Hoth.  No seriously, most times in these class stories Hoth feels like a complete drag.  It’s a huge planet with only a couple of actually story missions that really just ends up with you running around on a speeder for 5-15 minutes at a time trying to get between point A and B, staring at the bleak endless white.  But the smuggler story here?  There’s actually crap going on.  It’s not just a macguffin hunt.  I mean technically if you distill it down to its raw parts it kind of is – but not how you might think at the beginning.  Rather for the Smuggler, you end up trying to navigate and slip through the political power struggle of the major faction on the planet – The White Maw pirates.

The actual reason you’re on Hoth is actually that the Republic wants its hands on the White Maw’s top secret cloaking technology.  Something so powerful it can hide an entire fleet.  They send you there with nothing but the name of a Jedi master to get in touch with only to find that he’s not there – he’s dead.  However, Jedi Master Guss Tuno is there to help you.  He’s the assistant/replacement for the missing Jedi Master.  His idea to get you in with the White Maw so you can swipe the tech is to make it look like your stealing some good stuff from the Republic’s storage depot/ice cave (Let’s be honest, they are all ice caves.)  Only the higher ups will know, but the rank-and-file won’t to help keep it looking legit so you’ll have to fight your way in.  However, once you do you find out that: No the higher ups don’t know, No there was no replacement for the missing Jedi, and yes you are very definitely really stealing this crap.  Guss comes clean and explains that he works for the White Maw, enslaved by their boss – Shie Tenna – who he offers to introduce you to in exchange for his dirty lies.

Shie Tenna is a hulking brute that seems to be quite fond of keeping his men in line with fear and displays of power.  You are introduced to him and his lover Alinna who vapidly hangs on his every word in his secret cantina base (read: ice cave) arranged by – but strangely not present – Guss Tuno.  Shie wants you to help him take over the White Maw by removing the other bosses’ from the equation.  By which he means killing the rival.  However, once Shie Tenna is out of ear shot, Alinna speaks to you and reveals that not only is she not as vapidly moronic as she lets on to Shie, she’s pretty much the brains behind the White Maw.  She manages the operations, handles finances, sets up plans – meanwhile Shie Tenna blows stuff up and postures.  Her suggestion is to expose Shie’s rival as being an Imperial sympathizer who plans to sell out the Maw to the Imps.  The White Maw may be a pack of psychotic pirates, but they all have a fierce passion for being free to do things their way.  The Imps would not work out well in that equation.  So the choice is yours whether the wipe out the rival base or to turn them against their leader. When you return, Shie Tenna declares you be brothers-in-arms!  Only to reveal that he also apparently killed his brother and throws you into a wampa holding pen (Ice cave.)  Luckily, good ol’ Guss is there to bust you out with another lead on getting in good with the White Maw.

And I’m not even going to string this one along – yea, that lead is also a trap.  A bunch of Gand bounty hunters waiting to take you out.  Guss confesses when you save him from the bounty hunters as well.  He isn’t a Jedi Master (though he is force sensitive. He dropped out of Jedi school), he’s not some White Maw slave – he works for Rogun the Butcher.  Rogun sent Guss to arrange for you to be taken out.  Guss sees that you’re a good guy and just can’t bring himself to go through with it.  With that out of the way, he’s willing to help you break into the White Maw fortress (Not actually an ice cave for once) and to get the cloaking tech…  which turns out to be a bit more complicated than you might have first thought.

So it turns out that once you breach the White Maw’s fortress and defeat Shie Tenna, you find their “Cloaking Tech” and it’s actually just an alien kid with severe brain damage.  Turns out the species the kid belongs to has a defensive mechanism that renders them and everything around them invisible to the eye, scans, radar… everything (which is an impressive evolutionary feat I must say) but they can only do this when they are scared of something.  So the White Maw beat him whenever they want the fleet cloaked. Alinna, Shie Tenna’s girl from earlier wants to actually save the alien kid and get him offworld somewhere safe.  At this point there’s a bunch of different choices you can make to decide what happens next.  You can smuggle them offworld, you can convince Alinna to take over the White Maw, YOU can try and take over the White Maw, you can force them to give the Alien Kid to the Republic, or you could give the Alien Kid to the Republic but also send Alinna with it to make sure it gets treated right and Alinna gets off of Hoth and being stuck with the White Maw…   So yea, a lot more options than your typical “This is the Light Side” and “This is the Dark Side.”  Which I really do enjoy.  Not all these choices can be broken down into simple binary solutions and I get a kick out of the fact that the game will let you explore multiple solutions to a single problem.  I personally sent the kid and Alinna to the Republic to ensure fair treatment (Cause it’s the job, but I don’t trust the Republic one bit in terms of treating the downtrodden fairly) and I personally took control of the White Maw faction.

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Finale

So we’ve helped the Republic, we’ve lined our pockets, and we’ve got a good start on building our criminal empire.  What’s left for this space jockey to do?  Well, how about a sick burn on the Empire and snubbing both the Voidwolf and Rogun the Butcher while you’re at it?  The job is the King’s Ransom – as in that’s the name of the ship.  An Imperial treasury ship that transports all the wealth and trade between Nar Shadaa and Dromund Kaas.  That’s right.  It’s essentially a Star Wars train job.  To help out there’s another chap who has been on the wrong side of Rogun’s ire and is looking to make a score.  But before you can take off, you have to help save a safe cracker from the Hutts who plan to sell him off to Rogun’s goons to be… well… butchered.  You get the choice of either simply killing the Hutts or bargaining with them and stealing their business right out from under Rogun.  Either way you’ll have to deal with Rogun’s goons but at least you might get out of having to fight the Cartel thugs while you’re at it.

Once the team is all together (the safe cracker, the muscle, and you – the looks and/or brains) you hop on a private shuttle provided by Senator Dodonna herself to infiltrate the King’s Ransom. You fight through the ship until you reach the vaults and break into them, where you find a random assortment of awesome old antiques – several of which are actually references to the original Knights of the Old Republic games.  In the final vault however, you find three Moffs hanging out and talking trash about the Voidwolf.  They mention how he’s not Imperial born  and yet rose through the ranks with unprecedented speed.  Seems like a lot of the other Imps don’t much care for the Voidwolf, and yet as soon as they see you they don’t spare a moment calling him to get him to come and help.

The Voidwolf’s help however is not exactly what the Moff’s expect however.  The nefarious admiral announces that since the war has just started up again, the Imperial military code dictates that if a ship is at risk of falling to the enemy (That’s you), then he is well within his rights to destroy said ship to prevent it from being taken.  So he does.  That would be the cue to GTFO.  Grab whatever loot you can and make break for it.

Back on Nar Shadaa, you divvy up the loot (you can take your share, let the other two keep it all, or kill them and keep it all for yourself) and go your separate ways ala the end of any Ocean’s Eleven movie.  But just as you round the corner, Senator Dodonna is there and being threatened by Rogun’s goons and a pack of strange beasts that are all wired up with some weird cyborg stuff.  You dispatch the beasts and Dodonna thanks the stars you showed up when you did.  She wants to know exactly what these are, where they came from and how the heck Rogun the Butcher got a hold of them and could transport them as weapons.

That little plot point ends up immediately kicking off chapter 3, so I’ll see you on the other side to find out what happens next.

My Thoughts

I’ll admit, I was extremely skeptical of the whole ‘Republic Privateer’ plot point.  It just seemed like a flimsy way to tie this into the whole two faction system.  However, what it also ended up doing was opening up a wider array of moral choices.  You weren’t just locked into ‘Selfless’ or ‘Greedy’ or ‘Live’ or ‘Kill’.   There was also the matter of the job you were hired to do.  So now things start to divide into three ways: Greedy, Selfless, or loyal.  You can help the locals at the cost of the job and yourself, you can be greedy at the cost of the locals and the job, or you can do the job at the cost of the locals and yourself.  This diversifies things a bit and starts to spread out the choices and implications of them.  Do you become the loyal hand of the Republic?  Do you play the dashing rogue hero?  Or do you go full greed and become the new pirate king?  All are viable directions you could take.

This really shines through in the Hoth mission.  While there isn’t a ton of long lasting effects to these choices, it still feels like you are really given a solid choice.  It’s not a simple binary choice either as I said.  You get multiple different ways that story can end and you can even combo some of them up.  If Alinna doesn’t choose to lead the White Maw, it opens up new options for what happens to the pirate gang that are independent of how you choose to deal with the Cloaking Alien.  It really feels like you can actually role play in this chapter and feel like you are your playing YOUR smuggler and not just a light/dark smuggler.  A feeling that does have the tendency to permeate a lot of the other stories.  It’s not speaking less of the other class stories as much as it speaks much higher of the smuggler.

In terms of the chapter structure, Chapter Two felt mostly like a bridge between the end of Chapter One and the setting up the starting of Chapter Three.  It does deal with the consequences of becoming the notorious finder of Nok Drayan’s loot and does a fair job showing how that kind of exposure ups the stakes for you.  It also thrusts you into the realm of being not only the target of Rogun the Butcher – still on your tail since the prologue might I mention and one of the only main villains that spans all four parts of a Class Story – and starting to reveal the Voidwolf as a serious threat.  The Voidwolf is ruthless, cut throat and efficient.  Imagine Grand Moff Kilran if he was raised in the mob instead of an Imperial Academy.  That’s the Wolf.

Chapter Two also starts to lay the groundwork for the more or less three major archetypes your smuggler can follow: The Republic Hero, the Contractor, and the Pirate King.  To elaborate, you can tow the government line and support the Republic and try to do the right thing and end up being this mythic folk hero of the Republic.  Not bound by rules, but still looking out for the little guy.  The Contractor is more of a ‘in it for myself’ kind of vibe.  You do the job, you get paid.  No loyalties beyond yourself and MAYBE your crew.  Finally, you can actively try to use the Republic’s work to your advantage, build alliances, and gain subordinates while putting together your own little criminal empire based out of Port Nowhere.  Honestly, I found that route to be very fun.  These three trends will continue to play out through Chapter Three culminating in the grand finale.

We also gained the remaining members of our crew in this Chapter.  There’s Akaavi Spar who is a mandalorian.  Her personality is that she is a mandalorian.  It’s like honor this, and clan that.  She doesn’t even like you very much when she first joins the crew, viewing you as some sort of cut throat merc without dignity or honor (to be fair, she can be entirely right.)  If you prove her wrong, it can open up a romance option with her.  Honestly, I didn’t find her to be anywhere near as intriguing as Risha in terms of the romance department.  She spends most her conversations talking about revenge and how you surprise her.  It doesn’t help it that her voice seems almost constantly monotone about everything unless she’s angry.  So happy and sad Akaavi are creepily similar voice inflections.

The last member of the crew is Guss.  Guss is a drop out Jedi who is force sensitive…  kind of.  He can do a couple of things with the Force – but nowhere near enough to do anything like the most basic padawan can achieve at the start of Tython.  He left the Academy and fell in with Rogun and his goons.  Guss can be viewed as annoying lost puppy that won’t start barking.  He’s got a serious hero worship thing going and I can see how it would be annoying to some people.  Honestly, beyond trying to teach good ol’ Guss to be a proper criminal and to come to grips with what he wants to do with his life, there’s not much to say about him.  Oh, he’s a Mon Calamari.  There’s that too I suppose.

<– Chapter One || SMUGGLER || Chapter Three –>

SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Smuggler – Chapter One

<— Prologue|| SMUGGLER || Chapter Two —>

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the first chapter of the Smuggler storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  To see a spoiler-free summary of the storyline please check this page instead.

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Oh the life on the open space-way.  The thrill of adventure, the sights and sounds, the constantly having a jerk tail you around and try to kill you.  Yes, when last we left the Smuggler we had just retrieved our starship from the dirty double dealer known as Skavak, who had stolen it in the first place while you were trying to unload some ‘illicitly transported’ guns to the war torn world of Ord Mantell.  Seems that Skavak was working with a woman named Risha and he was stealing everything they needed for some epic quest to obtain the long lost treasure of the fabled space pirate Nok Drayan.  Course now that all that stuff is on your ship and you have your ship, Risha is more than willing to deal with you instead of Skavak. Which puts you on the fast track for fame and fortune as soon as you finish the most epic of trading side quests since trying to get Big Goron Sword in Ocarina of Time.

Taris

The Treasure Hunt begins. First you need an astro map from a vault on the bombed out world of Taris.  Risha has a contact that doesn’t much like her, so it’s up to you alone to seal the deal and get the map.  But as always, there’s a hitch.  To get to the map, Beryl Thorne needs to finish her jobs on Taris and her partner came down with a slight case of the Dead.  So it falls to you to finish the jobs and make the deliveries so you can get your map.  First task? Deliver some sensors to a scientist.  Turns out he needs some help setting them up and is willing to pay as well, so that’s a quick hop into Rakghoul territory to lend a hand.

Next is to go pick up the second delivery, which were found with the tattered remains of Beryl’s partner who got Rakghoulified it seems and dropped off with the Republic Outpost.  To make matters worse, you seem to have gained the special attention of one major workaholic customs official that seems to constantly pop up wherever you go.  Luckily, the sergeant that has your next delivery is willing to make a sweet deal. Turns out he knows Risha too! (Who doesn’t?) And for a little help dealing with the local scavengers, he’ll make sure you get not only your next delivery but a tasty side of diplomatic immunity.

Now with the last delivery, it’s time to collect the core samples and get back to Beryl. Right? WRONG! Turns out the core samples were stolen by scavengers during a raid.  Aw man.  Time to recover the supplies and find the core samples which reveals that Beryl’s old partner was neither dead nor a rakghoul. In fact, that deveronian son of a hutt actually just backstabbed Beryl to steal the core samples – which are really Tarisian relics – and sell them on the Imperial market, instead of selling them to Taris survivor descendants for a modest finder fee. What scum! So a pox on him and back with the core samples so Beryl can tell us where to find our vault.  Which she does!  Only there is – say it with me now – a problem.

Turns out the vault is in “Zone Zero” a no-mans land area of Taris where there are worse things than Rakghouls wandering about.  So it’s time to check back in with Risha and see if you two can whip together a plan for how to get into that vault! Luckily Risha is prepared. Because Risha is always prepared. So you get to the vault deep in Zone Zero to find that Skavak’s men are already hammering away trying to get into the vault, and boy oh boy are they not happy to see you.  Skavak is, however.  This is the perfect chance to kill you and get the map.  Not that it happens that way.  You kill the goons, grab the map and hop back in the ship on your way to Nar Shadaa.  Even Risha gives you props.

smuggler_ch1_02Nar Shadaa

You know, it never occurred to me until this point that despite it being essentially the Hutt capital not many class stories actually deal with the giant slugs themselves.  I mean granted a lot of the time you are there for some kind of clandestine operation and getting the authorities (if you can call them that) would be detrimental to your cause.  But would be really be so hard to say “Hey, have you seen this guy? Also, here’s a thousand credits. You never saw me.”  I dunno.  Nar Shadaa seems like an easy place to buy people off is all I’m saying.

The reason I bring this up of course is that unlike most class stories the smuggler is dealing with a Hutt directly.  Well, some of the time.  Most of his time you’re dealing with his assistant/butler/majordomo person thing. Apparently our dear friend Risha has lined up a deal (or as the Hutts refer to it – a non-binding passing interest) to exchange a rare animal that is identical to but named differently than the hundreds that I’ve slaughtered across multiple worlds for an experimental starship engine.  Problem is that the Hutt wanted it as part of a pair – the last male and female of its species – to eat (Yes. Eat. He wants the ‘rarest’ meal in the galaxy.) And since some PETA wanna be’s stole his female, he doesn’t exactly have any need or desire for the male.  However his butler-person suggests that the Lord of the Feast is frivolous when it comes to changing his mind, so if you can find the other beast then the worm’s interest in yours may be renewed.

And that’s the general set up for the most of the planet. Running around and trying to track down the Alien Animal Liberation Front to get back the creature they stole so a Hutt can gorge himself on it.  I’m not saying the hippies don’t have a leg to stand on here – these are the last two of an entire species after all – but there’s no room for mercy when you want to be King of the Space Pirates.  Or at least not for ill tempered carnivorous beasts that look the same to species that I know for a fact aren’t about to die out because they keep bloody respawning!  Your adventure eventually leads you to a mad scientist who in a delicious bit of irony has the PETA-phile locked up in a cage to experiment on.  She apparently wanted to deal with the mad scientist to get the animal off world but instead became a test subject for what I will assume will ultimately be some sort of cyborg human centipede thing. Silly mad scientists, but not stupid because as soon as you explain who the animal actually belongs to the doc quickly returns it via hover sled because he maybe insane but he’s not crazy enough to cross a Hutt. Beyond that the only real choice is whether or not to leave the activist in the hands of the mad scientist.  Do you want to fight for the safety of the rich girl with a token cause that just dragged around all of Nar Shadaa?  Or just leave her there to get some… new life experiences? Up to you really.

There’s also a B-plot to this planet that comes up every time you meet with the Hutt’s traveling all-you-can-eat pleasure cruise of hedonism that sails around Nar Shadaa involving a wookie named Bowdaar.  It seems that Bowdaar is a slave to some random gambler that couldn’t pay his debts to the Hutt and thus left Bowdaar as collateral until he could return with the payment.  He never came back.  So now the Hutt uses Bowdaar for ‘entertainment’ and pits him again mercenaries, gangs, starved wild beasts, and anything else the worm can dig up all the while trying to handicap Bowdaar by doing things like poisoning him, draining his blood, and putting him up against massive odds.  I think the point of this whole thing was meant to contrast with the PETA Patrol trying to save the alien porkchop but it never really clicked for me.  Wookies are intelligent, the mutated Akk Dog thing is not. Wookies have societies, can use tools, build homes.  The combo platter again does not.  So it seems weird to try to equate either of these things.  Then again, I have met people who view animals such as dogs as more valuable than people, so maybe that’s what their going for.  Except the Hutt was going to eat it and render its species extinct…  so…  Hutts are horrible. That’s the moral.  Hutts are ****ing horrible.

Once you prove to the Hutt that you and Bowdaar are more trouble than your worth, you get your engine and you get to keep the wookie.  Bowdaar is one of the BEST companions because a) You get him in Act One and b) he’s not Corso.  So now you can bring someone else along instead the space hillbilly.  He’s honorable, enjoys fighting, but not brutal massacres.  He also apparently knows how to bar tend based on a few cutscenes on the ship.  Generally the big thing with Bowdaar is that he honestly just wants to be treated like a person.  Not a slave. Not a ‘thing’.  Keep that in mind and his affection will soar during your conversations with him.

Interlude

So before you can head off too far you pick up a distress signal from a lovely lady.  Her ship broke down waaaaaay waaaaaaaaaay out in deep space and she needs a hand.  You know, because this doesn’t sound suspicious at all. But hey sure anything for a lovely lady, not my smuggler has made any headway on the whole Risha angle.  Speaking of which, Risha warns you that this may be a trap and she’d rather not get stranded out in space with no captain and all the cargo.  She advises bringing the wookie.

This interlude is short.  Extremely short.  The whole area consists of maybe three rooms with a few fights dotted in them.  When you reach the end, you find out that it is actually – dun dun dun – a trap.  Looks like the stranded lady is actually one of Skavak’s presumably many ex-girlfriends and figures killing you will win back his heart for her.  Unlikely, as Skavak is just as convinced as I am that this young woman is a bit unhinged.  She sics a bunch of robots on you and when that fails falls back on her portable blaster shield to protect her. Which is does until Skavak reminds her that the batteries on those things are notoriously short and hangs up.  Sure enough like a well timed comedy routine the shield comes down and you can then deal with her as you see fit: blast her or let her go for being a poor deluded sap trapped in the web of love and lies that is Skavak’s dating life.

The best part for me though was coming back to the ship to start working on my own web of love and lies by blatantly lying to Risha when she immediately assumes it was a trap and you were a fool for even bothering by telling her that it wasn’t that at all.  The lady just needed some space gas.  That’s all.  All handled. No prob.  I’m the man now uh… dawg?

smuggler_ch1_03Tatooine

Meanwhile, in a completely different plot.  A lone Jedi searches the galaxy for a ruthless Sith. Her journey has taken far and wide but she has finally cornered the enemy of all things good on the backwater world of Tatooine.  There she seeks out information and bumps into a smuggler who literally knows nothing and normally that’s where it would end.  Except the story isn’t about the Jedi is it?  Yes, Tatooine is a quirky little chapter of our storyline where our smuggler gets trapped in the middle of an epic feud between the forces of Light and Dark and pretty much has nothing at stake in the fight.  Really! You’re there to find some reclusive gangster and make a trade for a rare navigational computer, and that’s it.  You got meet with his lieutenants, figure out how to enter his secret desert hideout, and go make the swap.  But somehow you keep stumbling into this massive battle between a Jedi and Sith almost like your the cast of Blazing Saddles breaking through the sound stages for other movies.

You first bump into the Jedi at a local bar where she deals with some local rapscallions before chatting up with you.  She advises you to leave, to give up your wicked ways and is completely ignorant to any attempts at flirtation.  Unfortunately for her, you have business to do.  Business that requires breaking into an overrun warehouse and getting a fancy horn, because only the person holding the horn may speak to the gangster (Apparently the gangster learned how to run his operation from kindergarten teachers.) On your way to pick up the horn, you bump into the Sith who is also looking for the gangster for some other unrelated to what you want reason.  The Sith says that since you and she are both looking for the same guy, why not team up?  If you’re a male smuggler, she even not-so-subtly offers you a uh… “once in a lifetime experience” behind closed doors if you agree to work with her.  Well…   that’s a first.   I don’t think my bounty hunter ever got the ‘Don’t freeze me in carbonite and I’ll jump your bones’ conversation option.  Though personally, I find in my best interest of NOT DYING to stay as far away as possible from between a Jedi and a Sith, so I declined and went along my merry way.

Except that when I go meet up with the lieutenant to pass along the horn so he can show me the way to his boss, the Sith shows up AGAIN.  Only this time with a battalion of Sith Troopers to take the horn by force.  The henchman scoots away through a hidden door, leaving me to fight them all myself.  I’d be more upset by this, but lest we forget who we are dealing with here.  This is the fabled scum & villainy of Tatooine after all.  They would leave you behind as they save themselves.  Luckily – kinda, sorta, not really – just as the last of the troopers falls, the Jedi shows up to help.  She warns you again to give up your ‘wicked ways’, is blatantly oblivious to any kind of flirtatious subtext, and is devoutly set on finding the Sith… still. Luckily, now you know where the Sith will be and it’s time for the dramatic showdown.

The setting? A picturesque oasis hidden in a cave in the Dune Sea.  The objective? Try not to get killed by the wacko light and dark side zealots while making a deal.  It’s a duel of the fates, a battle of the heroes, and I am really just trying to stay out of the way here.  I just came for that computer over in the corner.  Can I just… no? Sigh.  So sure enough things get nice and heated once all the parties assemble, and the fact that the gangster is a recluse who hates people and noise makes this even worse.  You do get the choice in the end of who to help – the Sith or the Jedi – and the game is nice enough to offer a ‘This is none of my business’ option (which mechanically means you help the Jedi kill the Sith and the Gangster).  If you don’t help the Sith willingly, she will try to mind control you which you have the option to simple laugh at her for, then she tries to mind control your companion.  Now I don’t know if this is different for other companions, but I had Treek with me (I usually do) and Treek just stared blankly at the Sith which was hilarious.  The gangster gets fed up and calls in a bunch of droids to kill everyone – you, the Jedi, the Sith, his own lieutenant – and the rumble begins!

And when the dust settles it’s just you and whoever you helped left (and maybe the gangster if you help the Sith, but I doubt it. She just wanted a little red box, so why keep him alive?)  You stroll over to the corner, grab the computer you came to this litter box of a world for and leave. The end.  Oh okay, you can flirt some with the Jedi or Sith.  It actually finally clicks that you want some lovin’ with the Jedi too and she promptly shuts you down BECAUSE SHE’S A JEDI!  It’s kind of a core tenant that they don’t get their freak on, and everything about this girl has indicated that she is a tried and true Captain flippin America of a lawful good light side Jedi.  Not a shocker.  Funny. But not a shocker.

smuggler_ch1_04Alderaan

Alright, home stretch on this treasure hunt.  We only got three delivery/trades left and then we can go grab that sweet sweet loot.  Luckily, two of them are here on Alderaan.  The first is that old junker robot that Skavak stole way back on Ord Mantell.  It’s going to a pair of siblings from House Teraan who want to prove that their house is owed a considerable debt from the other houses and want to use it to propel their family back into the big dogs of the Alderaan Nobility Circuit (Now on ESPN-15).  However, they need an ancient datapad ‘acquired’ from their former holdings now controlled by their dreaded rivals of House Baliss.  Of course. Is there anyone or anything on Alderaan that doesn’t have ties to the Noble Houses? Like some farmer off in the hills named Larry Smith who has no ties to nothing save his land, his nerf, and his shotgun?  I’d like to see that.  I really would.  You go and shoot your way through a bunch of Baliss goons, grab the datapad, and bring it back. Easy as pie and you got a new radiation shield schematic for your ship.

The second delivery however is where things start to get more complicated.  This one is to deliver that creepy head in a jar to the museums of House Alde.  And because I’m sure someone will bring it up if I don’t – Yes, the head belongs to Darth Bandon from the original Knights of the Old Republic who killed Trask Ulgo, distant ancestor to the current King Boris Ulgo of Alderaan.  Trask is apparently revered as a hero, and thus the head of the Sith who killed him is some way for House Alde to kiss up to the King, despite the fact that Trask didn’t even make it out of the prologue/tutorial level of that game alive.  Oh, but I said it got more complicated didn’t I?  Well, here’s the thing.  Someone already delivered that head you just walked in with.

Yes, you read that correctly.  Someone else already sold the Head of Darth Bandon, and it was already authenticated by the Curator’s lovely female assistant Neva who confirmed that it was authentic. So clearly yours is a fake.  Right?  Well after finding that Neva has vanished and some double checking (What? Check something more than once for authenticity?! Truly a scandal for any museum!) it turns out that YOUR head is the real one and the other was a fake.  But why would Neva lie?  Well, if you’ve been playing the smuggler – and I have – you probably already have a guess as to why the pretty female character lied about something.  Say it with me now in your best Seinfeld ‘Newman’ voice: SKAVAK!  It seems our persistent annoyance has jumped ahead of us in line to grab the Arkanian Hyperdrive Engine that the museum promised as payment.  Not sure what Skavak is going to do with it without all the other bits, but he could probably sell it at least.  Another strange note here is that I don’t think we ever actually SEE Nava.  Like at all.  Which I thought was weird since we’ve had face time with every other traitorous Skavak groupie.

So now begins another Skavak hunt.  You run to the space port where he left a nice note mocking you and introducing you to the team of Mercs (who I’m sure have ties to House Gorgonzola or something) he hired to kill you and also drop the plot point that he hasn’t had time to install that hyperdrive yet.  So he does plan on installing it.  Without all the other pieces.  That’s kind of like stealing the remote without the TV or DVD player and then running off into the night laughing about how you are so going to use the remote to watch a movie when you get home.  It’s not gonna work.  Skavak is either really dumb, or just being a #$%&.  I’m going to assume the latter. Risha says she knows where Skavak got to, but it’s in a House Thul (the house that works with the Empire) hanger.  I’m assuming the Imps have just forgotten about that whole incident on Coruscant.  So to sneak into the hangar, you meet up with a baron who speaks exclusively in Huttese because no one else on Alderaan does and thus its easier to keep secrets with and he’s happy to help you sneak in.  Mainly because Risha is blackmailing him with photos of unknown content or context from a ‘vacation’ on Nar Shadaa.

When you bust into the hanger, you find not Skavak but his mechanic there waiting for you. Skavak apparently had to run some errands.  The mechanic however will happily hand over the engine to you. He was kidnapped to install it and has no loyalty to Skavak but he wants to get the heck outta there before Skavak comes back and finds out what the mechanic did.  You get the choice of letting him go, killing him, or forcing him to sabotage Skavak’s ship first.  The last two are both dark side options, namely because the mechanic won’t have enough time to get out if he sabotages the ship essentially dooming him at Skavak’s hands instead of yours.

So you’ve made your deliveries and got your ship parts, so now it’s time to leave right? Noooope.  This mess of a planet won’t let you go just yet.  See those two House Teraan siblings have one teensy little favor still to ask.  It seems your smash-and-grab visit to House Baliss kinda was noticed (Dunno how. I was really subtle with those 20 corpses in their courtyard.) So their champion gunslinger duelist demands a formal duel to settle their grievances.  The siblings have come to you because you have a gun, and they suck at anything involving danger, pain, weapons, leaving the house, etc.  So you go and help them by fighting their fights for them.  You can have your silly honorable duel between men, or you can have some fun and play dirty.  I enjoyed shooting the gunman before he was ready by shouting “READY? GO!” really quick.  Then I did it a second time just to drill in the point.  That got the Baliss twerp to shut up and leave.  Now I can leave Alderaan.  Finally, no more nobility.

smuggler_ch1_05Finale

With everything in place there’s only one thing le- hold on. We’re getting a call.  A pair of Togruta you say?  Kidnapped?  Demand to see Risha alone.  I see.  Why are you calling me then?  Oh fine.  Apparently we need to go help Risha’s childhood friend and her husband.  The childhood friend has been kidnapped and is being held for ransom in some mine on Tatooine, her husband wants Risha (and by Risha’s insistence – You) to go get her back.  Risha arrives to find the kidnappers who apparently multi-criminal-classed into assassins ready to kill your…  I guess Risha is kind of like a boss.  Maybe a partner?  I dunno. They’re gonna kill Risha on orders of ‘His Majesty’.  No clue there, but that sounds Noble.  Buddies, I just got back from Alderaan. I’ve had it with Noble.  You are all dead.

Once the assassin-nappers are down, Risha meets up with her friend and reunites her with her husband.  They then never want to see Risha again.  Ever.  Cause they say it’s Risha’s fault any of this happened in the first place.  You can be a good person and help Risha patch things up with her friend, or you can join the friend in on the suspicion that there’s more to Risha than being JUST a business mogul/treasure hunter/starship mechanic/negotiator.  After all, there have been a lot of people we’ve bumped into that have had bad blood with Risha.  Heck, the only person that has anything good to say about Risha is Vette, and she’s in another class’ storyline! So what is going on here? Well, Risha can only ask you and her friends to trust her and that all will be explained soon.

That soon is actually soon for once as it comes right after your next and final delivery – the man frozen in carbonite – to a medical facility on Nar Shadaa.  It’s there that the man is unfrozen and is revealed to be…  DUN DUN DUN! Nok Drayan himself!  The legendary space pirate himself! In the flesh!  And cyborg bits!  And in a stranger twist… DUN DUN DUUUUUUUN! He’s Risha’s dad!  Did we just stumble upon a soap opera episode?  Who changed the channel on my computer?  It seems old Nok is dying from a horrible disease inflicted on him by a mutinous crew years ago.  Before he dies though, he wanted to ensure that his family’s fortune was found and retrieved.  He froze himself in carbonite with instructions for Risha on all the things she’d need to gather to get to the fortune which is on a ship headed directly for a black hole.  Nok promises you the entire fortune save one family heirloom which is reserved solely for Risha.  That heirloom being the family crown.  See Nok’s not just a pirate king, he’s an actual king.  The King of Dubrillion to be precise.  The Drayan line is the rightful rulers of the planet, but they were ousted years ago.  Meaning Risha is a princess.  Because every scruffy looking smuggler type needs a princess to romance.  (Does that mean now that Disney owns the rights that Risha is a Disney Princess?)

With surprise revelation theater now come to a close it’s time to go get that treasure.  Using every single new fangled gadget that Risha scrapped together, you make your way to the ship.  Which again makes me incredibly curious what on Hoth Skavak was going to do with JUST the Arkanian Hyperdrive.  Was he going to go after Risha on your ship next to get everything?  The ship with the wookie.  Yea, I would have loved to see that.  The ship is fairly simple.  Just a bunch of rooms filled with lethal robots who are on orders to kill any living thing on the ship.  Including the former crew you find out.  Apparently way way long ago, before even Nok Drayan’s peak, Nok and Risha’s ancestor –  Arak Drayan III – sent this here ship on a slow stroll to the edges of the galaxy and into a black hole.  He then activated the droids to kill all the loyal citizens that were operating it to ensure it would never be found.  Which is a perfect setting to end a pirate story on.  With a black hole.  So a space pirate story.  Also, I know this is nit picky and this is just one of those suspension of disbelief things you have to just go with in an adventure story on the high space-seas but daaaaaaaaaamn Arak III had some insane good planning skills.  He sent a ship on course for centuries to fall into a black hole?  It never hit a planet, an asteroid, got noticed, or nothing?  That is some skill.   Anyway, you grab the treasure and head back to the ship to head home only to find someone waiting for you.

Sigh… Skavak.  It just had to be Skavak.  He apparently knocked out your crew, stole Corso’s favorite-est blaster (Torchy) and is now gonna kill you, take the treasure, and steal your ship.  Oh, and if your a female smuggler you can apparently sleep with him.  Cause there’s time for that on the ship falling into a black hole.  It pretty much always ends up with fighting him though and he dies.  No there’s no choice in that matter.  He doesn’t even die in a cutscene.  You just kill him and loot Torchy.  Kinda wish I could have left him on the ship to get sucked into the hole though.  That would’ve been a fitting way for such a sucker to go.  Honestly, it’s a bit of an anti-climax but on the same hand it’s also not like there was some huge rivalry post getting your ship back.  Hell, his insane ex-girlfriends gave you more trouble than he ever did.  So in a way it’s almost fitting that the weasel goes out with a whimper instead of a bang.

Once you get back to Nok and Risha, Nok tells her that as a Queen she must now make the hard decisions and that a single spacer’s loyalty isn’t worth a fortune.  She should kill you and take everything.  Risha then actual defends you and says your a decent if not good man.  Wow.  I think that’s the first non-sarcastic comment she’s paid me this entire playthrough so far.  Nok collapses and dies cursing the ‘weak’ daughter that was raised in his absence.  Risha (Queen Risha?) ends the story of Nok Drayan’s fortune by deciding to stay with you on the ship.  She may have the birthright to the throne of Dubrillion, but she doesn’t have the means to claim it or to keep it once she doesn’t.  No army, no fleet – just a crown and a captain, and neither of those are gonna change the minds of the current rulers who are already sending assassins to kill her.

So Chapter One of the Smuggler’s tale ends with you being the hero that found Nok Drayan’s Lost Fortune.  Not that it actually means anything in terms of in-game money.  Do you how hard it is to pawn off priceless relics of antiquity?  So for now it’s kind of like having a lot of high priced stock in some major company.  You’re rich in theory, but not so much in the pocket book.  For now at least.

My Thoughts

Chapter One continues the prologue’s tone of fun and wacky adventure across space.  You flirt, make smart ass remarks, and generally can be as nice or as mean as you want without it ever really coming off as out of character.  The storylines are diverse and despite it being a looping task of trade X for Y planet to planet, it never goes about it in the same way – or at least never feels like it does.  It kind of reminds me of the Bounty Hunter in that regards only without the unsatisfying conclusions some of those bounties had.  Instead, everything in the smuggler story feels like it has some kind of weight to it.  Like you could honestly see these people come back and remember you later on in the story and for the most part you’d remember them.  With the Jedi Knight I saved so many people I started to forget faces and names (luckily there’s always one conversation option to remind you who they are) but with the Smuggler most of the NPCs you deal with are positively memorable and fun.  Even the bad guys as one note as they can be at times are some of the most memorable in the game.  Skavak is right up there with Tarro Blood as a guy you learn to love to hate (or for the female smugglers, just learn to love.  And then kill.)

Your companions feel fleshed out as well even before they join your party.  As much as I never did and still don’t like Corso, I would be lying if I didn’t ‘get’ his character by the end of the prologue. Same thing with Bowdaar.  You only briefly interact with him during the B-plot on Nar Shadaa, but when you do it is 100% character development and getting to know this wookie.  His plotline does nothing to advance the plot of trying to find the PETA wannabes, so it’s free to just give you tons of personality for the walking rug.  Risha spends most of her time doing two things: telling you what the next job is, and talking about Nok Drayan. There are a few gems of character development for her like when she actively shows concern for you when you leave on the interlude mission only to cover it in classic tsundere fashion with that she doesn’t want to get stranded in space.  To be fair, the lack of personal story on Risha’s part does play the bigger role of making her very mysterious.  She has contacts for days, continuously exhibits proficiency at task after task, and knows encyclopedic knowledge about the illustrious gangster for whose treasure you hunt.  By the time you get to the hints starting to drop in the early parts of the finale, you are on the edge of your seat ready to find out exactly who this woman is, and the payoff doesn’t disappoint – heiress to both a planet and the legacy of a pirate king, spent over a decade preparing for this mission, and pulled it all off to boot?  Risha’s one of those characters that you actually appreciate more on a second playthrough and can see what she’s doing and why.  One of my favorite companions to be sure.

In the end, like so many of these class stories, the prologue and first chapter form a complete narrative.  Unlike some of the others however, you will find that some of the groundwork has already been laid for where the story goes next.  Next time we dive into the exciting world of selling out to ‘The Man’ and becoming a privateer.

<— Prologue|| SMUGGLER || Chapter Two —>

SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Jedi Knight – Chapter Three

<– Chapter Two || JEDI KNIGHT ||

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the third chapter of the Jedi Knight storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  To see a spoiler-free summary of the storyline please check this page instead.

jk_chap3_01

The story resumes pretty much immediately after the events of Chapter Two, you’ve just spent an unknown expanse of time being completely eeeeevil and then freed thanks to a ghost and a giant raspberry Sith Pureblood named Lord Scourge, the former Emperor’s Wrath. The big reveal is that the Sith Emperor is using the newly restarted war as a cover for his grand design to wipe out all life in the galaxy, absorb their essence, and become some sort of immortal god-like tyrant to do as he pleases.  Why? Because according to Scourge, all the Emperor cares about is having power – as much power as he can get.  It doesn’t matter if he’s the Emperor of jack and/or squat so long as he has power.  I can definitely see how this man found a career in politics.  The first world we know the Emperor is going after thanks to Lord Scourge is the prison world of Belsavis, which was a secret up until recently (except we are immediately told that the Emperor had his eyes on Belsavis for a long time, so… good job Republic! Nice to see your Secret Keeping Skills have not improved since the prologue.)

jk_chap3_02

Belsavis

So we know that Belsavis is the target, and we know the identity of the Sith carrying out the duty, but we have no idea what they are trying to do.  Guess that means we’re playing detective?  Really the majority of the rest of the planet is just trailing these guys across the prison and trying to put a stop a crazy Death Cult from blowing up the planet so they can have ‘eternal death’ or some such (They kind of remind of the Necromongers from Chronicles of Riddick).  However, unlike the half dozen other times we’ve had to do this on Belsavis, these guys are actually SMART.  They set traps and diversions for you. Lure you to out of the way areas and then try to finish you off once they have you cornered.  They don’t succeed, but they are at least being intelligent about how they do things.  Hell, at one point in order to buy time they set up explosives along a volcano so that it will erupt on detonation and flood the prison with lava, so if you ignore the bombs and go after the Death Cultists, the bombs and lava will still kill a sufficient enough prisoners to fuel the ritual.  It’s essentially a win/win scenario in their eyes.  They either buy themselves enough time to get to their objective or still win even if you stop them with the lava.  Good. Fricking. Strategy. Oh god.  Finally, opponents capable of thinking ahead!

Their objective by the way is actually to detonate one of the alien (ie Rakata, because the Rakata are behind everything alien.  Including the Zabrak and Twilek apparently.) reactors that power the prison.  This will cause a chain reaction causing a massive explosion that will destroy the planet as well as the surrounding planets and maybe even their surrounding planets.  So it would be bad.  Luckily (almost by plot conveinence) you catch up to the Death Cult and have a knock out epic brawl with a squad of Republic soldiers joining the fight.  It’s actually kind of a cool scene where you get a half dozen veteran troops backing you up against a room of insane Imperials.

Belsavis also kind of sets the tone for this chapter.  It’s not the struggle to survive, or unravel a plot, or anything like that.  It is sheer heroism.  Classic save-the-day kind of stories as you and your team scour worlds to stop the machinations of what could be argued is the closest thing The Old Republic has to a Super-Villain at this point.  Even the Light and Dark choices are more applicable to how you save the day than are you a good or bad person, with Dark side heavily favoring military and tactical victory over philosophical noble sentiment.  Do you believe everyone deserves a second chance, or do you level the place to ensure none of these Imps can come back to bite you?  That kind of thing.

Interlude I

If you noticed, there wasn’t really much in the way of interludes – or non-planetary main story missions – in the other chapters.  Oh sure, there was a lot of running back to Tython to turn things in but not since we visited an asteroid and revealed Kira was a Child of the Emperor have we had an actual interlude.  Well, that’s about to change.  It looks like Jomar – that Jedi from before assaulting the Sith Emperor at the end of Chapter 2 that claimed you were going to turn evil – has vanished during a scouting mission and you are enlisted to find him.  Yippee.

Turns out he was investigating a Sith space station when he got captured by Leeha Narezz, the Jedi that you helped back on Hoth that joined you on the Sith Emperor mission.  She is an insane, evil, no good, dirty, meanie pants Sith now.  Wonderful!  She apparently lured Jomar there using his desire to find proof that you were evil, and then appealed to the fact that apparently the two of them were actually secret lover’s back on Tython.  Tython is starting to seem more and more like a gender separated dorm in college.  Everyone is hooking up when and where they’re not supposed to there.

You fight with Leeha and her droids who apparently also decided to become evil – and far more lethal – since Hoth, but she promptly snaps out of it once you beat her back to her senses.  Jomar decides to take Leeha back to Tython (wink wink nudge nudge?) and asks that you please stay silent about the truths you just learned about the two of them.  Naturally, it’s a morality choice between ‘The truth must be known, you sinner!’, ‘Like I give a crap what you do’ or ‘Pay me for my silence’.  Jomar also reveals that he overheard Leeha talking on the comm about a ‘Lord Fulminiss’ being sent to the planet Voss.  We have our next plot to foil!  Jedi awaaaaay!

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Voss

Ah Voss. That lovely world where no matter who you are, chances are the people here don’t like you.  Unless you’re the Consular I suppose.  They kind of like you then.  Anyway, we’re not here to make friends with the locals.  We’re here to stop Lord Fulminiss, which despite being weird as heck to write is one of the first Sith names in a while that isn’t obviously super dark bad (It’s actually derived from the Latin for Lightning.  So there ya go. You learned something today. Lucky you!)  Fulminiss has been working with a Voss Mystic and being a Sith is clearly up to no good.  However, the Voss Commandos who also are working on tracking down the missing Mystic just view your insistence that anything you say is just trite Republic propaganda meant to sway the Voss to your side against the Empire.  The Voss are painfully stubborn here and it creates a great bit of animosity as you are forced to work with them to finish the mission.

When you first track down Fulminiss to a cave, he’s already long gone but you get to see his ‘victims’.  Former acolytes and Sith apprentices that are foaming at the mouth insane trying to kill you.  Apparently the Sith Lord and the Voss Mystic have teamed up to create some kind of ‘madness plague’ (I’m having flashbacks to the Jedi Consular again…  I wonder if that’s where this guy got the idea.)  The next clue leads you the Shrine of Healing where it seems the same insane fate has befallen several of the Shrine’s healers, but this time the Mystic left a message that only his Commandos can activate.  The message is quite simple: He’s had a vision, you and the Commando must meet him at the Dark Heart in the Nightmare Lands.  Well, that pretty much ties the two of you to the hip.  Stuck in it till the end, eh?  So we’re going to the Dark Heart (again)…  only wait… no.  We can’t.  Cause apparently we need a map to find it.

Are you kidding me?  Do you know how many characters I’ve played?  Do you know how many of them had to go to the Dark Heart?  DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY NEEDED A MAP TO DO IT?  Give me a sec…  carry the four…  divide by pi…. NONE. No one else needed a map to find this place, but now we do so we have to go into the Gormak King’s Vault (if that doesn’t sound like an old school D&D adventure, I don’t know what does.  Again – Voss is just space D&D) and steal the map from an ancient horror that guards it.  This ancient horror was given dark power by an even more ancient horror that created the Nightmare Lands called ‘Sel-Makor’.  Sel-Makor is a name that will repeatedly show up in your adventures across multiple classes on Voss as pretty much the sole entity responsible for everything bad happening right now.  This time however, you get to help kill him!  No, seriously.  Well, as close as you can kill the non-corporeal essence of a world’s darkness (“I know now that Kingdom Sel-Makor… IS LIGHT!”)

You finally break into the Dark Heart to find Fulminiss, the Mystic, and a giant purple glowing pit that calls itself Sel-Makor.  It seems Fulminiss grand scheme was to use the ritual, which he improved using what he learned from the Shrine of Healing, with the power of Sel-Makor to drive the entire planet of Voss into a frothing rage and tearing itself apart in epic bloodshed to fuel the Emperor’s super ritual.  All in all, not nearly as good of a plan as the cult on Belsavis.  But that’s what you get listening to a Sith instead of a bunch of Imperial Military dudes: Crazy plans.  You defeat the Sith handily, but that’s not the end. Oh no. We still got the talking pit to deal with.

Apparently the Mystic’s vision was to help the Sith get to this point, just so he could be defeated by the Jedi Knight who in turn would escort the Commando so that the Commando could willingly sacrifice herself to seal away Sel-Makor.  Are you f-ing kidding me with this contrived crap? So this was all a big set up to throw the Commando lady in the glowing hole?  Couldn’t we have just done that from the start? God I hate the fricking Voss.  So much so that when presented with the option of letting the Commando sacrifice herself or take Sel-Makor’s offer of power to throw the Mystic in instead to fuel the ancient evil, I fricking pushed the Mystic in!  Take that you prophetic jerk.

Course then I had to fight the Commando and kill her. But you know what? I’m fine with that.  She was jerk. The Mystic was a jerk. The Sith was a jerk. Now they’re all dead. I’m leaving!

Interlude II

It’s time to find another Jedi Master Gone Bad. This time we’ve got Warren Sedoru hiding out on a Republic Cruiser. You run in, kill a few packs of mobs and bam! You’ve reached him.  Seriously, this interlude is oddly short but hey if it means one less spaceship I have to run around, I’ll take it. However, unlike Leeha, Warren seems to be enjoying himself immensely.  He’s taken the ship’s crew as hostages and plans to execute them in front of you.  Even when you defeat him and save the day, he proudly announces that he truly enjoys the Dark Side and its emotion fueled passions.  He mocks any desire to attempt to ‘cure’ him and says that now that he’s tasted the darkness that there is no way that he would ever want to go back.

This presents you with your choice: he is utterly unrepetent, he wants to continue down the path of the Dark Side even if you send him to be brought back to the Light.  Do you still try? Or do you declare this whole thing to be a worthless cause and just kill him?  It’s actually a pretty good question since until this point you haven’t really met someone that you had the option to save who was wholly unwanting of some sort of redemption.  Even the Sith on Tatooine was morally at odds with his path, preferring honorable combat over dirty tricks and ensuring victory by destroying the only means of stopping a doomsday device without giving you a chance to win it from him.  But Warren doesn’t want to be saved. He doesn’t want to go back at all, and states that he will very much fight against it.  So the choice to kill him is clearly the less risky option here, since if you do send him back to Tython and he doesn’t revert to the Light Side, you’ve got a devoted Sith running amok on the Jedi homeworld.

Regardless of what you choose, Sedoru does let slip that the Emperor’s next target to kick off the grand ritual of murder is the planet Corellia.  Since the war has erupted in full on that world, it’s pretty much just up to the Emperor to make sure it becomes the bloodiest battle of the entire war to get what he wants.

Corellia

So how do you stop a mad Emperor set to exascerbate an already in progress war? Well, to start with you’ll need an army.  Satele Shan, Master of the Jedi Order, has appointed you to be the Supreme Commander of all Jedi forces on Corellia.  This is where things get epic.  You start by rallying your troops from around the the city.  For the most part there will be just stand ins and random Jedi you recruit that were here fighting… UNLESS you actually saved a ton of people from the Prologue, Chapter One and Chapter Two.  Then all those people you helped, redeemed or saved will be the Jedi you’ll be fighting along side with in these battles. Even some of the Dark Side choices get revisited here. Like Bengel Morr, the former padawan of Master Orgus that you squared off against back on Tython in the Prologue, who you were given the choice of either redeeming as a Jedi, killing, or allowing him to go off and build power for you as your devoted dark side servant.  Well, if you chose that last one, here’s the pay off. At the complete opposite end of the leveling spectrum.  He shows up with a massive amount of weapons for your soldiers.

Throughout most of Corellia you are forced to make decisions on what to do with this newly acquired force of Jedi.  Normally, your objective will be set by the story but you’ll have two options on where to send your troops (because splitting up always worked in Scooby Doo and certainly isn’t one of the reasons Obi-Wan bit the dust).  There will be options like A) Stop the Sith from stealing weapons from a factory or B) Raid the corporate offices under a bribe from the executive to retrieve her personal assets.  Another is something like A) Help save wounded people at the Hospital or B) Assault the Sith while they are caught off guard celebrating all the Republic troops they just killed.  So in some of these cases it’s kind of obvious which would be the good or bad choice, and then some – like the latter – provide different objectives based on priorities.  Do you save civilians or strike a crippling blow to the enemy in the short window you have a sneak attack in? It can be quite the interesting dilemma.  But it’s not like these choices ever affect anything anyway.

On top of the possibility of running into people you’ve met and helped along your journey showing up, there are of course a bunch of other old faces that appear.  Doctor Godera, the master mind behind all those secret projects in Chapter One is here to lend a hand with a miniaturized version of Chapter One’s ultimate doomsday weapon: The Devastator. Of course, General Var Suthra is there helping coordinate the military along with your Jedi soldiers.  Sadly, things are not great for your non-Jedi friends as Godera bites the dust while your disable the Mini-Devastators but does manage to track down our last Jedi-Turned-Sith who is piloting a star cruiser in a suicide run to destroy the entire city.

You break into the ship and fight your way through it.  I won’t lie, by this point in just this story – not to mention all the other class storylines I’ve played through to this point – I feel like I could navigate every and any Imperial or Republic starship blindfolded.  I do not know why this is apparently the all time favorite set piece to use, but Bioware apparently loves them some starships.  That or the fact that there are only a handful of rigid layouts mean easy to copy-and-paste templates with less original artwork needed to be done for these dramatic moments.  I suppose that’s probably just the sacrifice of having 8 distinct class storylines along with World Stories and side quests.  Most of the ship layouts in the expansions that only have faction specific or wholly neutral storylines are far more diverse.  So while you don’t have all those unique stories, you also don’t have to run around the same starship layouts over and over.  Dunno if that’s a fair trade off to everyone, but hey it is something to keep in mind as the game moves forward.

As you finally square off with our final Evil Sith-Jedi – Tol Braga himself.  Meanwhile down on the planet, Var Suthra commands the forces to buy you enough time.  The battle with Braga is definitely one of those major action pieces.  Both the fight is enjoyable intense and the cut scene action handled well.  Braga is vicious in his actions, faced with the futility of his plan to convert the Emperor, he seems to want nothing more than just to die.  If that means letting the Emperor destroy the universe with him, so be it.  When you defeat him, you get the standard kill or save choice.  Unlike the repentant Leeha or the stubborn Warren, Braga begs you to finish him so that he won’t have to live with himself.  The choice is of course yours.  This decision is just yet another isolated case in a vacuum that won’t matter in the grand scheme.

However, what DID matter in the grand scheme was all those missions you sent your Jedi forces on during the course of the story here on Corellia.  See, if you took bribes, acted vengefully, and were all around abusive with your power (read: took all the dark side choices) then your forces have dwindled, the military denied access to resources, and the enemy allowed to run off with more powerful toys.  The final fight to hold off the Imperials is an uphill battle that costs lives.  Namely, the life of General Var Suthra.  That’s right, depending on your choices across Correllia will decide whether a named, plot relevant NPC lives or dies.  There is no immediate choice that affects this.  No (Save Him) or (Kill Him) choice to be found.  Just if you chose the dark side choices leading up to this, the military will be out-gunned and out-manned in the final confrontation and the General will die.  If you chose the Light Side options, the opposite will occur.

Holy crap guys.  Your choices actually affect things not directly related to that choice?  Like there are repercussions beyond the immediate numbers game of Light and Dark points?   That almost sounds like a BioWare game.  See, this right here is the kind of stuff I am hoping to see more of in things like Knights of the Fallen Empire.  Where your choices have outcomes that may not be immediately apparent but also make sense why that would happen.  If you send your Jedi to loot the CEO’s office for her instead of stopping the Imps from raiding the weapons factory, then the Imps will have better guns than you!  I won’t lie, the first time I played through the Jedi Knight I was your typical Lawful Good Paladin of Justice Jedi (One of my favorite character tropes) and I just thought Var Suthra was meant to live.  It didn’t even occur to me he COULD die, since he was a major character in all three chapters and never turned villain.  It wasn’t until my second playthrough as the complete asshole dark side Jedi that I found out that yeah, people actually die based on your choices.  It’s not a de facto win.  That was an awesome surprise here.

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Grand Finale

With the three Sith Jedi dealt with and the Emperor’s plans put on hold, there is really only one thing left to do: Kill the Emperor.  No, we are going to go parlay with him, or make him see the error of his ways.  Tried that, and look where that got us?  Instead, Lord Scourge will help us land in the heart of the Imperial capital of Kaas City on Dromund Kaas and have your team fight their way through the city to find a shuttle that will get you to the Dark Temple.  It really feels intense as Imperials spawn all around you, and the cut scene as you board the shuttle feels really dramatic with everyone wishing you luck and hoping you come back.  Oh, did I not mention they weren’t coming?  Yea, since the Emperor can do his whole mind control thing, it was judged best to not have anything living come with you.  Luckily, you have a lil’ droid buddy to help out.  T7 to the rescue!

The Dark Temple of course is crawling with guards and soldiers, and at one point there was a cool puzzle you could do in the temple to get a full set of gear.  Apparently, the puzzle was removed at some point, but all you originally did was push six buttons to change the light pattern on the ground until it made the Imperial logo.  The puzzle didn’t have an obvious hints to how to solve it, and the lights would randomly flicker which is why I suppose they took it out.  But if you just played around with it a bit, it became obvious pretty quick that you could make the Imperial logo with it and then it was just working out how many times to push each button to get the right layout.  It was a cute distraction.  It rewarded you with a set of level 50 gear for T7, so if you hadn’t used the droid since Coruscant like me, you could actually bust him out without the lil’ guy dying instantly.  Fear not about the puzzle being removed though, because the gear is still present in the form of a broken down droid on the spiral stairway up to the Emperor.

There is a moment where T7 will inform you that one of your crew – who all split up to help distract forces from dogpiling on you – has bit off more than they can chew.  I don’t know if this changes based on affection or something, because I can’t remember who it was on my first playthrough (I want to say it was Rusk) but this time it was Doc. You can choose to go help them, or stick to the mission and go fight the Emperor.  The only thing you really for going is an additional scene, some Light Side points and I believe some affection gains.

The good stuff begins when you get up to the Emperor and finally reveal that he is…  some random old wrinkly dude with red eyes.  Well, it’s no shock twist but we can’t all have that can we?  The battle with the Emperor is actually pretty awesome and is up there with some of the harder bosses to down at the end of the storyline.  In fact, the first time I fought him I was dying constantly until someone online showed me this little trick to defeating the Emperor:  at the top of the platform where his throne is, there are big pillars.  Use those pillars to constantly break his line of sight.  Everytime he casts anything just dive behind to the opposite side to make him stop, when it comes around smack him some and then repeat.  His only attacks will be instants and they are far from his horrible AOEs and Super Damaging Thunderblasts. You just dance around the pillar.  The second time I guess T7 or the gear he gets was buffed somewhat because the little droid actually lived for most of the fight and tanked the Emperor.  I didn’t need to resort to the pillar dance until around the 20% mark.  When you finally beat him, you can try to finish him or offer him a chance to convert like before.  It really doesn’t matter because a giant rock crushes him and he dies anyway (Okay, so both the Jedi Knight and Consular end with a rock crushing the final boss? Apparently all you need to kill a super powerful Sith is a boulder.  Why do we have lightsabers again?).

After that you get your big damn reward ceremony in front of everyone and get many thanks from anyone who didn’t die.  If you are a Light Sided Jedi, then Satele will reward you the position of Master (only two acts behind the Consular you meat-headed Jedi Jock) but if you are a Dark Side Jedi, Satele says that despite your deeds and her desire to reward you with the position for them, your journey has welcomed darkness into your heart and she cannot.  However, the military steps up and says that you did a ton for them (which makes sense, many of the dark side choices place military tactical strategies above compassion and trust) and they award you the title of Honorary General.  Which would be cool until you realized that the Honorary prefix pretty much makes this whole title business mean diddly and squat.  Either way, your character gets the ‘Master’ title since back in the beta, people complained about not becoming a Master because they made dark side choices (Anakin Skywalker, SWTOR Beta Tester) so they replaced the dark side title of ‘General’ with just everyone getting ‘Master’.  A shame really. I always liked how Jedi in the prequels were automatically on par with Generals and even were called such.  That option sounded cool.  Oh well.

Looking Back/Final Thoughts

The Jedi Knight story is a classic epic space opera tale.  You start as a simple student with some special ‘Main Character’ sense about you, and then rise of to save the Republic from a devastating super-weapon, only to then take things up a notch in assaulting the secret fortress of the Emperor and then finally stopping the Emperor himself. The whole thing just builds and it never feels like it stalls out in terms of plot progression at any point.  I’ve gone on record to call the Jedi Knight the ‘essential Star Wars experience’ and I mean it.  Pretty much everything you may have enjoyed about the Star Wars movies – original or prequels – is in here at some point.  Heck at times you are pretty much hitting the same journey as Luke Skywalker note for note.

The Jedi Knight also sets up a great deal of the world building for the expansions and patches that followed.  The defeat of the Emperor becomes a major plot point that resurfaces at the end of the Makeb story and is a major component of Shadows of Revan leading up to the Emperor’s attempted resurrection on Ziost. All of this is set in motion by the events of the Jedi Knight.  Now you might note that I did say the ‘defeat’ and not the ‘death’ of the Emperor.  That’s because you don’t kill him. Not really.  For those confused about how this happens, you’ll want to play the Sith Warrior storyline or read my reviews starting here.  Essentially, the Emperor you face is the Emperor’s Voice. One aspect of the Emperor.  Technically his second voice, since the first one in this timeline of events died on Voss and then this new one took its place and now its dead.  Dang. The Emperor keeps losing his Voice. Maybe he should try gargling?  This also plays in the difference between what the Republic sees on Makeb versus what the Imperials see on Makeb, because Saresh announces that you killed the Emperor, but Marr reveals that he may be dead but it’s just as likely that he’s in hiding and regaining strength.

For these reasons alone, I always recommend the Jedi Knight as a ‘must play’ for those interested in the story.  While the Sith Warrior gives some ideas on how Emperor Vitiate actually functions as an entity, it’s the Knight that details his motivations, goals, and the way he operates as an enemy.  Oh and after Ziost, I have no doubt we’ll be seeing him again.  So I recommend this storyline wholeheartedly.  It may be a bit cliche, but let’s be honest – so is all of Star Wars.  If we didn’t want classical tropes in a space setting, we would have stuck to Star Trek or Lord of the Rings.

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<– Chapter Two || JEDI KNIGHT ||

SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Jedi Knight – Chapter Two

<– Chapter One || JEDI KNIGHT || Chapter Three –>

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the second chapter of the Jedi Knight storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  To see a spoiler-free summary of the storyline please check this page instead.

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Alright, welcome back to the epic quest of the Jedi Knight to stop the forces of evil.  Only we already did that at the end of Chapter One.  As I said, just like the Trooper and Bounty Hunter, the Prologue and First Chapter of the Jedi Knight’s story is a complete narrative and wraps everything up nicely at the end.  It could have easily been the end if not for that pesky “We’re only level 30” thing.  So we have two more chapters. But UNLIKE the Bounty  Hunter and Trooper stories, the Jedi Knight knows exactly what story to tell with the remaining chapters: We’re going after the Sith Emperor.  Oh joy! Could the stakes be any higher?  I think not.  Yes, this is probably one of the most defining plot developments in the game, since the result of Chapters 2 and mostly 3 of the Jedi Knight will set the stage for what we would later see in the Shadow of Revan and the happenings on Ziost.

The story begins with you returning from R & R on your ship only to be contacting by the spectral image of Master Orgus Din.  He’s a ghost!  Which I suppose means we need to watch out for the Sith Inquisitor.  Orgus reveals that there is a trapped and dying Jedi on the planet Tatooine that needs your help, and carries information that will be vital to fulfilling your destiny.  So you travel to the middle of fricking nowhere in Jundland to find a crashed starship and a bunch of Sith gold mobs.  The Jedi is chilling out and meditating in the ship.  So… he is saved? I think?  Was I necessary?

Apparently, he couldn’t send a distress signal because techno babble and the plot demands we save him but he is carrying news that he must deliver to the Jedi Council on Tython and urges you to deliver it while the medical crews arrive for him.  So you go to Tython – a statement for the record you will be hearing A LOT in these next two chapters.  You waste a ton of time going back to Tython for one cutscene again and again.  The Jedi Council reveals there master plan that the info was for: Their going after the Sith Emperor.  But first, they will need some things.  You are tasked with helping other Jedi Masters on planets to help gather the necessary resources to have everything you’ll need for a successful assault on the Secret Invisible Space Stronghold of the Sith Emperor (Ask them about their Seafood Combo Platter) and capture him.  Yes, capture.  Apparently they don’t want to kill him because it would create a power vacuum.  Boo.

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Balmorra

This planet is where the Secret Invisibile Space Stronghold of the Sith Emperor’s (Try the Veal) cloaking shield was developed. The hope is to find the original prototype of it so the Jedi can jury-rig a device to cancel out the cloak.  Of course, since Balmorra is heavily entrenched in a battle to oust the Sith Empire who have a hold on everything here, that means teaming up with the Resistance.  Who don’t like the Republic. This will be fun.  You also get to meet your liaison with the Resistance – a man named Doc.

Doc is one part humanitarian and one part sleazy skinamax star, right down to the mustache.  When he’s not trying to save lives or protect the innocent and making sure everyone gets a chance to live, he’s flirting with anything that remotely resembles a female.  If you bring Kira with you, he flirts with her endlessly. If you are a female, he will flirt with you endlessly.  And I mean ENDLESSLY.  It accounts for nearly 80% of his dialogue on Balmorra.  If you ever want to feel some empathy for women who have to deal with men hitting on them and swinging widely with pick up lines like they were a scythe – play a female Jedi Knight and meet Doc.  Dear god, I wanted to punch him.  He’s also the female love interest, which is all sorts of weird to me.  But hey, it takes all kinds right?  Someone has to enjoy that kind of person.

The next couple of missions are basically just grunt work soldier-ing for the Resistance.  Collect med packs for the wounded, take out guards and sensors so the Resistance can break into the computers to grab intel, and ultimately saving one of their spies that was trying to secure the prototype from an Imperial jail.  This spy however is ultimately revealed to be in great health for being imprisoned by the enemy for two weeks.  Like suspiciously good health.  It seems she cut a deal with the Empire to spill intel on the Resistance in exchange for safety.  The Resistance wants her dead on the spot, but it ultimately comes down to you – the Jedi – to decide.  It’s also during these missions you meet up with the Jedi Master you’re helping: Warren Sedoru.  He’s an old grizzled scar-covered Jedi who has a natural talent for reading people and tactical thinking.  He also happily admits to letting you do all the work since you’re youthful and far more skilled with a saber.  I like his honesty.  He’s a keeper.  Can I have him on the ship instead of Doc?

You finally grab the prototype by breaking into the Balmorran Arms Factory, a task that’s honestly way easier than it sounds.  You kill your way through some nameless Sith guarding the thing, likely tipped off from our spy friend that people were interested in the prototype and then go in to grab it to find that the Resistance is already there and ready to cart off with it.  Okay. First. What?  Second.  That’s mine.  Third.  What?  How did they get in here?  How did the Sith not notice them?  Were they crawling around the vents or something?  If that’s the case why didn’t I get to climb the vents?  Bah.  The Resistance says that since the prototype was made on Balmorra it belongs to them and no one else, screw you and screw the Republic.  You can either negotiate with them or just threaten them for it, you don’t have to fight either way I don’t think.  You get the prototype and get the heck off the planet.

Quesh

Time for a small side track from the mission.  It appears that Master Tol Braga (the Jedi who came up with this Kidnap the Sith Emperor plan) has a padawan that was a former Sith stationed on the planet of Quesh that he hasn’t heard from in a while.  Braga is worried about him since the tensions are rising between the Republic and Empire on Quesh, and he wants you to go make sure everything is alright.  Which, of course, isn’t the case.

Apparently, the former Sith is having a bit of a hard time getting over some his old bad habits.  Namely slaughtering a bunch of unarmed Imperial prisoners when they mentioned he was a traitor and that the Emperor’s Wrath was coming for him.  Now you can honestly help this Sith-Turned-Jedi overcome his temptation to the Dark Side, or you can convince him to embrace it fully because ‘Hey, it’s a war. Go kill people.’

The really interesting bit comes when the Empire breaks into the base and you have to repel them.  When you finally wipe them out, all of them, you bring up the force field for the door only to be greeted by a massive hulking Sith Pureblood named Lord Scourge.  Scourge is the Emperor’s Wrath.  The very hatred of Emperor embodied in a living person.  This is important because this is first time on the Republic side we are introduced to the concepts of the ‘Aspects’ of the Emperor.  Be it his Voice, Wrath, Hands, etc  the Emperor has many servants who act as vessels of his will.  They literally become a part of the Emperor.  There’s a lot more of this to be found in the Sith Warrior storyline where they go into it with greater detail, but this is an important thing to remember for what comes at the end of the Jedi Knight story as well.

Scourge’s appearance here however is little more than a glorified tease and cameo.  He talks to you, says some cryptic things, and then buggers off.  Okay?  Thanks for the visit, Scourge.  Quesh then ends with the padawan deciding to either return to Tython to cleanse himself of his Dark Side emotions, or to meditate on the concept of embracing them as a weapon for justice in what is a clearly soon to erupt war.

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Hoth

The second piece of the Secret Invisibile Space Stronghold of the Sith Emperor (Every Thursday is Sith Ladies’ Night) caper is to get the schematics and floorplans to the Stronghold.  Impossible, you say?  Well not to Jedi Master Leeha Narezz. She’s discovered that the only non-Sith to see the interior of the space station – the architect (because there are no Sith architects, silly. They don’t build up, only tear down!) – and apparently that individual crashed on Hoth with the schematics on board.  So we’re off on a scavenger hunt to find it.  Which seems to be just what you do on Hoth.  Go looking for things that crashed here.  This is what? The fourth time we’ve done this?

However, we do make a new friend in the process.  The Republic Military is lending a hand with this ‘save the galaxy’ mission and giving you full authority over the 301st.  Or what’s left of them as when you find them there are two remaining and one of them is dying. Our last good soldier standing is Sergeant Rusk, who is brutally efficient at his job.  He lists off success and failure in terms of percentages, he doesn’t care if you are wounded or dying you will finish the mission, and he’s not actually that much of  a jerk for it.  Just a guy who wants to be the best damn soldier out there and expects anyone who signed up for the Military to be willing to die for the cause.  It’s an extreme viewpoint, sure.  But he never comes off as mean.  Just a bit odd.  His men however don’t feel that way.  Even after replenishing the 301st’s numbers, everybody else views Rusk as a hard ass trying to make them do things like eliminate threats proactively and other things that equate to ‘work’.  I dunno. I dig Rusk.  I would like to trade Tanno Vik on my Trooper for Rusk.  Please?

The rest of Hoth plays out pretty simply with only the occasional diversion where the military calls you up wanting things in exchange for borrowing the 301st.  The first one of these is to take out Imperial turrets and its mandatory.  The second is to destroy ammo dumps set up by the pirates and you can talk Rusk out of doing it or just doing it himself without you.  The whole mission ends with you getting to choose whether you want to square off with pirates or Sith (There’s a meme waiting to happen) and breaking into a massive dreadnought ship to grab the schematics.  Narezz happily heads back to Tython to await you there.

I didn’t talk much about Narezz because she doesn’t seem to have much in the way of personality.  She instead has robots.  Two droids – the Meedees – that she claims will one day have the power to wield the Force like any living thing.   There.  That’s her whole schtick in just about every conversation.  “We need to get X oh bee tee dubs my robots are awesome.”

Finale

You want a big flashy finale to a middle chapter? Here it is.  This thing is huge, so pardon me if I may miss a beat here or there.  You return to Tython to get ready for the big assault on the Emperor when it’s revealed by Master Tol Braga that the endgame of this whole plan is not just to capture the Sith Emperor but to bring him back to Tython and convince him – through what I can only imagine is a well thought out and reasoned debate – to TURN TO THE LIGHT SIDE.  Oh geeze. I am so suddenly having doubts about this plan.  Not just me either, as the rest of the Jedi Council shows up to talk about their own trepidation with this plan. Namely that the Jedi I saved way back on Tatooine at the beginning of Chapter Two who was told he couldn’t go on the big important save the universe mission and you are going in his stead JUST had a vision! That you would turn EVIL if you went, so he should go in your place and save the day.  I clearly sense absolutely zero ulterior motive here.

You do convince the council the let you go and you begin the assault on the Secret Invisibile Space Stronghold of the Sith Emperor (Now serving breakfast) where you infiltrate and work your way through the base.  For those who have already completed the story on Ilum at some point, you might recognize the layout of this place.  I don’t know if it’s intentional but the Secret Invisible Space Stronghold of the Sith Emperor ( Original Fortress. DO NOT STEAL. ) has a very similar construction, layout, and design as the Not Secret But Totally Invisible Space Stronghold of Darth Malgus ( My OF is better than Your OF ) and I want to say that considering they are both cloaked, they are either the same fortress or Malgus totally intentionally stole the Emperor’s idea.  Anyway, you finally breach the Emperor’s sanctum and face off in combat with his Wrath, Lord Scourge.

Once you defeat Scourge, the other Jedi show up (Thanks for the help, guys), the attack on the Emperor begins proper and then promptly ends as the Emperor kicks everyone’s butt almost instantly.  You are the last one standing and even then you still go down to the POWAH! of his Sith lightning.  Once you wipe, the Emperor talks about how you all shall become his new weapons and his dark work begins.  Yes, indeed. You become Evil.  In a cutscene at least.  You train to become a powerful Sith, you kill innocents – or at least it’s implied.  I get kind of this weird disconnect at this point, because they say you have been under the emporer’s control for a long time.  Long enough that the other Jedi you were with become fully fledged generals of the Sith, but you never leave the Stronghold.  You are always shown fighting droids, and even at the end are “just” being given the privilege and training to interrogate prisoners.  So did you wage war in the name of the Sith? I think you do, but it’s never explicitly shown.  It sure as hell makes less of an impact to reveal that while you under Sith control you spent months killing Imperial droids over and over.

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After an unknown period of time, you are finally freed of the Emperor’s control thanks to a handy visit from Master Orgus’ ghost.  Who apparently took his sweet time getting in touch. I guess Jedi force ghosts are less reliable in manifesting than Sith ones, because those jerks are always around.  You jail break your companion from the Emperor fight and then book it to the hangar to get out.  It’s useful that you’ve been helping the bad guys for X amount of time, because now no one fights you on the way out.  However, when you get to the hangar, you find someone has already sprung all of your friends and unlocked your ship: Lord Scourge.  Yes, the big raspberry has decided to join forces with you to help stop the Emperor.  He has foreseen it.  No, seriously. That’s not a clever Star Wars joke.  He really did.  He forsesaw you fighting the Emperor. He wants to help because it turns out that the Sith Emperor isn’t out to win this war.  No… He wants to devour and absorb all life in the Galaxy to become a super-god.  And since Scourge lives in the galaxy, he kinda has a vested interest in seeing it not die.  You all hop on board the ship and… /sigh.  You head back to Tython.  Once there, you relay all this info to the Jedi Council and you begin your new mission: Stop the Emperor from killing everything.  Good plan.  I like it.  I’m happy to be apart of it.

Can someone else do it?

Final Thoughts

The second chapter of the Jedi Knight storyline is essentially the set up for the big climax.  The equivalent to the Prologue to Chapter One.  However instead of being a step back, it does very much feel like a step up in terms of scale.  You are preparing for what is probably the biggest mission any class in the game gets to experience.  On top of that, it gives you short but solid characterization for all of the Jedi Masters you are fighting with so that their defeat and ultimate fate in Chapter 3 actually carries some impact.

This chapter and the one that follows actually has some of the most crossover potential in terms of information given next to the revelation of what exactly happened to the Supreme Chancellor to cause the switch to Saresh from the Bounty Hunter story.  Here we find out what happened to the Emperor’s Wrath, which not only gives us a sense of how the third chapter of the Sith Warrior starts, but when since we also find out that Scourge doesn’t defect until after your “long time” in service to the Emperor.  Apparently the break between Chapter 2 and 3 of the Sith Warrior was quite a break.

The companions in this chapter are actually solid and interesting characters.  They have well defined personalities that don’t require to unlock half of their ‘on the ship’ conversations to get to know them.  You know that Doc is a flirt that cares about the well being of everyone, and that Rusk views the world in terms of calculated risk and victory.  Rusk is honestly one of the better ‘soldier to a fault’ characters I’ve seen done in the game.  Even Elara Dorne cracks that ‘by the books’ exterior here and there, but Rusk?  You either do the mission or die trying.  There is no quitting, no hesitance, no questioning a superior.  If you die, you will die in the service to the Republic and protecting the freedoms and people of it.  Doc on the other hand is the opposite and they contrast each other well.  Doc believes everyone deserves a chance to be healthy and safe.  He believes in prisoners over killing and that no one is above getting a fair shake.  He also constantly flirts with anything resembling a female to the point where I think Scorpio in the Imperial Agent storyline would be in trouble (until she fried him to a crisp.)  It’s interesting because it’s creepy, annoying, and ever present but at the same time – and I fully admit that as a man I might be completely misreading this and be so completely off base, so if any woman would like to weigh in on the comments by all means I welcome your experiences with Doc – but it never felt as…  insulting as Corso’s hypocritical attempts at chivalry.  It felt more like Ron Stoppable from ‘Kim Possible’ trying to get a date for the dance, keeps getting shot down but also keeps trying.  Then again, Ron Stoppable didn’t continuously try with the same girl that rejected him over and over and over.  So yea, back to creepy in a way.

Scourge spends all his characterization going, “Hmm. I see.  Unexpected. Interesting.” over and over and then he joins your crew at the literal last minute of the Chapter.  I will say that I did LOVE that his justification when challenged that Sith only act for selfish reasons is that wanting to save the Galaxy from the Emperor is horribly selfish as he does not want to die.  That right there made him my favorite companion for Chapter Three.  Sorry Kira, gotta bench ya.

The ending of the chapter is probably one of those things that really could go either way depending on how you interpreted the events.  You’re told you are the Emperor’s tool, that you have been for a long time, and yet it never explicitly shows you doing anything outside of killing droids for training under a Sith overlord.  If you honestly believe that you have been attacking the Republic under mind control, that is a big impact that not only confirms the visions about you, but would make the final chapter one of atonement as well as saving the galaxy and gives the eventual battle with the Emperor that personal edge of revenge that would tempt you to the dark side in a classic Star Wars fashion.  But how that actually plays out is to be seen next time.  Till Chapter Three, folks.

<– Chapter One || JEDI KNIGHT || Chapter Three –>

SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Jedi Knight – Chapter One

<– Prologue || JEDI KNIGHT || Chapter Two –>

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the first chapter of the Jedi Knight storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  To see a spoiler-free summary of the storyline please check this page instead.

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Last time on the Jedi Knight story, a Sith in disguise stole the plans to a bunch of superweapons that the Republic military was working on.  The Sith was defeated but not before the plans got out and his father, Darth Angral swore revenge on the Jedi Knight. Instead of begging General Garza to use their own elite team – Havoc Squad – General Var Suthra enlists the aid of a team of Jedi to track down the missing super weapons.  Master Orgus Din and Master Kiwiks were sent after two of the research facilities, while the young Jedi Knight and their new padawan Kira Carsen are being entrusted with less risky but totes still important tasks.

TARIS

Our first stop on this whirlwind world saving tour is the planet of Taris where no doomsday weapon awaits us but a scientist who makes doomsday weapons: Doctor Godera. Godera was the man who designed all of the superweapons for the Republic but left behind everything when the Treaty of Coruscant was signed.  He was convinced it was a bad move and that it was just the Empire buying time to regroup and wipe out the Republic once and for all.  So now he putts around in a swamp.  Not exactly my top choice for a retirement destination but hey, a good chunk of Florida is swamp and it seems popular enough.

We aren’t the only ones looking for Doctor Godera. Watcher One with Imperial Intelligence is also looking for him.  So if any of you Imperial Agents have been wondering why the Watchers start at ‘Two’, this is why.  This also raises some interesting flags if you are familiar with the Agent’s story because Watcher’s jobs are to do just what they’re name implies – watch.  They are not field agents normally. That’s the Cipher’s job.  So the fact that a Watcher is here looking for the Doc implies that this may not be a task that was issued by Keeper directly and sure enough that’s 100% true as it is revealed that Watcher One is reporting directly to our super villain for this chapter: Darth Angral.

Watcher One is actually one of the more competent villains you face. He reasons with you and tries to come to a result where you can both get what you want (he extracts the info he wants from the Doc, then hands him over to you with no fuss).  He uses decoys and disguises to ensure that he doesn’t risk personal injury in the pursuit of his goal.  He even sets up diversionary tactics like having arranging a meet between a Sith and some pirates to deal in lost Jedi relics to throw you off the chase long enough to interrogate the Doctor.  I kinda wish that Watcher One stuck around to be Angral’s right hand for this chapter but he is sadly a one and done villain.  Probably for the best though as I can imagine he would run out of tricks fairly quick over the course of an entire chapter.

The only other character of note is the good Doctor’s droid, who is an extremely snarky hunk of junk.  It calls the Republic cowards, it questions your more questionable decisions, and it is generally a fairly good comedic addition to the plot for this one world.  He’s kind of a HK-51 Lite, without all the ‘wanting to kill meatbags’ that comes with being a Hunter-Killer droid.  All the snark and none of the murder.  In fact the robot actually notes that it is NOT designed for combat and has no clue what to do if the Imperials come back for it.

I’d talk more about the plot but it’s really nothing of note other than just chasing the Doctor and Watcher One around the planet.  Most of the memorable bits come from Watcher One’s brilliant tactics that don’t feel forced or contrived, which considering I’m playing this right after dealing with two straight chapters of Darth Thanaton’s crap…  That’s a relief.

NAR SHADAA

Now we actually get into dealing with a super weapon: The Power Guard Project.  A super-secret project as in that only those working on it and General Var Suthra know it exists.  The Power Guard Project is designed to take any normal jane or joe and turn them into a cybernetically enhanced killing machine on par with a Jedi in terms of strength and ability.  Sounds awesome and morally questionable.  Truly this is the sci fi military we’ve been longing for.  One that would happily try to tame genetically engineered dinosaurs regardless of how many pesky civvies die along the way.  The only downside is that because its so super secret and no one knows about it, if a hypothetical Sith were to hypothetically take over – who would know?  Well that’s the not so hypothetical case here, and the SIS isn’t happy about it.

The SIS for those who are new to The Old Republic is the Republic’s equivalent to Imperial Intelligence – the Strategic Information Service.  They are the so called ‘good spies’ in this whole mess and they reaaaaally don’t like being left out of the loop. So when you actual meet up with the SIS, they are less than pleased with you and General Var Suthra.  Especially since it appears that someone is leaking SIS secrets, exposing agents and potentially compromising their secret location – down an not-hidden-at-all elevator in a completely empty shop with no doors in the business shopping district of Nar Shadaa. (Oh no! How did they find us!? /sarcasm)

Most of the story for Nar Shadaa is actually trying to figure out where the heck the base of operations for the Power Guard Project is located so you can shut it down and stop the Sith that has taken it over.  Through out the adventure you do discover more about what the project is and how its been accomplished.  You fight early prototypes of the ‘Power Guards’ and find they are little more than machines.  They don’t speak or feel and pretty much any higher brain function has been shut off in favor of making ruthless killing machines.  They don’t even question the fact that their loyalties have been literally switched over to the Empire.  Worse yet is the reveal that these former people were all refugees that the Republic picked up and turned into these monsters.  It’s only slightly SLIGHTLY helped by the information you discover that they were all supposedly volunteers.  Did they know that they wouldn’t even have a mind to think with afterward? Eeeeh, not touched on.

So by the end, most of the SIS is dead and their base is destroyed, you find Agent Galen – your original contact – to find he’s been turned into a Power Guard but has his mind left intact so he can bear witness and be fully aware of his actions even if he can’t help but obey.  You can opt to either kill or attempt to save Galen mark the first of a set of moral choices involving killing or saving people that seem inconsequential typical choices but actually do come into play later in the story.  Much later though, so we won’t talk about it here.  Finally, you take out the Sith – another flunkie of Darth Angral – who has upgraded himself into a Power Guard body but fully aware and in control.  What’s left of the SIS shows up to ‘mop up’ and you get one last moral choice of either preserving the Power Guard research data or burying and let the whole thing burn.

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INTERLUDE

Once you get back to the ship, you get a call that there is an Imperial admiral that is looking to defect.  One of Angral’s entourage. He’ll only meet you at a secluded mining asteroid.  Var Suthra insists that you and Kira go check it out.  I mention its a trap. Var Suthra says the possibility of finding out Angral’s plan is too great to pass up.  I ask for back up.  Var Suthra says that he won’t risking spooking the Admiral. I think Var Suthra is fricking helping the Sith and the fish faced bastard won’t look me in the eye.  I’m on to you, General.

So you get the asteroid and there’s no Admiral.  Just some blonde Sith.  Wonderful.  He explains that Kira is a Child of the Emperor and serves as the Sith Emperor’s eyes and ears (And as someone who has played the Sith Warrior story I’m now wondering if that’s an official designation like the Emperor’s Voice and Wrath, or they’re just being metaphorical.  I DON’T KNOW!) He tries to get Kira to come back with him to their ‘father’ and she refuses. Then you kung fu fight! Or just regular fight I suppose.  And that’s it for the interlude.  You find out that Kira is a Child of the Emperor, that she was born a Sith, that she ran away once she realized they had been mindwiping her, and became a Jedi.  I’m sure nothing will come of this.  Nooothing at aaaall.  Still, you are given the choice of coming clean with the Jedi Council about this, or keeping Kira’s secret safe.  Honestly I’m curious if there will be any long term repercussions to keeping the secret safe. Other than not being able to possible stop all the betrayal in the Jedi Consular Chapter Three…

TATOOINE

Back to the main plot, it seems that the two Jedi Masters that were on this whole Super Weapon plan haven’t reported in.  So now it’s time to go bail them out.  First up is Master Kiwiks who went to Tatooine to check on the Shock Drum, an ultrasonic wave emitter than can shake a planet so much that it would disrupt the core causing a planetary collapse. In close proximity to it, it would cause your body to fall apart.  Much more in line with what you think of when you hear superweapon or doomsday device.  Again, I just love unrepentant military mad science.

Most of the story here involves one of the scientists who worked on the device and her ‘family’ of jawa that have been helping.  They kind of start sending you around helping to reset the power and then the sensors so they can try and figure out where the Shock Drum got moved to.  The answer of course is in the middle of the fricking dune sea.  Yaay. But before we can go and stop it, you get contacted by another Sith flunkie of Angral’s.  Because apparently since the Rule of Two hasn’t been conceived for a few hundred more years, Angral has like a dozen apprentices or something.  This one is different though.  He explains that he wishes to duel you honorably and should you win he will give you the codes to turn off the Shock Drum, which he naturally changed after stealing it.

So you show up for the duel and true to his word it’s no trap, no back up – just a straight up duel between two combatants. This is actually one of my favorite moments because you actually get to see an NPC example of what is essentially a Light Side Sith Warrior.  He’s ruthless, passionate, vengeful and is more than willing to destroy a world on an order, but he is also completely true to his word and will give you a fair fight.  He also chose not to attack non-combatants when stealing the drum.  I don’t know what else to say other than I am incredibly impressed that this NPC made it into the game.  Also that he can be saved and convinced to go to the Jedi temple and join up with the Light Side there, or you can respect his wishes to die a honorable death for failing his master and strike him down.

With the code and location now in hand, it’s time to save Master Kiwiks from the Shock Drum.  And Tatooine. Of course.  Not like we’d leave this giant sand ball to its fate or anything.  You still have one more boss fight to go though, as the Shock Drum has roused a Sand Demon from its slumber and its attacking the Jawas who enthusiastically marched off to their doom to try and help you.  You kill the Demon and turn off the Drum.  With Master Kiwiks saved from the doomsday weapon, you send her back to Tython to heal. You get to choose what to do with the Drum – save or dismantle.  Chances are someone will be upset with whatever you choose so just go ahead and pick whichever you like.

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ALDERAAN

Finally, it’s time to track down Master Orgus Din aka Mister Old and Grumpy Master from Tython and deal with the project he was supposed to be tracking down – ‘The Death Mark’ (trademark pending).  Which I suppose could have been worse.  They could have called it the ‘DethMarc’ or something like a Rob Liefeld character from the 90s.  You arrive on the scene and meet with your contact, an ambassador from House Alde who introduces you to the only survivor from the attack on the lab by killiks (giant bug people. Just getting all of our mad scientist tropes out at this point.)  and then immediately the ambassador blows up.  See the Death Mark is apparently just a really fancy name for a targeting RFID tag.  You stick someone with the Death Mark and you can pin point blow them up with an orbital death cannon (trademark pending) and apparently the unlucky politician was one of those stuck with it.  The guards bust in right then and try to arrest you for killing the ambassador but the escapee woman says to take her and she will be held prisoner while you look for the real culprit.

Okay, let me stop you right there plot.  Wut?  I mean how does that make sense?  ‘You suspect this person is a murderer, so take me and let them go!’  Who would even do that?  Just because I’m a Jedi that makes me trustworthy? You clearly have not been paying attention to how I play my Jedi.  Why would they let you go?  So the plot can continue I guess.

You go back to the lab and kill all the killiks and free Master Orgus from being locked in a room with scientists (truly a spiritual leader’s worse nightmare) and discover that – Oh no! That survivor girl was actual the one who STOLE the Death Mark! Dull surprise! Actually, they did a pretty good job not tipping their hands for that reveal. Unlike say, the Bounty Hunter story who might as well put up huge neon lights saying ‘YOUR OPPONENT IS RIGHT HERE HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT’, I honestly didn’t catch this twist at first and it does make a lot of sense since she was meeting with the ambassador alone right before you came in.  It seems that she’s been targeting people at the behest of another Sith Lord who – say it with me now – is working for Darth Angral.  Her targets are all people who have been advocating for peace in the Alderaan Civil War.  The next likely target is the ambassador of House Thul that has been working with House Organa to draft a treaty of some sort.  So you call up the Organa guard and tell them to not let her leave only to find that… well… she’s already gone.

Yea, plot I’m going to have to stop you again.  So the prisoner you did keep.  You let her just wander around your palace unsupervised for the entire time and then did little to nothing to prevent her from leaving?  How the hell is House Organa even a contender in this bloody war?

So Master Orgus tells you to go save the Thul guy and stop the woman while he goes to try and stop the laser. You succeed easily since a true member of House Thul trusts no one, not even allies and you can kill or imprison the woman.  The Thul guy also knows how to find the Sith Lord behind the attack and gives you coordinates.  Time to team up with your master and kick some Sith butt.  Obi-Wan and Anakin style!  But no. It seems your trustworthy master lied to you.  He didn’t go try to shut down the laser.  He went after Darth Angral directly.  He’s on his ship.  Way off at the edge of the system. So it’s Obi-Wan and Luke style.  You know what that means, right?  Yea…  By the time you’ve got to the Sith Lord in his secured bunker, Darth Angral has captured Orgus Din and executes him publicly on the Holonet.  The Sith makes sure to tune in so you can watch.

Not terribly shocked, sad to say.  I mean, Orgus was just kind of a bland guy who never struck me as someone I cared about.  Yea, he wasn’t as clean cut as the other Jedi Masters, he looked the other way plenty of times, but hell until I got to Alderaan I had honestly forgotten his name.  This death seemed to serve more as setting up a parrellel to Luke’s journey in the movies so you feel like you’re getting a real Star Wars experience rather than an established and necessary death.

After that the story wraps up on Alderaan with the usual: kill Sith, stop project, dodge giant death beams.  Yea, Jedi can dodge those apparently.  And giant death beams can also just penetrate the impenetrable underground bunker. Why bother with the Death Mark? Just use that death beam.  It seems plenty useful on its own.

FINALE

Luckily, when you get back to your ship you find out that Orgus had the last laugh: he hid a tracker on Angral’s ship.  You can find him no problem now.  You track him to the Euphrades system, where the majority of the Republic’s agriculture is grown.  You know how Endor is nothing but forest, Tatooine is nothing but sand, and Coruscant is nothing but city?  Apparently Euphrades is a planet that is nothing but farms.  I would jump at the chance to be cut down by a Sith’s lightsaber then live on a planet that was nothing but farms.  But good news, everybody!  Euphrades is completely destroyed!  Like the atmosphere was ionized and set on fire, the land is destroyed, the water ruined.  It’s completely uninhabitable and any ship that enters the atmosphere is stuck there!  Yes, it seems the Devastator weapon is online and functional.

You catch a distress signal from a nearby medical ship and have to fight your way to the bridge against Imperial goons to save them and more importantly their data that might show how the Devastator works.  There’s a brief moral choice about whether you think the crew should risk their lives to go down to the surface and investigate a possible ping of life signs down below before heading back off after Angral’s ship who has reappeared at Tython.

It appears that the Jedi homeworld is the new target for the Devastator.  You have to fight your way through another ship (TWO SHIPS! ONE FINALE! Breaking new ground here.) to square off against Angral directly. He gives you crap about killing his traitor son again, and then Kira starts talking like the Sith Emperor and tells Angral to finish this.  You have your final battle with Darth Angral and strike him down, but then Kira get possessed again and you immediately have to fight her as well!  With (or without depending on dialogue choices) your help, Kira breaks free once and for all of the Emperor’s grasp (See, easy as pie.) and you return to Tython to be proclaimed big damn heroes and get Kira promoted to a full Jedi knight.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

Like the Bounty Hunter and Trooper, the prologue and first chapter of the Jedi Knight story is a complete cohesive narrative with a beginning, middle, and end.  By the end of Chapter One, all the loose ends are resolved and all the established villains are defeated and it does it in a fairly heroic way.  This story so far has proven to be the most pure ‘save the day’ super hero story you could get and as someone who likes that sort of thing, it was great to play through even as a super Light Side Lawful Good Jedi who never came off as preachy or holier than thou.  The Dark Side Jedi seems more snarky and cynical, often proposing military and tactical advantage over having sympathy for those hurt by those advantages being used against the Republic.

The planets themselves each brought a different kind of story so nothing felt repetitive despite it being four straight worlds of ‘find the thing, stop the bad guy from using it.’  As for villains, it was more of a mixed bag.  Watcher One and the Light Side Sith on Tatooine were stand out enemies that I thoroughly enjoyed watching every scene with.  The other two?  They’re pretty much interchangeable.  They have nothing unique or interesting about them that makes you want to remember them and the only reason I can keep them separated in my mind is that the one on Nar Shadaa wore a helmet.

The Jedi Knight Chapter One also is unique in the fact that you don’t recruit any companions in it.  At all.  You get T7 on Tython, Kira on Coruscant and you don’t get your next companion until Balmora at the start of Chapter Two.  On the flip side, you’ll get plenty of fun character moments with Kira and T7 depending on who you bring along on the missions, though due to the Child of the Emperor B-plot, Kira clearly gets more limelight than the droid.  The Child of the Emperor plot isn’t bad but it really gets relegated to a B-plot.  I don’t think it was super necessary to have it resolved so quickly. It’s not terrible though and it does carry a good amount of weight, I just think it could have been stretched out to build the suspense.  Especially considering what we start working towards in Chapter Two and Three.

Oh yes, ladies and gentlemen. Just like the Prologue and Chapter One were one single narrative, so are Chapter Two and Three and they are doozy.  But that will have to wait until next time. See you then.

<– Prologue || JEDI KNIGHT || Chapter Two –>

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