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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 –>

SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Bounty Hunter – Chapter One

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

<— Prologue || BOUNTY HUNTER || Chapter Two —>

bountyhunter_chap1_1There’s nothing like the thrill of the hunt, the rush of competition and utter carnage that awaits a competitor in the Great Hunt.  A handful of bounty hunters after the biggest prize in their profession, and not only do you have to take out your appointed bounty but also take out the other bounty hunter you’re competing with?  This is going to be fun.  Luckily, I got my best gal Mako working the intel angle, my freak called Treek packing a double barreled blaster, and a ship droid that…  apparently likes repainting my ship over and over.  Sigh…  Well, Miss Crysta Marko the Space Texan, where am I going first?

Balmorra

So our first target is some big wig admiral working on the seige of Balmorra.  Which right from the get go just goes to show you how different this is from any of the other Imperial class stories: Your first target in the Great Hunt is an Imperial Admiral.  Wow.  If that doesn’t tell you that the Bounty Hunter is on the outside of the Imperial power structure, I don’t know what will.   Unfortunately, said Admiral is a bit of a recluse.  He stays on his ship above Balmorra and never leaves the damn thing, and there is no chance of sneaking aboard something like that and not turning it into a suicide mission.  The next best thing is to lure him out.  Mako has a lead on an officer on the ground that works intelligence for another officer that works under the admiral and is looking to take over his superiors position by impressing the admiral.  Sort of.  See this is the Empire, where impress means “remove the competition” and thus is hiring for someone to discreetly sabotage his boss’ work on Balmorra and to make him look better by comparison.  I can’t POSSIBLY see how this could backfire, but what the hell it’s the best shot at dragging the admiral out of hiding.

The “accidents” you have to pull off are all pretty simple.  Help a slicer install a virus into the droid factory and then eliminate her as a loose end.  Stir the colocoids out of their subjugated state and into a full blown frenzy by killing their queen.  Finally, you steal a tracking device from a Republic ship being used to ambush and prove the link that the Republic is involved on Balmorra and stick on a garbage ship.  Each time reporting back to a gleefully scheming officer who stands in delight with his “pet” Cathar who I will refer to as Murglegurgle because honestly that’s the first thing that comes to mind when I see her jumble puzzle of a name.

After handling the accidents, the superior officer is so totally canned and you talk to the officer and convince him that the best way to show off to the admiral is to meet him in person so the duped officer calls the admiral to arrange for a meeting. Naturally, you and for some reason Murglegurgle are invited as well.  When you show up for the meet – and here’s a shocker – the Admiral is MAD at the officer because these flubs should have never happened if he was doing his job as intelligence. Ha! Don’t care. Time to take out an admiral.  But wait! There’s a surprise twist: Murglegurgle is your rival bounty hunter for the hunt! I am so shocked! Only not!  Because she clearly had alternative intent all through the planet chain.  She was always listening in.  The camera always included her in the background watching the conversations.  Still it was a pretty good build up for the twist and other than the camera angles hinting something was up, she never came close to tipping her hand in the whole thing.  Which was impressively done.  So with Murglegurgle dead, and the Admiral bagged it’s off to the next hunt.  Oh I suppose you can kill the wormy officer if you want. Don’t know why you would.  His dumb ass just helped you move on in the Hunt.

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Nar Shadaa

The next target is a former assassin turned security expert calling himself the Eidolon. Crysta is kind enough to point you to a contact named Gele’ren, a twilek who wants the Eidolon gone on behalf of the Hutt Cartels and who happens to work with Anuli, an old friend of Mako’s (Boooyfriend? COMMENCE TEASING!) and would like to see the Eidolon taken down to improve his stature with the Cartel and maybe become a boss himself.  I’m not entirely sure how the Cartel hierarchy works here. Sometimes they work like a gang, sometimes they’re more of a company, and sometimes it’s just “We all work for hutts.”  I have no clue.  The plan however is to once again force the ever elusive target to come to you instead of finding them.  What better way to accomplish this than by completely ruining  the Eidolon’s business ventures.

The first job is to blow up an entire warehouse of weapons for the Republic worth billions of credits. Really, that’s it.  We’re just gonna blow up a warehouse.  You have to admit there’s a sort of dangeresque mentality to this whole thing that makes me laugh.  No, we don’t sneak around.  No, we don’t blackmail.  We blow things up.  It’s brilliantly simplistic methodology and I would expect nothing else from the Bounty Hunter.

The next bit is some non-hutt concerning business with a certain rival in a certain Great Hunt.  Anuli actually helps pin down some strange order going towards one off beat warehouse here on Nar Shadaa.  Mako thinks this is probably where you’ll find your rival for this planet.  It turns out your rival is a team of ugnaughts who pilot a droid together.  Kind of like a weird Power Rangers set up only the robot doesn’t break apart into seperate smaller robots…. I think.  Apparently, they made it into the Great Hunt by having their droid malfunction and blow up killing everyone else in the melee.  This tells us two things: 1) These are some very lucky pigmen and 2) there was more than one melee, cause that sure as heck did not happen at the end of the prologue.  I would remember that.  So is the melee a standard part of the Hunt?  Because they made it sound like it was a necessity due to the number of entrants from the Hutts or other crime lords. So where there other melees on other planets to help trim things down?  No clue.  This is probably the only time we ever hear about another melee beside the one you participate in.

From here on out, it’s back to business nabbing the Eidolon.  In classic fashion, this quickly becomes an eye for an eye beat down.  You post all his secret dealings across the holo for all to see thanks to a security expert named Zee, and the Eidolon smacks back with going after Gele’ren and Anuli.  This actually seems to hit little Mako way more than any of the possible reactions your bounty hunter has.  She has a moment of utter hopelessness in the face of the fact that yes, even bounty hunters must face the repercussion of their choices and actions.  This is actually where we get introduced to a reoccurring question that gets posed in the bounty hunter storyline: are you responsible?  You were hired to take down the Eidolon.  Without your pursuit Gele’ren and Anuli wouldn’t be involved.  So is it your fault they died?  Are you responsible for those who get harmed or are you simple a tool of your employer and they should be blamed?  This question is actually central to the entire bounty hunter storyline as you’ll see in Chapters 2 and 3.

Finally, you’ll have a chance to take in the Eidolon.  Just before you get to your showdown you’ll be contacting by a representative from the Hutt Cartel who notifies you that they will give an extra reward for delivering an alive and detained Eidolon to them.  It won’t interfere with the hunt and you’ll still get credit for the bounty.  It’s just an extra bonus because oh do they want to make this scumbag suffer and hey, so might you.  So there’s your chance.  The option comes full circle when you finally do take down the Eidolon and facing the possible result of endless sufferring at the hands of the Hutts, he begs you from one warrior to another to give him an honorable death.  While not as prominent or frequent as the idea of responsibility, is the choice between profit and honor.  This becomes a bigger deal when the Mandolorians get more involved in the story later on and you will often get the choice to fulfill a bounty or give them an honorable death by combat or some such.  This is actually a weird inversion of the ‘take them alive’ light side or ‘kill them’ dark side choices in the game.  Killing them honorably usually results in light side points with the bounty hunter, where as straight up murder will result in ‘dark side’.  It’s a weird moral gray area to dance in, but that seems somewhat fitting for the hunter.

Interlude

Your hunt gets interrupted by the Huntmaster’s assisstant – Lek – who calls you back to Dromund Kaas.  Instantly this puts Mako on edge as the Huntmaster and his team are not supposed to contact anyone directly while the hunt is on. However, it turns out that they have a rather unique situation on their hands and that the entire target list for the Great Hunt has been stolen and is set to be auctioned off on Hutta.  This is naturally bad because of its effects on the Great Hunt.  Finding out you’re on the target list is pretty much a big “go underground. Leave galaxy now.” flag and it will screw up everything. You are being tasked by the Huntmaster himself to go and retrieve it and “take care of” any potential threat to the hunt: the slicer who stole it, anyone who might try to buy it or is aware of it, or just anyone who showed up to the auction really.  Most importantly is to try to find out who leaked this intel.

The mission itself is just a short hop back to Hutta to kill a ton of people.  But it has some nice moments like seeing Nem’ro’s secretary who handled your payments in the prologue again.  The real point of this whole thing is revealed in the big twist of who leaked the list to the sliver: a mandolorian.  The Mando did manage to hide his identity through voice filters and hiding his face, but there was one big clue.  The mando wanted to make sure that Tarro Blood’s targets were left off the list.  Well, that’s an interesting turn.  Who could benefit from that?  While your gut says Tarro himself and yes, that is true, the gambling scene surrounding the Hunt has put just enough incentive in exterior hands to move the indicator into ‘reasonable doubt’ in the eyes of Lek and the Huntmaster. Bah!

bountyhunter_chap1_3Tatooine

Your next target is on Tatooine and no sooner than you arrive than you get a ring from Crysta the Space Texan letting you know her pre-recorded briefing for this target is null and void.  Looks like the target caught wind of being a target and decided to high tail it but was shot down by your opponent in the hunt for this world sending the target – a Devoronian named Tyresius Lokai – plummeting into the desert. The good news is because of that, he’s probably still on the planet and is probably looking for a new way off.  So your first visit is to the spaceport traffic droid who tells you that no “Tyresius Lokai” exists in the records, but another Deveronian is about to depart.  Deveronians are apparently quite uncommon according to my MakoWiki, so the chance of there being two both trying to get off the planet at the same time is a bit fishy.  Treek! Fetch my investigation hat!

Of course the guy who claims not to be and to never have heard of Tyresius Lokai is in fact Tyresius Lokai.  He runs off leaving you to deal with his goons who happily divulge after being smacked around that your opponent in the Great Hunt – a Rodian named Veeboo – is in a cantina and may have info on where the ship crashed and where Lokai might head.  Veeboo is a fricking worm who took a huge pay out from Lokai to let him go.  After prying out that Lokai was going to see the “Lady of Pain” about a new ship (this is a really weird place for a Planescape reference honestly.) After the tip, I just blasted Veeboo.  Seriously, what is with all these wimpy rivals?

You find the Lady of Pain in the middle of talks with Lokai.  You offer her anything for Lokai instead and she asks for entertainment.  Apparently she needs a champion for her gladiatorial blood sport match this afternoon and you volunteer.  Lokai gets hauled off in chains and all you have to do is take care of one lousy gold mob and everything is in the bag.  Sort of.  Seems like Tyresius slipped away using a grenade in a false horn and took off into the Dune Sea with a speeder and a ship part. So now you have to chase him again! GAH! This guy is SO dead when I find him.

So into the desert you go, and actually not that far really.  The ship apparently crashed a hop, skip and jump north of an Imperial Outpost and right behind a sand people camp.  Tyresius on the other hand is one not to give up without some resistance (considering that’s all he’s done this entire time, this should not come as a shock) and he’ll send a couple of waves of disposable droids at you.  When you finally catch up with him, he has one final offer: Kill him.  Well, not HIM him, but a genetically identical duplicate of him that he just keeps around for uh… “emergencies.”  This is yet another one of those completely railroad-y decisions in the game that gives you no choice but to agree with the deal.  I do suspect that probably at some point in development you could refuse and just kill Lokai, but hey dems de breaks and here’s a new companion. Deal with it.  Of course, our new friend can’t go around calling himself “Tyresius Lokai, man who died in the great hunt” so he takes a brand new name: Gault Rennow.  He’s our DPS long range sniper companion.  I want to throw him out the air lock but can’t.

It’s not like Gault is a bad character at all.  He’s a snarky, selfish, con artist and self-titled businessman that is always looking for the quick and easy credit. His conversations are usually pretty funny. Funnier than most of our companions at least. No, really what has always irked me about Gault has been two-fold: first is the completely forced way he joins your crew.  The game just ignores the myriad of reasons this is a BAD IDEA and just shoves him into your hands and walks off like giving a love note to s-sempai.  Second is the fact that the guy is just a complete weasel.  His introduction is all about paying off people, getting others to do his dirty work, and squirming out of every situation.  He just comes off as slimy as a overly greased comb-over on a used car dealer. It just always put me off.  No matter how snarky or sassy his commentary gets, I just feel dirty when I work with Gault.

Alderaan

Alderaan, also known as dead planet walking, is either the most frustrating or most enjoyable RP experience in the entire first chapter of the Bounty Hunter storyline. Namely because you spend the entire planet trying to hobnob with noble elites who think your petty blue collar work beneath them.  At the center of this whole thing is House Girard who has the intel you need to locate your bounty of the day: The Durasteel Duke.  Named such because he is supposedly nigh unkillable with nerves of… well…  durasteel I would assume.  So to get the intel you need, you get to play errand monkey for a bunch of stuck ups in fancy duds that seem to enjoy bickering with each other.  Lots of in-fighting in this House it seems.

Most of the jobs you have to do can either go down in one of two fashions: You behave, or you don’t.  You can either put up with the self righteous jerk or you can break his nose and force him to take the package even though your employer was supposed to deliver it in person.  You can help the old curator of the museum find the fake relic that has the clue while covering him from oncoming fire or you can just smash all the priceless ancient jugs until you find the right one and get the heck out of Alde (You know, instead of Dodge.  Cause it’s House Alde.  Oh whatever.)

Things get interesting once you try to hunt down the duke at House Rist.  There’s a bunch of awesome booby traps to dodge and avoid.  The whole thing kind of turns into Indiana Jones for one area.  This is the kind of thing I wish they did more of in this game instead of just combat, combat, more combat.  Have puzzles! Put a maze in there!  I mean, they eventually added some more of this with Rise of the Hutt Cartel bu seriously, it works really well and I find it to be such an enjoyable break.  However, all is for not because you apparently JUST missed the Duke and found out that Rist already killed your rival for the planet for you. Yay? That’s not all though.  Impressed with your skill, the assassins of House Rist make you an offer: Kill House Girard.  All of them.  They promise you a fat paycheck to finishing their contract for them.  My first playthough I didn’t take the money because I wanted to stay loyal to my employer.  On a second time, I realized that these were professional hitmen and women with a contract to kill them anyway.  They were gonna die no matter what. Might as well get paid. Plus you get a title for doing the deed! You get to be “Homewrecker”.

So you finally get to the Duke at House Organa’s pad only to find out that the Duke has actually been dead for like weeks.  Natural causes, or some accident, or some other way that did not involve my blaster.  Apparently the Duke’s sister has been running around as him in a holodisguise to ensure that his diplomatic work finishes before they announce the death.  But hell, she doesn’t wanna deal with the likes of a bounty hunter that chased her across 3 noble houses and half the planet.  She just gives you the duke’s body to turn in and begs you to just leave her alone.  Which I always do.  Hey, why waste ammo?

The planet wraps up with a return to House Girard where the patriarch of the house that was signing your check has died to natural causes (Lots of that going around).  You still get paid, but you were also made his legal representative way back at the beginning to deliver that first package to Count Butthead.  So it falls to you to decide who is the successor to be the head of the house.  There’s actually three ways this can go:  1) Side with the son. You’ll get the Knight of Alderaan title if you are male and the Baroness title if you are female.  2) Side with the daughter.  No titles but you get light side points.  3) If you agreed to take on Rist’s contract, kill them all and get the Homewrecker title.  The Homewrecker option ONLY appears if you agreed to Rist’s offer earlier though.  Now with that settled, it’s time to go toe to toe to the finals of the Great Hunt.

bountyhunter_chap1_4

Finale

The finale for chapter one is actually told in two parts.  The first of which has you travel back to Nar Shadaa to meet with a former champion of the Great Hunt – a mandolorian who just happens to be the teacher of Tarro Blood and his lackies.  It turns out that Tarro has one last sneaky little trick up his sleeve and the former champion wants to warn you about it to help preserve the honor and integrity of the Great Hunt.  Naturally, as is almost always the case with these things he can only tell you about it in person. No unsecured communications.  Even though you have an expert hacker with a computer in her brain that should be able to get us a clean line.  Whatever.

When you show up to the meet you find that Tarro’s lackies did follow you there.  Shock!  If only we could have avoided this by not meeting in person at one place where our enemies could get us both.  You get the option of either slaughtering all of Tarro’s goons or having an honorable duel to the death.  Either way though and the former champ still takes a shot and dies.  But if you chose the honorable duel, you did get some kind final words about you are the true ideal of what the Great Hunt and Mandolorians should inspire to be.   Not so kind words if you just blow them all to hell.  But you do get revenge.  Sweet vengeance on rye toast.  With a side of OJ.  AND PAIN!  *cough*  Moving on.

The actual conclusion comes in the form of one last bounty, and boy is it a doozy:  Get on board a Republic military dreadnaught, disable its hyperspace stabilizers so it gets shredded in the jump,  kill a Jedi master, and then set a timer to throw the whole ship into hyperspace to destroy it.  Oh, and also get off the bloody thing before it goes and defeat your rival. Very important.  Naturally, nothing is simple.  Your attempt to ‘sneak’ on board is immediately met with a troop of soldiers who already caught your rival – one Tarro Blood – who happily informed them that you would also be arriving soon in hopes to save his own skin.  He’s locked in the brig now.  You on the other hand get to fight your way through a now completely on alert ship.  By the Force, Tarro Blood is so slimy that I’m shocked all the fangirls who squee over $%#*stains like Draco Malfoy aren’t created fan shrine websites to his Bieber looking ass.  Those are still a thing right? Fan shrine sites?  Or did they just all die when Geocities went offline? God I’m old.

While rigging the ship to blow, you do stumble upon the brig and Mr. Blood sitting in a cell.  To twist a quote a certain moment in a certain game – This is the part where you kill him.  (This is that part.) And joy of joys, you actually get a choice in your method of dealing with this anthropomorphized mosquito. You can either leave him in the ship to be ripped apart when the hyperspace jump goes off, or you can be the honorable man and let him out to have a proper duel to the death or you can be just as much of a prick by agreeing to the duel, letting him out and then shoot him dead before he has a chance to grab his gear.  Surprisingly, Mako is very much on board with the leaving him here to be shredded idea.  I on the other hand went with the duel on my Powertech and the shooting him before grabbed his gear bit.  If this toad was gonna die, I wanted to be the one to pull the trigger.

Now that Blood has been dealt with – and OH! WAS IT SATISFYING – we can finally go after the actual target.  The Jedi is hanging out on the bridge with his padawan when you arrive.  He tries to force you to surrender, leading to probably one of the most screencapped moments of the game:

JEDI: *waves hand for Jedi Mind Trick* You will lower your weapon and surrender.
BOUNTY HUNTER: *mock waving hand* You will realize what a complete idiot you are.

The master realizes he doesn’t have much alternative to fight and then realizes he doesn’t have much choice to lose. Badly.  It’s important to note that this is the first Jedi Master you have to take on for the Great Hunt, and possibly your first Jedi opponent ever (Suppose it depends on what you do on the planetary storylines). So a victory is impressive.  You of course are also free to either let his apprentice go or to kill her as well.  But between you and me – let her go.  Trust me.  It’ll make sense in Chapter Two.  Makes for a MUCH better story in my opinion. Anyway, with the bounty dead and handled, it’s time to set the ship to blow and get the heck out.

The whole thing ends back on Dromund Kaas where you are given a triumphant award ceremony proclaiming you to be the grand champion of the Great Hunt!  Wealth, fame, and employment await! (So like the opposite of college nowadays.)  The ceremony ends with a notification that you have been called to meet with Mandalore.  THE Mandalore.  Like the big head honcho of the entire Mandalorian people.  He’s got a special task for you it seems.  But that can wait, for now its time to celebrate!

My Thoughts

Originally, I had long held that the Bounty Hunter storyline starts strong and then dwindles toward chapter three but after replaying the storyline I may have been somewhat blinded by it being the first storyline I played.  It’s still great. Don’t get me wrong.  There’s a lot of fun, and has a solid tale of personal glory mixed with revenge.  Tarro Blood is a scum bag villain that revels whose presence is felt almost constantly as he continuously attempts to sabotage your chance at victory. The final showdown with Blood, no matter which way you choose to end it, feels so satisfying and enjoyable.  More than just about any other ‘rival’ you have in other storylines.  The Great Hunt is a wonderful framing device for the story that always ensures you have something to work towards on each planet.

I was however slightly disappointed that each planet only had one bounty.  I was hoping that each world would be like Hutta where you are constantly chasing different people.  However, that was my first time playing the story.  After chapter two it sank in exactly what the hunt was about.  It’s about HUNTING. Setting traps, luring out the prey, and tracking across every environment possible. Going back and looking at the Great Hunt that way was a much more rewarding experience…  sometimes.  Other times, like on Tatooine, you just want it to be over and it starts to really drag chasing Tyresius only to have him slip away every single time.  Especially since after all that, you are forced to bring him along.

The storyline wasn’t flawless by any means either.  The weakest bit by far was the idea of the rival bounty hunter that you were supposed to square off against.  Let’s count how that goes down: One playing in the shadows till the very end (Good!), one trying to rebuild their winning megazord and die unprepared (Meh.), one got paid off and dropped out (Wha?), and one is dead by the time you get to the planet (You’ve gotta be kidding me…).  So after the first planet, the rival aspect is pretty much pointless until the showdown with Tarro.  This could have been something that really elevated the whole experience.  Not only having to hunt down a bounty but also have to stay a step ahead of the competition.  Maybe Tatooine would be a little less tedious had it been a three way race between you, Tyresius trying to escape, and your rival trying to catch Tyresius.  Maybe the arena battle for the Lady of Pain would be against your rival who has been working his own connections to get Lokai.  It just seems like wasted potential.

Same thing with the leaked list in the interlude.  All it ultimately ends up doing is adding another thing on the list of Tarro Blood’s offenses.  Like was it supposed to be some shock that Blood was cheating? The whole story started with him cheating!  It doesn’t even get him a single demerit with the Huntmaster or his crew. So what was the point?  I mean, it could have been a big turn for the character.  He gets kicked out of the Hunt, and then goes on a mission of revenge and starts killing your rivals and even the Durasteel Duke in an attempt to sabotage you since you were directly responsible for his expulsion and ruining his shot.  That would have been something!

For all its missed opportunities, the bounty hunter storyline is still one of my favorite first chapters.  It establishes you as someone who is only on the Imperial side by contract and have very little interest in the power plays of the Sith or the clandestine cloak and dagger plays of Imperial Intelligence.  In fact, you actually go directly against them at times.  Much like the smuggler, the hunter doesn’t feel like he’s part of his faction but simply works within it.  So why the Empire and not the Republic for the Hunter?  Well, we’ll get into that when Chapter Two rolls around.

<— Prologue || BOUNTY HUNTER || Chapter Two —>

SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Sith Warrior – Chapter One

 Warning: This post contains spoilers for the Sith Warrior storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  If you would like a spoiler free summary of the storylines you can find them here.

<– Sith Warrior Prologue ||  Sith Warrior Chapter 2 –>

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The Sith Warrior.  A powerful fearsome enforcer of Darth Baras.  Now armed with a starship capable of reaching the ends of the galaxy.  Fear is your weapon.  Your master’s enemies are your enemies. And with Darth Baras’ deep undercover spy network being found out and eliminated, it falls to you as the servant of your master’s will to put a stop to any possible threat to your master’s doings.

Balmorra

Baras’ spy on Balmorra is a big shot officer in the Republic forces that are “not officially part of the resistance”.  But before you do that, it’s time to make sure that you cut off any possible loose ends to the spy. That includes his son.  The blabber mouth kid has got himself taken in to the custody of the resistance, so it’s up to you to bust him out and either mind wipe the bugger or silence him for good.  Then you’ve got to take out the spy in the Balmorran arms factory.  This is probably my favorite scene in the whole planet, because you defeat the soldiers guarding the spy (his own squad that he commands) and the last one gets to live just long enough to witness the true betrayal of the commanding officer that he was moments ago ready to lay down his life to protect. The spy quite properly asks the Sith Warrior to just kill the trooper and put him out of his misery, and you can or you can force the spy to do it.  I honestly just killed the trooper because there’s no reason to be so mean to this guy.  Especially since he then explains to you quite plainly that he knows why you are here, that he is ready to die, and he knew that he was a liability as that would be cut out one day by Baras.  Really reasonable for a guy I was sent here to kill.  I mean seriously, based on every other class I’ve played in this game I’d expect him to just turn tail and run and try to buy his way out, but no.  He knows his place, and he knows it’s time to go.  Doesn’t mean he isn’t going to go without a fight though.  He’s a soldier after all, and if he’s going to go out, it’s going to be in honorable combat.  Which is fine by my dark knight Sith Warrior.  Honorable combat it is.

You also meet your second companion here.  Malavai Quinn.  And he’s an imperial trooper that helps you.  He proves to be quite skilled as after you eliminate the spy, he finds that an investigator was listening in on the whole thing and to make matters worse, the investigator is a Jedi.  You hunt and stop the Jedi who informs you that she already has sent the information off to Baras’ old foe Noman Karr and his padawan who can see people’s true nature.  This shocking twist is only interrupted by Quinn who scoffs at the whole thing and explains that he intercepted the information so that Karr never received it and the truth dies with the Jedi.  So Quinn is apparently a bad ass with communications, and is also quite adept at combat, and flying your ship, and many other duties.  He’s kind of just an all around bad ass who is stuck on Balmorra for some reason.  It’s mentioned that a lot of higher ups want to see him stay there,but Baras rewards him with a recommendation for officer-ship and says his debt with Baras is wiped clean.  Whatever that means.  Apparently I didn’t ask the right questions to find out what that was or it’ll come up later.  Anyway, Quinn is a proper Imperial soldier through and through. Kind of like the Empire equivalent to Elara Dorne I would say.

Nar Shadaa

Baras’ spy Agent Dellocon has run to hide under the protection of Darth Baras’ rival Lord Rathari. In order to get to Dellocon, the Warrior must draw Rathari out of the shadows and remove the protection.  To do this, you must disrupt all of his operations and dealings on Nar Shadaa forcing a confrontation that will give you an opening to the agent. Rathari kills the woman assisting you and challenges you to a duel.  He then refuses to duel a lowly apprentice and has his lackeys do it.  Finally, you defeat Rathari and he kills Dellocon for you (stealing your kill if you wish to offer some disapproval) and then you are free to do with Rathari as you see fit and he acknowledges your strength and takes whatever punishment you dish out.  Even asking for a swift death if you wish to kill him.

There’s a small interlude after Nar Shadaa where you assault a Republic tracking station that has been keeping tabs on you for Noman Karr.  You break in, kill everyone, and have a fun confrontation of taunting the Jedi and making your intentions generally known.  He becomes more resolved than ever to keep his padawan safe and out of reach, so Darth Baras decides the next course of action will be to lure her out by destroying everything she holds close and dear.  This will be interesting.

Tatooine

So first up on the whole “destroying everything she holds close and dear” road trip is a visit to the sandy dunes of Tatooine and slaughtering her old master that helped develop her unique power.  Of course, the master just happens to be a remote hermit who know is sure where he lives.  But your assigned assistant from Darth Baras has an idea: let’s retrace the padawan’s steps. So first up is to ‘subdue the devil of the desert’ and bathe in its… shiny… stuff.  Maybe blood.  They’re not very specific.  I’m going to go with blood.  And subduing it with a lightsaber to the face.  Quinn, do you object? No? Excellent. Stab the giant desert bug and become shiny.  Then you can enter the sand people encampment and figure out what happened next because heck, I wouldn’t mess with someone covered in shiny sand demon bug blood juice stuff.

So the next thing the padawan did was bathe in a spring to purify herself.  Really?  We’re doing this?  The game is actually gonna make me take a bath.  Dangit.  Okay actually it’s more so like meditating at a spring and facing your inner self, who you must defeat to move on.  This is one of those things that makes me really want to do a second character with the opposite alignment to see if it changes.  Because my encounter was extremely dark side orientated which made sense because I was dark side.  So I have to wonder if you have a light side Sith Warrior, if this whole thing changes.  Either way, when you defeat yourself (Insert “That is why you fail” joke here), you receive a vision of the deep desert where the Jedi lives.  Your assistant says she will not follow because no one goes to the deep desert and survives, which is funny because I’m pretty sure I’ve done it AT LEAST 7 OTHER TIMES.  You think an experienced tracker would know about all the other people, and the established bases in the dune sea that are not filled with dead people but whatever.

Finally, you get to meet the Jedi proper.  He goes on with his usual Jedi blather about how I will fail, and how I will now die here, and how I will never find out anything. Luckily, he has a little buddy.  One that is more than willing to spill the beans to save his master.  Unluckily, I killed them both anyway because such was the will of my master, Darth Baras! (I’m a good Sith. We’ll a bad Sith.  Who does good.  Good to his master, not to like other people.  You know what I mean.)  But we do learn a very important clue, a name: Jaesa Wilsaam.  Well how about that.  Time to put that intel to use.

Alderaan

I wasn’t joking when I said we were gonna put that intel to good use.  We’re going after Ms. Padawan’s family.  And we are going to kill them.  Or that’s what Baras wants at least.  You don’t HAVE to technically. But as we’ve stated that this playthrough is me being a good bad sith of bad done good but bad-ness.  So we’re killing them.  But first we have to find them.  And to do that we have to use this sniveling Thul politician to locate them.  Unfortunately, he’s a fricking weasel.  So he constantly tries to divert the conversation, blame others (including you), and poorly manipulate others to do his own personal bidding.

Case and point, he tells you that a House Alde noblewoman had Jaesa as a servant at one point and that you should kidnap her and bring her back to him to be properly interrogated.  Well, it turns out that no.  She was not this noblewoman’s servant.  Actually, the Thul jerk has been attempting to woo her unsuccessfully because he’s a creepy freak so he just figured he’d get you to kidnap her so he can…  well, I don’t want to think about how he’d “interrogate” her.  Because that’s kind of sickening to be honest.  I actually let her go after threatening some good information out of her.  Just to irk the Thul Jerk Creep.

Next is a bunch of filler about trying to track her down, breaking into a high security station, hacking the planet, blah blah blah.  Ultimately, it leads to the fact that you find the Wilsaam family in the center tower of the Organa palace/castle/estate/I-hate-nobles.  Upon entering, you are challenged by their sworn guardian: a Jedi Knight.  Oh fun.  They think they can stop me.  And if you choose to kill the family, you get probably what is the FUNNIEST moment in this entire chapter.  Instead of dueling the Jedi Knight to kill the family, you just force push the Jedi out of the way, and double force choke Mommy and Daddy at the same time, and THEN the Jedi fights you.  Because he failed.  Failed so hard, I dare say this falls into the Epic Fail category.  This probably wouldn’t have been nearly as funny if it wasn’t for the fact that it pretty much subverts EVERYTHING ELSE in the game, where you declare your intention, then fight the gold mob, and then deal with the target. The Sith Warrior is just like “NOEP. KILL TIME.” and I was on the floor.

After dealing with the family, Darth Baras gets a hold of you and says that the Slimy Thul Jerk Creep has been telling your master that you’ve been goofing off and messing around this entire time, trying to further your own agenda.  Not shocked.  However, upon clarifying the whole mess, Darth Baras gives you a present: You can deal with the Slimy Thul Jerk Creep anyway you see fit.  Ooooh yes.  And his Sith bodyguards will do nothing to you, because they are more loyal to the Darths then they are to a loser politician.  It’s murder time again! HAHAHAHAHAHA!  Ahem. I mean.  Goodie.

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Grand Finale

The finale of chapter one comes at first in the form of an invitation from Jaesa to meet her and settle this between the two of you, since it’s clear that both of you are just pawns in a battle between your masters.  And you’ve already guessed what happens, haven’t you?  Oh yea. Jaesa isn’t there when you show up.  Just two of Nomen Karr’s Jedi goons who have big heads about wanting to beat up a Sith.  They also are dead. (Okay, you CAN send them packing with their injuries as a message to Karr, but why?) Turns out Jaesa did plan on meeting you as she said, but Nomen Karr stopped her and sent the goons as an uh… “elaborate” trap.  Like you didn’t expect it to be a trap to begin with.  This however is immediately followed by an actual message from Karr sent to Darth Baras, challenging him on Hutta.

This is the fun part.  On Hutta, you have to fight Nomen Karr three seperate times (Protip: Heal before talking to him each time) and taunting him into releasing his anger.  During these fights, he stops using his Jedi Knight abilities and starts using more abilities from the Sith Warrior arsenal (Force chokes, slams, ravage, etc) and he goes further and further dark side. Swearing up a storm about how he’s going to kill you, maim you, hurt you, and is going to enjoy doing it.  Meanwhile, innocent lil’ ol’ Jaesa makes her entrance to see her master frothing at the mouth.

At this point there’s two distinct paths that the rest of this encounter:  you can use dark side choices to complete break her and destroy her world view by forcing her to use her “true nature revealing” power on her own master to expose the darkness he’s had in his heart all this time, thus causing her to doubt the power of the light side and convert.  That for the record is the way I went.  The other choice is just to disillusion her into joining you without completely breaking her, and thus becoming much like the Inquisitor and having a doubtful Jedi join you, but doesn’t want to go Sith.  Either way, she becomes your new apprentice.  But she can only be romanced if you converted her to the dark side.

Final Thoughts

Despite how simple everything seems to be described here, the Sith Warrior storyline is actually really amazing and enjoyable.  Mostly not because of the plot, but because of the conversations and interactions.  If you ever wanted to be the supremely bad ass dragon to a big bad, and just wander around terrorizing the universe – you can be that! If you are the noble servant to a dark master, who only kills when necessary – YOU CAN BE THAT! If you want to serve your master loyally or start to subvert him to overthrow him later – both are viable paths to take!  The story may be simple, but how to get to tell it is extremely varied based on your choices.  And really choice seems to be the big thing for this leg of the Sith Warrior’s journey.  You can choose to obey or disobey, you can choose to kill or spare, you get to choose to convert or simply recruit an apprentice.  The choices are really what makes this storyline shine.

I’m not saying the actual plot is that bad either. Just simple.  Your master’s spy network has been compromised against impossible odds. Time to eliminate any possible loose ends and then stop the source of the problem: a padawan. But the padawan is in hiding! Well, start killing everyone she has a close bond to, that should lure her out.  It’s a simple but well executed story.  There’s no real twists or turns, no mystery, but still exciting as you serve as the right hand of Darth Baras and execute his will across the galaxy (or not).  It’s fun because you already feel powerful going in, there is no build up to earning your place.  You are Vader at this point. Full stop.  And it’s pretty awesome to have that much authority and power in Chapter One.

I’d say more about your new apprentice Jaesa Wilsaam but you literally get her right at the completion of Chapter One.  And considering the girl has two distinct versions you can get to know, I’d rather play around some with that before I say my piece on it.  I will say this: Dark Side Jaesa? She is one freaky lady.  Like makes me wanna take shower after talking to her dark side.  So, there’s that.  Now I have to shower from thinking about it.  Yuck.

<– Sith Warrior Prologue ||  Sith Warrior Chapter 2 –>

SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Jedi Consular – Chapter One

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

<- Jedi Consular Prologue || Jedi Consular Chapter Two ->

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Ah yes, the proud Jedi Consular. Fresh off to save the galaxy from the horrors of the Dark Plague that was set up in the prologue.  Will this be another whirlwind tour of fetch the macguffin?  Or will substantial choices that affect the destiny of the whole galaxy be made?  Eh, probably something in between. Let’s get into it.

Taris

Taris.  Oi.  Taris.  No matter how many times I visit this planet no matter the class, I hate Taris.  Luckily, I’m here on better pretenses than to kill rakghouls or rakghoul infecting terrorists.  No, this time I am here to find a Dark Plagued Jedi conservationist.  And if you ever thought those Green Peace guys were nuts and just wanted to sock’em, well this is your chance.  You meet up with a group of soldiers who were working with the Jedi before his recent dissappearance and they help you track down his whereabouts along with his Padawan.  Seems like the Dark Plague has jacked the Jedi’s priorities up to 11 though because when you find this Jedi he has a new mission: DESTROY ALL LIFE ON TARIS.  More specifically he wants to save Taris by removing any non-native life off of it so it can regrow to its natural state.  (Considering that when it was destroyed it was a city planet to supposedly rival Coruscant, does anyone even know what its natural state IS?)

Your mission quickly becomes to track down and stop the insane Jedi.  Between the padawan and the troop of soldiers, you slowly make your way across the planet.  But it’s not without problems.  The Jedi attacks the soldiers while you are out in the field with the only survivor being the commander of the group.  He begs you to avenge his men and kill the Jedi which drives his padawan out to go save her master.  The whole shebang ends with you trying to stop the Jedi from unleashing a chemical apocalypse across Taris, with his now turned padawan at his side.  The choice of how to stop the Jedi and his padawan is up to you. You possess the knowledge to heal the master from the Dark Plague, but his crimes are immense and brutal… maybe it would be best to simply put them down?  Honestly, I must say the conflict of whether to kill or heal the Jedi is probably what makes the best Taris storyline I’ve played so far.  There are legitimate arguments for both sides, and it falls to you to make the decision.   He committed horrible deeds, but did so because of the Dark Plague.  Does that excuse him from punishment? He was willing to kill an entire planet worth of people if you hadn’t stopped him.  Should that be overlooked?  It all comes down to your decision on how to handle it.  This one is definitely a harder choice than say the one on the next planet.

Nar Shaddaa

The second dark plague affected Jedi has taken over the Guiding Hand cult.  With the assistance of the engineering genius, business man, and likes to think himself a ladies man Theran Cedrax, you must infiltrate the Red Lancer gang, prove your worth to them to gain an audience with ‘The Master’ – Dark Plagued Jedi Duras Fain.  You confront Fain and either cure him, or toss him to the authorities for the crimes he’s committed on Nar Shaddaa.

So another Jedi that’s gone off the deep end is one Duras Fain.  His corruption becomes a little less noble than our friend on Taris as he has taken over a cult calling himself ‘The Master’.  The entire goal of the storyline here is to infiltrate the cult and square off against him.  Seriously, that’s all.  He doesn’t even show up till the very end really. Most of the story is actually you working with your new contact/future companion Theran Cedrax and his virtual assistant Holiday trying to get in good with the Red Lancer gang so you can meet ‘The Master’.

Theran is a character.  Gambler, inventor, genius, and would probably be a ladies man too if he wasn’t so devoted to Holiday. Honestly, I don’t have much of a strong opinion of the guy.  He’s pompous and narcissistic, thinks he knows it all and sure that can get a bit annoying.  But for my narcissistic pompous Sage, well, I think I might have just found a drinking buddy.  And who knows, we might end up killing each other! The only thing that worries me is that I’ve heard that Theran is a bit of a pacifist.  Well that’s no good when I kill everyone I meet.  So he stays on the ship with Holiday, thinking up new cocktails.

So you run with the gang and try to get in good by lending some Jedi assistance to their criminal activities.  You are pretty much always given the chance to sabotage their illegal acts or carry them through the help keep up the facade. The choice is pretty much yours because like many moral choices, it’s in the spirit of your character’s actions not an actual choice because it always ends up working out in the end somehow.   I honestly just did what they told me.  My Jedi Sage is pretty much devoted to the idea that since he is a Jedi he’s above the normal mundane concepts of right and wrong, because hey, I’ve got the force, that inherently makes me a better person than you.  So if the ends justify the means that’s fine for me, not for you.  In case you haven’t noticed my dude is a bit on the dark side.

You finally get to confront Fain and it’s pretty much done at that point.  He knows you’re a Jedi and he’s got a pretty good idea why you’re there.  He gives you the chance to cash in and join the cult, which of course is a no go, so there’s a bit of battle and then you get your final choice.  Do you cleanse him?  Well, I said no. Because dangit, I need my strength.  I’m not going to parse it out to help some two bit Jedi with dreams of grandeur. (Unless it’s me that’s the Jedi with dreams of grandeur.) But wait, what’s this? Another choice?  The Nar Shadaa uh… “Law enforcement” (Do Hutts have cops?) shows up to arrest Fain for all his criminal actions under the influence of the Dark Plague.  You can refuse to hand him over and possibly upset the balance and give the Hutts more reason to side with the Empire, or hand over the nutjob and walk away clean.  Well, I washed my hands of the whole thing and handed him over.  All I got was a scowl for it from the Jedi masters, but I helped preserve the Republic’s influence on a neutral world.  That’s worth losing one Jedi that’s not me, right?

After Nar Shadaa, you get a side mission to go find a ship where another Jedi has gone nuts and is trying to blow it up.  It’s short and quick, but you finally get to meet Lord Vivacar the Sith behind the Dark Plague.  At least through a holo you do.  I loved that part because with my Jedi it was pretty much a battle of who is the more snooty and moral righteous about the whole thing.  When the shortest interlude mission ever is done, you can head back to your ship to find out two more Masters have gone silent and it’s up to you to “deal” with them, cause honestly I can’t believe the Jedi Council doesn’t know what I’m going to do at this point and is just using me to help keep a lid on this and silence the problem.

Tatooine

Tatooine gives us yet another Jedi Master to track down.  Mostly following his footprints as instructed by a guide who has come down with “sand rot” from being in the deep desert for too long.  I’m not entirely sure how much of his attitude actually has to do with the sand rot or that he’s just a jerky sand billy to begin with.  Mostly you just retrace all of the Jedi Master’s footprints: Meet with the Jawa and found out that the Master told them to scrap their sand crawler to build war droids for some reason, then following him to a cave where he supposedly had a vision but actually he just found an ancient tablet that details the history of Tatooine.  And for the first time since we found out that vaporator’s speak bocce, we learn something new about Tatooine in the Star Wars universe.  It was apparently a fairly green planet at one point, and was dominated by four species. Of these four, only two remains to survive as the planet eroded away into desert: the sand people and the jawas.  This leads to the revelation that the Jedi may have been doing something with the sand people in the Dune Sea.  A good hunch since the first thing you find is an overrun settlement that the Master has been sending sand people to attack like clockwork. But it leads you right to where our Jedi friend is hanging out.

Turns out that this lost master is looking for a way to stop the “coming darkness” that everyone seems to be harping about.  By studying how the Sand People have survived to be one the oldest species on the planet, he comes to the conclusion that the issue is that the weak and the sick must be cut out of society to strengthen it as a whole. That the Jedi are hurting the galaxy by protecting the weak.  Of course, the guide steps forward and now we finally see what the deal with the sand rot has been.  He asks if the Jedi Master would kill him too because he’s sick.  Which gives you a chance to stop him with the usual shield him or kill him choice.

Alderaan

The last Jedi Master we’re looking for and that may have contracted the horrible Dark Plague that turns normally peaceful jedi into violent loons just happens to be overseeing a peace…  treaty…  on Alderaan.  Crap.  Well, time to crash a summit.   But how do we do that?

At first you try to go through the Republic’s designated ally on the great planet of in-fighting, House Organa, but they’ve already sent a representative along with a Jedi knight, the master you are supposed to find, and a single house sending two jedi for a peace talk is probably gonna reek of attempted intimidation and strong-arming the debate.  With that in mind, perhaps its time to look for a house that HASN’T sent a representative yet.  That narrows down the search to just one: House Teral.  House Teral is in a bit of a rut as it is apparently being constantly targeted by House Ulgo by killing their couriers, sending killiks to attack, and generally being jerks to make sure that Teral is stuck where they are (the reason is a bunch of junk about the inter house politics of Alderaan and I care for it about as much as I care to remember who all the damn houses in A Song of Ice and Fire are – which is to say: Not at all, now kill something!).

Your job on this planet is pretty much “Do whatever House Teral wants” to get you into the summitt.  This is mostly putting an end to the constant attacks and improving their position in the hierarchy among the houses by getting the daughter of the head of House Teral and one of an ever growing number of Organa cousins hitched.  Seriously, I would love the see the Organa family tree.  It’s gotta be like a frickin throw rug.

After you finish with taking care of the mercs and playing love doctor, it’s time to meet at the summit.  Here is where you find out about the somewhat completely insane plan of the last Jedi Master: In order for their to peace in the galaxy, Alderaan must be in constant war.  I don’t really know where that idea came from, but she has brought out every dirty secret that each of these houses had to use against each other.  Luckily I was able to use my inner diplomat to just jedi mind trick the entire room to get them to fall in line (Why is politics hard again?) and starting working to peace.   This of course does not make our crazy Jedi friend happy and you duel her with the all too familiar shield/kill choice.

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FINALE

Well now that all the Jedi Masters have been dealt with. Shielded in some cases, or gutted with a lightsaber in all of my cases (What? Like I was going to weaken myself to help them?)  It still doesn’t bring you any closer to finding the Sith Lord Vivicar.  Or does it? I didn’t really mention it but there were plenty of re-occurring notes being sung by each of the masters during their madness.  A planet: Malachor 3. A person: Parkanas. And a great darkness coming.

When you get back to Tython, it’s your old master Yuon that connects the dots.  All four of the Jedi Masters plus Yuon and one other named Parkanas, had an expedition to Malachor 3.  There they found the spirit of a sith known as Terrak Morrhage, who was mentioned by the noetikons on Coruscant in the prologue. Terrak’s spirit tormented the Jedi and drove them mad, except for Parkanas who remained strong.  However, in the attempt to escape Malachor 3, Parkanas became stuck when rescuing one of the others and they left him there to become prey for the sith ghost.

This leads to the the revelation that these attacks were revenge, and that Lord Vivicar IS Parkanas.  Using this knowledge, the Consular and Master Yuon try to reverse the shielding to try and get a beat on where Vivicar is hiding.  This also sadly causes Master Yuon to turn against you, and begging you to end her life (Naturally you don’t have to).  But you find Vivacar’s location, way out in space.  And now you alone have to defeat him! All by yourself.  And… not with all the jedi…  um..  Miss Shan…  WHY AREN’T YOU HELPING?  What is the Jedi Drizzt too busy sitting in her little room to lend a hand to stop the plaguemaster of a disease that may wipe out the whole order?  Well, if I have to make some sort of huge sacrifice because no one thought to send me with back up just because I was the only one with the shielding ritual, YOU ARE TO BLAME MISS SHAN.

Speaking of which.  After you slaughter your way through legions of mind controlled Republic soldiers (No, you cannot shield or spare them. There lot is to die.) You face off with Vivicar himself.  Of course this leads to the staunch revelation that if he dies, everyone connected to him through the plague will die as well. Hundreds of Jedi he says.  Now, is he bluffing?  Is this some kind of a Sith trick?  Or perhaps you will doom them all?  Well, that’s for you to choose.  You can shield him, or kill him and damn the consequences.

I said damn the consequences, this dude has put me through 15 levels of pain and he’s gotta burn.  This of course is met with praise and reward back on Tython, where I get to record my experiences in my own holocron and get bestowed a title that only six other Jedi ever have received. And all I had to do was kill a bunch of Jedi and one Sith.  I am truly the savior of the order.

Final Thoughts

The first chapter of the Jedi Consular is best described as greater than the sum of its parts.  Each planet is pretty much the same thing over and over: find the Jedi and stop them.  Similar to how the prologue enjoyed playing “Get the thing” over and over.  And on each of the parts alone, I’d rank this down there with the second chapter of the Trooper storyline.  A lot of meh.  However, a funny thing happens when you view the chapter as a whole.  It’s not a tiring search for the same thing over and over.  It’s a mystery story.  Throughout the chapter you get bit by bit more information as to what these Jedi have in common, the true nature of what happened on Malachor 3, and who Parkanas was.

The Dark Plague is also used incredibly well, since it’s actual nature is never fully fleshed out.  You don’t see it manifest in people the same way twice beyond the repetition of the coming darkness, and tortured visions of the events on Malachor 3. In fact, it’s not till the end that you actually find out what the full extent of the plague is when Vivicar reveals that it siphons each infected Jedi’s power into Vivicar. It especially got played with on the last two planets, where no one knows if the Jedi have the plague or not (Alderaan is the best about keeping it ambiguous really).

The Light/Dark choice pretty much was continually the question of whether to sacrifice your own potency to shield the affected, or simply kill them.  Good cases are made for both many times like on Taris, where they killed an entire troop and tried to blow up the planet ( …Again), and while I haven’t tested it with a light side character, it does appear that Vivicar actually calls you out on your actions.  More so than the Jedi Council does, which usually ends up being a “You couldn’t save them? Oh darn.”  Even when you kill your master, it’s treated with “Well, she did ask for it.  Guess that makes it okay.”  I got more scolding from them for prideful remarks like claiming I was the best more than killing their ‘d00dz’. But who knows. I didn’t expect to see so many faces from the Jedi Knight chapter one to make a re-appearance later, so maybe they’ll turn up again (or not in the case of my dark side sage who kills without provocation).

So overall, the chapter was actually really enjoyable.  But the enjoyment didn’t really come until the end of the chapter, so keep that in mind.

<- Jedi Consular Prologue || Jedi Consular Chapter Two ->

SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Trooper – Chapter One

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

<< Class Storyline Review: Trooper Prologue || Class Storyline Review: Trooper Chapter Two >>

trooper_chap1

Okay, with matters settled on Coruscant and the senator saved/Wraith dealt with, it’s time to start hunting down those scum bags who called themselves our teammates for like a day.  Yea.  I’ve been thinking about that lately.  You can actually play your trooper like these former Havoc members were the scum of the earth that personal broke your heart and betrayed your deepest trusts…  but you didn’t exactly know them that long.  The games makes it pretty clear that you are on your first mission with Havoc at the start of Ord Mantell, so some of these characters that “stab you in the back” have only said maybe two or three sentences to you ever?  Don’t get me wrong, they betrayed the republic.  They gotta pay.  But there’s no reason to take it so personally, ya know?

Heck, your time with these people is barely enough to establish their personalities.  Needles is Hannibal Lecter MD, Wraith never stops talking in monotone and is good at stealth, Gearbox is…  nice?  And Fuse… is um…  Fuse is a Zabrak. About the only person you get a decent feel for is Tavus, which I s’pose is good because he is the primary antagonist for all this.  Well, might as well begin the hunt for the traitors.

Taris

Our first target is Needles.  We get to track this sick freak across all of Taris trying to find out where he’s hiding and more importantly what he’s up to.  And it doesn’t turn out to be good at all.  The sick little bugger is trying to weaponize the rakghoul virus to make sentient non-feral monsters out of other defected soldiers with a new fast acting formula.  This marks the first of two attempts in the game to weaponize the rakghoul plague, and I have always wondering if Needles was familiar with the works of Doctor Lorrick.  They seem like they’d get along.

Needles lives up to his monsterous nature without having second thoughts of using anyone as a test subject for his experiments.  Luckily you eventually do track him down and end his life.  Made no easier by the insanely stubborn lack of support from the military base on Taris.  They spend the entire time giving you the run around, oh no we can’t help, we don’t the time or resources, etc etc etc.  The only person to actually follow orders and assist you with the mission is Elara Dorne.  Dorne is an ex-imperial that has carried over some of her strict upbringing with her to the Republic Military, with a strict adherance to orders, details, regulations and paperwork.  She is also the next companion to join you on this journey and becomes a member of your new Havoc squad.

And to be honest, I don’t really care for Dorne.  She’s one of those companions where you’re never quite sure what decision is gonna irk her.  She seems to be a stickler for orders.  But she also sometimes doesn’t like heroics?  It’s not even that her personality rubs my trooper wrong.  They actually get along pretty well with my ruthless willingness to follow orders no matter how murderous.  But she’s hard to pin down.  I actually will get the occasional -1 or even -20 or something and have NO clue why.   Luckily I’m a commando and I don’t need her.  She’ll get her lovin’ through gifts.

Nar Shadaa

Next on the journey is an issue of a group of Tavus’ lackies running amok on the Hutt controlled word of Nar Shadaa with a top secret robot.  The twist to this whole thing?  The Republic’s Secret Intelligence Service is also on the trail of the renegade bot and you are needed to help them without letting on that a certain special forces team went completely rogue, defected to the Empire and is now using said automaton to do bad things.  Bad things that never really get defined.  Okay, I think what’s going on is that they’re stealing weapons and money for Tavus, but I’m not entirely clear on that.  Not to mention it doesn’t fit with the whole ‘good soldier that was betrayed’ thing that Tavus has going for him.  I mean, hard to hold the moral superiority when your tactics currently involve petty theft.

Really, the best parts of Nar Shadaa for the trooper comes from dealing with the SIS and their cloak and dagger style of getting things done and actually interacting with the rogue robot.  The SIS parts can really be done in one of two ways: Lying or Honest.  You can totally be up front of the whole Havoc defection thing against the wishes of your commanding officer and disobeying direct orders (that’s the *cough* LIGHT side choice), or you can deny everything to the SIS who really don’t have any business knowing about your top secret mission (The uh… Dark side choice?)  Again, the trooper demonstrates how damn easy it is to be gray.  I racked up a ton of light side points doing normal questing, helping people out, not taking dirty bribes from Hutts, but then all of that goes back to zero because I follow orders.  I have no clue how this is going to end up in terms of morality, but I have a feeling it will be similar to my Imperial Agent: Gray leaning to the Dark Side (Dark II by the time she hit 50). Ultimately the SIS founds out what is really going on anyway, because they’re the freaking SIS and you get treated to General Garza arguing with the SIS at the end of the whole planet.  As a female trooper you can actually flirt your way through the planet with the SIS agent, making the revelation at the end sting even more.  Garza still gets the best burn in my opinion with the “I figured you would understand the need for to secrets in your line of work.” line.  Go Garza!

The robot, or M1-4X or Forex for short, is hilarious.  One part indestructible tank and one part propaganda machine for the Republic.  His dialogue is mostly spent talking about the glorious Republic full of freedom and democracy, or how Havoc Squad is one of the finest units that the Republic Military has ever trained.  As soon as he figures out that he’s working for traitors, he’s all ready to join you to take them down but an override code keeps him obeying the traitors until the bitter end.  All though he happily tells you everything he can within the confine of his orders, including how to destroy him after he’s been ordered to kill you.  Eventually you are forced to blow him up, but the SIS rebuilds him and he is transferred to your command where he happily congratulates you on a job well done on destroying him and that it’s good to be serving the forces of freedom and justice again.  I love Forex.  There is never a moment where his overly cheesy GI JOE reminiscent dialogue doesn’t bring a grin to my face.  Which is good, because I was getting tired of Dorne quoting regulatons and Sgt Meowmers’ belly aching.

After Nar Shadaa wraps up you’re sent on a little side mission to go to Tavus’ ship located in the Outer Rim and try to capture him.  Other than an annoying heat beam puzzle, this doesn’t actually contribute to the story much.  Tavus isn’t there, he holos in, you call him a traitor, he calls you a traitor and then he sicks a bunch of imperial goons on you. The end.  Nothing is really learned and it’s just a short red herring quest that you might actually face off against Tavus earlier than you would expect, and all it does is confirm any suspicion you have that Tavus is going to be the big bad of chapter one.

Tatooine

Well since Nar Shadaa didn’t do much for bringing us any closer to Tavus and his band of traitors, it’s time to get back on the hunt as we head to Tatooine to find that bomb wielding maniac killer Fuse.  Only not so much.  Actually when you arrive to speak to the mayor, Fuse is actually contacting you via holo and wants to help stop the Imperials from blowing up civilians for their “tests”.  Bombs that Fuse designed naturally but he didn’t apparently think that they’d use them to blow up PEOPLE!  Okay okay, civilians I suppose but he was honestly shocked by this?  Who knows but it was a fun “Pokemon shouldn’t fight. Not like this.” moment for me.  Bombs shouldn’t kill people. NOT LIKE THIS! Bombs should frolic in meadows and be free for all to see!

Fuse’s remorse is pretty much the center piece of the entire Tatooine leg of the story.  You have little to no reason to trust him, since ‘fighting against the Empire’ was pretty much the ruse that started this whole mess. The mayor of Anchorhead however trusts him implicitly since he tipped you off to the next bomb attack.  So you have a mayor who trusts him, you who has no reason to trust him, and are under orders not to tell anyone why you wouldn’t be trusting Fuse.  It sounds interesting but honestly it boils down to: “Don’t trust him. He’s lying.” “Why do you think that?” “That’s classified. Just don’t.” “But he helped us.” “CLASSIFIED. DO NOT TRUST.” “But…” Followed by perpetual Trooper frownie face.

I wish I could say that Tatooine picks up after that but it’s pretty much just like the planet, a big stretch of nothing much.  You stop the bombing, then proceed to chase down the bomb plans through the various outposts in an attempt to catch the Imperials before they hoof it off world. The only real interesting choice comes at the very end when you find Fuse locked in a cell as the self destruct countdown begins.  You have time to either shut off the self destruct, or stop the Imperial with the bomb plans.  The latter essentially leaves the repentant Fuse to die, the former lets the Imperials with the Bomb plans go free.  So naturally, stopping the Imperials and securing the bomb plans that could kill hundreds if not thousands more is the DARK SIDE option.  Yea, because screw innocent lives, saving the life of someone who committed TREASON but then said he was sorry was clearly the moral and just thing to do.

This continues to astound me how stopping the Imperials and saving potentially hundreds of people’s lives is somehow the bad thing.  Who figured out this weird system of morality the troopers work under? WHO!?  I freaking killed Fuse.  Yes.  And even Fuse agreed with my decision.  I will admit though that rubbing it in his face and saying this was the execution he deserved was possibly uncalled for.  But I’m sorry, you don’t get to commit an act of treason and then get to walk away because you’re sorry AFTER the damage is done.  Gah this planet ticked me off. Let’s make a Skywalker and get the heck off this sand ball.

Alderaan

So with Fuse dealt with and the dirt ball way behind us, all we have left is Gearbox and Tavus (and maybe Wraith depending on what you did at the end of the Prologue.)  Well, everything is pointing that Tavus is our big bad, so this must be…  Ding ding! Gearbox!  Only you don’t spend much time interacting with Gearbox.  Actually the majority of Alderaan is spent trying to appease a noble from House Thul, the rival house of Organa and the allies of the Empire.  His demands are pretty much just help his family escape and he’ll happily tell you where Gearbox is hiding out.  Of course, you can’t just trust the enemy – unless it’s Fuse I guess.  You WERE supposed to blindly trust him. – so your first mission is to verify his claims and check out a bunch of weapons that the Empire/House Thul have been stockpiling in a third party house that has no real relevance to anything and thus I can’t be arsed to remember their name.

After you’ve verified the Thul noble’s claims, he demands freedom for his wife and daughter. Of course if you’d like this is a place to rack up ample amounts of Dark Side points by just beating the crap out of the guy for information – which he won’t give – but its still a good way to build up those points for all you dark side troopers out there, besides he’s not only an enemy, but an enemy traitor as he’s willing to sell out his own house to get his cranky wife and entirely too bored daughter out of danger.  So work out all that Tatooine frustration with some well earned dark side points.

His wife and daughter are for some reason chilling out at House Rist, a group of assassins allied with the current King of Alderaan. I have no idea why they are there except that the general Republic quests send you up there a lot so it was convenient.  The wife can’t be pleased no matter what you do, she’s just a mean lady through and through.  The daughter on the other hand makes me nervous.  She gets WAY too excited to see a Republic Soldier with a gun show up.  She is apparently so bored that the very idea of being kidnapped and used as a hostage is apparently enough to have her practically bouncing with joy.  Nobles, man.  Nobles.

Ultimately, you get them out of there and escort them to an extraction point.  They tell you where Gearbox is.  You show up at his secret underground bunker and blow up his giant walking mech and him.  The end.  There isn’t even a cutscene for when you kill him.  You blow him up in battle.  That’s it.  There is some decent back and forth before he unveils his doom walker mech o’ doom that is really just a gold star elite and goes down pretty easy if you just keep interrupting its missiles.  But yea, that was Gearbox.  Just an un-exciting as he was when you met for 5 minutes on Ord Mantell and barely noticed him again.

The actual moral crisis for the planet – because as we are learning the trooper has pretty much exactly one per planet – is do you uphold your bargain with the Thul nobles or do you just let them rot in jail now that you have all three?  And yet again, letting the enemy walk away free is your light side choice and imprisoning them is the dark side choice.  This doesn’t bug me as much as the Tatooine choice here because you are breaking your word.  Albeit your word isn’t exactly a choice to give as the game railroads you into making the promise just for the sake of this little do you/don’t you at the end, but at least you are breaking a promise to get the dark side points here.  That’s a bit of a step up.

The Grand Finale

Of course if you’ve been keeping track, none of these planets end up dealing with Tavus.  Well, that’s because in grand storytelling fashion that’s reserved for the finale.  One last mission at the end of each chapter that brings it to a close.  And this one has you on orders to find the Imperial starship “Justice” and wipe out the last of Tavus’ followers and the man himself.  This is actually really fun because you do pretty much take over an entire ship with just you and your companion.  You fight through tons of enemies, various lower ranked mini bosses which includes Wraith if you didn’t kill her way back at the end of the prologue.  You shut down the hyper drive so it can’t escape, and then cut your way to the bridge to face off with Tavus.  Tavus spouts his usual “You’re not Havoc! I’m Havoc!” crap that everyone else has said and then the battle begins proper.  And as you stand victorious over the beaten former CO you are given a legitimate light/dark choice at last.  Tavus offers to give you information and help get back at the Empire if you let him live.  This gives you the choice of letting him live and work with you to redeem himself (light side), make him stand trial for his crimes (neutral/no points) or kill the bastard because traitors get no mercy (dark side).  Honestly, I went dark side which is a SHOCKER if you’ve been reading these posts.  I mean, you’ve gone this long to cover up the whole defection because it would hurt morale and injure the image of the military.  So NOW you’re going to let him come back or stand trial?  No. Uh uh.  I’m X-Files-ing this thing and making sure no one knows what these punks tried to do.  NO MERCY FOR TRAITORS!

Final Thoughts

There is a lot of fun to be had with the Trooper Chapter One storyline, I won’t lie.  The constant question of do you let anyone know that the former Havoc Squad defected to the Empire weighs heavily over every planet you visit.  And it changes up the conditions constantly.  Do you let the Secret Intelligence Service know?  Shouldn’t they?  What about a lowly governor of an Outer Rim world that has no official ties to the Republic that will allow you to stress why a traitor should not be trusted?  What about the Republic allies whose alliance you are using and possibly even abusing to accomplish your mission?  Do they have a right to know why you are turning their heavily protected castle into a hotel for the enemy?  The constant question of where your loyalty should lie as a soldier is brought up through these questions.  Are you a dog of the military, or a soldier of the people?

Probably the worst examples of that question is the dark side/light side moral dilemmas you end up facing.  The light side choices which are supposedly being the “Soldier of the People” choices are often reckless and pose a greater risk to the people than the dark side “Dog of the Military” choices.  I understand the idea of the eternal optimist believing that everyone has good in them is great for the Jedi, but when the choice comes down to believing that they’ve changed now and surely won’t BLOW UP CORUSCANT AGAIN.  The risk way outweighs the possibly benefit of “Hey I can change!”  And these highly potential risks don’t seem to come with any consequence other than listening to General Garza chew you out for a few minutes.

So overall Trooper Chapter One has been a definite mixed bag.  I wouldn’t disregard completely but geeze it takes a lot of faith to go the light side route here.  Faith or stupidity.  It’s hardly a shock that I pretty much went dark side for each and every trooper choice.  It just made sense.   I can’t wait to see what awaits us in Chapter Two.

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