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SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Sith Inquisitor – Chapter Two

<– Chapter One || SITH INQUISITOR || Chapter Three –>

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the second chapter of the Sith Inquisitor 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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Well, you have sort of outsmarted your former master and become a powerful figure within the Sith ranks.  Let’s see how quick this goes downhill for you, shall we?  Chapter Two kicks off with meeting Darth Thanaton who you might remember popping up in the Prologue and Chapter One at points.  He is impressed with you – you’re NOTHING like Zash – and wants to test you to see if you are ready to enter his super special hidden circle.  He just needs you to go into a super dark and spooky tomb, way off in some corner of Dromund Kaas where no one goes all alone to fetch a dead Sith’s notes on alchemical poisons for him.  Do you see where this may be a bad idea? Good. Because you’re character doesn’t! You get ZERO agency in this.  Your character will just stumble into this trap as blindly scripted.  Yes, that’s how we’re starting out this Chapter, by walking head first into ANOTHER trap.

And just like before with Zash, it’s up to Ghost Grandpa to bail you out and save you from the insane Sith ghost that was trying to kill you.  You know…  Ghost Grandpa…  who said at the end of Chapter One that his task was done and we wouldn’t be seeing him again.  He’s here. To save us again.  Somehow.  But this time he REALLY is using the last of his strength to help us. For truth-sies.  Anyway, Ghost Grandpa tells you to find a different Sith ghost who will teach you the art of Spirit-walking – the ability to bind the souls of the dead to yourself and absorb their power.  Before you even ask, NO. There’s is NO Shang Tsung jokes anywhere in this storyline.  I will probably be making a few to make up for it.  Now you can go back, steal the Sith ghost’s soul (Flawless victory) and get his notes.

When you take the notes back to Thanaton he is less than pleased.  He kinda wanted you to die in that tomb (Wha? Noooo. Say it ain’t so.) and he needs you dead because Zash’s entire power base must be destroyed (No one tell him about Khem!)  So, he kills you.  The end.  OR IS IT?  Well, we know it’s not. It seems you actually survived thanks to binding the dead souls to you.  They actually seem to function as ‘Extra Lives’.  Your barely alive body is dragged off to safety by your two apprentices whose names are not important enough to remember so I’ll just call them Jesse and James.  Which… wait.  Hold on a minute.

Remember in the Chapter One review, where I mentioned the ‘people saving you streak’?  Yea. Assuming you didn’t break between Chapter One and Chapter Two, you have just walked into your doom THREE times only to have your butt pulled out by a third party each time in less than an HOUR.  A. SINGLE. HOUR.  Do you know how much of an idiot your character looks like at this point?  You routinely walk into traps, sometimes after being TOLD it is a trap, with no plan prepared other than ‘wing it and hope we live’.  Would it be so hard to have a moment where your character actually PREPARES for these things, or comes off as a slightly hesitant or cautious?  Maybe show how they stand to gain from doing these dumb things?  Like planning on surviving due to the Spirit-Walking so you can let Thanaton think you are dead so you can strike at him from behind.  You know, SOMETHING?!

Anyway, you use this revelation of your survival to formulate a new plan: gather more souls to kill Thanaton.  Well, at least we’re not a lackey anymore.

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Taris

Our first destination is Taris, where there have been stories about a grumpy ghost hanging around.  The thing is that there’s only one person who can actually get this ghost to show up is a Jedi padawan.  So your first goal on Taris is to gather some intel on this padawan and as you soon find out – it’s Ahsoka Tano er… I mean Ashara Zavros!  Who is kind of an Ahsoka Tano expy, I won’t lie.  She’s disobedient, rude, and somewhat short tempered.  Her emotions tend to get the better of her and that kind of has her on the outs with her Jedi Master and peers and thus provides an excellent opportunity to manipulate her into getting what you want.

The first task is to bribe another Sith Lord to use his assassins to stage a scene.  You go and dig up some random thing of no significant importance (and no, that’s not setting up a dramatic reveal that it IS important. It’s not. It’s just a random errand.)  Using the bartering power of the McGuffin, you convince the Sith to borrow the assassins.  The fun part about the whole exchange is actually being able to decide how much information you let the Sith have about what you are doing.  Do you let him in on the plot? Do you play coy?  It is his man power at risk here, especially since the plan is to have them ambush Ashara and then you save her to gain her trust.

Honestly, the whole plan comes off as simultaneously dumb and yet it works brilliantly because Ashara is just that kind of dense.  She gets jumped by a bunch of Sith Assassins and you just in and stop them (either by killing them or by less lethal means) and just like that she trusts you enough to let you help “cast out” the ghost.  She actually sits there and dumb foundingly asks why a Sith would attack other Sith.  Really? Do they teach you ANYTHING about the Sith work?  Or just to kill them wholesale?  And this is pretty much Ashara in a nutshell.  She is not bright, she doesn’t think she’s through, she simply reacts to her emotions and follows her gut instinct. Sometimes this makes her a sweetheart, and other times you just wanna bop her with a rolled up magazine and say “NO! THINK!” Don’t get me wrong, I actually really like Ashara but DAMN is she a teenager in the worst sense.

SO you actually manage to convince the teen to let you into the Jedi Sanctuary to help purge the ghost, and  you make sure to tell her not to tell anyone.  So of course she tells two Jedi Masters. Fricking Narc. You fight them, you bind the ghost who appears to be a VERY ticked off ancestor of Ashara – who was also Sith? I think? It’s not exactly clear but he does wear Sith Inquisitor Columni armor.  The choice is the usual: Fight the ghost and enslave it, or make a pact with it promising to free it once you’ve done what you need it for.

Then…  then the plot gets stupid.  Okay, so this entire time some no-name office clerk of a Sith has been helping you to put this whole thing together.  Actually, it’s more like he gets you started.  He shows up.  Says Thanaton will make him a Lord if he delivers your head.  So that whole element of surprise, Thanaton thinks you’re dead thing?  Apparently not.  Thanaton clearly knows you are alive, and is hiring goons to come and finish you off, despite you finishing off his goons before and forcing him to take you out himself.  Do I even have to go into how completely counter to the established plot this reveal goes?  And it doesn’t stop here.  Oh no.  You’ll see.

Quesh

Because no sooner are you done with recruit Ashara and getting back on the ship, than your other two apprentices phone in.  Ya know, the two that jumped the Zash ship at the end of Chapter One and dragged your charred unconscious body out of a ditch and right back into Thanaton’s office at the start of Chapter Two?  Well apparently they decided to wander off and steal the key to Thanaton’s private meditation chamber.  Now they’re being chased around the galaxy by another one of Thanaton’s flunkies.  Now it’s never established, and certainly never explained or answered – but do we think that these two little morons are the reason Thanaton knows I’m still alive?  Cause I’d venture a guess that yea, that’s the case.  Thanaton, despite being a mustache twirling snively whiplash of a villain, is not stupid.  These two however will believe whatever they are spoon fed.  So they crash on Quesh and you have to go save them.

Or not… I guess? By the time you show, they’re dead. Lord Cineratus has killed them.  Now he is on orders to kill you too.  In a nice and brilliant tactical move, you can buy him off, not only skipping having to fight him but also gaining his loyalty, service and most importantly silence.  Or you can just shut him up by killing him too.  That works.

Interlude: Korriban

Now that you’ve lost two of your three apprentices (Aww… you almost collected the whole set), Zash Val recommends you head to Korriban to pick you out a fresh one from your old pal Harkun.  This mission is short, sweet and only really serves to lord over your new position as an actual Sith Lord to Harkun while also setting up a later companion.  I guess which of the random assortment of scum it will be?  Maybe the one that killed two potential recruits already and the camera holds on for an uneasily long time? Hmmmm? (I warned you there’d be spoilers. It’s Xalek.)

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Hoth

And of course now we come to Hoth.  Apparently we are here because Andronikos heard some stories about some weird stuff happening and a ship carrying Sith artifacts crashing a while back and they were all spoopy about it.  Like the laaaaamp was tuuuuurning itseeeelf on!  OooooOOoooOoo!  Yea, anyway since Hoth is a giant ice ball where anything sitting outside for more than a few days is pretty much buried and frozen in a block, you’re going to need some help for this one.  Enter Talos Drelik.  Oh, so THIS is where the damn elves sent Talos after the White-Gold Accord.  (Ha. Crossover humor.)  He’s a wormy little archeologist that is a certified genius when it comes to figuring out where crap is.  He’s also delightfully fun, warm, and intelligent.  Thus making him the only one on the ship with a college education (No, Zash doesn’t count.  Her brains didn’t exactly work out in her favor.  Seriously, ‘Go ahead and bring the Dashade’ HA!)

Talos essentially helps lead you across a giant version of World of Warcraft’s archeology profession, only not as tedious.  It does however lead you to the ghost p0ssessing an ortolon (those blue elephant looking things) who demands that you ran sack Naga Sadow’s ancient assassin training school because he reeeeeally didn’t like Assassin’s Creed Unity.  Talos of course helps you break in to raid the tomb, because hey it turns out that is exactly what he was on Hoth looking for.  It’s a giant hole in an ice wall.  I am suddenly regretting complimenting Talos’ intelligence.

This leads to the hands down dumbest light/dark choice ever: Do you let Talos scan the relics before you bust them, or just say tough noogies and start smashing.  Seriously.  You don’t even have to do anything extra or get punished for choosing the Light Side option here other than watching a short cutscene of Talos scanning stuff.  That was pointless.  Really.  Oh and a little tip for this mission: There will be a time when Talos leaves your party to open a door and you have to defend him from three waves of progressively harder droids.  If you step back to where Talos is before the first wave spawns, you won’t immediately draw agro and can summon another companion to help you fight them off.  Very useful for say…  a healy sorcerer.

Finally, you get your last bit of direction to finding the ghost’s actual resting place: a crashed starship in the starship graveyard.  Good thing we didn’t even think to look in the Starship Graveyard of crashed starships for our crashed starship, which we now find out didn’t actually crash but landed gently after being piloted to safety by the ghost after the crew died and/or bailed.  Only downside is you have to fight through a ton of dudes who are mind controlled by the ghost because…  the ghost is a jerk who likes making you jump through hoops.  No really, that’s his reasoning.  So you do the whole sacrifice/deal schpeal and then head off to space.  But wait! Talos is there and he wants to come along.  Resigned from the IRS (That’s Imperial Reclamation Service) and everything.  Well, okay bookworm. Head on board.  We gotta go kill us a Sith, and you’re a healing companion so you might be handy.

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Finale

Back to Dromund Kaas to sneak into Thanaton’s secret meditation chamber with our secret key and oh bugger he’s waiting for us isn’t he?  Yeeeeup. With a hench goon that we’ve never seen before to actually fight no less while Thanaton sits in a bubble.  But not before he taunts us about how if we bribed Cinderblock on Quesh that he’s already wasted our money on women and drink on Nar Shadaa.  So there’s another brilliant play that went down the toilet.  Oh well, kill the bastard.  Or the bastard’s assistant, I guess.

After which you face off with Thanaton proper in a cutscene!  You channel all your ghostly powers and when their powers combine you are…  apparently dead.  Yea, it seems that the binding ritual was only meant to be done with ONE ghost at a time.  Any more than that and you leave yourself vulnerable to the spirits taking control of your body and mind and doing who knows what.  Of course, the ghost that taught you the ritual didn’t say that because he knew you were the schmuck that would dig up as many souls as possible and then he and the others could – as they literally put it – have some fun with you.  I AM AWARE OF THE MANY WAYS TO INTERPRET THAT LINE.  Also, Thanaton got thrown into a wall and ran away.

So Chapter Two ends with your companions showing up to help/save you from yourself YET AGAIN, and depending on your dialogue choices you can crack a joke and everyone has a hearty laugh.  Freeze frame. Roll credits with sappy 80’s sax solo rendition of theme song! The end.  Of chapter two at least.

My Thoughts

While this isn’t as completely POINTLESS as the Chapter Two Trooper storyline, there is a LOT of wasted potential here.  Every chance your character has to look intelligent or cunning is either pulled out from under them making them look like a complete idiot or is swiftly undone off camera somewhere.  Enemy thinks your dead giving you the upper hand? NOPE.  Get the secret key to the secret meditation chamber? He’s there and waiting for you.  Bribe an enemy agent to work for you instead? Pisses it away on booze and lets your enemy know about it.  The Inquisitor does not catch one break this entire chapter, and boy does it get frustrating to have your plans get foiled instantly over and over.

I mean, I kind of get it right? They want to show you that Thanaton is this super mastermind that can totally outplay you and write it off as child’s play. But you’re doing it at the expensive of making the protagonist – the PLAYER – feel like a complete moron.  Even worse when OTHER NPCs are saving you from obvious traps and then explaining how it totally was an obvious trap.  Why not have Thanaton think he has outplayed you, make him counter your every move but him thinking that your goal is different.  Like you were looking for relics or some ancient weapon or something Zash would do to help defeat him.  Then have it be established among you and your crew that – say around just after Quesh – that because of something Lord Cementtruck said you learn that Thanaton has it all wrong. WHAM.  He seems to be winning and outplaying, you get to see what a master at playing the game Thanaton is, and then you have the ace up your sleeve of the ghosts to smack him, but then it goes all wrong.

And that ending I will say is done very right.  The ghosts turning on you and the force walking being your undoing is not only a great twist, but is also not a knock against your character.  There is no WAY the Inquisitor would have seen it coming because the Ghosts ALL LIED.  Not one even tipped their hand or showed the slightest hint that this ritual had unintended side effects when used this way.  But they knew.  They knew and they waited to use it against you.  That I did like.  Downright LOVED.

So yea, that was the Inquisitor Chapter Two.  A lot of potential, and a lot of screw ups.  Not the worse, could have been one of the best, but no.  It just falls in the middle somewhere.  Pity.

<– Chapter One || SITH INQUISITOR || Chapter Three –>

SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Bounty Hunter – Chapter Two

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the second 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.

<— Chapter One || BOUNTY HUNTER || Chapter Three —>

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Welcome back from your vacation Mister or Miss Grand Champion of the Great Hunt.  Ready for a REAL job?  Well, that’s what Chapter Two brings you.  Fame, fortune, and work. Legitimate, actual, bounty hunting.  Some of the hardest bounties in the galaxy!  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We have to meet Mandalore first.  Mandalore, as his name might suggest, is a Mandalorian.  In fact, he’s the leader of the Mandos. Like, all of them.  He has invited you to his personal starship (what, you need a guild to have a starship? HA! Don’t you wish you were Mandalore?) Where he gives you a task – not a job sadly – to go to Dromund Kaas and take down a giant beastie living in a cave there.  The cave in question is surrounded with Mandalorians who are trying and failing to kill this beast.  Which is weird, cause it’s just a gold mob.  You also meet a lad named Torian Cadera who I’m sure will be unimportant forever hence why I’m calling specific attention to him.  Anyway, you kill the beast and head back to Mandalore (Yes, you fly all the way back to Dromund Kaas to kill one thing and then fly all the way back to the Outer Rim.  Now I’m GLAD space travel is just pushing a button) to be told that congrats! You are a Mandalorian now!  That’s all it takes apparently?

Now whether you take Mandalore’s offer to become a Mandalorian is completely up to you.  You take the honor, or you can say ‘screw honor, I want money’ and forsake the noble warrior lifestyle for a shrewd cash grabbing merc way of life.  If you choose the latter, you enrage Mandalore who was hoping to make you take his place on the…  council…  thing of former Grand Champs…  I think?  It’s not terrible clear.  You’re not becoming the new Mandalore that’s for sure.  He’s going off to work for the Empire doing something.  You never find out what.  However, regardless of your choice you meet up with Grand Champs Bloodworthy, Jewla Nightbringer and yes, The Defenestrator (Cue the squeeing) who welcome you – and laugh at Mandalore if you shoot him down – to the club and offer you the Black List. The Black List is a premier listing of bounties that are exclusive to winners of the Great Hunt.  They are the toughest and more importantly best paying bounties in the galaxy.  This is the big leagues.  Your first job is actually an oldie but a goodie.  A bounty so hard to deal with that a betting pool has been establish for anyone who tries their hand at it.  Whoever finally brings in the target gets the whole pot.  You pay up your ante and get the info.  Looks like we’re headed to…

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Taris

Oh joy.  Okay, I don’t like Taris. At all. In any incarnation.  It’s a winding confusing mess of a world infected with rakghouls who by defeat cut through armor like butter which means lots of downtime healing.  But that actually works to the advantage of this mission, because we’re about to be reenacting a bunch of action movies from the 80s and hunting down a guerrilla warrior in the Jungle.  His name is Jincoln Cadera, and yes he is the father of that completely-unimportant-for-reals Torian Cadera, who has also shown up on Taris.

The majority of Taris plays out with you and Torian working together to take down Jincoln who has challenged you to a Mandalorian death game.  Which is a lot like capture the flag but with sniper rifles and pits lined with sharpened sticks that impale you.  So what I’m saying is that it’s not really so much like capture the flag but more like capture the flag at summer camp.  Torian helps you flush out his father, who then leaves his kid to die and you can either do the same (in fact, Torian insists that you do) or help Torian and loose the trail.  Either way it doesn’t make much in the way of a difference because Jincoln actually contacts you next for a formal declaration of the rules.  You need to find all of the ‘trophies’ that Jincoln has hidden in the jungle and then find his hiding spot to even earn the chance at a duel to the death.  You know, this is why I snubbed the Mandalorian invite on my second playthrough.  Honor bound war game grab ass bull.  Look, all you need is two guns and we’ll play ‘whose the better killer’.  I’ll even let you have the tea cup this time.

So you run around the jungle picking up little doodads like a sword, or a hat, or some such, and all the while Jincoln is taking shots at you from who knows where.  Torian is working on finding the hideout so you don’t have to worry about that step.  Once you got the four doodads, you meet with Torian who finally gets his revenge on Jincoln ruining the family name and you get paid!  Oh, you got to beat Jincoln first I suppose and if you don’t relish that after all the annoying loops he just sent you through, well then I don’t know what’s wrong with you!  After all is said and done with Jincoln and your ready to collect your sweet sweet credits from Bloodworthy, you find that Torian is waiting for you.  Seems like the kid wants to sign on  with you and see the galaxy.  Well, uh, sure? I guess, kid.  Guess you WERE important after all, huh?

I suppose I should say a few words about Torian Cadera.  He’s… uh… male.  He has hair.  Some tattoos I suppose.  Okay, I find Torian to be the most boring character you get as part of the Bounty Hunter storyline.  Pretty much everyone else has some weird personality quirk – even Gault for all his slime HAS a personality.  Torian is just…  well…  I’d say he’s a Mandalorian but he doesn’t even fit with any of the other Mandos you meet in this or any other class’ stories.  Even odder is that he’s the romanceable companion for female bounty hunters, and apparently he has quite the following.  I don’t know, I’m not a woman.  I’m barely even a human.  I’m a fricking hat.  What do I know about this guy’s appeal?  But I find him to be absolutely boring.  He’s like Corso if you take away all the annoying country boy junk.  A nice, boring, male human.  Welcome to the ship!

Quesh

Your next mission is actually a short diversion to the planet Quesh.  Seems that an adrenal company would like the Grand Champion of the Great Hunt to be the spokes-model for their newest line of combat adrenals.  This is actually my favorite mission on Quesh, because unlike almost every class mission on that planet, this one requires you to fight ZERO enemies to reach the door.  You just land and ride up on to the factory which is just a stone’s throw past the Imperial starter town.  However, when you actually show up for the meeting things don’t seem to go the way you expect.  No contract or credits are waiting for you. Just a team of Rebuplic SIS and if you let her live at the end of chapter one – a very angry apprentice. (Told you it was worth it to let her go.)  They are here under the orders of some big wig Jedi who is the right hand, top adviser to the Supreme Chancellor to bring you in for crimes against the Republic.  You can try to explain how the concept of a bounty hunter works to them – you know, you were hired to do a job by someone.  You’re the tool, not the user? Yea, none of this is getting through.  So you are stuck with surrendering (which you can’t actually, it’s not even an option in the game.  Just in a narrative sense.) and taking out your pursuers and getting a second chance to kill that padawan.  I did this time.  You get one freebie.  After that, I’m not mister nice bounty hunter.  Luckily, it has been dealt with and we can go back to getting paid now.

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Hoth

There’s another biggie on the Black List that’s been there forever and is just begging to be collected upon.  The Chiss Ascendency placed a bounty on a Trandoshan hunter/big shot pirate with the White Maw that has been terrorizing Chiss starship routes for years.  They want him brought in and alive to pay for crimes against the Ascendency.  Your only lead at the get go is a prisoner at the base – a small little jawa troublemaker named Blizz.  Blizz was an accomplice to the White Maw who used to tinker and make gadgets for the pirates until they kicked him out for some reason (too cute?).  Blizz gives you a lead on the Trandoshan and you actually find him.  Like right away, but he doesn’t want to mess with you because you’re not worth his time.  He just sicks his goons on you and walks off.  Call me Dangerfield because I still can’t get any respect here.  Blizz however has another idea to help you out.  You need to become worthy by taking down some of the biggest lieutenants in the White Maw.

So you start your Jagga-Point collecting spree across Hoth with Blizz’s tinkering helping you along the way.  Blizz builds a shield nullifier to help defeat a cyborg, boosts some heat shields to help dismantle a smelting operation in a volcano, and finally a freaky force sensitive alien that runs the White Maw’s day to day operations.  Once you’ve wiped out all of these goons, you can finally have your duel with the Trandoshan in his base.  The lizard does request that you kill him and give him an honorable death at hands of a superior hunter or you can deny him his wish and freeze him like the bounty contract stipulates.  Unlock a lot of contracts where you get a light/dark choice like this, the Chiss WILL be quite upset that you killed him and didn’t follow the conditions of the contract.  I actually want to say they stiff you on the payment too but I can’t confirm that.

However, you do get a chance to bring little Blizz with you.  In fact, if you have Mako with you she’ll practically beg to save the little guy from jail or whatever worse fate awaits him.  You agree and bargain to get him released into your custody.  If Torian feels like a blank slate, Blizz is all personality.  The wacky genius inventor who wants nothing more than to be “Boss'” (read: Your) best friend.  He talks fast, he’s constantly inventing weird little things, and he just always seems so happy to be around.  All that despite you never seeing his face.  He’s a Jawa, he looks like the rest of the Jawas (okay, he’s got fur around the edges of his coat.) But you would never mistake him for one once he starts talking.  I agree with the Bioware developers on this: I want a Blizz plushie.

Finale

After taking down two of the biggest bounties on the Blacklist in a row, your fellow grand champions would like to throw a party for you at the casino on Nar Shadaa! However, you arrive at the Casino to the sound of gunfire.  It seems the SIS are not done with you yet and have shown up ahead of the time with another Jedi – possibly by tapping your comm lines – and they’ve killed Bloodworthy, the Defenestrator and Jewla Nightbringer!  All three of them are gunned down and gone. Permanently.  Those bastards!

After killing the Jedi and the SIS, that top dog Jedi from Quesh appears via holo again to threaten you and to spout on and on about how you won’t get away with this.  This is all your fault for not surrendering. Blah blah blah. And he concludes by showing you a message being broadcast across the Republic from the Supreme Chancellor:  You are now the most wanted person in the entirety of the galaxy.  It’s no bluff either.  The team back on the ship confirms it all. The Empire is burning all bridges with you and disavowing having ever done business with you claiming that you are a rogue acting on your own.  The entire Republic is gunning for you.  Oh and you can bet that being Most Wanted to about to lure out all sorts of scum that would try to collect your head for money.  Glad I killed Tarro Blood. The only real hope is to go underground and lay low.  That is until you get a message from someone named Darth Tormen demanding you appear before him.  Hey, it MIGHT be good news? Bring the guns just in case.

My Thoughts

Chapter Two of the Bounty Hunter honestly is one of those things I have two minds about.  Namely because it was the first one I played through and now the most recent.  The first time I played it was the first time I actual ‘got’ the bounty hunter.  The idea of the hunt, and of Mandalorian honor and all that didn’t click until this point for me.  But I was also playing a straight laced ‘do the job’ bounty hunter, so the whole thing with the Republic came off as a pointless “Hey, I’m just doing my job” and nothing else.  So the entire story of the SIS coming after you and the Jedi wanting revenge wasn’t really something I even cared much about.   However, after revisiting the story I can see what it is.  This is the turning point.  You are being attacked, your friends are being attacked to remove any chance of supporting you, and you are being left with nothing to turn to.

Chapter Two takes on small bit of Chapter One that you probably didn’t think twice about at the time and turned it back on you.  It continually pushes you to the ropes and leaves you with nothing at the end.  It’s pretty much the perfect set up for a revenge story, which is pretty much what Chapter Three ends up being.  You’ve seen movies like this, we all have, about people set up to take a fall, pushed to the edge, and forced to take things into their own hands to set things right.  It’s that. Only you weren’t set up.  You did kill the guy. Just as a bounty.  The point is that the chapter does a really good job as a middle bit that builds on the first chapter and uses the established story to subvert and set up the conflict of the third part.

The concept of the Black List isn’t exactly ground breaking but it doesn’t need to be. It’s a hook, nothing more.  But it does a good job of not negating your efforts in the first chapter.  Take the Jedi Knight, or Trooper and there’s is very little connecting the first chapter to the rest of the story.  The first chapters seems to sit on little islands with their own self contained ideas.  But here?  You are doing Black List jobs BECAUSE you won the Great Hunt. You are chatting with and hanging out with former grand champions (that were conveniently set up all the way back in Mako’s first few lines of dialogue in the prologue as being BIG DEALS).  This chapter feels like it is the result of chapter one.  Which is a nice feeling.  We’ll get more of that when I eventually get around talking about the Imperial Agent.

The big thing I would have to say in this chapter is how much are you willing to bend your character?  Are you going to be the same person you were before?  My first character was a neutral but leaning toward light side bounty hunter who always did his job and never back-stabbed anyone.  The idea of taking revenge on the Republic was silly because it didn’t mesh with my character. I didn’t let the events of the story change my concept.  The second time, I ran with it.  If the Republic was gonna declare war on me, I’d declare war on the Republic.  Because of that, I will say that Chapter Two and Three became WAY more enjoyable to play through.  Just something to keep in mind from someone who has done it both ways.  This also applies to just role playing in general I think: Let the story change you just as much as you change the story.

<— Chapter One || BOUNTY HUNTER || Chapter Three —>

SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Jedi Consular – Chapter Two

<—  Chapter One ||  Chapter Three —>

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

He is called “Lord of the Large Pants”

With the Jedi Order saved from the threat of the Dark Plague, it’s time for you to get a new job to save the day.  Namely, it’s time to play Star Trek and escort a bunch of diplomats around the galaxy to convince them not to break away from the Republic.  Not even joking.  Meet the Rift Alliance, a coalition of worlds that are thinking of leaving the Republic because they feel neglected and their needs ignored by the senate.  These worlds include but are not limited to places like Manaan and Balmorra.  Although I don’t think Balmorra is a Republic world actually.  However it is funny to see the Manaan representative make mention of the ecological nightmare left on his planet after the events of Knights of the Old Republic.  That made me giggle.  But I’m getting a head of myself here. Before you get to hang out with the representatives, you have to save them.

See they were all on this big party ship that they were going to use as a base camp while working with you, but it got hijacked by the Empire!  So you have to fight your way to save them.  After that, it’s decided that they’d be much safer on your ship than the party boat.  Which, okay, kind of makes sense. But my ship doesn’t even have enough beds for my crew, let alone the rest of these people.  So…  I hope the chairs are comfy?

Balmorra

The first stop on our “fix the galaxy” tour is Balmorra. Essentially the mission is to put the representative from Balmorra in charge of the planet, and in exchange he will make sure that Balmorra joins the Republic.  So it’s NOT part of the Republic at the moment.  In order to change things over, we need to find the old president and have him pass over the authority to the representative.  Because that’s apparently how presidents work now.  No elections, just point a finger and say “Tag, you’re it!”

The real issue is that the now currently in charge Sith overlords have got the president in hiding somewhere, and that’s where I come in.  Well, me and the rebellious revolutionary known only as Zenith.  Zenith is a jaded freedom fighter, and I don’t much blame him considering the history of Balmorra: abandoned by the Republic and handed over to the Sith, and depending on what happened during the Imperial storyline their unofficial support from the Republic Military not only pulled out but also publicly confessed ensuring no future support.  Yea, I’d have a chip on my shoulder too.

You pretty much spend most of the planet playing back up for Zenith in an effort to track down and save the president.  Fortunately, you are a bad enough dude or dudette to do so.  Downside, President is being guarded by Darth Lachris, the sadistic Sith you met at the end of the Imperial Balmorra storyline (Yes, this is what happens to her).  Upside, you get to kill a Sith! More downside, she royally messed up the President’s brain so he can’t do anything even if you save him.  This leads to the somewhat disturbing option of using the president like a meat puppet to pass the torch of leadership.  It’s cruel, unethical, and I did it in a heartbeat.  What? My job was to get a new president for Balmorra, not to make sure the old one lived to a ripe old age.

Quesh

Quesh is the usual short single mission that really isn’t worth talking about usually.  This one does set up some important plot threads for later, so that’s a step up from the Trooper.  The gist is that the Rift Alliance had a secret science lab on Quesh that they totally didn’t mean to neglect telling you about but oh by the way the Imperials are attacking it and it has some superpowerful tech hidden there please oh god fix it.  The super tech in the lab really doesn’t do much except offer you a choice of how they develop it.  Maybe this comes up in Chapter 3? I don’t know.  So far all it did was get me a piece of mail with a severely under level blue quality companion gift.

What Quesh does introduce is two ideas:  the first is that a tracking device was found on your ship, which means that you might have a spy on board.  This is actually a great diplomatic conundrum.  Do you tell the diplomats – one of which may be the spy – and diminish their already low opinion of the Republic’s ability to keep its house in order, or do you keep it quiet and risk worse damage being done by the spy as you try to figure out who it is without letting the others on.  I actually really liked that twist.  Sadly it doesn’t last long as we’ll see.

The other thing that happens is that we see Nadia Grell, daughter of one of the diplomats, join you on a mission and display an impressive use of Force power.  Yes, it appears that little Nadia is a force sensitive and a powerful one at that.  Nothing comes of that immediately, but it does come up more later that I can promise you.

Behave! Or the Jedi will eat you.

Hoth

Your final job for the Rift Alliance is to help a team of their soldiers finish their job and back on their way home.  A task the Republic troops on Hoth have been most unhelpful in completing (Of course, the troops on Hoth just got hit by a surprise attack that knocked out their power, are getting cornered by pirates and Imperials, and are seeking a powerful weapon to use to help win the war. But taking care of the one squad of Rift troops that wanna leave the cold planet while they’re stuck there? Not a big priority shockingly.) The job is to kill one Captain Valon, a two bit pirate who was attacking the Rift Alliance’s shipping routes that has suddenly become a lot more problematic.  See, the word on the street is: Valon is immortal.  Yup. Can’t kill him.  Why even try? And these poor guys are stuck on the ice ball until the Immortal Pirate is dead.  Wow.  Sucky job.

Of course, one quick smack around from a Jedi and the jobs done right? Sadly, no.  While the rest of the team is often getting ready to celebrate leaving, you get a message proving that while you did seemingly kill the man and leave him cold and lifeless on the floor, he is still alive and kicking. It’s up to you know to figure out putting him in his grave. Luckily, you find out that the Empire is after Valon as well.  Something about stealing an experimental healing armor?  No… you don’t think…  I see.  Well, time to bust up a lab for answers.  And after ransacking and pillaging the Empire for some sweet sweet secrets, you find out that yea it’s the armor that keeps him coming back.  You also find out that Valon’s plan is to raise a massive star ship from the ship graveyard and use it as his new flagship as the future immortal pirate leader of the White Maw. (Aaaand he might be searching for One Piece.  Maybe.  No clue.  But hey, it gives us an excuse to rap on the way! Ready Qyzen?)

Ultimately, you find the pirate, use the secret technique of ‘Keep killing him until he stays dead’, and you and the troops get to leave this Popsicle stand.  Afterward, you get a new crewmember! Lt. Felix Iresso has joined the brawl! I’d love to tell you all about Felix but so far at least, he’s a bit of a cardboard cut out.  Seriously, the guy doesn’t have any really stand out-ish qualities while you talk to him on Hoth beyond he is willing to straight up lie to his men if it means not destroying morale.  Beyond that, he’s a soldier aaaand that’s about it.  I mean, he seems like there’s definitely some backstory stuff that I’m sure to get into as I keep shoving gifts into his face.  He seems perfectly happy to leave the military behind to sign on with you. But that’s it.  Kind of a weak sauce companion compared to the fairly strong personalities we’ve met so far.

 

No, Sir. We weren’t trying to steal Pay Per View.

Finale

The finale is short.  Like seriously short.  You finally track down which of the diplomats is the traitor/spy/guy who keeps stealing the cable, but oh no! He was JUST sent off on an important diplomatic mission with Royalty! I sure hope that hi jinks don’t ensue.  To make a long story short, everyone’s dead when you show up.  You just walk through the ship littered with dead bodies until you find the King and Queen of WePaintsOurFaces-vania with the traitor diplomat who to the shock of no one is actually a Sith. Dun dun yea yea.  More importantly, he is one of the Children of the Emperor.  Ah, now that IS different.  You fight, you win, you save the King and Queen. And that’s it.  The finale is seriously just that one fight.  Well, two if you kill the bonus gold star robot boss trapped behind a door.  But it does set up the next leg of the journey with the introduction with the Children of the Emperor.  I do wonder if Miss Kira Carsen will be showing up for  cameo?

Final Opinion

The second chapter of the Jedi Consular story is a lot of set up for whats to come it seems.  The whole traitor thing REALLY doesn’t get played up to its full potential, and it really could have been something great.  With diplomats constantly pushing for more info, the risk high of angering them and the Rift Alliance continually looking for a reason to abandon the Republic that, quite frankly, they owe nothing.  Instead, the diplomats are grumpy but mostly content to just sit around, give you your space, be polite in the face of whatever happens.  It’s not a catastrophic let down because I really do dig the whole political angle of the Jedi being explored, so I would definitely rate it above something like Trooper Chapter 2, but it really could have been something amazing but became satisfied with being meh.

Our new companions feel like two variations of the same archetype.  Both Zenith and Felix are soldiers, but while one seems worn out and just wants to be done, the other is super jaded from broken promises.  Still, recruiting them back to back just makes the comparisons even more startling.  Especially since Zenith is introduced with so much more character and gusto than Felix.  Almost like they blew all their cool ideas with Zenith and had nothing left for Lt. Iresso.

In the end, Chapter Two decides to just settle with doing what it does.  It doesn’t strive for amazing, it doesn’t break down into terrible or tedious – it just is.  Which is a shame.  It really did have potential.  But the whole thing still hasn’t lived up to the horrendously boring snoozefest I’ve heard it claimed to be on the forums.  So who knows what awaits us beyond in Chapter 3.  I mean, besides the Children of the Emperor. (OH YEA!)

<—  Chapter One ||  Chapter Three —>

SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Trooper – Chapter Two

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the second 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 Chapter One || Class Storyline Review: Trooper Chapter Three >>

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Last time on the Trooper storyline…  We killed a bunch of traitors.  Now you’re caught up.  As you can see from the above picture, I hit up the Cartel Market to outfit Havoc Squad with a bit of the ol’ technological superiority going into chapter two. So what is chapter two anyway?  Well, if you recall from Chapter One, we pretty much exterminated, arrested, or generally dealt with all the traitorous former members of Havoc Squad while picking up a few replacements of our own in the forms of Aric Jorgan (aka Sgt Meowmers), Elara Dorne (aka The nice imperial lady in my medic bay I never talk to) and M1-4X (aka THE MOST AWESOME ROBOT EVER).  I neglected to mention and folks pointed out in the comments that the Trooper has one of the quickest accumulation of companions in the game.  Reaching three companions (not including the Ship robot) before even reaching Tatooine.  Continuing that tradition, we’re going on a recruitment drive in Chapter Two picking up our last two companions and building a complete squad of companions before even hitting Chapter Three (An honor shared also by the Smuggler and the Sith Warrior who both pick up their last companions on Hoth as well.)

Why the neccessity to fill out the ranks? Well, the Republic Army has a new target for Havoc Squad to tackle, a mysterious new star destroyer – er… whatever we call them in The Old Republic timeline – called the Gauntlet. The Gauntlet has the ability to blow up ships while they are traveling in Hyperspace.  Which is impressive.  And problematic.  And quite possibly impossible but who am I to question physics of hitting an object traveling at lightspeed in a galaxy where space wizards fight with laser swords that just stop after a yard for no reason.  The name intrigues me though.  The Gauntlet.  So either a hazardous obstacle course of doom…  or a glove that one throws down to challenge people.  Neither of these really fit the situation though as we’ll find out.  The ship has a fairly standard design in it’s layout.  In fact a lot of it gets re-used in the False Emperor flashpoint and several other Imperial base/starship areas.  And it’s not really a challenge because… well, I’ll get to that at the end.  So in order to stop the Gauntlet, we need three things: An explosives expert, an infiltration team, and a security/electronics whiz.  Luckily, all those things just happen to be on the next three planets we can level through!  So grab some pamphlets, it’s time to recruit us some new Havoc-ers.

Balmorra

So it’s time to start our recruitment drive on Balmorra.  The goal is to find and recruit one Tanno Vik, an explosives expert that was discharged from the Republic military.  However, this hunt is fraught with unexpected complications.  It seems our Mr. Vik is a bit of a con-man.  You routinely find people that enlisted Tanno’s aid to perform some manner of operation with the reclamation of Balmorra, but he usually just takes their equipment and runs off with it before completing the job.  This leaves you in the unfortunate position of having to do his work for him and help those who he’s left high and dry all across the planet until you can figure out what he’s up to.  Yaaaaaay.

But you find out soon enough as you eventually make contact with the jerk and discover that he’s been “borrowing” the equipment to help break in to a top secret Balmorran Arms vault to “liberate” these high tech weapons from the Imperials.  I have to use the quotation marks there, because Tanno Vik isn’t the type to be honest as illustrated by all the friggin’ messes of his you just had to clean up.   It’s not a far off assumption either.  After using the stolen equipment to launch a homemade missile into the factory, he breaks into the vault to take the weapons.  Actually, he gives you the choice.  Turn the weapons over to the resistance, keep them for havoc squad, or sell them for a profit. Really, only the last option seems like the clear cut jerk move.  The other two are clearly up for debate.  True, SpecForce could use the weapons to further their goals, but giving them to the resistance could endear trust with the Republic.  Both good uses really.  I kept them for Havoc squad since my Trooper is very pro-military and my orders did not include ‘assist the resistance’.

Tanno Vik’s personality is pretty much summed up in these missions.  He seems to be a guy who believes the end justifies the means, in doing the right thing so long as he gets something in return.  He’s eager to skim off the top when you get the weapons, he steals equipment for ultimately a good cause – okay, he’s attacking the Empire.  Other than that, I dunno if plowing a missile into apparently the largest factory on the planet is a ‘good cause’ – but doesn’t use them for the job he was hired to do.  If anything, I’d describe him as somewhere between Chaotic Good and Chaotic Neutral.  He seems noble enough in his intentions, but he’s also quite self serving in the same stroke.

Quesh

Next up is hitting the backwater adrenal manufacturing planet of Quesh. Quesh has always been something of a filler planet that usually only has a single class quest that teases something coming up in the plot.  Like for the Jedi Knight it’s the first time you meet a powerful npc that plays heavily into the plot twist at the end of Chapter 2, the Bounty Hunter has a run in with the antagonist that drives the plot into Chapter 3.  However in case of the trooper, we’re just picking up some buddies for later.

Yea, that’s apparently it. Along with the new recruits from Balmorra and Hoth, you need to get a team of infiltration experts that appear to have broken in but can’t break out of an Imperial camp on Quesh.  Since you need them for the Big Mission(tm), it’s up to you to break them out and cover their escape.  Namely fighting wave after wave of baddies at the front door.

And that’s it for Quesh.  I wish I could say there was more to it for the Trooper, but really it’s just do this one thing and extract the pinned down team so they can join you in the big assault later.  Yaaaaay.

Hoth

This is the final stop on our recruitment drive. This time we have to get a gant (bug person) named Yuun.  Luckily, he’s not running off and making us chase him like Senor Grumpy Pants Vik.  Oh no. You meet Yuun quite quickly. But the catch is you need to help him finish his assignment before he can depart.  Okay, say it with me now: Yaaaaaaaaaay.  Essentially, our Bug Man is trying to assemble the Umbra Encrypter – a device responsible for decades of uncrackable Imperial codes.  Yuun wants to remake one from parts scattered across the frozen snowball of a planet, that quite frankly I hate with a burning passion.  Why? Well, everything is white with a blue-ish tint.  That means the lights from dropped items are harder to see, quest items are harder to see on the ground, and it just hurts my eyes after a while.  So I hope I can cling to my patience and sanity while trying to help Yuun.

This process is not made any easier by Yuun’s strange methodology which is akin to that guy from Ancient Aliens mixed with Sylvia Browne playing with a tarot deck drawn in crayon.  He reads the signs and energy wavelengths and other oddities and uses that to know exactly how to proceed.  And it works! Which I would say is weird, but this is the same setting as the Jedi and Sith, so let’s give the non-Force using Bug Man some credit.  Your tasks are generally simple retrieve X, where X can be people or an object, punctuated in the middle of the chain by a mission that requires you to distract the Imperials while another team fetches X.  The only real moral dilemma is do you warn Yuun of the approaching pirate attack or use him as bait to catch them off guard.  I used him as bait. What? He’s a psychic/bug type poke-companion, I’m sure he saw it coming even if he never said anything about it.

So you rebuild his thingie, he is happy and gets on the ship.  The end.  No, seriously.  That’s really all it is.  It feels like it takes forever, and it’s really just four fairly basic tasks and then he puts together a device that we are told is really, really, REALLY important and will save countless lives and we never see it do anything and I REALLY hope it comes back later on or this will be the most disappointing over-hyped mcguffin thus far.

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Finale: The Battle of the Gauntlet

So now that you’ve reassembled a brand spanking new Havoc Squad it’s time to assault The Gauntlet.  A big old star ship that can blow up other ships while they are in hyperspace (which is bad, and also previously thought impossible).  Two of your squad will take the bridge, Yuun will accompany you to disable security, and then you’ll switch over with Tanno Vik to plant the explosives and blow this joint! Oh and the last team member will offer support.  It’s kinda cool to see the entire squad of companions getting involved like this. Especially right at the beginning when you burst onto the Gauntlet only to find a gold, two silvers, and a squad of weaker goons there to swamp you, and all six of you unleash hell in a huge opening battle!  It’s epic! It’s awesome! Aaaand that’s where the excitement ends.

After that opening battle, the rest of the mission is visit a couple quest markers with Yuun and watch some cutscenes of taking down bad guys, then switch over and visit a few more quest markers with Vik and watch a cutscene, then fight a random gold mob and leave.  That’s it.  That’s the mission.  Yes, there’s a bit where you’re contacted by the bridge team and they say they got pinned down by Imperial reinforcements and then you have the choice of “Send them back up to help them run away”, “Run away” or “RUN AWAY NOW!”.  I don’t think there was a single light side/dark side choice in there.  No daring rescue on the bridge even.  Just ‘Bombs are set, let’s skidoo!’ and away you go to get your reward and promotions.  Talk about a let down of a finale.  No, I’m serious.  That big explosive battle should have been at the end, not the beginning.  Or have that energy continued the entire way through.  Because despite everyone knowing you are there from that first initial blow up of a battle, absolutely no one is acting on alert.  Hell, the droids are still mopping and the engineers are doing routine maintenance. And it’s not like you are the only threat here either! There’s a big space battle going on outside, a huge shoot out on the bridge, and you see NONE of it.  Instead it’s escort and chat with the new companions while killing the bored janitors.  What a joke.

When you finally get back to Coruscant, General Garza lets you know that a message has arrived from the Imperial who designed the Gauntlet and explains it was meant to be a tool for peace.  That they hoped the threat of the Gauntlet would be enough that the Republic would back down and just let the Empire do whatever it wanted.  You know, like nuclear deterrence. Only without the mutually assured destruction.  Or the arms race that leads both sides to have a Gauntlet pointed at each other causing them to reach a standstill.  So nothing like nuclear deterrence.  But see what I mean earlier about the whole challenge aspect of ‘throwing down the gauntlet’ not applying either? They made the thing with the hopes that it was so powerful and threatening that no one would challenge it.  So maybe the name is ironic?  No clue.  Anyway, the Imperial jerkface has decided that since the Republic can’t be REASONABLE PEOPLE and just lay down and die or convert, that there’s no stopping it.  It’s all out war now.  So there’s the reason the war starts up again in Chapter Three that you hear about in every other class story.  It’s because the Trooper and Havoc Squad broke the Empire’s new toy.  That’s all.  Actually that about makes sense considering they just wanted an excuse.  Hey, maybe that was the challenge to throwing down the Gauntlet.  They made something that the Republic had no choice but to attack to give them an excuse to go to war.  Ha!

Final Thoughts

I had mixed opinions of Chapter One due to the weird moral choices you were presented with, but Chapter Two just STUNK.  There was nothing gripping or exciting.  It never felt like anything was building or the stakes were being raised.  Nothing felt like it was going to the next level at all.  No, it’s a bloody recruitment drive.  That’s it. For all of Chapter Two you are finding people to help you, and when they do they payoff is next to nil.  I was hoping that after a meh-ish experience the Battle of the Gauntlet would add some serious excitement to the end and it didn’t.  It just kept up the feeling of nothing big happening at all.  You got a team, they all did their jobs, the f-ing end.  That’s it.  Nothing was risked, everything worked out with next to no complications or messy situations.  Oh, one of the bridge team was critically injured? Oh shoot. Good thing that all we have to do is take them two steps to the ship and heal them because hey, mission is already done.

Again, if the big battle was at the end, then being one person down would have been interesting.  It was a choice of who you sent where, so now that choice matters because it would affect who was injured and couldn’t help in the final battle. Maybe you could shake that up by sending Yuun or whoever was on support to help and then THEY would be injured for the final battle.  Instead the entirety of the who is on the Bridge assault and who is on support is apparently MEANINGLESS.  It doesn’t matter who you send.  One will be injured, but that’s after everything is said and done and nothing will be lost for it.  You can’t switch out with any of them – including whoever you left for support – during the mission because you will always be stuck with either Tanno or Yuun (or if you have her, Treek. Because they didn’t think of that when they first designed the mission).

The choices you make in the finale don’t matter at all in the outcome of the finale.  That’s it. There is no bigger insult to this game than that.  The bland moral choices, the dull friendship drive and it all culminates in a pointless final mission that leaves you with the rank of Major, 10 more levels added to your belt, and two new buddies to play with.  Talk about a frickin’ disappointment of a chapter.  I can only hope that Chapter Three is an improvement.  I can’t see how it couldn’t be.

<< Class Storyline Review: Trooper Chapter One || Class Storyline Review: Trooper Chapter Three >>

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