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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 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 >>

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 >>

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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.

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

SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Sith Warrior – Prologue

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 Chapter 1 –>

Sith Warrior…  RIIIIIIIISSSSEEEE.

If you ever wanted to be the dragon to a scheming master, traveling around under orders to silence his enemies and carry out his will to the masses, then you’ve selected the right class for that.  You can think of Sith Warrior as being Darth Vader.  You are at the beck and call of a dark master who you serve, you are a threat to not be taken lightly, and you will – hopefully – command fear and respect.

I actually have two Sith warriors.  One is a strictly light side one that I only play from time to time, and the one that will I be basing most of these reviews on, the dark side (mostly) dark knight who wishes to carry out the will of his master, but is also honorable in doing so.  He will burn down and kill every enemy he finds, but takes no quarrel with the innocent souls that cross his path.  He does not kill for fun and he does not do so wantonly.  He believes in the Sith ways and the Empire, and will fight for it.  Essentially as I said, a dark knight.  So that is the mentality I’m applying to most of the decisions you will be reading about.

Korriban

The Warrior begins just like the Inquisitor with their arrival at the Sith Academy on Korriban.  However, instead of being treated like dirt by a racist prick you actually get immediately lumped into a conspiracy to undermine the admittance guidelines of the Academy to help preserve the Sith tradition from a “half breed” that seems to have been shooting up the ranks.  So in other words, Your new buddy Tremel IS a racist prick but this time you’re helping him.

Despite the somewhat less racially sensitive goals of your new…  um…  tutor?  Overlord?  Well, he’s not your master.  I do honestly find Tremel to be hilarious.  Especially when he threatens to cut someone in half with all the passion that you would declare that you are planning to open your mail.  Ho hum. Murder. Pshah.  I love this guy!

Your given various tasks like judging what to do with various prisoners in the jail and slaying a beast in the caves before the poodoo hits the fan.  It seems that you haven’t gone unnoticed by the Sith Lord that you’ve been trying to undermine: Lord Baras.  And depending on your definition of luck, he’s not planning on killing you!  Baras definitely makes his intimidating nature known though.  There are chills when he lectures you about everything that you have done wrong.  However, he’s willing to overlook it if you go back and kill the Overseer that brought you in and return with his hand.

As Tremel points out this is a brilliant move, because either Tremel is removed from the picture, or you get killed and either way one of Baras’ problems are dealt with.  Of course Tremel views it as either killing you, or admitting that he’s breaking the rules of the Sith.  You’re given a light side way out of the whole thing naturally to just take the hand and let Tremel leave but why would you? What favors has Tremel done for you?  All he’s done is use you to further his goals.  You clearly would have gotten to this stage of the Sith training on your own in time.  I pretty much always end up killing Tremel.  And with that the black guy who wanted to keep the ‘half breeds’ out of the Sith Order dies first.  That’s like… double racism?  Or something?  I don’t know.  He still had it coming.

So with Tremel dealt with, it’s time to have a good ol’ fashioned showdown with your rival, Vemrin.  Sith apparently always have rivals in school.  They share this lovely trait with Pokemon trainers, who also have a tendency of using others to do their bidding and make liberal use of slavery.  Really, the parallels are kind of creepy.  Pokemon is all about building a power base as an up and coming Sith Lord.

The rest of Korriban plays out pretty much how you imagine it.  You beat your rival, Baras takes you on an apprentice, you get a lightsaber from a creepy tomb and have to fight a bunch of Sith mummies.  What? You weren’t expecting the mummies?  Oh dear, what ever did you think you’d find in tombs?  Vampires? Hahahahaha. Not yet.  But there is one more nice touch with Tremel’s daughter showing back up and threatening you.  Even if you spared her dad, she still hates you (she just will hate him more).  You get a bit of a fight and she does down easy.  Still it was a nice throwback to an earlier quest, and those are always fun.

You also meet Vette, your first companion/slave.  And I don’t mean slave as in she’s mechanically a pet that has to do what you say, I mean she’s a slave.  She has a slave collar when you first meet her and you can shock her – A LOT.  She’s a sassy girl who likes to give lip to anyone and everyone she meets, regardless of their standing.  And about each time you are given the option to electrocute her for it.  Now, you can actually be a really nice guy and take the thing off of her as soon as you leave Korriban.  This is pretty much essential to trying to romance her, and as I understand it from others who have done so that she uh…  keeps it.  For kinky reasons.  Yea, not kidding there.  I on the other hand, left it on.  Because I’m a fairly dark side monster.  I’ve come to peace with that fact.

Dromund Kaas

The Imperial homeworld provides a new mystery to tackle as the apprentice of Darth Baras.  Apparently, some of your new masters deep, deep, deep, DEEP cover agents have been knocked off lately.  Baras has no idea who the heck could possibly discovered his agents, and wants some answers.  Getting this answers involves you running errands for the rotund ball of Sith all across the planet. Fetching a frozen SIS agent, eliminating some loose ends in Baras’ network on Dromund Kaas, and then finally fetching a torture device for the aforementioned SIS agent.  Really, the intrigue is in watching Baras’ paranoia grow as he struggles to get answers from the SIS agent. This ultimately culminates in a desire to ‘silence’ his spy network that might put him at risk.

Some of the best moments are probably when you get to infiltrate the rogue Sith lord Grathan’s place and fight him.  Yup.  The Sith Warrior is only class that actually gets to interact with the nefarious rogue lord and his family.  Or can at least. But the enjoyable part is actually getting to kill the Sith apprentice that Baras had working there under cover.  He does nothing but give you crap and then ultimately tries to back-stab you to further his own ambitions.  So you kill him. And no matter if you’re light or dark side, there’s something warm and fuzzy about giving someone their comeuppance.

Beyond that, there’s not a lot to be said for Dromund Kaas.  You have some excellent opportunities to drive Darth Baras nuts in the dialogue.  You can pester him, ask dumb questions, and at one point say something to him that amounts pretty much to a wordier: “U MAD BRO?”  Baras is shown to be a frustrated and paranoid darth who only maintains his position by having an edge over the competition via his extensive network of spies, servants and informants which is now all at risk from his old nemesis – a Jedi master that was convinced of Darth Baras’ agents infiltrating and betraying the republic a while back and made it his life mission to bring Baras down.  To top that off, it would appear that he has found the perfect tool to do just that.  A new padawan that can apparently see people’s true nature.  Frightful of the implications of this, your master gives you a ship and sends you off to silence his spies before they can be found and to hunt down this padawan, beginning chapter one of the story.

Final Thoughts

The Sith Warrior very much mirrors the Jedi Knight in that it seems very slow to build in the beginning, maybe even more so.  You’re given a ton of tonal establishment early on with the kill or be killed merciless nature of the Sith.  The power struggle and need to be constantly vigilant is hammered in quite a bit.  The dark and light side choices are pretty much what you would expect, with the only exception being one quest on Korriban where you are actually punished for choosing the light side.  After getting the stone tablets from the tombs, you find a guy who couldn’t get them. You can choose the light side and give him your shards, which will lead you to having to do the entire quest again.  So you have to do the quest twice if you want to be light side.  Granted, the guy you helped does lend you a hand later on if you do that, but it ends up getting him killed.  So he dies either way.

However in terms of actual story, not a lot actually happens in this prologue it seems.  Of course, I might be wrong and all of this could come back at some point of another showing it was extremely involved. But I’ve also learned not to judge a storyline by simply the prologue. Heck if I had done that with the Jedi Knight storyline, I would have missed the extremely epic chapter 3 storyline (we’ll get there eventually, I’m replaying the Jedi Knight for these reviews instead of just trying to remember them).

((Vry’s Note: And with that, I have officially caught up on all my backlogged Storyline reviews.  Some of them are less thorough than I’d like but the new one’s are being written one planet at a time to help make sure they stay fresh in my mind.  Look forward to more stuff coming soon.))

|| Sith Warrior Chapter 1 –>

SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Jedi Consular – Prologue

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

The Jedi Consular is probably one of the most controversial class stories in the game.  From everything I’ve seen since the game launched people have either loved the Jedi Consular and claimed it was the closest thing to KOTOR 3, or found it absolutely mind numbingly boring.  I haven’t seen a ton of opinions that fell into the middle.  Not that I doubt they exist, but they’re hardly the most vocal responses to the class story.  I’d like to think I’m breaking new ground by making a very public voice saying that at least the prologue of the Jedi Consular is quite possibly the most meh story thus far.

To give some context to how I’ve been playing my Jedi Consular, so you have some idea how these opinions were formed.  It mostly came from his voice.  The male voice of the consular just sounded so pompous and proud, so SUPERIOR. I couldn’t un-hear it.  So that’s the way I played him.  A fat, gluttonous, prideful, condescending prick.  He hoards knowledge in the desire to be the best and is not above murder to preserve his standing.  He believes he is morally superior and is not capable of doing wrong because of his ‘advanced Jedi mind’.  In that sense he is VERY dark side with a dash of light choices here and there.  Which might seem like a weird way to play this class, but as you’ll see it fits really well in places.

Tython

The story of the Jedi Consular actually begins with a mystery.  While clearing out the flesh raiders, you are given the task to retrieve the instructional holocrons created by the founders of the Jedi Order but the last one – belonging to a founder that eventually fell to the dark side – is missing.  The search eventually leads you to a village of twileks who speak of one of their local heroes, and this is where the way I played my Consular and the plot met in beautiful harmony.  You see the Twileks and the Jedi don’t exactly have a great working relationship.  The jedi for the most part refuse to get involved in their suffering of the twileks because they have an “Illegal settlement” or in other words they set up a village on Tython without the approval of the Jedi or the Republic.  So the twileks have no rights to be there, but the kind hearted Jedi won’t shoo them out either.  My pompous jerk Jedi hears this and immediately is dead set that these twileks are trespassers on HIS world.  So he treats them like dirt.  How this works out is that it turns out their local hero has set about teaching himself the dark side specifically because the Jedi refuse to help and are considered to be jerks by the twileks.  So I am pretty much enforcing the stereotype that led to this problem in the first place, and I LOVE it.

The rest of Tython is pretty much following clues you find to try to beat the twilek who is slowly going mad with the power of the dark side to a secret chamber that the dark side turned Jedi founder created.  It feels a bit like a Jedi equivalent of Indiana Jones and such, deciphering the riddles of the past to find hidden treasure.  During your mission you find yourself teaming up with a friend of your master: Qyzen Fess.  Qyzen is a trandoshan who wishes to collect points to please his goddess the Scorekeeper.  Eventually he gets captured and apparently this causes him to lose all his points.  I’d debate about all or nothing mentality does not bode well for the religion in my opinion, how one set back can cost you a lifetime of effort.  I imagine it’s bit like coming in fourth at the Olympics must feel like.  “Oh crap, was .05 seconds slow on the turn, now my life has been for nothing.” Qyzen’s fun though, because he has delightful snarky commentary for everything.  I’m not sure if HE thinks it’s snarky, but I totally do.  Anyway, he joins you as your first companion.

The story on Tython wraps up with you getting a lightsaber, beating the twilek and getting a pat on the back from the Jedi Council.  Even dropping the ‘Jedi’ title on you right there, and honestly I liked that a great deal more than the ‘Knight of the Republic’ one the Jedi Knights get.  For one, it isn’t missing punctuation and two it feels more like a title fit for following ‘padawan’.   But things aren’t all happy because your master collapses! She’s got a super bad unknown illness!  WHAT CAN WE DO!? We’ll clearly the most important thing is to move the body to…

Coruscant

Okay.  Now that we have Master Yuon to the republic capital, we need to find a cure.  Consult other Jedi!  They know nothing.  Consult the healers!  They know nothing.  Doctors? Zilch.  Okay, so how do we find the cure for this horrible illness?  Well first we need to figure out what it is.  And for that, we need to ask a bunch of datacrons that have gone missing and/or stolen and/or sold after the Jedi Temple got wrecked.  This raises the question of what a holocron is versus a datacron.  A holocron has a hologram artificial intelligence in it, a datacron has a hologram artificial intelligence in it that apparently knows something useful.  Cause the only holocrons I’ve met so far are the ones that had the Jedi founders on them, and they were boring.  And unhelpful.  And kinda jerks.  Oh and one had an evil Jedi that taught a twilek dark powers to destroy the Jedi and almost got me killed.  Datacrons thus far do not do that.

So you end up chasing down the first datacron, and they have no clue so they tell you to find the second.  So you find the second and they tell you build a house made out of brick.  So you huff and you puff and….   Wait. Getting my stories mixed up.  But you can’t blame me.  It’s the same old thing three times from different jerks who had the cubes.  The only real neat thing to this whole chain of events is that if you are familiar with Knights of the Old Republic you will see some familiar faces.  Faces I wanted to punch in that game too, except now they’re holograms.  I can sill be a jerk to them though and they can’t do a thing about it. So there’s a perk.

Finally, the whole thing wraps up at the ruins of the Jedi Temple where you use the datacrons to learn the ancient Cure Force Disease 3 (It’s like Cure Force Disease 2 but also replenishes all HP.  And for all you ‘new skool’ kids out there, you can call is Force Disease Curaga or something.)  But then an evil Sith smashes the doohickey and makes it so no one else can ever learn the cure.  He then laughs about evilly, name drops the big bad, and then you smack them with a big rock you pulled from the ground.

With the thingamajig now crushed, you and you alone have the power to heal those afflicted with this terrible Dark Plague.  But each time you do it takes a bit of yourself to do it, so if you try to cure too much you’ll likely die.  Not that I didn’t just die to the Random Sith McEvilPants twice already, but maybe the Jedi Consular is just a preferred member and has used up all his in-the-field rezes?

Final Thoughts

The prologue of the consular is full of archaeological mysteries, secret knowledge, and the making of a villainous plot to unleash a terrible plague upon the Jedi…  and it really couldn’t go about it in a more uninteresting way.  Tython is just a big long ‘find the thing’ mission, and then when the ball finally gets rolling on Coruscant it ultimately just boils down into a ‘find the thing three times’ mission.  Really?  That’s all it is?  No matter how you dress up how you find the thing, it doesn’t change the fact that all I’m looking for is a few cubes with talking dead people in them.  All that keeps the Jedi Consular from teetering into total tediousness is the fact that the reasons you’re looking for the cubes is actually really compelling.  The Dark Plague is a constant ticking clock that first just seems to incapacitate but then you find out can actually turn friend into foe.  It strikes your master first, giving a personal stake in this.  And say what you want about Master Yuon, I can at least remember her name unlike Master What’s His Face in the Jedi Knight storyline.  Though may be the reason I remember it is because they actually CALL her Master Yuon instead of just ‘Master’ in most of the cut scenes.

So far the Jedi Consular prologue is probably the second weakest, only trailed by the completely unnecessary Jedi Knight prologue.  The story is actually the strongest part and the only thing that keeps the tedious tasks given a float and pulls it up to an astounding meh.  It doesn’t help that for some reason Tython feels like it takes forever to get done with, followed by mindless cube finding missions like you have a mighty need to make a Tetris. Hopefully now that the Dark Plague story arch has taken off I have some fun ahead of me in Chapter 1, and if not well, you’ll hear about it here as always.

SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Trooper – Prologue

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

Class Storyline Review: Trooper Chapter One >>

trooper1

The trooper was the first class I ever played way back in the November beta weekends of the game.  In many ways it was the class that introduced me to the game and its mechanics.  Really it was a choice of elimination.  The Jedi and Sith areas were crowded beyond belief, I wanted to play a Bounty Hunter when the game launched, and I had no desire to play a squishy ranged class when I was first learning the game.  So the heavy armor wearing republic trooper seemed the logical choice for testing out the game.

I was lucky that the trooper’s storyline has probably one of the best starts in terms of prologue.  While other classes spend the prologue establishing the status quo and familiarizing yourself with some of the major NPCs you’ll be getting to know, the trooper storyline pretty much jumps right in and uses the prologue as an establishing point from the starter world in terms of the story.  While the Jedi Knight and the Consular don’t get the story rolling until Coruscant, by the time you finish the trooper starter world you’ve already established your primary antagonists and your mission.

My mistake was going for a pure light sided trooper.  See, light side and dark side choices are interesting for non-force users.  It seems to vary from class to class, but for the trooper the light side choices tend to be “For the People/Republic” and the Dark Side choices seem to be “For the Military”. So if you’re on orders to stop someone who may be innocent, arresting them would be a dark side choice, and trusting their word that they are innocent is a light side choice.  Whether or not they are innocent is not the question, but who do you put your trust in.  My first trooper in the beta was pure light sided.  Always took the high road.  And you know what? He was one annoying dude.  Like cheesier than Superman but with none of the depth that defines their moral path.  I wanted to smack him.  When I made the trooper that I’m basing these reviews on, SHE (FemShep ftw) is a cold, logical military cyborg.  Light or dark is irrelevant. She does the mission and chooses accordingly. She listens to her superiors and her superiors only.  That’s how she’s “programmed”.  Kinda like a bad ass military Robocop.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let’s just say that if you’re looking for a good place to jump in for a solid story, the trooper is far and away the best place to start.  Anyway, let’s hop into it:

Ord Mantell

Welcome to the Republic Military, and more specifically to the elite unit of Havoc Squad!  You’re apparently so elite, that despite your fellow squad members being armored to their teeth in the latest defensive gear, you start out wearing a t-shirt and pants.  T-shirt.  And pants.  That are heavy armor.  You’ve got to be kidding me.  I really get to start out like that?  Oh well.  Pretty much most of the story for the trooper on Ord Mantell involves a powerful (and expensive, seeing how they keep mentioning the cost of the thing) missile that could easily level the whole island.  It was stolen by the local separatists who apparently don’t much care for the Republic or their planet being part of said Republic and it’s up to Havoc Squad to track it down.  Mostly you, with an occasional cameo by the other Havoc members to assist in an interrogation… or opening a door.

It’s a constant hunt as the separatists are routinely one step ahead of you.  They kill your contact and move the device from the base just before you get there, so your only lucky break comes in the form of bribing a couple of separatists moving the thing who contracted radiation poisoning from it with medicine.  (Whether you give them the medicine or not is naturally up to you.) Ultimately, you find out that the separatists have moved the bomb to their volcano base – a plot point that I consider to be one of the most AWESOME things on the planet.  I LOVE secret evil volcano lairs.  There you find out that the Seps are receiving aid from the Empire, which pretty much shocks no one.  Still, it’s the only republic class storyline that directly involves the Empire as early as the starter planet (Yes, they’re technically there in the Smuggler storyline, but they don’t have anything to do with it.)

Then the merciless and cruel twist happens.  You wanna know how they knew to always stay a head of you?  Turns out that all of Havoc Squad sans you is actually defecting to the Empire and the stolen explosive is their ‘gift’ to their new bosses.  The reasons given are that the Republic doesn’t value the efforts of ‘True Soldiers’ and already I’m having Metal Gear flashbacks.  Is Tavus just Big Boss with a bitchin porn stache?  Luckily you deactivate the bomb before they can get away with it.  And then it’s off to Coruscant to start the hunt for the traitors.

We are also introduced to Jorgan Von Strangle… er… I mean Aric Jorgan.  A Cathar soldier that ends up being your first companion and first replacement member in your new Havoc Squad.  Jorgan is a career soldier through and through.  He doesn’t care for politics, he only wants to do his duty.  I find him annoying and repeatedly demean him as “Sergeant Meowmers”.  He starts out as a grumpy ass because he got demoted as a causality of Tavus’ defection, he continues to be a grumpy ass because he’s Jorgan.  Let’s be fair.  He’s just a grumpy guy.  How he ‘endears’ himself to you on Ord Mantell is constantly chewing you out for every mistake.  The only pleasure in this is that you can kick his butt once you’re his superior.

Ord Mantell does a great job of setting up a conflict, giving you a villain, giving you a personal reason to want to stop them as well as a professional one, and does so with a satisfying totally makes sense but didn’t see it coming twist.  Tavus dismisses early concerns about the Empire being involved, no one outside of Havoc Squad and Jorgen knew about the operations to tip off the Seps, and because of the tip offs it seemed perfectly justified when they left you behind during the Volcano mission due to your perceived “failures”.  Out of the Republic classes, this one is probably my favorite starting planet story.  It’s not epic like the Jedi Knight, it’s not funny like the Smuggler, but it gives you all the groundwork in a nice neat package.  If only the same could be said for…

The Republic Trooper moonlights as a Ghostbuster apparently

The Republic Trooper moonlights as a Ghostbuster apparently

Coruscant

There’s always one planet that just doesn’t need to be there, isn’t there?  Coruscant is where most of the republic classes get the set up for their act 1 stories, but for the trooper it’s just a bunch of mini stories lumped together by the overall strand of hunting down Tavus’ mentor who might have a lead as to where the traitors might be going.

It’s not to say there’s not some shining moments in all of that.  There’s a great moral dilemma in the mission to stop the mad scientist from turning people into living time-bomb cyborgs.  You find a group of test subjects that may or may not have been turned into weapons already.  They’re sleepers, so even they wouldn’t know until it was time to go on a killing spree.  It’s a huge risk to let them all out, and there’s no way to know if one or all of them were cyborg-ized, so the choice comes down to kill them or not.  The safest choice is to kill them really.  There’s seven of them or so and if just one of them goes nutzoid on a crowd of people that’s likely far more than seven dead.  But you don’t KNOW if they will.  So you might be killing a small group of completely innocent people.  It’s really good, and actually gave me pause to think about what to choose the first time I encountered it.

The other scene I really liked was when you get called to a senate hearing about the rumored defection of Tavus and the former Havoc Squad.  The General does her double speak thing where she can’t TELL you to lie, but she isn’t telling you to be honest with them either.  So you get in there and you get to play CSPAN where you can be completely honest with the people who help run the entire Republic, or lie to them, or just be really really ambiguous.  I’ve seen enough ‘A Few Good Men’ to know to go with option 3.  The best part comes right after you finish Coruscant and have to go to a space station to save the one senator who gave you the most crap during the hearing.  You can choose to let him die to go after the Havoc traitor that kidnapped him, or save him and let the traitor go.  (I saved him. Mission first, revenge later.)

Coruscant was mostly a kind of bleh planet to my trooper.  A few memorable bits, but overall there’s nothing to really get you ramped up.  Mostly I just sat there rolling my eyes saying “Can I PLEASE go kill the backstabbers now…”  You get introduced to some reoccurring characters like your superior General Garza, and the always awesome Jaxo.  Honestly my first impression of Jaxo was ‘Why isn’t this awesome chick on my crew instead of grump sergeant meowmers?’ Though a few less than spoiler free glances at TORHead may or may not suggest there’s a reason for that.  I stopped looking once I realized it might spoil anything, but I get the impression that there will be much more with Jaxo later on.  Consider me excited, Jaxo rocks.

Final Thoughts

The Trooper Prologue is probably one of the most solid starts to a story I’ve seen thus far in the game.  As I said before it firmly grounds you with a personal and professional beef in the events.  The biggest shortcoming was the meandering nature of the Coruscant story arc.  A lot of it felt like padding before the real adventure resumed in Act 1.  I mean, would it have been so bad to actually have Wraith, the traitor you square off with during the senator kidnapping, be the one you were chasing throughout Coruscant?  She is an infiltration expert, so sliding around the lower levels is not out of the question.  Working underworld contacts to help secure a potential re-invasion of Coruscant?  Maybe? I don’t know.  All I know is that at the moment the whole mentor thing just felt like an unnecessary bit to give us something to do.  But maybe that will change.  Maybe the mentor will come back in a later chapter, and I’ll eat my words on this.  It’s not the first time.

Class Storyline Review: Trooper Chapter One >>

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