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SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Jedi Knight – Chapter One

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

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

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

TARIS

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

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

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

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

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

NAR SHADAA

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

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

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

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

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INTERLUDE

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

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

TATOOINE

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

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

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

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

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ALDERAAN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FINALE

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

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

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

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FINAL THOUGHTS

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

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

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

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

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

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SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Sith Inquisitor – Chapter Three

<– Chapter Two || SITH INQUISITOR ||

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the third 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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So where were we?  Ah right, left for dead and saved by our friends again.  The fact that I have to append again to that statement speaks worlds on how we got this far.  Now that our super nasty ghost binding ritual has gone and blown up in our own face, it’s time to head back to the ship to recover.  Only that’s pretty much not going to happen.  The force walking ritual backfire is apparently now ripping apart your mind and body and if you don’t find a way to fix it and fast, there won’t be a… uh… ‘You’ anymore.  Khem Zash has been researching a solution but can only find trace bits of info on a way to solve your problem.  It turns out this is because Darth Thanaton has completely duplicated an entire volume of a widely circulated public multi-volume book series and no one has noticed till now.  Just as a reminder in case you forgot between chapters that Thanaton is oh so smarter than you will ever be.  Thanks game.  So the only solution is to break into Thanaton’s secret library on Dromund Kaas and steal the books you need.  Because apparently Thanaton just has a ton of super secret hidey holes all over the big Sith headquarters on the Sith homeworld  that are ingeniously hidden by… ELEVATORS!  So Thanaton’s a mastermind and likes to rub it in your face.

You can fight through the library if you really want, but a simple mind trick will let you just wander around without a single alarm being raised by anyone, even the guards you didn’t mind trick.  There you find the books you need.  One speaks of an ancient Rakata healing device in the bowels of Belsavis, and the other of the strange healing techniques practiced by the Voss.  Since it’s mentioned in other storylines that the Voss was only recently discovered to the point where many don’t even know about it, one must wonder how old these books are.  That or Sith are just generally #$%&s to map makers.  Either way, we have our first two destinations and since they have set level ranges and the plot states that Khem Zash and Ashara need to research the Voss, it looks like we’re going to…

Belsavis

Yay. Prison world.  So apparently we’re looking for an ancient Rakata healing machine and that’s going to be fun as heck since like 90% of this planet is just random Rakata junk.  Luckily, Zash gave us a lead: The Circle, a gang of technology junkies imprisoned somewhere on the planet.  Which is good.  The planet is also in the middle of a massive break out and no one is where they should be.  Which is bad.  Luckily we can score some prison records to figure out roughly where they were and go from there. Which is good.  Even better is when the person guarding the records knows exactly where they went, rendering the need for records to nil.  The Circle has been hanging out in some ruins, and they will happily help you provided you help them set up a broadcast relay so they can send their signal out across the Galaxy.  This just means fighting off several waves of enemies before fighting a big one, and boom. All done.  You then get warned by a mysterious person speaking in a language no one has ever heard before but everyone understands (I assume the characters just read the subtitles along with you) telling you to stop your pursuit.

In exchange, the Circle provide you the means to break into a secure Republic research lab where some Rakata tech was being looked at before the jail break.  Once you get in, you scan the hunk of junk which leads you to another research lab where the actual supposed healing machine is, but considering the Darth who came looking for it before you is lying dead in front of it (and perfectly preserved) I think I will be finding another solution.  Luckily, a bunch of robots attack! Followed by that weird language speaking fellow who turns out to be a Rakata and calls you a ‘slave race’, but agrees to allow you to use their healing machine in exchange for letting them ‘borrow’ your genetic data to help their science project and to use a data chip to put the healing machine – “Mother Machine” – back under their control.  Because apparently the lifeform generating genetic supercomputer became sentient.  Funny how that always seems to happen.

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You track down the Mother Machine deep in the tombs and you finally get a decent morality choice: enslave the machine (light side) or let it remain sentient and free (dark side).  I am not joking about which of those is which.  I think the logic is that Mother Machine will use its terrible power to maybe create a doom army and take revenge on being enslaved? Or something?  I honestly am really confused on this one.  But yea, it’s a light side choice to use the data chip to leash to computer.  Go fig.  Also, another fun fact that gets revealed here: the Rakata were essentially trying to pull a Jurassic World.  Yea, in order to discover why their species lost its own force sensitivity (did you try injecting midichlorians into yourself?) they genetically engineered a bunch of new species to test how the ‘lesser slave races’ would gain the ability to use the force.  Specifically, the Esh-Ka, the Twileks and the Zabrak.  Is… is this canon?  That the Twileks and Zabrak were the result of a lab experiment?  Daaaamn.  What a weird bit of trivia to drop here of all places.  Is there anything the Rakata DIDN’T help create? Ewoks?

Anyway, regardless of your choice, Mother Machine will boot up and let you rebuild your body.  Yea, apparently the “Healing Machine” actually just reconstructs your entire body from your genetic code, and yet my face is still covered with scars. Go fig.  But we still got voices in our head that are not our own, so it’s time to head to our next destination.  But wait! There’s a call coming in!

Interlude I

It would seem that a big wig moff named Pyron is trying to figure out who he should back in the battle between you and Thanaton.  He says that the Imperial Military would definitely be swayed if you could help them finish a little ol’ superweapon that Thanaton axed: The Silencer.  All it needs is this not-technically-legal-anywhere chip that hey it sounds like your cult on Nar Shadaa might have access to.  What’s that? You forgot we had a cult?  So did I!  But we do.  So it’s off to Nar Shadaa.

However, it looks like the intel that my cult had the chip wasn’t exactly right.  It seems that another black market dealer that turns out to be three dudes whose minds are cybernetically linked and synced have taken over the entire market on these computer parts. What jerks.  However, they’ll happily give you them and so much more if you relinquish the cult over to them to lead instead of the Sith and/or orphan cultist pair.  Honestly, since the Sith has proven to run cults for his own vanity and Sith tradition dictates he eventually try and kill me – he’s out.  But what about the two cultists that helped me in the first place? If you left them in charge you would periodically get emails from them talking about how they almost ran the bloody thing into the ground.  So yea, putting a trio that “single”-handedly  took over an entire corner of the black market sounds like a much better management team.  Oh, they cry and moan when I tell the old leaders they’re not in charge anymore.  But they’ll get over it. Or die.  Probably die.

With the chip secured and off to Moff Pyron, you seem to be making a lot of connections but you still got a broken noggin.  Time to Voss it up!

Voss

Hope you got a d20 ready because Voss is pretty much where we ditch any aspect of science fiction left in this space opera and go on full Dungeons & Dragons.  Let me break this down for you:  The healing ritual is being held by a cult of outcast voss called ‘Dream Walkers’ who despite being outcasts have their own area in the Shrine of Healing where the ritual is kept, but to access this room you must join their cult and dream walk where you fight all the ghosts in your head.  Now you go get the ritual but in order to complete it you’ll need a force-sensitive gormak, a species that can’t use the force, and then free him from his prison.  Then you go to Nightmare Lands, convince the gormak not to smash everything, have the gormak use the “dream rock” to turn your “nightmares” into reality so you can kill them and then take the dream rock from the gormak which will then remove the “Nightmares” and heal your mind.  All the while you need to walk carefully because the Voss fricking HATE you because a Mystic foresaw that you would destroy the Voss by leading the gormak to the stars, which you do since you trade safe passage off of Voss to the gormak shaman in order to help you. Got all that?

I was NOT joking about this planet being Dungeons & Dragons.  On top of the ridiculously long string of events needed to complete this quest and each step usually requiring its own substeps, there is an abundance of what can only be described as ‘magic’ used to make it all work.  Oh you can dress it up as ‘The Force’ but between rocks that turn nightmares into reality, a lone magic-using outcast member of an already outcast race that normally can’t use magic, and everything from silly robes to a shrine of healing, you may as well be throwing magic missiles at the darkness here.  It just seems really weird to do a magical ritual with a dream rock in the ruins of a temple called the Dark Heart in the Nightmare Lands one minute, and the next minute be flying off in a space shuttle.  That is what I call mood whiplash.  Voss is full of that crap, especially in this storyline.  I mean, the Inquisitor already kind of danced that line.  We had an immortality ritual in Chapter One, binding g-g-g-ghosts to increase your power via a blood pact, and now this.  This is a STAR Wars game still, isn’t it?

The big pay off at the end of this is of course being rid of the ghosts in your mind.  Which doesn’t much do much but reduce the number of voice actors needed for the storyline.  Supposedly they’re in your mind, twisting your thoughts and actions in some sick game for their amusement, but all you see of that in-game is that they chime in on the dialogue every now and then like some kind of spectral Mystery Science Theater.  They do try to mess with you by taking on the forms of people you’ve betrayed or used during your adventure… and a wampa, but it isn’t convincing at all.  Like I really am going to believe that Zash is in the dream world striking up a casual conversation.  Heck, the only one who calls you out for your actions is the Jedi from Alderaan.  If it’s really a dream, I would have rather seen the whole thing go to some real mind **** territory.  Like waking up on your ship to have all your companions turning on you, or when Thanaton shows up actually play it up like he could actually dream walk as well and has come here to put an end to you in a dingy cave on some backwater planet like Voss.  Instead we get a few people we KNOW can’t be here spouting the usual “You suck” lines and the ghosts going on and on about how you will lose and they will win.  In the end, the whole thing was rather forgettable.

There’s also the matter of the vision of the mystic that says you will bring doom to the Voss by leading the gormak to the stars.  You are warned by a voss commando as soon as you step out into the airlock about this and they don’t let up.  They harass anyone that helps you about it and keep trying to shoo you off the planet.  You ignore them, say you won’t do that, say you’ll stop it from happening, say it’s all just stupid mumbo jumbo, and then… you uh… lead a gormak to the stars.  It’s not even a fricking option as far as I can tell. You just do.  Worst of all? NOTHING HAPPENS.  There’s no doom, there’s no threat at all actually since the gormak shaman wants to go to space to find a new home for the gormak so they won’t try to kill each other.  The only way this spells doom is a) waaaaay down the line and b) you are aware of all the storylines that happen on Voss that bring up that the voss and the gormak were once one species, and that if they don’t reunite they will both die out.  So naturally the gormak leaving would kind of spoil that reunion.  But in terms of this singular story?  Nothing. Zilch. No pay off to that threat.  Just a voss yelling at you as you leave and a diplomat who gets upset if you anger the voss.  Of course you can always just do what I did and mind-wipe them both and head off.

Interlude II

This interlude has two parts: first is to go check on your new apprentice.  Apparently they’re just finishing up their final trial on Korriban. And the winner is….  The Twilek!  Wait, wha?  Oh nevermind. Xalek comes in and beats him to death.  Harken has a fit over someone dying at the Sith Academy (and being caught) and goes off to tell Thanaton.  Xalek then joins your party.  The end.  No seriously, that’s all that happens.  Xalek barely speaks.  Heck for me he just grunted at me then wandered off to the ship.  So glad to have such a story rich character along for the ride.  He’ll fit in nicely with Pirate Who Tagged Along For No Reason, and Scientist Who Quit His Promising Career For No Reason To Come Bum Around With You.  Seriously, the only companions that seem to have any significant plot reason to tag along are Khem and Ashara.  Damn.

Moving on, you soon get a call that the superweapon is complete.  You head off to the ship carrying it and test it out on an unsuspecting fleet of Republic goons.  Also there’s apparently another Imperial ship in the fray.  It’s headed by a Darth that’s a lackey for Thanaton, so we’re presented with a choice: Kill him with the fleet, or tell him to GTFO while we kill the fleet.  Either is a valid choice really.  Opting to let him live will get you a transmission with a string of insults and threats that he would totally make good on if you hadn’t just saved his life.  Either way impresses the moffs who pledge their loyalties to you.  Also it catches Thanaton’s eye… somehow.  Who is impressed that the superweapon project that he canceled for no reason works.  Did he have reason to think it wouldn’t? Who knows! Because before we can talk about the superweapon, Thanaton declaes a “Kaggath” – an ancient sith duel that will pit power base against power base across the arena of…  all of Corellia. Wow, really? Dang. Okay dude.  Now…  does anyone have a power base I can borrow?

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Corellia

So apparently my ‘Power Base’ is just that one moff I helped out.  Corellia is essentially one big brawl across the planet that plays out with Thanaton doing something and you trying to stop him followed by Thanaton running away.  The only exception to that plan is your very first mission that Moff Pyron suggests which consists of pumping Thanaton’s apprentice for information.  You can do this by either beating it out of him or making him a better offer to join your side.  The apprentice is kind enough (or willing enough depending on how you pried the intel from him) to let you know that since your entire power base is that one moff’s fleet, Thanaton plans to blow up the fuel dispensary so they can’t refuel.  Beyond the fact that it boggles my mind that a frickin’ star ship in the Star Wars universe still requires the use of a gas station, Thanaton’s actions are tantamount to treason for acting against the Empire.  Of course, he’s also a Dark Council member, so he gets a ‘Do whatever I want’ card (Sith Warriors know what I’m talking about.)

So begins the song and dance of chasing after Thanaton around the planet like looking for Princess Peach. You stop him at the refinery, beat him, and he runs away.  You attack his base in a museum, he sics a robot on you, and runs away.  He attacks your Moff dude and before you even get there – He. Runs. Away.  So finally, you have your final showdown of the Kaggath. Everyone’s watching. You beat him in a duel and then… you guessed it – he runs away.  I don’t know what’s worse the fact that the mastermind villain for two chapters is reduced to Zoidberg-esque levels of fleeing or that he pulls rank about being a Dark Council member when he loses.  Yea, the punk actually tells you that since he’s a Dark Council member, you don’t have the authority to defeat him in the Kaggath.  Nice to know that I was doomed from the start.

Though I should be fair about something. I said your entire power base was just that one moff, but that’s not true.  If you save the Sith during the Silencer superweapon test, he will refuse to fight you when Thanaton asks him to, and that one less annoying assistant from Balmorra (the aide to your liaison that you may or may not have killed when you may or may not have killed his son) is here and he’s happy to see you.  So that’s something.  I suppose.  But no, your cult regardless of who is running it has no power here.  The superweapon doesn’t come into play at all. Lord Cindaquil never comes back from partying on Nar Shadaa. It’s pretty much that one guy from Balmorra, the Darth you didn’t kill with the superweapon, and Moff Pyron.  That’s your power base to throw against Thanaton.  Maybe if I had actually spent time in the storyline cultivating a power base instead of looking for relics/ghosts/a cure, there might have been some merit to it all but nope.  /sigh

Grand Finale

So Thanaton being the wimp he is runs all the way back to Korriban to ask the Dark Council for help in killing you.  You give chase only to be stopped by a Darth and his stooges at the door to the chambers.  He tells you that there are many others who agree with what Thanaton is doing.  By that I’m assuming ‘purifying’ the Sith Order with an emphasis on tradition and ancient values (I hear he wants to post the Sith Code outside the Dromund Kaas courthouse too) but any point he wants to make is quickly rendered moot once you realize that he’s just here to be one more fight before the actual final boss.

Speaking of which Thanaton is making his passioned cry about how you should be put to death for ‘corrupting traditions’.  I swear that this man is becoming more and more like a weird Sith Fox News anchor or something (Thanks Obi-Wama.)   But it seems that even the Dark Council is sick and tired of hearing this guy whine on and on about this crap. To the point where they actually are chatting to each other that if someone doesn’t shut him up, they will after all they just got done listening to Darth Baras’ long winded speech (I like to pretend that the Sith Warrior ending was just a few hours earlier.)  Luckily, you are there to help with that.

The final battle is actually pretty much the same as the other times you’ve faced Thanaton, only it appears that he’ll deal some extra damage and have shorter cooldowns.  He mostly will just drop massive AOE death fields on the ground and spam Lightning Storm, with an occasional whirlwind or stun tossed in for good measure.  It does however seem that his AOEs are at least somewhat based on Line of Sight, so you can use the thrones around the room to dance circles around and keep him from casting some of his nastier abilities.  If an AOE gets dropped, just switch to another throne and continue smacking him when you get a chance with your saber or instant cast abilities.  It may take a while, but he’ll go down.  Just don’t count on your companion last long unless you are actively healing them.

After you beat Thanaton, the other Dark Council members finish him with a force neck snap.  They congratulate you and over you his seat on the Dark Council.  Of course, to be on the council you need to be a Darth and in what is probably the coolest part of this ending that sets apart from all the rest is you are actually granted a Darth title based on your alignment: Dark side characters get Darth Nox for your mastery of the Dark Side, light side gets Darth Imperius for their loyalty to the Empire and the select few gray morality Sith get the title Darth Occlus for having an inscrutable reputation.

After that you get to go all the way back to Dromund Kaas where you meet your followers in YOUR new meditation chambers. While many of these characters are just generic stand ins there are a handful of people you will recognize from your journey along with your companions.  Most notable however is that apparently your old Sith Academy instructor and all around legendary hard ass Harkun is at the ceremony.  Apparently he decided to jump on board once Thanaton was dead?  He’s in for a rude awakening.  Finally there’s the matter of the ghosts.  You may have promised/lied to free them once its done.  Your given a choice to either enslave them permenantly or let them leave and in the case of the latter a few will actually stick around with you.  There’s actual a third option I stumbled upon though in which you use your “light” to release them from their ghostly trappings and free them to the afterlife proper. I dunno if this is only for light side characters or not, but it’s neat that it’s an option.

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Looking Back

While I can’t in good conscious say that the Inquisitor storyline was worse than some of the others, I can say that it does something worse than be bad: it wastes potential.  The entire storyline has so many amazing bits that could easily bump this into one of the best storylines in the game, but it doesn’t go for them.  It plays it safe and simple, it prefers to do the predictable and the dull, and it never tries to escape the trappings of a plot designed to go along with a rigid MMO leveling experience.  The relics in chapter one have no significance and even their bizarre powers are only mentioned a few times and have zero impact on the story.  The ghosts are actually interesting in the sense that you can choose to forcefully bind them or bargain with them. The broken mind/body aspect has zero gameplay effect other than a few scenes where the ghosts talk to you.  They don’t take over your actions or manipulate your senses and when they try to make you see things in dreams they are flat out BAD at it. The whole power base thing comes right out of left field and I had no idea I was even supposed to be bothering with a power base the first time I played this.  In the end, the whole thing felt like it had a ton of neat ideas and wanted to touch on them all but not commit to any one of them.  The result is a mish mashed plot where nothing feels like it has any weight to it.  Who do you leave in charge of the cult? It doesn’t matter.  What if you let that scientist on Balmorra live? Nothing.  Lord Cineratus? Might as well call him Lord Not-Appearing-After-This.

To make all that feel even worse, you have a villain you is played up at being so completely competent at every aspect of politics and strategy that you can literally never get the upper hand on him until you beat his face in at the last planet.  Ah yes, Thanaton’s vital weakness: pain!  Thanaton honestly turns from ‘Villain you can’t hope to defeat because the writers keep pulling the rug out from under you’ to ‘complete joke’ in the matter of four quests on Corellia.  It’s hard to believe the man who knew not only that I had survived his instant kill blow, was returning to kill him, and the location and time of where I was going to do it so he could be there and ready for me ends up whining to the Dark Council and begging them to maim me because he got his butt handed to him in what the other Sith literally call a playground game.  What’s worse is that there is another villain who does all this and does it SO much better: Darth Baras from the Sith Warrior story.  Baras remains a vital threat to you through the majority of the third chapter and sets up a scenario that makes it so that every move you make actually helps him win, so your only choice is to strike him down in combat.  As opposed to Thanaton who never feels like he’s earned his victories.  He just knows things to make the player’s life difficult.  He’s the SWTOR equivalent to a meta-gamer.

So was it bad?  Eh, it had it’s moments where it shined.  A handful of individual planet stories really show where the story shined and where it could have been used as an inspiration to become amazing.  But if anything that makes it okay and that’s the best I can say for the Inquisitor story: It was okay.  There’s some great ideas, but your character is treated like an idiot.  The planet stories can be really enjoyable, but the overall story and villain are a complete mess.  I honestly felt like they were just making it up as they went along and didn’t have any sort of concrete idea or theme for the class in general.  So it becomes very hit and miss. If anything it feels a lot like it WANTS to be like the Consular storyline only evil, but doesn’t want to put the work into getting to that level of interconnecting storylines.  Yea, so this one was a firm, middle of the round ‘Meh.’  I won’t be bothering leveling up another Inquisitor, that’s for sure.

 <– Chapter Two || SITH INQUISITOR ||

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: Sith Inquisitor – Chapter One

 

<– Prologue || SITH INQUISITOR || Chapter Two –>

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the first 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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Ah, the Sith Inquisitor.  Are you a raving madman or cunning deceiver, brilliant tactician or brutal murderer?  I will say this, more so than any other class in the game the Sith Inquisitor has a very clear line between Light and Dark sides, to the point where you could easily make a Goofus & Gallant style comic about the two paths.  With most classes, you can see the merits of mixing things up and sometimes making light and dark choices by need.  I would argue that is very much NOT the case with the Sith Inquisitor.  The Light Side choices are almost always about freedom/kindness/manipulation, the Dark Side ones just boil down to ruthless torture and murder.  So you can kind of see how the two concepts REALLY don’t mesh well.

To those who don’t recall where we left off – because it has been a while – we defeated a ghost that turned out to be our great-great-great-great-great-grandpa and have been tasked by our master, Darth Zash, to find four relics of Tulak Hord, none of which include that cool armor set from the Nightlife cartel packs.  So it’s essentially a mcguffin hunt, but as you’ll see this one is a bit more interesting than the early Consular mcguffin hunts.  Because it’s rarely not about finding the relic, but finding a way to get to it.

Balmorra

This is a perfect example of what I’m talking about.  You know exactly where the relic is as soon as you arrive in Balmorra.  The real problem is that it’s at the bottom of a toxin filled mine shaft that would instantly kill you as soon as you got even halfway to the bottom.  Indeed, it’s explained to you by the kindly Imperial officer you meet that the only thing that can survive the toxin is the mutated genetically engineered colicoids.  So the task is simple: become a colicoid.

While that does sound insane, there is merit to it.  You’ll need to get some additional research and the de-defect a scientist to help construct a formula to resist the toxic waste. The scientist is hesitant but you can persuade him by promising that no harm will come to him and he’ll be allowed to return to the Republic once his work is finished, or you can just taze him bro with sith lightning.  Once you recruit the scientist, your Imperial officer liason uses his cooperation as leverage to force you to go save his Sith son who was caught by the resistance while looking for an ancient sith relic.  You have to do this mission sadly. The good news is you can just kill the kid and get the relic yourself (Note: it’s a crappy lightsaber. Not work it other than to piss off Officer-Dad.) or just send the kid on his way and dealing with his lip.  I mean it too.  Whether you help him or attack him, he will not shut up about how you are lousy Sith compared to him, how dumb his Dad is, how pathetically slow you are at saving him.  They REALLY made it easy to want to kill him.

Of course if you do that you have to deal with the Sith’s Dad, who will promptly try to kill you if you harmed his son.  Either way you then deal with the scientist by letting him go or killing him and take your injection to climb down the glowing green hole and get your relic. I hope you can start to see what I mean about having a hard time with a ‘gray’ play through of the Inquisitor.  Dark side is torture with lightning and kill, light side is bargain and honor your deals.  I suppose you could always promise to reward them and then kill them instead, but it certainly doesn’t work the other way around: “Zap! ZAP! Do as I say! Zap! Okay, now you can go. Toodles!”  Unless you are completely insane.  Of course, there’s enough dialogue options for the Sith Inquisitor that work in that vein that you could easily play your character as someone who makes the majority of Batman’s rouge gallery seem like down to earth sensible folk.

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Nar Shadaa

The Gambler’s Moon is where we see the introduction of the second major theme in the Sith Inquisitor storyline.  Along with usual lost and ancient techniques & relics for power, there is also the ever running concept of the ‘power base’.  While it won’t play a major role in the story until much later, we are introduced to it here with the opportunity to establish a small cult in your name.  Why would you do this?  Well, so you can take down another Sith’s cult. Another Sith who happens to have a relic of Tulak Hord.

Your cult starts with just two people: an angry young man who is fed up with the world, and a young woman who idealistically is hoping for change.  Yes, that is cheesy. But how are YOU going to start a cult? With well rounded and fulfilled individuals? Ha! Anyway, it’s time to start spreading your good-ish name around.  You get a choice of how to accomplish this: you can either break into a pharmaceutical company and steal a cure to a disease called the Rot and cure people with it, or kill of a local gang that has been terrorizing the locals.  The choice is really up to you, it’s a light side/dark side choice though even the light side choice of stealing a cure is a bit dark.  After you complete the task, your cultists will contact you about finding a new location for your ‘church’ and ask you to meet them there, where you are immediately jumped by the other Sith’s goons. Yay for security!

There is a bit of a hidden dialogue at this juncture where you can actual have an ‘intimate’ encounter with at least the female cultists – not sure about the male one as I never played a female inquisitor.  You just need to talk to them before you head off to the next mission.  Though be warned, it is dark side points to have your way with them, and the non-dark side points option is pretty much “Ew, your icky. Go away. Stupid head.” So you’ve been warned.

The next objective is to steal the Sith Cult Leader’s followers by performing a miracle during his big meet & greet shindig. To pull this off you convince a municipal employee to blow the gas pipes under the building when you give the signal (how you convince him is entirely up to you) and thus create a ‘groundquake’ – a name that only make sense once you realize there’s no ‘earth’ so what else are they gonna call it?  This is enough of a feat to steal a good chunk of the Sith’s followers, and successfully tick off the Sith Lord.  Which was the goal, I think?  Either way, it works and the Sith invites you to his base of operations to deal.

And lo and behold the whole thing turns out to NOT be a trap.  No, serious.  There’s a bunch of enemies standing around in the usual pack layouts like you would have to fight them, but they stay green and non-hostile.  It’s probably one of the better psych outs in the game, because you totally are waiting for them to start attacking and they NEVER do.  Instead you just run in to meet with the Sith Lord, who has his own surprise in store.  It seems that the Tulak Hord relic drains people of their force power and then he attacks you himself.  This fight is really annoying because of the aforementioned force drain.  You don’t recover force naturally, and all your abilities take twice as much to use.  The one way to actually sneak by this whole thing is to die and then resurrect, which removes the debuff.  You won’t get it re-applied because the Sith Lord doesn’t put it on you, it’s triggered by the cutscene ending and since you don’t have to watch the cutscene again, you are free to beat the Sith senseless.

So you got the thingamajig but now what is left to deal with but the cult.  You again get three choices: Screw’em and leave, leave the Sith in charge, or leave your loyal flunkies in charge.  As far as I know, the only thing this really changes is a few letters you get as you level up. I might be wrong on that, and I’ll be sure to mention it in future installments should these people ever re-enter the picture.

Interlude – Ghost Great Great Grandpa’s Hat

After completing Nar Shadaa and Balmorra, you will be visited once more by Ghost Gramps who tells you that Zash is planning something.  While the general response is “No duh.” you can actually respond in the hilarious “No! Zash would NEVER do that to MEEEE!” way that leads to Ghost Grandpa plainly stating, “You are naive.”  Why call attention to that? Well because it is probably the best way to summarize the Sith Inquisitor storyline as a whole.  We haven’t got there yet, but trust me – your character is dumber than rocks at times.  Anyway, to prepare you for battle the Ghost Granpappy sends you back to Korriban to retrieve his helmet.  A mask model that is usually reserved for level 40-something Sith Warriors, so that’s cool.

The whole mission is fairly short and just involves fighting through a dude’s house and then either killing him or persuading him to give up the helmet, then running back to the ship.  Really, the worse part in my opinion is getting back to Korriban to do this whole thing.  The entrance is right by the Dark Council chamber so you have to go all the way to the Academy, up the elevator, and down the hall and that’s before the mission STARTS.  Gah!

Tatooine

Okay, I’ll be straight with you here.  This is the worst planet in the entire first chapter.  I mean, the others are not about FINDING the thing but how to GET the thing, right?  Yea, this is just find the thing.  With a side order of revenge for your new companion Andronikos Revel. The mission is literally: 1. Find Andronikos, 2. Find the Pirate, 3. Find the Sand People, and 4. Find the Thing.  This is quite literally a straight line across Tatooine.  The only thing that diverges or affects anything is whether or not you deprive Andronikos of his revenge and kill the guy yourself.  That is it.

Even Andronikos is a weird mixed bag.  You are first told that he doesn’t like people or trust people, but by the end of one job that doesn’t even end well he wants to sign on to your ship’s crew.  His backstory is also familiar: a pirate captain that was left adrift and almost went mad after his crew mutinied, only for his former crew to end up going insane from a cursed relic.  Next he’ll be insisting that he’s CAPTAIN Andronikos Revel.  Blah, can we just move on?

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Alderaan

Compared to where we are coming from, Alderaan is my favorite world in Chapter One. This is just one of those times you get to be manipulative and sneaky as an Inqusitor and it really feels like how I wish the entire class would play.  The whole situation is that the final relic is stored in a vault, and only House Organa has the key.  In order to get that key, you will need some sort of dirt to manipulate them which you find in House Alde.  It seems that the heir to the House abandoned his duty and more importantly his fiance to go train as a Jedi.  A Jedi in love? Tender.

To lure the Jedi back to Alderaan, you go and break into House Rist and find their heir, the scorned woman from the holo that totally doesn’t still have feeling for the Jedi, not at all, b-baka.  And this is where it gets fun, you can actually take the story down a few paths here.  The first is to lure the Jedi back by forcing the Rist woman to call him and ask to meet at their ‘special spot’, you can kill her if you want and then go and kill the Jedi for the key.  On the other hand, you can convince the two to work things out.  They’ll both meet at the special spot and you can help them reconcile, convincing the Jedi to abandon his oath to the Jedi Order to be with his beloved.  To reward you, he gives you the key.  So instead of killing your way, you can actually manipulate a Jedi to fall from grace.

I really like the whole manipulation angle and using your enemies weakness against them.  It was really what I was hoping the Inquisitor would be for the most part, and this world really shows how strong that approach is.  You can mastermind a way to either have a Jedi fall, or lure a Jedi to his doom in a way that no one will be able to find his body or even know where to look which simultaneously strikes a blow against the Jedi, House Organa, and gets you the key to go and nab the relic from the vault.

Finale

The end of the story comes in two parts.  The first is another visit by Ghost Grandpa who wants you to retrieve his lightsaber that has given to a retainer of your ancient family before Tulak Hord destroyed everything.  The ancestor of the retainer is now working off her father’s debt at a Nar Shadaa casino, a debt incurred when her father bet everything – including the lightsaber – to a corrupt known-for-cheating gambler.  You need to go and get it back so she can unlock the case for you (because Bioware wanted you to visit the casino twice since it wasn’t being used for much else).  Now that you have your grandpappy’s lightsaber, it’s time to go and deal with Zash.

Now here’s where you either saw it a million miles away or got an awesome twist: Zash wants to betray you!  You can’t say there wasn’t ample warning for it. In fact, her wretched form is starting to rot away. So she wants to put her soul in your body.  Which sounds a bit too fantasy even for Star Wars, but hey I’ll roll with it.  Your morose monster of a pet, Khem Val, disrupts the ritual and somehow ends up body sharing with Zash.  The two of them now trading off who controls the body.  Of course, Zash is furious. All her planning gone to waste.  She even made sure that her loyal apprentices were to become YOUR apprentices, and to ensure YOU became a Lord of the Sith so when the conversion happened she would be ready.  So she tries to attack you in Khem’s body but that pesky loyalty oath is apparently biologically ingrained so even when it’s not Khem, Khem Val cannot hurt you.

So the chapter ends with all your new loyal servants coming to hail you as the new Lord Kalig.  Yay you!

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My Thoughts

The first chapter of the Inquisitor’s story is…  good.  I can’t call it great because it does have some missteps, but at the same time it fixes the biggest issues I had with the Consular story.  With the exception of Tatooine which is honestly just a straight up treasure hunt find-the-thing mission, each story explores a different facet of working around complications to obtain your goal.  You have the deal with Imperial command and bargaining on Balmorra, you have to build a power base and use it against an opponent on Nar Shadaa, and you have to manipulate your enemy into a trap on Alderaan. While you are still looking for the same Mcguffin over and over, it’s handled so different each time that you never really notice.  It makes for a very enjoyable playthrough that keeps you engaged fairly well.

The downsides on the other hand are more so to do with the over arching plot.  Zash’s scheming is poorly handled, and this really carries over from the Prologue.  Every single person you meet flat out tells you not to trust Zash, and at no point past Korriban are you ever given a worthwhile reason to trust her.  She constantly makes enigmatic promises of your rise to power, but that’s all it is – vague promises.  By the time Lord Kalig shows up and flat out tells you she wants to betray you, well what reason do you have to keep going along with this plan?  But for some reason, you do. You bring her all the relics, and then guess what? She betrays you! Shocker.  The only reason you don’t die is because Khem Val saves your butt, establishing sadly what will be a long series of “Someone saving your butt” moments that extend well into chapters two and three.  I would rather have had one of the interludes be something along the lines of finding some means to counter Zash’s ritual, the two counter rituals exploding and resulting in Zash and Khem Val sharing a body.  SUPPOSEDLY this is what Kalig’s helmet is for, but when the time comes it is never brought up, so I have no idea.

The only other thing would be a small one but I would really have liked to see the relics have more effect than just be a macguffin.  I mean, on Tatooine we establish that one can drive you insane (something we hear about but never see) and the one on Nar Shadaa can drain force power.  The other two are essentially trapped under rocks, but still could affect things around them.  The Alderaan vault IS guarded and the Balmorra altar was surrounded by colocoids.  It was just a little something that I think would have added some flavor. Not a big complaint.

No the BIG complaint is going to be next time as we dive into Chapter Two of the Sith Inquisitor story.

 <– Prologue || SITH INQUISITOR || Chapter Two –>

SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Bounty Hunter – Chapter Three

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the third 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 Two || BOUNTY HUNTER ||

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So picking up from last time, the Hunter had just been declared the number one most wanted target in all of the Republic for repeated acts of destruction and terrorism, MOST of which I did not do.  In the wake of the pretty much losing every possible outlet for work, a call comes in from one Darth Tormen, a big wig Sith that further solidifies my theory that Sith don’t know how to finish writing their scary words.  He invites you to his ship, and this is IMMEDIATELY following the whole ‘The Sith Empire disavows ever working with you” and essentially burns all the bridges with you.  Since Sith normally don’t like to leave loose ends, it pays to come prepared. Unfortunately, they are also prepared and you get the lovely choice of going in blind, or fighting your way to Tormen’s office.  It’s almost worth it to fight simply so you can see a mildly annoyed Tormen that you broke his toys.

The Darth has an offer for you when you see him.  He wants to hire you – the Republic’s Most Wanted – to help him take out choice targets that might impede his attempt to overthrow and conquer Corellia for the Sith Empire.  Your payment for this job is not only a healthy heap of credits but also a chance to strike at the man who was turned you into the least employable bounty hunter in the galaxy: The Supreme Chancellor.  Hot doggie, it’s time to hunt!

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Belsavis

Our target on Belsavis is a smuggler turned patriot named Zale Barrows.  Zale has been ‘escorting’ Republic forces and prisoners around the galaxy and getting them past any sort of blockade or attacking force.  You can see why Tormen might want him gone. His most recent job has been acting as a ferryman to the prison on Belsavis.  You think finding a smuggler would be hard enough, but because life is anything but easy for you at the moment, you are repeatedly “assisted” by a Houk named Skadge.  Skadge is…  unpleasant.  He’s the dark side companion that the Sith WISH they had.  You first meet him beating the hell out of Zale’s girlfriend for information and not like in the ‘Ve have vays of making you talk’ kind of way.  Like the bone cracking, internal bleeding, kind of way.  The whole bit is completely uncomfortable to even watch and while I love the story of these games, I won’t deny spacebarring through this scene the second time I got to it.

Even with what little info Zale’s love interest has (turns out she doesn’t know much but that might be because she likely has a concussion and brain damage after Skadge interrogated her), the massive Houk still isn’t done making your job harder.  You and Skadge finally corner Zale, but while you are cutting the power to open the doors he sneaks off.  Skadge in his frustration destroys Zale’s droid.  You know, the ONLY frigging lead to where Barrows was headed.  So now you get to drag a heap of droid parts around trying to find someone to fix it and giving your bounty a huge lead to get off world.  Ultimately, you get the location of Zale’s destination and catch up to him in the Deep Tombs.  There he actually gives you an offer: help him stop the Imperials from freeing prisoners and he’ll come with you, or take him by force and help the Imperials.  Really, it comes down to how much of an Imperial loyalist you are.  Yes, they are your current employers but freeing these prisoners isn’t your job. Capturing Zale is however.  So really it’s your choice how to handle it.

However you choose to, the matter of what to do with Skadge is still in the air.  Except it’s not.  Skadge is on your ship and is on your crew now.  Because he says so.  No, really. He doesn’t give you a choice in this matter.  It’s not even the game not giving you a choice.  It does.  You can tell him no, but he’ll just say tough noogies and join your ship.  Which REAAAAALLY makes me uncomfortable having him wandering around the place where I sleep.

Voss

The next target on our hit list is a Republic general stationed on Voss.  Essentially, our goal is primarily to discredit her and then take her down.  I’m not sure about the necessity of the whole discrediting thing. Maybe they just don’t want her to be a martyr because she quite clearly has a goal in mind and the Voss do support it to the point of breaking their neutrality to impede your efforts to find her.  This planet more or less follows the ‘Chase someone across the world with lots of near misses’ archetype of the bounty hunter storyline.  You chase her to the Shrine of Healing, then to the Gormak death arena, and finally to the Nightmare Lands.  That’s where you find out the whole dark secret that she’s been trying to reveal: the Voss and the Gormak used to be the same species! But the Sith and Republic drove them apart and caused them to take separate paths of evolution ages ago.

The revelation is kind of a ‘yea duh’ moment for anyone who has played through Voss but for me this was my first time going through and this is one of only a couple class storylines that go into detail about Voss’ history, so it was kind of a cool reveal that does explain why both Gormak and Voss were making your life hell trying to get the general.  Speaking of the general, she agrees to come with you if you let the Gormak with the truth go and spread this knowledge.  Or you can kill them all and take her in by force.  But why?  Is there really any reason this info shouldn’t get out?  I mean, I know in another storyline the Sith actually want this information to become public knowledge because it paints the Jedi in a bad light, so it’s not like it is a big secret that the Sith want to keep a lid on.  I dunno why you would take that option other than some quick dark side points and maybe a bit of XP?

The actual interesting part is the ambassador that has been assisting you this entire time.  He keeps trying to appease the Voss in the wake of your actions.  So the more disruptive you are, the harder his life becomes and I kid you not you can actually drive the man to commit suicide at the end of the storyline.  It’s not on camera or anything but it makes it pretty darn clear what’s going on.  I just find that to be the far more interesting choice and consequence on this planet than how to handle the general.  You can actually make or break a man’s career to the point of him just ending it all.  Which is kind of uh… wow.

Interlude – Reclaiming the Tyrant

Darth Tormen’s ship is under attack! Fight to the bridge and help reclaim it.  That’s it.  Seriously. Nothing else happens.  I have no idea if there is a quota for interludes on these story missions or the experience budget needed some padding but this entire sequence does NOTHING to advance the story and Tormen actually shows up at the end and quite clearly could have reclaimed the ship on his own.  So I really have no idea what this bit is for.  Maybe we just needed another run around a ship?

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Corellia

Alright, all the distractions are out of the way.  The board is clear for Tormen’s big move on Corellia.  Job done right?  Well, sort of.  You still have one task ahead of you: Help Tormen seal the deal on Corellia.  Are you kidding me?  Help conquer a planet?  What kind of bounty does that pull?  Cause I will tell you there better be one heck of a pay day at the end of this.  What do you mean my pay is “Jun Seros?”  What the heck is…  Oh.  OH.  Jun Seros is Mister High-And-Mighty-Jedi that has been giving me lip and is responsible for all those attacks on my person and convincing the Supreme Chancellor to ruin my career!  Oh this is gonna be good.  You got a deal, Darth.

So to help with the ‘transition’ of Corellia, Tormen wants you to hunt down some of the more prominent figures of the planet’s political and economic spheres who are involved with the resistance and bring them ALIVE to the Darth so he can show the people their leaders swearing allegiance to the Empire.  There are three targets you have to capture: a corporate big wig who offers you a deal that turns into a trap, a Selonian (think ferret people) that you blackmail into coming by threatening their small breeding caste, and finally the former commander of Corellia Security (which I guess is the police force?)  Once you deliver them to Tormen, he reveals the location of Jun Seros.  Not only that but he informs you that the actions of the Empire on Corellia have drawn the Supreme Chancellor out of hiding on Coruscant and is now in orbit around the planet on his private ship. Now is when things get FUN.

The fight to get the Jun isn’t anything special.  You break into a Jedi fortress and find him chatting up with a bunch of his allies.  Jun is fully convinced that victory is guaranteed and that the Republic has this one in the bag, hence him inviting the Supreme Chancellor to help finish it and secure Corellia for the Republic.  He is delightfully smug and sees you as less then a threat to his grand design.  That’s when you kick his ass.  You kick it good and when you’re done, you can one up the whole thing by telling Jun before he dies that his “victory” has only brought ruin because all it did was leave the Supreme Chancellor out in the open and you’re gunning for him next.  Oh yes, Jedi Seros.  You’ve just activated my trap card.  The look on his face as he dies is great too.  Considering this putz has made your life hell for the last two chapters, it was fun to rub it in his face that all his ‘plans’ and ‘schemes’ were all used against him in the end.  Revenge is a dish best served cold, and it is very cold in an air conditioned Jedi conclave…  Yesssss.

Grand Finale

This is it.  A showdown with the man who turned you from the most famous bounty hunter to the most infamous in the galaxy.  The most wanted criminal in the Republic for simply doing what you were paid to.  But before you get your revenge, you’ve got to get on that ship.  The ruse is to steal a Republic ship and fly it toward the Supreme Chancellor’s broadcasting emergency codes and being chased by Imperial ships making it look like your under fire and need sanctuary.  Of course, the Imperial ships will be actually shooting at you.  All they’ve been told by Tormen is that a Republic VIP is on that ship and to take it down.  Got to make it look convincing.  Right?  And should I actually die, you need not pay up either.  Nice play, Darth.  The whole trick does successfully work and you get on the Chancellor’s big fancy ship and starting shooting your way through the place.

Now you want to make sure that there’s no way for anyone to escape. That would ruin a perfectly good hunt. So you destroy the other ships in the hangar, the escape pods, and pretty much anything else that they could use to get off the ship.  The next big challenge you face is the Chancellor’s elite guards – which was a complete nightmare on my powertech and a complete breeze on my merc.  I think the big difference is a) gear and more importantly b) crowd control.  My merc could knock out one of the two guards and deal with them one and one and my tech had to deal with them both.  Either way when they die it is just you and the Supreme Fancy Pants.  Shockingly, he is extremely apologetic.  He blindly trusted Jun Seros without looking into the matter and realizes now that he was played for a fool with Jun’s machinations of revenge against you for you just doing what bounty hunters do.  He clears your criminal record, and explains that no matter the outcome of this meeting that he will be forced to resign from just the scandal of abusing his powers or just driven from office for removing your wrongfully given most wanted status. Still, he offers you the choice: You can kill him (Dark side), freeze him in carbonite and haul him back to Tormen as a trophy (neutral) or take his offer to do something ‘good’ with this opportunity and go back to the ship and kill Tormen and remove a complete jerk from the galaxy (Light side).

I really like this choice because it offers you a wide variety of choices that each have their own unique effects.  If you have no love for the Empire and no care for Tormen (He doesn’t spend much effort making himself likable. Heck he force choked Mako when I first met him.) then you can take the offer to off your employer and make the galaxy a bit happier.  If you’re still really sore about the whole being framed and having your entire career flushed down the toilet because of a sore Jedi and a gullible leader, then kill him.  Or if you just want to do the job, get paid, and get the heck out then there’s always the freezing option that grants no dark or light points for all the gray alignment folks out there.  It’s worth noting that this is really one of the few ‘gray alignment’ friendly endings to a class story I’ve seen where a neutral option is flat out offered alongside the typical light/dark ones.  Also for you troopers and Jedi who were wondering why Saresh shows up at the end of Chapter 3 as the new Supreme Chancellor – this is your answer.  The Bounty Hunter offs the old one out of office in some fashion.  (If you thought the Horde being the only ones who saw the end of the Worgen storyline is bad, imagining having to wait till max level on the opposite faction to find out what happened to your faction’s leader.  Heh.)

When you eventually get back to Tormen, you will either try to kill him as a true final boss on the level of most of the other storylines or you will just accept your payment and get one last job offer to become a permanent retainer of the Sith Empire.  You can shoot down the offer saying you want to remain a free agent that can be hired by anyone, or you can sign on and become an official asset of the Empire’s galactic conquest.  I really don’t understand that last option unless you are really hard up for a steady paycheck.  It’s really your choice, but in the wake of the recent Shadow of Revan class quest, I’ll just say that it might have more impact than I previously thought.  I always choose to stay neutral though.  That’s how a bounty hunter rolls, yo.

My Thoughts

Chapter Three of the Bounty Hunter storyline really feels a lot like the Chicago Way of storylines: They bring a knife, you bring a gun, they send of ours to the hospital, we send one of theirs to the morgue.  It’s revenge plain and simple, unlike the chapter one story that was more like vengeance or revenge for a fallen ally.  While the whole thing kicks off with your friends getting killed, it never feels like your doing this FOR them like you did for Braden and Jory back in the first chapter.  They were killed to get to you.  They try to take everything they can from you.  You are the target.  It’s almost immediately followed by a Faustian pact from Tormen to get back at those who are after you.  In fact for a while I was kind of thinking that Tormen had arranged the whole thing with Seros, but that would severely lessen the ‘fallen’ Jedi aspect of Jun Seros who just spent all of chapter two and three trying to get his revenge on you for killing his former padawan in chapter one.  Which again is something that REALLY could have been explored more.  Definitely more so than a side mission to save Tormen’s fricking ship.

The third chapter is by no means bad.  Like most of the Bounty Hunter story, it’s simple but solid.  It does have some points that could have been polished more to really make the story shine.  Like I said, Tormen having some twisted machination behind all this or exploring Jun Seros succumbing to a desire for revenge despite being the Jedi adviser to the highest office in the Republic are things that would have really stood out in the story but little if any is done with the ideas.  I will however compliment the idea that just because you’ve ended up with this deal with the dark side to get to the Supreme Chancellor, it doesn’t mean you have to like it.  After all, the bounty hunter ISN’T an Imperial.  No Space British accent. So you are always given the opportunity to not blindly do the loyal Imperial thing.  You can help Zale kill the Imperials to get him to come along nicely.  After all, he’s your target and helping the Imps is of no concern of yours.  What do you care about some Imperial ambassador’s reputation?  You have one objective to do and that’s all that matters.  You can quite honestly stick it to the Empire to further your own agenda of doing jobs for the Empire.  In that way, there’s something really enjoyable about this chapter.

Looking Back

So I started out this class saying how I viewed it as the strongest at the beginning and then weaker as it went on.  I don’t know if I can actually agree with that initial assessment.  It could have been ignorance of how all the other class stories went and how BAD they could be (*cough*Trooper Chapter Two*cough*) but I really think I sold the later chapters of the Bounty Hunter short. Especially after coming back, playing through them again and acting not with some agenda of neutrality but allowing the story to influence my choices, and I enjoyed it a lot more.  Now I won’t say there weren’t plenty of missed opportunities but the story as a whole is a simple and more importantly complete narrative.  There is no compartmentalization of the narrative.  Chapter one flows into chapter two and then into three fairly naturally.

Another thing the story does really well that I haven’t spoken of up to this point is the questioning the moral gray area that bounty hunting serves as a profession in the galaxy.  Periodically, Mako the Moral Compass stops to ponder if all the people who have died up to this point have died BECAUSE of you.  It’s an interesting question.  Your a bounty hunter, if someone offers a bounty wanted dead are they responsible for the death or are you because you pulled the trigger?  The question is actually core to the story itself because Jun Seros is motivated entirely by the fact that you killed a Jedi at the end of the first chapter as part of the Great Hunt.  That Jedi had a bounty on him from someone (you never do find out who, just like the rest of the Great Hunt targets) and you collected it by killing him.  You killed him.  Does that make you responsible?  Seros thinks so.  Mako wonders if you are responsible for the deaths of the other Grand Champions because they wouldn’t have been targets if not for being involved with you and yours.  There is a certain dubious morality that comes into play as someone who gets paid to kidnap or kill people and I think the story really does a good job of exploring those themes without bogging it down.  They pop up here and there and make you think about it from time to time.

There’s also the question of honor versus profit.  Introduced toward the end of the first chapter is the idea of honor that the Mandolorians subscribe to.  That there’s is a sort of ritual to the hunt, some kind of noble code of the warrior, and a level of respect for one’s target.  This becomes much more prominent in the second chapter where you offered the chance to become a Mandolorian as well as the Mando death war game across Taris and the noble hunter warrior on Hoth.  This is offset by the chance to a product endorsement deal between them on Quesh, which of course was a trap, but it’s an interesting comparison.  In fact, if you choose to eagerly take the offer of becoming a spokesperson, the only person who gives you negative affection is the newly joined Mando, Torian.  Beyond that the whole thing gets explored quite often on a smaller scale of things like: give them a fighting chance or just kill them and take the money or even betraying your employers for a bribe which is shown in quite the dishonorable light back on Tatooine.  It’s probably one of the most underlying themes of the entire story and it’s interesting to explore in your play-through of where you personally fall on that spectrum.

So in the end, is the bounty hunter a good story?  Yes.  It could be improved but it could also be much worse.  It has interesting themes but simple and sometimes uninspired content that is used to explore those themes.  It can feel repetitive a lot for some I imagine, after all you’re just plucking up a bounty on each planet.  The real interest is explored more in the ideas that are presented than in the actual missions, which I can see being a turn off for many.  Still, for a story about a bounty hunter it could have been MUCH worse.  I mean, it could have just been ‘get bounty.  go get another bounty. do it again.’ with no over arcing connection or driving goals of vengeance or revenge.  Plus the class is really fun to play mechanically.  Especially with the Shadow of Revan discipline revamp. Powertech is super fun again!

<— Chapter Two || BOUNTY HUNTER ||

SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Sith Warrior – Chapter Three

<– Chapter Two ||

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

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

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

Belsavis

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

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

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

Voss

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

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

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

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

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Interlude

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

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

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

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

Corellia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Grand Finale

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

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

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

My Thoughts

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

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

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

Looking Back

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

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

<– Chapter Two ||

SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Sith Warrior – Chapter Two

<– Chapter One || Chapter Three –>

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

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So last time we completely dismantled a compromised spy network, rooted out a hidden padawan and then converted said padawan to our side using manipulation, lies, trickery and cookies.  So how do we follow that up?  Do we ascend to being a powerful Lord with a spy network and servants of our own? No!  We get to work for our boss’ boss.  That’s right, there’s someone even above Darth Barry and his name is Darth Vengean.  And while your first instinct may be to pronounce that Darth VEGEN (Also not to be confused with Dark Vegen, the toast loving villain of the Johnny Test TV show), it is actually pronounced like Vengeance but without the -ce. So like Ven-Gen.  Not much better.

Anyway, Vengean and Baras have a new job for you: Plan Zero.  Which despite it’s cool name, is actually just “Kill this list of big wigs in the Republic brass”.  Well, okay. I can do that. I’m very good at killing things.  Just like Jaesa’s family and master.  Right Jaesa?  Jaesa? OH GOD PUT DOWN THE MEDICAL TABLE!

Taris

Taris is where suprisingly four of the generals you need to kill are.  That’s convenient. So the entire planet quickly devolves to “find a general, kill a general, repeat.”  I’m not going to go into every little detail of tracking down these guys because honestly for the most part it isn’t worth it.  However it is worth noting that we do meet our next companion: Lt. Pierce.  Pierce is a soldier.  That is his defining characteristic.  He is not a boot kissing promotion craving soldier like Quinn, but more of a rough and tumble, down and dirty, smoking in the mess with the boys while playing poker kind of soldier.  But he also knows his stuff. And is bad ass to boot.  He actually holds off several hundred republic soldiers by himself. Now it’s important to note, he does this off camera.  When he’s actually in your party, he can maybe take like…  three?  That said he is a tank, so killing isn’t his strong suit. (Neither was tanking really so he stays on the ship)

No, the thing I really wanted to talk about here was the final mission on the planet.  You, Pierce, a small army, and all your other companions team up for a giant assault on the Republic base.  Yea, that only interesting thing from all of Trooper Chapter 2?  It’s just a regular planet mission here.  Oh, and they do it right in this storyline too.  See, the mission requires you to divide up your forces into three teams.  One is the assault team, one deals with the traps, and one deals with stopping reinforcements and Quinn stays at the base coordinating (There goes my healer…)  Now the big difference here is that it actually matters who gets sent where.  If you send the wrong person on a job, they will fail and it will make things harder for the assault team.  Extra mobs if the reinforcements arrive, turrets if the traps team fails, and dealing with mercenaries if you can’t apply the right pressure to make them run.  Quinn makes it fairly clear who should be assigned to each team, but you can put Vette, Jaesa or Pierce on any of them. I was just happy that there were consequences to incorrect team assignment.  See, Trooper storyline, THAT’S how you do a mission.

Narratively, the generals all seem to be working on a super power battery to fuel weapons, ships, droids…  anything really.  That increases the power of whatever they’re installed into tenfold.  Which doesn’t sound scientifically possible.  Wouldn’t that just break most things?  Don’t most devices have some sort of ceiling to how much power they can use, hence the term “overload”?  So they invested billions of credits in a battery that will overload their stuff?  I mean, if they were built to use that 10x power, sure that’d make sense.  But then it wouldn’t be 10x the power, it would just be the expected amount of power because it was built specifically to use those batteries.  Republic military! What the heck is wrong with you?  Anyway, it’s implied Vengean and/or Baras wants the tech, but I was just told to kill them, so I did.  Just left the stuff there.  They can send someone else to collect it if they really want it.

Quesh

Quesh actually begins not on the planet at all but on a ship floating in orbit around it. The ship is apparently being attacked by the forces of one Admiral Monk, another target of Plan Zero.  You have to fight your way through the ship and stop the attacking Republic forces but unfortunately, once you reach the bridge Monk is nowhere to be found.

According to the captain, Admiral Monk shot off in an escape pod to the surface of Quesh.  You get ready to depart, but the Captain appears to be quite upset.  He doesn’t want to be part of these ‘games’ of Darth Baras and attacks you.  Honestly, I pleaded the fifth.  I was just sent to kill these guys.  Not to play schemes & scenarios.  That’s my Inquisitor’s job.  So I had to kill the captain. It was self defense. And fun.  Lots of fun.

Down on Quesh, you finally find Admiral Monk who claims to be one of Baras’ deep cover agents, and that there’s some sort of scheme against Darth Vengean?  And that Monk knows the truth and he won’t be silence because he’s loyal and his cover is intact!  But I don’t know anything about all that, and honestly I am getting tired of being dragged above my pay grade.  I was told to murder kill destroy, and murder kill destroy I shall. Farewell Admiral Ninja!

Hoth

The final stage of Plan Zero sends you to the frigid world of Hoth, and the target is a Jedi master named Xerender.  A notoriously pain in the butt Jedi to find it seems as he constantly is able to give you and Baras’ flunkies the slip. (I am not Baras’ flunkie, I’m his apprentice.)  Not to mention that this troublesome Jedi has employed the help of an entire clan of Talz!  Okay, not an entire clan.  Apparently, the Talz are also being hunted by a former clan member that was ousted out and wants revenge: Broonmark.  You and Broonmark sort of compete for the kill as it where as you keep running into him, fighting him, and ultimately working with him to get what you both want.

The trick to finding the Jedi is really to find what he’s after.  Some sort of secret super weapon hidden among the icy caverns and wrecked ships.  Of course, the mystery is actually fairly quickly banished as you figure out that the Jedi is after not a “weapon” in a traditional sense, but his former master named Wyellett who crashed on Hoth years ago, and has been living off the Force ever since (cause you apparently can do that) and thus has granted him profound insight into the nature of the Force.  To make things interesting and way more personal, it seems that our stranded Super-Jedi was also a former rival of Darth Baras and even captured Baras’ lightsaber years ago.  Which honestly seems like a bit overkill in the ‘it’s all tied together’ area, but it also allows Baras to find the Wyellett because he can kind of sense his lightsaber? And read its mind?  Crystal?  I have no clue.  It’s space magic. I give up trying to make sense of this stuff since man first asked why the lightsaber stops at yay high.

So you find Wyellett and Xerender, and pretty much just kill them.  Yea.  That’s about it. Okay, well you also help Broonmark get his revenge and he agrees to come with you.  I like him.  He’s all super bloodthirsty and grumpy, but also fuzzy.  Kind of like a really tall Treek that can’t heal.  You are also given the chance to spare the Wyellett or even just hear out his gift of wisdom about the true nature of the Force.  Which I really didn’t take him up on either offer.  He’s a Jedi, I’m a Sith.  It just makes more sense to not listen and just kill the old man.

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Finale

It seems that all those people I killed talking about schemes and tricks may have been right, because no sooner do you get back to Darth Baras on Dromund Kaas then he explains that this whole thing was a trick to get his master, Darth Veggies, out of favor with the Dark Council so that he can (read: YOU can) kill him and Darth Baras can take his position on the Dark Council.

You end up teaming up with Darth Vegemite’s apprentice who has betrayed his master to join up with Darth Baras.  Clearly he wants to bat for the winning team.  Which is a sports metaphor or so I’m told. He helps you break in to the fortress of Darth VeggieTales by doing absolutely nothing as you kill your way through the Darth’s servants.  Supposedly he’s handling the security, but honestly I couldn’t tell you if he did or not.  I know he shows up at the end to help take his share of the credit.

The battle with Darth Vegeta is pretty epic as well, combined with the dawning revelation of Baras’ plot against him and the warnings that Baras will betray you as well it serves as a good capstone on the Chapter 2 plot.  The whole bit ends with a return to Baras who welcomes you and his former boss’ apprentice as his new lieutenants in his new order of his new Sith-y-ness.  Wonder how long that will last.

My Impressions

In terms of middle chapters, the Sith Warrior does a pretty good job.  It builds on the scheming nature of Darth Baras but no by blatantly letting you in on his plans.  Instead you find confused military officers and Sith that you kill for just doing what they were told.  You get to be in that position of ‘our mutual boss told us both to come here and kill each other…  hmmm….’ kind of plot that is so fun to watch unfold, but this time from the inside.

Maybe its just me but the idea of getting to watch a grand chess master scheme unfurling from the perspective of one of the pawns (ie YOU) is actually really cool.  It does a great job of establishing Baras as this powerfully manipulative magnificent bastard that really does have everyone around his finger.  Which you got a bit of that in the first chapter, but not nearly to this degree.

The villain of the chapter is however less than interesting.  Which I suppose is fine since his only real purpose is being someone to off so Baras can make a power play for a seat on the Council.  If there was anything else to be done with it I suppose he could have tried to make a deal with you behind Baras’ back to try and take out your master.  Something like “I know what Baras is up to. It won’t work.  Come join me.”  but then Baras knows that Veggie knows and plans around it with you retrieving some kind of powerful tool to get the upper hand. But that might have been a bit much for the short middle chapter.

As for your new companions…  meh.  Pierce makes an excellent foil for Quinn as the pragmatic soldier versus the cunning officer.  Quinn does things by the book, but Pierce realizes that the book isn’t prepared for everything and sometimes you have to go with your gut.  It’s a nice change of pace that shows the difference in the mentality of the troops that serve the Sith.  Broonmark on the other hand is a giant hairball that hangs out in the cargo bay of the ship.  Really all you get to know about him in his initial encounters on Hoth is that he is A) Ruthless and B) Out for vengeance.  Which naturally makes him useful but he does not make much of an impression.

<– Chapter One || Chapter Three –>

SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Trooper – Chapter Three

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the third 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 Two ||

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So the war is on, Rakton is invading the core systems, and it’s time for the Republic’s finest to shine once more.  Or shine at all in the case of that last set of missions.  Can chapter three pull this story out from the depths and raise it to some truly amazing?  Well, let’s find out as we join in the all out war for the galaxy.

BELSAVIS

Well, it’s back to the old grind stone as Havoc Squad is needed to go pick up a group of pilots out of Belsavis prison.  That’s right. Prison.  Apparently, the entire squadron got a bad rap and were sent up the river because bad intel had them dropping bombs on civilians instead of a Sith lord that was their actual target.  So command made an example of them and sent them to this outer rim nightmare.  But now with a galaxy wide war erupting, the Republic needs the best, and that means putting the illustrious Dagger Wing back on active duty.  Which means getting them out of Belsavis alive.  Which means Havoc Squad.  I guess. When you arrive it seems that you actually have your work cut out for you because Dagger Wing hasn’t been content to sit a prison cell.  They are tried and true Republic soldiers and they stick by that even after being tossed on a prison planet for something that wasn’t really their fault.  So in the wake of the prison riots (because the Empire has decided to start opening all the cages looking for something it can use), Dagger Wing stepped up to help out the prison staff keep order across the various districts on the planet.  Well that’s awesome and all, it means you will be scouring the entire planet looking to piece together the whole squad and bailing them out of trouble as they continue to push themselves neck deep in imperials and crazy inmates.

The story actually ends with you chasing down the Dagger Wing CO to the super secret double maximum security prison, where you are actually given a fairly meaningful choice.  The entire planet you’ve been aware that Dagger Wing got screwed over by command, and they’ve made their peace with that and are STILL willing to not only come back to active duty again but also have been helping keep the prison secure.  Now you face the choice of leaving the Commanding Officer to die in order to capture a Sith Lord that can prove Dagger Wing’s innocence, or completing the mission and grabbing the CO and letting the Sith go.  It’s actually a very nice moral quandary to start out Chapter 3 on, and a HUGE step up from the boring paint-by-numbers chapter that was Chapter Two.  Especially since it’s not a clear cut “this is good, this is bad” kind of choice.  Dagger Wing will still have a commander if you let the current one die, but he won’t be as experienced nor have the respect, but you will be able to prove their innocence.  It’s a delightfully muddy choice.  I honestly just grabbed the CO and booked it without bothering with the Sith Lord.  Proving their innocence was not my mission.  Plus I got to fight an “Ancient Beast” which was actually a rancor.  Yay! I killed a rancor.  Take that Skywalker. I did with nothing but a gun.  And explosives.  And a gravity well that nullifies armor.  And a robot.  Okay, not quite as impressive I’ll admit.  Still, who has two thumbs and killed a rancor? This guy!

INTERLUDE (A-77)

After you take off from Belsavis, you are contacted by Garza with urgent news that our old friend Sergeant Jaxo is trapped in an imperial prison that is holding 300 or so republic troops. Seems like an excellent opportunity for Havoc Squad to kick some butt.  The actual place is quite small, it is an interlude after all.  But it does provide one of the more interesting choices in the trooper story thus far. See, ultimately it turns out that the whole thing is a trap by General Rakton who was waiting for you to show up and then blow the entire prison up.  So now with the pendulum swinging over your head and the hourglass emptying quick, you have a choice:  Do you vent the lower levels to power the shields long enough to get the prisoners out, fully knowing that Jaxo will be killed (she is hiding down there), or do you save Jaxo leaving 300+ republic servicemen and women to die. The part where it gets interesting is that you sort of can build a personal attachment to Jaxo.  She has shown up at least once per act, including a party night side quest during act two that I didn’t really mention before (it didn’t seem important to be honest). Also, if Forex is in the party during this bit, he’ll mention that the cost of training and equipping a special forces troop like Jaxo far outweighs the cost of 300 random standard infrantry. So financially at least, Jaxo is more valuable.  On the other hand, your mission was the free the 300 people.  So there’s that too. Again, another wonderful choice where there is no clear cut easy answer.  That’s my favorite kind of light/dark choice because they come down to sheer roleplay.  What would YOUR character do?  Well, my character is a cyborg programmed to complete the mission at any cost.  So…  so long Jaxo!

VOSS

Oh geeze.  Okay, so the whole nothing is morally black or white choices thus far have been nothing compared to this planet.  Welcome to Voss, folks.  Home of the most frustrating trooper story thus far.   Okay, so essentially there is a large number of ground troops being held up on Voss at the request of a senator there who is chummy with the Supreme Chancellor.  The so called “Vacation squad” wants to join the war proper, but the senator is convinced that the Empire is going to sneak attack Voss and won’t let them leave because of it.  Your job is to convince the senator to release the troops by removing any possible threat of a sneak attack.  General Garza also very specifically mentions that you have to be on your best behavior because of the senator’s relationship with the Supereme Chancellor.  Which means playing kiss up to a jerky politician for the entire planet. And oh geeze does he not make it easy.  He yells at you for not miraculously bringing in an imperial agent alive when the agent flat out tells you he has no intention of surrendering, constantly volunteers you for random tasks for the locals that have nothing to do with why you are there, and is generally a jerk about things.  Luckily, the senator is a man with two sides to him.  The other is the sniveling coward who cringes at violence, and a political weasel.  In case you can’t tell, I hate this guy.  I really do.  You are given the choice to smart mouth and berate him, calling him a coward and a weakling but that’s not my character… not matter how tempting. You do get a nice blast from the past however when you discover the Imperials plan to use the ZR-57 (the bomb from waaaay back on Ord Mantell now finally repaired from your meddling) to threaten the Voss capital to get the people to do what they say. This leads to some nice callbacks like remembering to use the radiation to detect where it is.  And you wrap things up by stopping the senator’s rival, a sith lord jerk, who you can choose to kill or let live. Which is kind of a mundane moral choice at the end, but the rest of the plan really tests your role playing with dealing with the senator, so I didn’t mind so much.

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INTERLUDE 2 (Meeting the Senate)

After getting the now former Vacation Squad back to the front lines, it seems that we have yet another interlude.  This time it is another trip to the senate for a formal inquiry about special forces, and specifically Havoc Squad.  You find out when you land that the senator responsible for the hearing is actually being bought off by the Empire thanks to some detective work by the SIS (with a nice callback with the SIS agent from back on Nar Shadaa).  You are given some evidence to show the other senators and get the whole thing dismissed so you can get back to active duty, and if you follow Garza’s script that’s pretty much exactly what happens. However, there is the dark side option here.  And it’s probably one of the most awesome, bad ass, complete jerkwad choices you can make in the Trooper storyline.  Ready for this?  When the senate first ask you to offer a counter to the jerky corrupt senator’s claims that you are useless and blowing the Republic’s cash…  You can shoot him.  As in, dead.  Right there in the senate building. And you get away with it.  Okay, well, people are super mad at you for it.  But seriously, you just flat out kill a politician in the senate at a hearing about Havoc Squad abusing authority and resources, AND YOU GET AWAY WITH IT.  There are very few moments I’ve seen in this game that can be considered THAT awesome.  Oh geeze. Anyway, no matter what you do, you find that by the time you are done General Garza has already shipped off world to Corellia to directly command forces to confront the Empire’s invading forces.  General Rakton has touched down there as well, and she wants Havoc there on the double.  Time to finish this? Hell yea.

CORELLIA

Welcome to the front lines.  Finally.  It’s only taken, what? Forty-six levels?  Corellia is a mess of a warzone, with a constant struggle across the city world for control of various resources.  General Rakton however only seems interested in one of those: The Bastion, the intelligence nerve center of the Republic.  With control of the Bastion, Rakton would have information on every operation, strategy, tactic, secured channel, you-name-it in the Republic. So it’s up to the Republic Military and Havoc Squad in particular to stop him. But there’s one problem with that plan. The Bastion is across the city, and there’s no direct route there for a massive ground force.  It’s time to find a way through.  Luckily, you have the aid of the Corellian resistance and their uh… “Freelance” pilots with an abundance of cargo space and expertise in getting through blockades.  Not smugglers though.  Not at all.  Nope… Anyway! They’re all set to help you out except their ships are locked up by the Empire.  Your first task is to free those ships.  The second task which quickly follows behind it is that the Empire appears to firebombing civilian areas and you get a choice – save the civilians, or use this opportunity to seize an imperial dropship.  The dropship is actually kind of handy because you will be able to sneak past defenses ala Return of the Jedi, but you can also save the people.  This is the first in a few dark side/light side choices and it pretty much sets the primary morality conflict for the planet.  Dark Side: Help the Military. Light Side: Help the Resistance.  The Resistance seems heavily occupied with doing whatever it takes to help Corellia, which makes sense since its the Corellian Resistance. However, the Military decisions tend to be things that are designed to deal with the situation quickly and efficiently to bring a faster end to the conflict and deal with the Empire at large, usually at the expense of the Corellian people.  Sacrifice a few to quickly save the rest essentially.  The Resistance argues that what’s the point of helping if you’re just going to do just as much damage as the Imperials in the process.  Also a fair point. After dealing with either the fire bombs or capturing a dropship, is to mobilize troops to set up an ambush in the factories for the Imperials.  Mostly this mission just involves going around and notifying various cells that the mission is go and then joining them at the factory for the assault.  It’s really a super simple task only complicated by a brief discussion on whether blowing up the factory to stop the Imps is worth it or not.  Some argue that they’re destroying their place of business and will have no jobs once Corellia is freed, the others argue that if they don’t it becomes less certain if Corellia will be freed at all.  A decent question of short term vs long term risk and reward.  But beyond that this whole thing is talk to three dudes, blow up some Imps, go to next mission.  Not terribly exciting, but on the other hand it is showing more of the people of Corellia getting involved in the op.

The penultimate mission involves creating a landing zone for those totally-not-smugglers to drop off the ground troops close to the Bastion.  Again this mission follows the same pattern of do you help the Resistance or the Military, but this time its about whether or not you destroy an antique starship in a museum to make room for a landing strip, or fight your way into a fortified Imperial landing strip and “borrow” it. Naturally, blowing up the antique to make room is quicker and less risky, but if you do it really is the final straw with the Resistance.  They were mad, like sent me a letter talking about how much of a scumbag I am mad.  This is probably the most petty choice of them all, and really just falls to who do you want to listen to.  I can’t imagine landing in a museum is any more practical than an imperial outpost, other than you probably will draw some extra attention and have to fight a few more people with the outpost.  Still, it IS kinda funny to see the Resistance get so completely out of shape over it.  Oh fine, admit it, I’m just a bad person.

Everything comes to a head for the final mission to assault the Bastion and stop General Rakton.  This is where it aaaaall pays off.  You start out by shutting down security and capturing an Imperial transport to sneak into the Bastion Trojan Horse style, then after clearing everything out you meet the rest of the assault: the safecrackers from the Gauntlet mission, a heavy infantry team piloting walker tanks, and a squad of elite ground troops.  Oh, the best part? They all answer to you. That’s right. You are commanding an army. And that’s actually relevant this time as the plan is to assault all three guarded corridors at once to reach the Bastion.  One with traps and droids, one with walker tanks, and one with infantry.  I split it up so my walker tanks stepped all over their infantry, my infantry and safecrackers outmaneuvered their tanks, and Havoc Squad (Okay, you and your companion. The rest of the squad covers the rear) personally handled the droids and traps – what? I have to fight the boss afterward. I SHOULD get the easy job.  Not that it was terribly easy. The droid/trap hallway has the most insidious of obstacles: Companion Pathing Errors!  Yea, Forex continually would get stuck places while I had to try and take down groups of droids and turrets all by my lonesome.  I died in that hallway more times than I did the rest of Corellia. You finally rendezvous with the other teams in a courtyard to prepare for the final assault.  Which of course means that they are gonna hold the courtyard while you and your companion go kill Rakton.

The final showdown isn’t as impressive as the lead up, but it’s still a hell of a lot better than the random gold enemy at the end of the Gauntlet.  You face off with Rakton’s two goons – who really are the hard part in my opinion – and then Rakton himself.  Rakton wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for my tank companion continually standing in the massive AOE that he drops.  Still, with a little Heroic Moment, he fell all the same. Huzzah! And then you are given the ultimate choice: Do you kill Rakton or force him to work for the Republic?  Well, since this guy’s strategies almost brought down the entirety of the Republic in one fell swoop, I’m gonna put him in the “Too dangerous to let live” category and execute him.  And I did.  After that, the rest of the army drops you off back at your ship, and it’s happy trails to Corellia to meet with the Supreme Chancellor and Garza.  Time to treat the team to some drinks.

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FINALE

Suprisingly… there isn’t one.  Unlike a lot of the class stories which send you to one final confrontation after Corellia, the Trooper story ends right there on the planet with the defeat of General Rakton.  Which was shocking really.  I was expecting Rakton to make me face his goons, run off and I’d have to assault his super special awesome dreadnaught or something to kill him.  Which I happily didn’t have to do.  Especially since three chapters in a row of super special awesome dreadnaught assaults would be kind of annoying.

LOOKING BACK: A FINAL OPINION

The Trooper storyline really is a mixed bag for me.  I’ve heard this called the “Hero of the Republic” storyline and I can kind of see why.  You are pretty much the one who gets it done for the military, but it really didn’t feel as epic as say the Jedi Knight storyline.  The first chapter is really where the story shines in my opinion.  A mission of revenge against those who betrayed not only the Republic, but you personally.  It requires you to draw the line on where your loyalties lie: to the Republic? To the Military?  To your own ends?  And then continually tests you with your choices.  There’s a bit of a throwback to that in Chapter Three with Belsavis and Voss, but not nearly to the same degree and with not nearly as much on the line because there isn’t a personal investment with Rakton.  He’s pretty much just a giant threat to the Republic, but whoop de doo – so is everything in the Sith Empire.  If not Rakton, then the Dark Council, or Imperial Intelligence are just as threatening.  It really is a shame that Grand Moff Kilran got shifted to purely a Flashpoint only affair, because he would have been a much better villain to face in Act Three.  Rakton had the devotion and believed fully that the Imperial way of life was a good and just thing that everyone should have to live by, Kilran was a tactical, and ruthless butcher that had one hundred times more presence when he was on screen than Rakton.

But what about Chapter Two?  Chapter Two was blatantly unnecessary and was padding of the worst kind. It’s the only middle chapter I’ve run across thus far that does next to nothing to advance the narrative of the characters.  You could have had Rakton appear after the defeat of Tavus and nothing would have changed.  The Gauntlet was poorly done, poorly named, and ultimately just turned out to be a big filler mission to give you two more companions.  The only really shining moment was the opening battle on the Gauntlet and really that is all I can say about it.  The super mcguffin from Hoth? Never comes back.  Instead the Safecrackers from Quesh you saved not only show up in the side mission with Jaxo, but also on the final mission to assault the Bastion during the War for Corellia.  And they’re not interesting. AT ALL. There’s nothing memorable about them in the slightest.  If they didn’t blatantly mention they were with the Safecrackers, I wouldn’t have remembered them at all.  Honestly, I would have moved the A-77 interlude mission with Jaxo and made THAT the grand finale of Chapter Two.  At least then you would have the risk of losing Jaxo right after having that fun side mission with her back on Coruscant (So fresh in the mind) versus losing hundreds of people, it would have raised the stakes when you finally met Rakton and found out he was responsible for those deaths as a trap to remove Havoc Squad from the game before his big assault on Republic Space and then it wouldn’t have the unintended final consequence of blamng Havoc Squad – THE HEROES OF THIS STORYLINE – for re-starting the War proper by destroying Rakton’s new toy.  Rakton would have already been planning to assault the Republic, and this was a pro-active advanced trap to remove the biggest threat to his plans.  That would have been interesting in the overall story.

Chapter Three was still a welcome relief from the dismal Chapter Two.  While the fact that you spent Belsavis and Voss doing exactly what you did in Chapter Two with gathering troops for the battle was a bit annoying, it was certainly handled better and given a certain weight within the context of the war at large.  Belsavis is a prison planet that you need to save convicts imprisoned due to getting the shaft by command – something you can easily see happening to Havoc Squad – and the other with a paranoid senator monopolizing an entire platoon for his own fears in the wake of war.  This is made even more bearable and even downright poking fun at Chapter Two when you meet with the Senate and they complain that Havoc Squad has been doing nothing to help the war on the front lines.  I’m just glad they don’t blame you for starting the war (although it is a missed opportunity in that scene.  Especially when you can kill the senator.  How good would that feel? “YOU STARTED AN UNNECESSARY WAR!” “AND YOU ARE A TRAITOR! /Blast”).  The glory moment is surely Corellia, but it doesn’t truly feel that way until the end.  You get the same kind of Military vs Rebels vibe for most of the planet as you did with Balmorra, but with more extremely blatant “Screw you Rebels, we do it our way” moments.  It’s really hard to look at Garza in a positive light in some of those moments where she’s like “There’s no time. BLOW UP THE PRICELESS MUSEUM!” Still the extremely epic ending with the Assault on the Bastion, where it feels like your choices DO matter some.  If only I could actually reload the game back to just that mission, I would love to go and see if there actually is anything interesting that happens if you send the teams differently.  Would the walker tanks handle the traps and droids okay?  Would there be more casualties if you went ground troops to ground troops?  I really would like to explore that.  But not so much that I’d wade through Chapter Two again. No Sir. So that’s the end of the Trooper storyline.  My first finished write up for a whole story.  Wow.  Hopefully the others will be a bit less frustrating than the trooper.  I really wanted to like this one. And it wasn’t terrible (except for Chapter Two), but it seemed like it could have been a lot better too.  Well, here’s to next time.

<< Class Storyline Review: Trooper Chapter Two ||

SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Smuggler – Prologue

|| SMUGGLER || Chapter One —>

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

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Are your morals too loosey goosey for the Jedi Order?  Do you prefer to be your own boss instead of enlisting in the Republic Military?  Is the Space England accent of the Empire too hoity toity for you?  Well my friend, you may have a future in smuggling.  Ah yes, the Smuggler.  That class that sort of doesn’t make sense in the grand scheme of this two faction system we call The Old Republic.  You don’t really have any invested interest in the Republic winning beyond the Empire is probably gonna check your cargo hold more often and give you more discerning looks at the docks.  I mean heck, the bounty hunter has more ties into this whole war due to the fact that the Mandalorians are semi-permanently hired en masse by the Empire, but you?  The smuggler has no real official ties to the Republic when the story starts.  Heck, you are pretty much on an imaginary third side where you don’t like the Republic, but are scared of the Empire more so, and thus enemy of my enemy…  is still my enemy?

So what do you get for a story when you have nothing at stake in this cold war?  Well…  a lot of fun actually.  Let’s take a look at the Smuggler Prologue.

Ord Mantell

Knights are born heroes, Consulars are the top of their class, Troopers are members of the most elite troop in the military, and you, dear smuggler, your story begins with you getting your ship stolen and getting duped by two timing weasel.  If that doesn’t set the tone for you, nothing will.  Yes, the story of the smuggler is one of the underdog fighting for his cut in the world in seems.  On a routine potentially less than legal delivery of some weapons to a local crime boss/”importer” working for an even bigger crime lord, a dirty backstabber going by the name Skavak steals the weapons and your ship and heads off.  Now unless you can get those blasters back, you and the crime boss named Vidu are gonna to be having an unpleasant visit from your mutual employer: Rogun the Butcher.  I’m sure he got that name because he LOVES to make roast beef sandwiches.

So the job quickly turns from deliver blasters to get blasters back or get dead, and the only way to find out that is to figure out where Skavak was taking them.  He mentions in his last holo transmission that he was apparently working for the separatists so that’s a great place to start.  And the easiest way to do that is to get the data from the Mannett Point computers, but how?  Well it just so happens that Vidu has an old buddy that knows how to smuggle goods through the back tunnels of Mannett Point, so it’s time to pay him a visit and drop off some supplies for the intel.  You show up and find out the supplies are for him and his… uh… lady friends?  The implications are kinda scuzzy in my opinion.  But it also does something for the tone of the story.  This isn’t a trooper.  This isn’t a jedi.  You are not necessarily on the right side of the law.  You are essentially a criminal, granted a criminal that may have a noble cause, but a criminal nonetheless. And as such you get to see the seedy underbelly of everything. Including books on bird watching!

Yes, apparently the secret to getting into the tunnels below Mannett Point are disguised as a treatise on bird watching that you get the code to decipher. Ugh. Reading.  About birds.  Such is the trials and tribulations of the lowly Smuggler.  No damn Jedi have a mission to go read about birds for hours.  But you get down into the lower area and slice into the computers, with the possibility of some fun antics with the separatists.  Which highlights yet another difference in the Smuggler story compared to some of the others: It’s funny.  Like really funny.  Not just a general chuckle here and there.  But the smuggler can easily be played for full on yuks if you want.  Hell, his first line when you start the game can be an instant dismissal of how you immediately hate being on Ord Mantell.  If the Jedi Knight is an epic hero tale, the trooper is a war story, then the Smuggler is a wacky buddy comedy at its heart.  Or it can be at least.  But it’s so unique in that regard why wouldn’t you play it that way?

Following retrieving the files, your friends back at the base start working on cracking it while they send you on a mission to make a bit of cash to hopefully distract Rogun.  A suicidal wacky side quest to go meet an insane old man and get his “Boom Juice” and bring it back.  The quest is honestly just filler, but continues the comedy vibes of the smuggler’s tale.  The old man you meet with is particularly humorous with his strange remarks of confirming that you are definitely not a gundark and other weird quips.  His wife immediately offers you dinner as soon as you run into her as well.  They’re like a homelier and more insane version of Miracle Max and his wife from the Princess Bride almost.  Though Billy Crystal is missed here.

After the boom juice death run (or if you are like me, you just quick traveled with the stuff as soon as you got it) the files have been cracked open and you’ve got a lead on Skavak.  Seems like he’s got a meeting with the Separatists inside their secret volcano base.   Secret…  volcano…  base?  The heck?  Do they also have sharks with laser beams?  Or at least ill tempered mutant bass?  Anyway, it’s off to stop Skavak, get the blasters and save the ship!  Except this time you’re not going alone.  Vidu is sending you with Corso.  Oh Corso.  How I hate you.  I honestly believe Corso is one of those love/hate companions.  I don’t know many who have experienced long periods of time with the boy and not developed a sense of fondness or utter loathing for him.  When playing my smuggler it seems that “SHUT UP CORSO” has become a reoccurring catch phrase for the entire class story.  I don’t know if it’s his country bumpkin attitude, old fashioned ways, or simply his insistence on being overly chivalrous that makes me want to punch him.  Like he wants to be a white knight for everyone, unless it involves his own revenge fantasies. THEN it’s okay.

So you get through the uh… *cough* SecretVolcanoBase… only to find that Skavak ain’t there.  Naw.  He tricked them just like he tricked you.  Stole a robot too.  An old beat up useless robot that no one would ever want or find a use for.  Well, if that’s not foreshadowing, I don’t know what is.  The separatists start a fight because if you’ve played through Ord Mantell before you know they ain’t that bright.  Corso wants to kill them because his family was killed by separatists.  Fine, whatever shuts you up.  But not before it’s revealed that Vidu’s girlfriend was actually working with Skavak the entire time! Vidu’s girlfriend that you had the option to flirt with.  A lot.  Heh… heh… ehhh…  Okay, I said already that we’re dealing with the scum of society right?

So it’s a rush back to the base to confront her and find out where Skavak’s gone.  Turns out she’s killed Vidu and Skavak is mid-dumping her as you walk in.  Bad day?  She spills that Skavak is on Coruscant, and then you get the option to kill her.  I don’t believe much in second chances when it opens you to getting shot in the back so I killed her. Oh yea.  Course that gets Corso’s boxers in a bunch about how you shouldn’t treat girls that way, it ain’t right. God damnit, Corso. Not ten minutes ago you shot a defenseless man who never did a thing to you in cold blood. DON’T GO SOFT ON ME CORSO.  And then on your way out, Rogun the Butcher has sent bounty hunters after you.  So clearly, the boom juice didn’t go far to getting him off his back proving once and for all that it was just a pointless fetch quest so you’d go and get all your travel points on the map.  The bounty hunters die with NO complaints from Corso and we’re off to the Big City!

Coruscant

Ah Corsucant, city of dreams.  And buildings.  Lots of buildings.  It’s kind of easy to see why Skavak would run to Coruscant.  The various levels of the city are swamped with the worst scum outside of the Empire and there are lots of places to hide.  Pretty much right off the boat we are treated to a reminder of exactly where in the social strata the smuggler falls, as you have to hack the customs machine to recognize a false ID so you can get in while Corso distracts a security droid.  I suppose since you technically had your own ship, you didn’t have to deal with official channels THAT much before (or considering how quickly you trick the system into thinking you are an admiral, maybe way too much.)  Of course now that you are in, the question of how to find Skavak is the real task.  Corso suggests finding a gambler/info broker named Darmas Palloran.

Darmas is quite happy to help put you on the right track with his various contacts, and because he was friends with Viidu and doesn’t want to take advantage of a man down on his luck with no ship, he does so for free.  He points you first to a slicer for the Migrant Merchant’s Guild (worse gang name ever) named Kixi.  Turns out Kixi is being held there against her will to do the Guild’s bidding and is happy to not only undo the scrubbing clean she did of Skavak’s record, but also dirty it up even more (my favorite is noting that Skavak is an undercover agent for the Republic. Ouch!)  So after all that you are given a choice to either free Kixi likes she wants, keep her locked up because you might need her still, or just kill her.  I don’t know about you, but killing someone who is essentially enslaved who happily helped you is probably one of the scummier things you can do in a prologue. And I’m including the Empire here.  I can maybe see the whole keep her locked up because you might need her, but what exactly is her incentive to help you the next time?  Oh yes, you totally will get free *snrk* this *chuckle* time… for *HA!* realsies. I generally just let Kixi go free.  That gives her incentive to help me in the future cause I helped her, and is not a totally monstrous thing to do.

After completely ruining Skavak’s record, your next tip from Darmas leads you into Black Sun territory to find a holo-recording of Skavak’s meeting with the gang.  It appears that our good buddy Skavak is having issues with the law now as well, as a Sullustan cop – whose name I couldn’t be bothered to remember but I remember is had alliterative M’s so I shall call him Meow Mix for now – is hot on his trail and Skavak wants Black Sun to deal with him.  So it’s off to the spaceport to save Meow Mix, who reveals that Skavak stole a precious gem that the Sullustans worship.  Meow Mix mistakes you for a good hearted, noble, and helpful citizen and deputizes you with the deal that you will track down Skavak together.

Darmas’ next lead has you headed into Justicar territory to meet up with some punk teens with bad attitudes that apparently have zero education beyond what they learned wandering around the pipes of Coruscant (they call cameras ‘Droid Eyes’ and have no clue what the actual name for them are).  Mostly it seems a throwaway mission to pad it out because all you do is rescue the brother of the sibling duo from the justicar jail (the jay-jay if you will) because only he knows where Skavak went and also happen to find Meow Mix there, who you can leave in there or let him out. All you that you gather is that Skavak made a run for the Works, the industrial machinery area below Justicar territory and I refuse to believe that the sister DIDN’T know that because the elevator that goes there is 25 feet away from their hideout.  Or maybe they don’t know what an elevator is either.  People tube or something.  Damn kids and they’re lingo.

You finally find Skavak deep in the works meeting with some of his imperial buddies where he trades the gem for some “gruesome trophy” that is being delivered to his (read: YOUR) ship.  Meow Mix then makes the scene and confronts the Imps, demanding the return of the gem and then gets himself shot.  I should have left his funny face back in the jail.  He might still be alive then.  So you blast the Imps, watch Meow Mix die, find out the gem is a fake, and high tail it back to the hangers to get your ship back from the sleazy ship salesman who is holding it for Skavak.

On your ship, you find a bunch of weird cargo.  An old robot, a weird alien mutt, a carbonite frozen person, a head in a jar, and a pretty lady.  Wait.  Lady?  Ah yes.  Risha.  Risha is your new boss apparently. She offers you a simple deal, help her deliver all this stuff and she’ll lead you to the fabled treasure of Nok Drayan, a gangster who accumulated more wealth than some outer rim planets and then hid it before his death.  Her former partner in this endeavor – Skavak – was (surprise surprise) unreliable, so now she’s offering you the same deal which naturally angers Skavak and pushes the plot into Chapter One.

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Final Thoughts

The smuggler story is just plain good fun.  It has a light hearted feel with plenty of jokes, but it doesn’t do any of it at the expense of the story.  I loved the story here.  It was one of those plots that seems really simple until you look at it in hindsight because then you start noticing things like what Skavak is actually trying to do.  The old robot? The grisly trophy?  All things Risha needs to trade with.  It all seems random and petty, but as you go forward it all builds and builds and that continues all through chapter one as you’ll see.

The only thing I didn’t like – and this is strictly personal – is Corso.  Oh the force, does Corso grate me.  The joke when we play at home is whenever Corso says anything, it’s pretty much immediately followed with “Shut up, Corso(tm).” We had to trademark it because it’s a fricking slogan for the class thus far.  I don’t know if it’s just the country bumpkin act or the blatant hypocrisy of “We can kill people in cold blood as long as they are tangentially related to our problems but don’t you dare be mean to girl.”  I’m not saying that women should be hit, and by no means is that any kind of default response.  I’m not donning a fedora on this.  But killing someone who just joined up with the separatists for something other separatists did YEARS ago is fine, but don’t you dare harm a woman who we just caught backstabbing us, selling us out, killed our boss, and is working with the guy who royally screwed us and lying about it is somehow crossing a line that shan’t be crossed?  Bite me, Corso.

So that’s my take on the prologue for the Smuggler storyline.  Hope you enjoyed, and I’ll be back soon-ish with more Class Storyline reviews.  I want to say Trooper Chapter 3 should be done next.

|| SMUGGLER || Chapter One —>

SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Bounty Hunter – Prologue

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“There was someone following me.”
“I’ll put him on my ‘To Kill’ list.”
“You are so fantastically simple sometimes.”
– Mako & The Bounty Hunter

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the prologue 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.

|| BOUNTY HUNTER || Chapter One –>

The Bounty Hunter is my favorite class story in the game you guys.  For reals.  It may not have the complexity, betrayals, surprise twists or earth shattering revelations that the Imperial Agent story has (My number two favorite story thus far).  But it does have a fun action packed romp of revenge, rising to stardom, and walking the lines between neutrality and servitude as well as lawfulness and savagery.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  We’re only on the prologue for now.

But just to let you know, I am writing this about my second bounty hunter.  Yes, I did it twice.   One if a strictly neutral hunter that always completes the job he is hired for.  He can’t be bought off or bribed.  He follows the bounty hunter code of take them alive unless ordered to kill.  No depravity bothers him, but he doesn’t indulge in unnecessary violence.  At level 50 my first bounty hunter end up completely neutral.  My second hunter however is a bit greedier.  He isn’t a psychopath, but he doesn’t put a ton of value on life if there’s money to be made.  He does take bribes and pay offs, unless doing so puts him at a disadvantage to what he wants.  He holds very few allegiances, and honestly views people as means to an end.

So with these very different personalities, I’ll hopefully give you a good idea of what paths of the bounty hunter story can take and share with you my thoughts.

Hutta

The tale begins with the Hunter arriving on Hutta and meeting with his team: Jory the muscle, Braden the veteran hunter, and Mako the computer prodigy. You’ve essentially been brought on as the shining star of this team to get them in to and hopefully win the Great Hunt, a massive bounty hunter competition made up of Mandalorians and Crime Lord sponsored bounty hunters.  Since you’re not a Mandalorian, it’s time to schmooze a Hutt.  Most of your time on Hutta is spent doing jobs for Nem’ro, the Hutt that runs the town you start in.  But first you have to make a name for yourself.

Sadly, while you were out taking down a bounty that feels oh so good to make fun of, your team sans Mako got themselves a slight case of dead.  Turns out that a rival has appeared.  The Blue to your Red, or the Red to your Blue, if you will.  His name is Tarro Blood and oh geeze does this guy have a problem with voice so doesn’t match the face.  He’s got this deep guttural voice that’d you expect from a grizzled bastard like Michael Ironside, but he has the face of a tattooed Justin Bieber.  Seriously, he has that hair cut.  His side kick, Snidely Whiplash (no that’s not his name but that’s so who he reminds me of) has a voice that matches his ugly mug, but Tarro Bieber still freaks me out.  Anyway, Tarro Blood had his lackies kill your lackies so you didn’t have a support structure in hopes of kicking you out of the Hunt.

With only you and Mako left, it’s time to work double time to get into the Hunt for a shot at revenge. So you start your slog of doing tasks for Nem’ro which mostly involve cutting off someone’s head and then placing it on the floor somewhere.  First is a local that wants the Hutts off the planet revolutionary leader type, and the second is an accountant that went to work for Nem’ro’s rival.  Both times you are given the option of not killing them if you want and returning with something else instead.  Though personally  I was never able to bring myself to do that.  Namely because the entire reason you’re doing this is to kiss up to the slug to get into the Hunt for riches, glory and now revenge.  Why would risk that?  You don’t want to kill?  You’re a bounty hunter! Sure, it’s not assumed that you have to kill them, but dangit if that’s what your employer wants you should be ready to deliver.

The next task is to go and kill Nem’ro’s supposedly treacherous Beastmaster.  I say supposedly because not only does this turn out to be a trap as the Beastmaster was warned by Nem’ro himself that you’d be coming but then you are made to fight the beast pit for the Hutt’s amusement, but also because while the other two targets had very good explanations for why Nem’ro wanted them dead, the Beastmaster is simply called a traitor and nothing else.  No more details are given.  Which should be your first tip that this job was not like the others.  But with the Beastmaster dispatched it’s time to confront Nem’ro and demand your earned entry token.  But shocked upon shocked, Nem’ro the upstanding worm that he is, has given it to someone else.

All the while, Tarro Blood keeps sending goons after you as well.  A Rodian shows up to blast you which leads to one of my favorite gags as you start counting down as she keeps running her mouth.  Finally when you get to zero, you blast her.  More or less the exact way you get introduced to Calo Nord in the original Knights of the Old Republic. Tarro also makes it a bad habit of tipping off enemies, cutting off resources, and generally being an annoying pest.  But you better get used to it, because he does it through ALL of Chapter One too.

So now it’s time to go get that entry token.  Some Trandoshan has it and you’ve got to get it back.  So how do you do that? Well, the best bet is probably laying a trap.  So you find the biggest bounty on Hutta that you haven’t already pocketed: a scientist/medic/something smart lady in the employ of Nem’ro’s biggest rival: Fathra.  So you have to bust into a Hutt palace, and hold the nice lady hostage until the rival bounty hunter shows.  Which he – predictably – does.  Once you claim the token off his body, it’s time to decide what to do with the scientist.  Technically, there IS a bounty on her.  There’s also the matter of her being a willing hostage in an “aggressive negotiation” with a fellow hunter.  So it really comes down to you what happens.  I collected her bounty.  Money is money. Honor doesn’t buy us a ticket off Hutta.  And I have GOT to get me to Dromund Kaas.

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Dromund Kaas

Alright. I got my golden ticket. I got me a girl. I got myself to Dromund Kaas. What else could go wro-  WHAT DO YOU MEAN THERE ARE TOO MANY ENTRIES? Oh for Cad Bane’s sake, are you serious? You overbooked the biggest tournament in the galaxy? That’s a load. But yes, it’s true. Turns out that there are way too many bounty hunters showing up for the few spots in the brackets left, so it’s time to thin the herd out a bit.  So the Huntmaster has the idea of pitting hunter against hunter in a race to successfully complete three bounties on the Imperial home world.  That means not only finding and capturing your bounty, but you have to deal with the Empire’s anti-Alien, anti-Non-Imperial, and generally just Anti attitude.

You also meet Crysta Markon who is your contact for this little party.  Now I’ve made jokes about Space England and Space Scotland and all sorts of other jokes about the myriad of accents that the Imperials use.  But behold, dear readers, Crysta Markon is apparently from the ever elusive Space Texas.  Oh yea.  An honest to goodness Southern gal in a galaxy far far away. It just raises so many questions.  Where is she from? Where did she get that accent? Why doesn’t anyone else have it? Maybe the Empire blew up Space Texas and she is the last surviving member of her kind. Her parents worked for Space NASA, and shot her out of a rocket to Dromund Kaas were given her lack of alien traits she would be raised as an equal, but when she got to be in her teens she learned she was not like the other kids with their fancy Dromund Kaas accents. No, she said things like “Y’all” and punctuated sentences with colorful strange terms like “Shoot, son. I ain’t nevah seen nobody do that before.”  Outcasted by her weird vocal inflections, she turns to the Mandalorians who offer her a home working with up and comers so that they may find acceptance somewhere, even if it’s not with their home or with the Imperials.

Or it just could be that the division of Bioware that made SWTOR is from Austin. That too.

So your first bounty is to track down a Republic noble that somehow got sold as a slave on Dromund Kaas and is now stuck in the middle of a slave riot. His family would like him returned, preferably alive but hey slave riot, so a corpse to send back will also pay some too.  Wow.  Uh.  Okay.  That seems kinda chaotic. But that’s not all! Once you find the camp, he’s not there! It turns out that he once had a fling with an Imperial noble, who has found out that he is a slave on the planet and arranged for an escape.  The two lovers are now posing as brother and sister (which seriously creeps Mako out) and hanging out in Kaas City at the Cantina.  Well, time to go break up that date.  You’re given a few choices with this one too.  You can capture the bounty, kill the crazy pseudo-incestuous noble and capture the bounty, or kill the bounty and the crazy pseudo-incestuous noble will pay you the difference between the live and dead payments.  Really there is no reason to harm either of the nobles, other than sheer squick factor.  There’s also a small bit where Tarro Blood (AGAIN?) sends a squad of Imperial troops to stop you.  They didn’t live long.  But the best part is when Tarro calls and the other troops demand a cut of their leader’s pay off to kill you.  How many times does a thousand credits split DEAD ways? Oh yea. You guys! That’s how many. HA!

The second bounty is a bit more straight forward if not a bit more depressing.  A big to-do officer in the Imperial Navy has a daughter who is a Sith. They are all very proud. She has a master. Aw, that’s awesome. Her master is insane Sith Lord who rebelled against the Dark Council.  Isn’t that cu- WAIT! If people find out that might make us look bad.  We must hire a bounty hunter to KILL her!  Yea. That’s the next bounty. Kill the dude’s daughter before anyone can find out they’re related and potentially cost him his job and his life for siring a kid who got picked by an evil dude. Evil-er dude.  Okay, wait.  Where on the moral spectrum IS a rebelling Sith Lord?  How does a Sith Lord rebel? Do they do charity work? We know they like ergonomic chairs.

Despite the bounty being to kill the target, you can actually elect to spare her.  This will actually lead to a scene where the guy who hired you expresses the deep regrets he was having about essentially sending an assassin after his daughter.  That family is more important to him than his career.  It’s really touching.  And I’ve only seen the scene by looking over someone else’s shoulder.  Yup, I always have killed the daughter.  Why? Why would I do something so heartless and cruel?  Because that’s what I was being paid to do.  If you get hired to install a TV in the bedroom, do you install it in the living room instead because you feel watching TV in bed is unhealthy and that you are sure that the people paying you will agree after it’s all said and done and pay you anyway? Do the job you get paid to do.  If he had any doubts, he shouldn’t have put out the contract I say.

The third and final bounty at first seems like the most cut and dry of the three. Imperial Intelligence sent a squad into the Dark Temple to investigate the strange going ons in there. But the team went insane from the Temple’s power. But since the Sith are kind of touchy about not wanting anyone but Sith in the Temple, Intelligence needs to clean up the mess. Enter the bounty hunter, tasked with collecting the ID cards of the troops sent in to the Temple so no one knows that they were sent by Intelligence.  Straight forward, yea?

Well, the first kink in the plan turns out to be when you find the squad commander and are given the choice of making sure no one comes back alive, or snapping him out of his psychotic babbling.  Then, to make things even worse, the guy who hired you tries to kill you when you get back.  Oh yea.  You’re not a Sith either, so technically you weren’t supposed to be in that Temple.  Time to eliminate loose ends.  And by that I mean beating the crap out of the Intelligence officer until he pays you. Damn spies and their cloak and dagger crap.  They should have kept the whole thing in-house. I hear that Cipher-9 is pretty good. (That’s the Imperial Agent storyline, FYI.)

With the three bounties done, it’s time to hit up the Melee.  Yea, everyone who actually finished their three bounties now gets tossed in an arena to viciously battle until only one remains.  Why didn’t we just do this from the start?  I mean, it would have been a hell of a lot more entertaining to have a royal rumble of like twenty-five bounty hunters going at in an arena, each chosen to represent a murderous thug of a crime lord.  That’d be pretty cool, right?  Instead there’s like six of you. And it’s pretty clear who is gonna come out on top. The only weird thing is that it says clearly “No assistants” at the beginning, but sure enough Mako is there healing you for the whole thing. A long-standing bug? Flavor versus mechanics error? No clue.

So now that you’ve taken care of the scrubs, the Huntsmaster (a big ole wookie) welcomes you to the great hunt, where Tarro Blood makes yet another huge stink about how this a contest of prestige and honor and I am somehow sullying it.  Tarro, I’m curious.  How?  How am I sullying the contest?  Is it because I’m a Chiss? No, you say the same thing about a human. Is it because I’m not a Mandalorian? There are plenty of those in the contest. All I can think is I am not worthy of this honor because I’m not you.  That’s it.  Your entire argument is less based in facts that your average internet troll. Hell, you’re bordering on 24 hour news channel editorial territory.  If this was tumblr, I think they’d already have photoshopped a trilby on your head, called it a fedora and burned you in effigy.  Actually, I’m gonna do that now. But no, now I have deal with your crap for at LEAST 15 more levels. But oh, chapter one will be fun.  Because I know – I KNOW – that as long as I keep winning, I’m gonna get a shot at your head, Blood. Oh yes. TARRO BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD.

Tarro Blood in a Fedora. You're welcome.

Now all that’s left is to get off world and on with the Great Hunt.  That’ll be fun right?  Get a new ship, get a new droid, get some freedom.  Oh, but it’s not that simple.  See in every other class except smuggler you’re given a ship and the smuggler is reclaiming a ship that is already theirs.  You?  You get to steal someone else’s ship.  It’s apparently a new hunter in the big hunt hazing ritual.  Find a ship, steal the ship and get the hell off the Imperial homeworld.  Of course, Tarro Blood messes with that too by tipping off the authorities and the owner of the ship.  Seriously? That’s like trying to prank order pizzas to someone’s door to annoy them.  Is this what the great Tarro Blood amounts too? Petty pranks?  Oh geeze. I am gonna enjoy killing that man.

Final Thoughts

I already gushed about the storyline at the top, so I won’t repeat my adoration here.  I hope you can maybe see why I like this story so much.  From the get go you have a villain that is absolutely loathsome to the point where it is enjoyable to hate him.  Like Joffrey in a Song of Ice and Fire you find yourself craving a gruesome death for him.  There is nothing to like or respect about Tarro.  He is an absolute weasel.  And the story is richer for it.  In a game where the stories are all over the map in terms of sympathetic villains, themes of redeeming the fallen and giving second chances, it is nice to have one guy you can just hate without a single doubt.

Otherwise the story is fairly straight forward.  You want into the Great Hunt. You try to get into the Great Hunt.  You get into the Great Hunt. But that’s not bad. Simple is not bad.  You are given plenty to overcome on the road to getting your butt a spot in the Hunt, Tarro is throwing wrenches at you but never to the point where it is annoying.  It’s only like one in three missions where he actually tries to mess with you, so it doesn’t become too petty or annoying. The other obstacles have to deal with either being set up, betrayed, or drawing on your moral sensibilities of what is right or wrong.  And sometimes – SOMETIMES – everything just goes as planned.  But overall things seem to be spaced out so nothing is too repetitive.

In the end, the prologue of the bounty hunter’s tale is a solid start without the feeling of staggering to the start. Something I can’t say for every prologue.  You get a real sense of being outside the system since you are the only Imperial class that does not tie in to the government at all.  You have your own goals that are outside of the Imperial scope, you go about them without aid from the Empire for the most part, and while yes they are your main source of income on Dromund Kaas (surprise surprise) it never feels like you are doing anything for them.  You are being hired by them as a means to further your own agenda.  And maybe that’s why the Bounty Hunter story stands out so much for me.  It IS about your own agenda.  There is no superior force commanding you to fulfill their wishes.  You are in the Great Hunt because you want to be, you are doing these jobs because you want to take them, and you ultimately answer to no one but yourself.  Heck, that even makes the moral choices seem a bit more interesting as you never have to worry about your master or boss condemning your actions.  Oh sure, you can mess up the contract and upset the person you hired you. But that’s temporary.  That’s one job.  That’s hardly a blemish on your entire record that will stick with you for years to come.  But the bounty hunter is his or her own master.  That’s kind of an awesome feeling of agency you don’t get that often.  Even in the Smuggler storyline you are furthering someone else’s agenda.  No spoilers on whose yet though.

Now we have to see if that awesome feeling continues as we proceed on to the Great Hunt proper and have to deal with Tarro Manchild’s shenanigans.

|| BOUNTY HUNTER || Chapter One –>

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