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SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Imperial Agent – Chapter Three

<– Chapter Two || IMPERIAL AGENT ||

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Belsavis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Interlude

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

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

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

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Voss

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interlude II

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

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Corellia

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

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

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

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

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

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Grand Finale

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Looking Back

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

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

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

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

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

<– Chapter Two || IMPERIAL AGENT ||

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SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Smuggler – Chapter Three

<– Chapter Two || SMUGGLER ||

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

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

Belsavis

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interlude

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

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

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Voss

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

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

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

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

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

Interlude #2

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

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

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Corellia

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

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

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

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

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Grand Finale

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

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

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

My Reactions & Looking Back

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

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

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

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

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

<– Chapter Two || SMUGGLER ||

 

SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Jedi Knight – Chapter Three

<– Chapter Two || JEDI KNIGHT ||

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

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

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Belsavis

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

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

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

Interlude I

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

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

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

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Voss

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interlude II

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

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

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

Corellia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Grand Finale

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

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

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

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

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

Looking Back/Final Thoughts

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

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

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

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<– Chapter Two || JEDI KNIGHT ||

SWTOR Class Storyline Review: 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: 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: Jedi Consular – Chapter Three

<—  Chapter Two ||

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

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

(Sorry, no new photos this time.  I did Chapter Three on vacation so I didn’t remember to screen cap any on the laptop.)

So a little bit of a recap, the consular has just spent 10 whole levels sucking up to the Rift Alliance, a group of whiny planets that want stuff.  At the end of the whole thing, you find out that one of the representatives is not only a traitor but an imperial sleeper agent known as a Child of the Emperor.  There’s apparently lots of these people out there.  Who knows how many! But I’ve got a hunch that we’ll meet probably about oh…  one per planet?  Just a hunch.  But to fight this mysterious new menace, we need a mysterious new army.  So for that, it’s up to Jedi Consular and the Rift Alliance (Worst band name ever.) to gather strange and powerful new allies to help fight the Empire.

To do that, we need to figure out a heading.  The first clue is actually back on Hoth.  Funny, I thought we just left Hoth.  I was pretty sure I mentioned something about never wanting to go to Hoth ever again.  I distinctly remember Kill-It Felix agreeing with me.  Yet, here we are.  Blowing up a small ice cavern to unearth an ancient Rakata roadmap.  Okay, it’s like one of those mind trapped sentience thingies, but come on, all it’s there for is to give directions.  And to lie to.  I lied to it A LOT.  Which points us to…

Belsavis

Oh. Shocker. The next planet on the narrow linear leveling path of planets.  Honestly, would it have been that much effort to mix things up a little bit?  Like do Belsavis or Voss in whatever order you choose, and then follow it with Corellia?  Honestly.  Darn leveling system.  Anyway, yea. There’s a great and powerful army you are seeking to recruit on Belsavis. They are called the Esh-Kaaaa WAIT A MINUTE.  NO! I know the Esh-Ka.  I’ve had them shoot at me constantly, and try to kill me, and break out of their prisons and try to conquer the galaxy.  In fact, about half of what the Republic does on this planet is try to seal that can of evil back up.  Including in the bonus series! And we want to recruit them?  Oh but wait a minute.  These are different Esh-Ka.  Nice ones, that totally didn’t deserve to be locked away for millennia. Well…  that changes things.  I’m still suspicious.

So you’re first task is to find this military dude who knows more about the deep vaults than anyone, but when you go to find him every member of his squad is dead.  In fact, everyone but him is present and dead.  Apparently this was triggered by his assistant back at base camp telling him that a Jedi was coming to find him.  Hmm.   An evil Esh-Ka defector?  Brainwashed by Esh-ka?!  WHAT ELSE COULD IT- Oh, he’s a Child of the Emperor.  That didn’t stay a mystery for long.  Now begins a long cat and mouse game across the planet, where the Child of the Emperor has control of all the security systems, cameras, and can send waves of droids after you (if people had this level of control over Belsavis, why is there a prison riot again?)  Luckily you get aid from some unknown voice that instructs you in ways to bypass the security and to lock out the Emperor’s Kidz so that you can find the “good” Esh-ka.

Now, I say ‘unknown voice’ but if you’ve been playing this far you should have bumped into the Imprisoned One on Tatooine, and if you put two and two together you will quickly realized from the sound of the voice and the alien dialect that you’re talking to a Rakata the entire time.  Apparently, this Rakata regrets imprisoning the ‘Good’ Esh-ka, and wants to help you free them while helping you kill the bad Esh-ka.  Not that I honestly think the Rakata are deserving of a ton of trust, every one thus far has been a psycho trying to resurrect the Infinite Empire a few thousand years too late. But I don’t really have a choice here.

The story ends with you freeing the good Esh-ka who then immediately ditch you so you have to fight a Child of the Emperor aall by yourself.  Well, not just the Child of the Emperor, the gold level Child and two silver level mobs backing him up.  Unfair! Really, your only hope is to CC the Child and kill the two silvers, try to heal up and then finish off the Child. This of course leads to freeing the leader of the Good Esh-Ka who has some weird name like “Deep Throat” or something. I’m just gonna call him that. And he actually wants to help you out.  Well that’s nice.  My eyes are on you buddy.

Interlude

A brief interlude comes when you discovered upon leaving Belsavis that Senator Grell… HAS BEEN KIDNAPPED! Now you and Nadia (She demands to come, not shocked, it’s her dad.) must board the kidnappers vessel – tracked down by Theran and Holiday because they are insanely awesome like that – and save her dad!  The kidnapper it turns out is NOT a Child of the Emperor.  No, it’s some creepy former Sith who did or said something and got his brain wiped.  No name, no memories, no emotion. (My guess is that he was a mage.  That’s a Dragon Age joke, folks.) He hopes by screwing with you he can earn his memories back.  He is wrong, as I just kill him.  Sadly, you aren’t ever fast enough to stop the death of Senator Grell, who apparently spilled the beans on everything you were doing.

The interlude ends with the Jedi Council reading the senator’s will.  For some reason.  I honestly haven’t a clue why the Jedi had his will.  Are Jedi also notaries?  Anyway, apparently the will was made fairly recently as it asks that Nadia be made a padawan and you be her master.  Well, it only took an extra 28 levels, but hey sweet fetish fuel has arrived for the Consular too!  Also, again, we have someone being made a padawan of yours solely by virtue of “Oh, okay, sure. Whatever.”  Nadia doesn’t even have to train on Tython, or do her Youngling warm up excercises, or anything.  She’s a Jedi now.  You’re in charge.  Bye.  Screw you, Master Syo Bakarn.  I hope you die.

Voss

The next crazy ally you get is the Voss.  Yes, you heard me.  You are going to recruit the Voss.  I won’t go nearly in depth on this one because honestly, this is the most chores you’ve ever done since the Great McGuffin Hunt of the Prologue.  You essentially are tasked with making sure a potential Voss mystic goes through his trials correctly and safely, and then you can recruit him and his entire entourage into your galactic war.   Wait.  Why does this not sound like it’s going to work?

You do everything from run around and gather stones, perform dangerous healing rituals to keep your lemming of a Voss alive, and kill any and every little thing in his way to have a vision.  Which time and time again he fails to have.  He just fails, then asks to be taken someplace else where he might have one.  While it’s not the most annoying mission you have to do as a Consular, it really feels like babysitting a complete n00b.

Really, the payoff comes at the very end.  Because while you have had run ins with Imperials and Sith here and there, you never bump into a Child of the Emperor.  Not once.  Until the end, when it is revealed that the diplomat that sent you to find the Voss wannabe is the Child of the Emperor.  She sent you to essentially prep the Vossling and then when he was ready, she’d swoop in, kill you and take the freshly awakened mystic for the Sith.  That.  is.   BRILLIANT.  No, seriously.  This is probably the smartest villain in the entirety of the Consular storyline.  She actually uses you to get what she wants, and you never suspect her for a moment.  Honestly, a lot of these ‘hiding’ in plain sight villains are pretty easy to spot early (Bounty Hunter Chapter One, we will be getting to you soon.) But I was floored by this one.  I didn’t even appreciate it until way after and was looking back at everything that happened. I WISH the Inquisitor story was more like this.  Sadly,  her plan fails.  She didn’t account for one thing: Me killing her.  Twice the pride, eh?

So you get the Voss mystic, his team of Voss healers, and a squad of elite Voss commandos (I assume they’re like Asari commandos) and they’re all on your ship and joining you on your mission to defeat the Sith and protect the Republic.  Hooray!  Wait.  Aren’t the Voss neutral?  Likely, ridiculously neutral to the point of absurdity?  Doesn’t this violate that?  I mean, they say that the Voss will study the light and the dark and see both sides.  That’s nice. YOU ARE HELPING ME KILL THE OTHER TEAM.  You have officially picked a side now.  Debate over.  You fight for the Republic.  Or is this somehow not registering through your bald blue heads? GAH!

Interlude 2

The second interlude is an attempt to take over an Imperial flagship descending on Corellia.  If you and your crack squad can take over that ship, you will gain powerful intelligence on what the Imperials are after (It’s the Bastion) and stop them from succeeding (You can’t. They’re in the Bastion already.)  The whole thing is yet another giant ship to fight through, but luckily way less tedious than the one in the first act.  You work with your companions who hack doors, disable canons, and sabotage alarms.  And I really hate to say it, but they do it way better than the Trooper squad handled the Gauntlet in the Chapter 2 finale.  However, unlike the Trooper story, this thing actually turns out to be a giant trap.  Yea, you get to the bridge to find a droid who simply explains that the ship is rigged to blow for the sole purpose of removing you and your team from the picture.

At that point, the tone switches to you and your team trying to disable the bombs.  You get a few of them, and your team goes after the others that are near them but in the end there are too many bombs and no time to turn them all off.  So you all book it off the ship, except Nadia.  Nadia has found a computer with all the data that might reveal the identity of the First Son, the leader of the Children.  So no matter what you say to her, she will stay to get that data.  She’s not stupid however, as she does take an escape pod off the ship before it blows and falls to Corellia below.

You stand at the end of the interlude with no ship, no defeated Sith, and down one padawan.  It’s kind of a loss.  Which actually can be mirrored in some of the choices in dialogue.  Your crew is actively worried about Nadia being trapped on a war torn planet.  It’s actually pretty well done tonally. There’s even some nice dialogue if you demand to pursue Nadia at any cost that Theran talks to you about trying to get her back.  Which makes sense because if you do the companion conversations, Nadia is pretty friendly with Theran.

Corellia

Corellia starts pretty much with the search for Nadia.  You are able to find a smuggler?  Freedom fighter?  Hacker?  A person in a vest that can help you find her in exchange for some favors.  It’s a classic scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours scenario but I like how once he gives you the coordinates to find Nadia – deep in Imperial controlled territory – he asks you for one more favor and you can totally blow him off.  YES!  I’ve wanted to do that for ages in this game.  Best class storyline ever! I CAN SAY NO AND NOT GET RAILROADED!  Nadia’s still holed up in her escape pod and very week, luckily your favors have earned the help of the Selonians (Ferret people) who help you get Nadia out and back to health.  She does have the data that reveals the identity of the First Son, but it requires the Jedi Library to decrypt.  Luckily, and somewhat shockingly, you can just go to the Jedi Library website from anywhere in the galaxy and get whatever you need.  So finally we get the revelation of who the First Son truly is…

Master Syo Bakarn.

Oh.  Oh snap.  Uh.  You mean that guy who has been helping us since like level 1?  Damn.  That’s brilliant.  Seriously, right on the heels of that great twist you get another sort of just as great one.  Hear me out.  The trick to this whole thing is that Master Syo doesn’t KNOW he’s the First Son.  He’s a sleeper agent, only activated when his First Son persona chooses to manifest itself and Syo has no idea what happens during that time.  So it’s less OMGSECRETZPLOT! and more OHCRAPHEZOURD00D! Still, it’s a surprising turn that does carry a weight.  This is an NPC that has been part of your story for 50 levels.  I really wonder how much he was actually behind.  Believe me when I say this revelation has confirmed at least a second play-through of this class just to see.  But now that the cat is out of the bag, The First Son springs his plan into action.  Activating Children of the Emperor hand picked and placed across Corellia by Syo to take over the super secure bunkers called Guardian Holds that Syo was in charge of protecting for the Republic.

So now the Sith have control of the most secure bunkers from which they can hold Corellia indefinitely.  So it falls to the best one for the job, the Jedi Consular, to take back the Guardian Holds with his army of Voss, Esh-Ka, and crew. And that’s pretty much what the rest of the planet is.  Go to a sector of the city, find a way into the guardian hold there, and remove the Child of the Emperor in charge.  I mean, yea there are some moral issues when you are fighting people who had been loyal to the Republic and/or Jedi for years now suddenly switched to evil by a glowy red eyed puppetmaster. Which leads to obligatory Light Side/Dark Side choice of trying to save them or just killing them.  While I was pretty dark side for this part so I killed them all, I am really curious how one actually saves these guys.  I mean, the were given a piece of the Emperor where they were infants.  They are ingrained with loyalty to him. How do you break that?  Well, that’s my second play-through to find out.

You finally get to the end of the road, the final guardian hold, and from there you are treated to a showdown with the First Son himself.  Master Syo is no more, it is only evil that stands before you.  And oh man is this a great showdown that will test your ability to interrupt, LOS, and keep up heals in order to take down your foe.  Mostly I just busted out Theran.  Even in lower level gear, he was able to keep me going while I pummeled Syo down with rocks.  Speaking of rocks, he does a giant rock drop where he caves in the ceiling and you must interrupt it or instant KO.  After words, you can shield Syo or kill him.  And if you choose to kill him, like I did. You don’t even get the final blow.  He actually comes back at you and you knock him away in to the wall causing a giant rock to crush him.  What kind of Disney Death is that?

Grand Finale

Well, much like the trooper, the story actually wraps up on Corellia.  With the First Son defeated, you are pretty much done.  You get invited back to Coruscant where you meet the new Supreme Chancellor (Former Governor) Saresh, and for the first time in any of the Republic stories, it actually makes mention that she is indeed newly elected and that something happened that forced them to elect a new Chancellor.  They don’t say what that is, but I’m sure we’ll found out in one of these reviews.  Still I like the fact that SOMEONE acknowledges the fact that the Supreme Chancellor for 1-49 is not the same as the one you meet at level 50, cause the trooper doesn’t bat an eye, the Jedi Knight shrugs it off, and the Smuggler probably doesn’t know what a Supreme Chancellor is.

You get a big award ceremony at the end too. But unlike the one for the Jedi Knight or Trooper, here you can totally milk the Republic for stuff for your allies.  Esh-ka want a planet? Yo, Saresh. Give them a planet!  Oh hey, Voss dudes wanna train with Jedi.  I don’t care if you are uneasy with it, Satele. Did you just save the Republic? Let them in.  It was a nice moment where you and your crew essentially get whatever they want from the Republic.  But you know what they SHOULD have asked for?  To not pay taxes again.  Ever.

Looking Back…

So was the Jedi Consular story the KOTOR3 we never got? Or was it the boring slogfest that forum dwellers claim?  Well, the answer is the classic ‘Neither’.  Honestly, the Consular story more than any other requires time to get the most out of it.  It can seem like a boring slogfest at first, and really it’s not until the end of Chapter One that it all starts to come together and become interesting.  If I had only played the first 15 levels? Oh Yoda, I would have dropped the class faster than Physical Education.  But I stuck it out, and honestly I’m glad I did.  It has a sense of completeness by the end, where it actually feels like every part – not just the last chapter or so – was a vital piece of the conclusion.  The Noetikons, the shielding technique, the Rift Alliance, and the Children of the Emperor all came together in a glorious symphony at the end.  But up until that conclusion, you could see it as very hit and miss.

In terms of light or dark choices, they were all pretty much what you expected for a Jedi.  You have more than enough reasons to kill most of the people, but do you overcome that and show them forgiveness because they are not themselves.  And really that’s the best way to summarize the Consular story.  It’s a tale of enlightenment and overcoming our passions and baser instincts to become something more.  Killing the Jedi in Chapter One is justified and full of anger by those who had suffered at the hands of their mind controlled friends or leaders, but we can shield them and overcome that hate.  The Rift Alliance’s own desires and wants come before the needs of the Republic, but they find by working with and through the Republic they get everything they wanted and more.  Looking past the uncertainty and threats of the Esh-Ka and Voss give rise to a powerful army, the Rakata want to make amends to the Esh-ka, you can overcome the betrayals and welcome back to the light all those who were tainted by darkness. On the flip side, the story can be just as much about the accumulation of power.  Taking out other Jedi to secure a more prominent position for yourself, manipulating the wants of the Rift Alliance to make them indebted to you, building an army that answers to you alone and crushing those who would think to betray you.

So would I recommend this story?  Yea.  It had enough for me to merit a second play through, I’d say it’s worth it to try it once.  It’s a slog at the start, but once you get into the thick of the Dark Plague arc, it starts picking up.  I’d especially recommend it for fans of shows like Star Trek or Babylon-5, as the diplomatic parts of Chapters Two and Three really seem to share a similar vibe with shows like those.  Anyway, that’s it for the Consular.  Whenever I finish up my light side character I might come back for one more post about it from the other side of things.  Until then, May the Force Be With You.

<—  Chapter Two ||

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.

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