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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: Jedi Knight – Chapter Two

<– Chapter One || JEDI KNIGHT || Chapter Three –>

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the second 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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Alright, welcome back to the epic quest of the Jedi Knight to stop the forces of evil.  Only we already did that at the end of Chapter One.  As I said, just like the Trooper and Bounty Hunter, the Prologue and First Chapter of the Jedi Knight’s story is a complete narrative and wraps everything up nicely at the end.  It could have easily been the end if not for that pesky “We’re only level 30” thing.  So we have two more chapters. But UNLIKE the Bounty  Hunter and Trooper stories, the Jedi Knight knows exactly what story to tell with the remaining chapters: We’re going after the Sith Emperor.  Oh joy! Could the stakes be any higher?  I think not.  Yes, this is probably one of the most defining plot developments in the game, since the result of Chapters 2 and mostly 3 of the Jedi Knight will set the stage for what we would later see in the Shadow of Revan and the happenings on Ziost.

The story begins with you returning from R & R on your ship only to be contacting by the spectral image of Master Orgus Din.  He’s a ghost!  Which I suppose means we need to watch out for the Sith Inquisitor.  Orgus reveals that there is a trapped and dying Jedi on the planet Tatooine that needs your help, and carries information that will be vital to fulfilling your destiny.  So you travel to the middle of fricking nowhere in Jundland to find a crashed starship and a bunch of Sith gold mobs.  The Jedi is chilling out and meditating in the ship.  So… he is saved? I think?  Was I necessary?

Apparently, he couldn’t send a distress signal because techno babble and the plot demands we save him but he is carrying news that he must deliver to the Jedi Council on Tython and urges you to deliver it while the medical crews arrive for him.  So you go to Tython – a statement for the record you will be hearing A LOT in these next two chapters.  You waste a ton of time going back to Tython for one cutscene again and again.  The Jedi Council reveals there master plan that the info was for: Their going after the Sith Emperor.  But first, they will need some things.  You are tasked with helping other Jedi Masters on planets to help gather the necessary resources to have everything you’ll need for a successful assault on the Secret Invisible Space Stronghold of the Sith Emperor (Ask them about their Seafood Combo Platter) and capture him.  Yes, capture.  Apparently they don’t want to kill him because it would create a power vacuum.  Boo.

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Balmorra

This planet is where the Secret Invisibile Space Stronghold of the Sith Emperor’s (Try the Veal) cloaking shield was developed. The hope is to find the original prototype of it so the Jedi can jury-rig a device to cancel out the cloak.  Of course, since Balmorra is heavily entrenched in a battle to oust the Sith Empire who have a hold on everything here, that means teaming up with the Resistance.  Who don’t like the Republic. This will be fun.  You also get to meet your liaison with the Resistance – a man named Doc.

Doc is one part humanitarian and one part sleazy skinamax star, right down to the mustache.  When he’s not trying to save lives or protect the innocent and making sure everyone gets a chance to live, he’s flirting with anything that remotely resembles a female.  If you bring Kira with you, he flirts with her endlessly. If you are a female, he will flirt with you endlessly.  And I mean ENDLESSLY.  It accounts for nearly 80% of his dialogue on Balmorra.  If you ever want to feel some empathy for women who have to deal with men hitting on them and swinging widely with pick up lines like they were a scythe – play a female Jedi Knight and meet Doc.  Dear god, I wanted to punch him.  He’s also the female love interest, which is all sorts of weird to me.  But hey, it takes all kinds right?  Someone has to enjoy that kind of person.

The next couple of missions are basically just grunt work soldier-ing for the Resistance.  Collect med packs for the wounded, take out guards and sensors so the Resistance can break into the computers to grab intel, and ultimately saving one of their spies that was trying to secure the prototype from an Imperial jail.  This spy however is ultimately revealed to be in great health for being imprisoned by the enemy for two weeks.  Like suspiciously good health.  It seems she cut a deal with the Empire to spill intel on the Resistance in exchange for safety.  The Resistance wants her dead on the spot, but it ultimately comes down to you – the Jedi – to decide.  It’s also during these missions you meet up with the Jedi Master you’re helping: Warren Sedoru.  He’s an old grizzled scar-covered Jedi who has a natural talent for reading people and tactical thinking.  He also happily admits to letting you do all the work since you’re youthful and far more skilled with a saber.  I like his honesty.  He’s a keeper.  Can I have him on the ship instead of Doc?

You finally grab the prototype by breaking into the Balmorran Arms Factory, a task that’s honestly way easier than it sounds.  You kill your way through some nameless Sith guarding the thing, likely tipped off from our spy friend that people were interested in the prototype and then go in to grab it to find that the Resistance is already there and ready to cart off with it.  Okay. First. What?  Second.  That’s mine.  Third.  What?  How did they get in here?  How did the Sith not notice them?  Were they crawling around the vents or something?  If that’s the case why didn’t I get to climb the vents?  Bah.  The Resistance says that since the prototype was made on Balmorra it belongs to them and no one else, screw you and screw the Republic.  You can either negotiate with them or just threaten them for it, you don’t have to fight either way I don’t think.  You get the prototype and get the heck off the planet.

Quesh

Time for a small side track from the mission.  It appears that Master Tol Braga (the Jedi who came up with this Kidnap the Sith Emperor plan) has a padawan that was a former Sith stationed on the planet of Quesh that he hasn’t heard from in a while.  Braga is worried about him since the tensions are rising between the Republic and Empire on Quesh, and he wants you to go make sure everything is alright.  Which, of course, isn’t the case.

Apparently, the former Sith is having a bit of a hard time getting over some his old bad habits.  Namely slaughtering a bunch of unarmed Imperial prisoners when they mentioned he was a traitor and that the Emperor’s Wrath was coming for him.  Now you can honestly help this Sith-Turned-Jedi overcome his temptation to the Dark Side, or you can convince him to embrace it fully because ‘Hey, it’s a war. Go kill people.’

The really interesting bit comes when the Empire breaks into the base and you have to repel them.  When you finally wipe them out, all of them, you bring up the force field for the door only to be greeted by a massive hulking Sith Pureblood named Lord Scourge.  Scourge is the Emperor’s Wrath.  The very hatred of Emperor embodied in a living person.  This is important because this is first time on the Republic side we are introduced to the concepts of the ‘Aspects’ of the Emperor.  Be it his Voice, Wrath, Hands, etc  the Emperor has many servants who act as vessels of his will.  They literally become a part of the Emperor.  There’s a lot more of this to be found in the Sith Warrior storyline where they go into it with greater detail, but this is an important thing to remember for what comes at the end of the Jedi Knight story as well.

Scourge’s appearance here however is little more than a glorified tease and cameo.  He talks to you, says some cryptic things, and then buggers off.  Okay?  Thanks for the visit, Scourge.  Quesh then ends with the padawan deciding to either return to Tython to cleanse himself of his Dark Side emotions, or to meditate on the concept of embracing them as a weapon for justice in what is a clearly soon to erupt war.

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Hoth

The second piece of the Secret Invisibile Space Stronghold of the Sith Emperor (Every Thursday is Sith Ladies’ Night) caper is to get the schematics and floorplans to the Stronghold.  Impossible, you say?  Well not to Jedi Master Leeha Narezz. She’s discovered that the only non-Sith to see the interior of the space station – the architect (because there are no Sith architects, silly. They don’t build up, only tear down!) – and apparently that individual crashed on Hoth with the schematics on board.  So we’re off on a scavenger hunt to find it.  Which seems to be just what you do on Hoth.  Go looking for things that crashed here.  This is what? The fourth time we’ve done this?

However, we do make a new friend in the process.  The Republic Military is lending a hand with this ‘save the galaxy’ mission and giving you full authority over the 301st.  Or what’s left of them as when you find them there are two remaining and one of them is dying. Our last good soldier standing is Sergeant Rusk, who is brutally efficient at his job.  He lists off success and failure in terms of percentages, he doesn’t care if you are wounded or dying you will finish the mission, and he’s not actually that much of  a jerk for it.  Just a guy who wants to be the best damn soldier out there and expects anyone who signed up for the Military to be willing to die for the cause.  It’s an extreme viewpoint, sure.  But he never comes off as mean.  Just a bit odd.  His men however don’t feel that way.  Even after replenishing the 301st’s numbers, everybody else views Rusk as a hard ass trying to make them do things like eliminate threats proactively and other things that equate to ‘work’.  I dunno. I dig Rusk.  I would like to trade Tanno Vik on my Trooper for Rusk.  Please?

The rest of Hoth plays out pretty simply with only the occasional diversion where the military calls you up wanting things in exchange for borrowing the 301st.  The first one of these is to take out Imperial turrets and its mandatory.  The second is to destroy ammo dumps set up by the pirates and you can talk Rusk out of doing it or just doing it himself without you.  The whole mission ends with you getting to choose whether you want to square off with pirates or Sith (There’s a meme waiting to happen) and breaking into a massive dreadnought ship to grab the schematics.  Narezz happily heads back to Tython to await you there.

I didn’t talk much about Narezz because she doesn’t seem to have much in the way of personality.  She instead has robots.  Two droids – the Meedees – that she claims will one day have the power to wield the Force like any living thing.   There.  That’s her whole schtick in just about every conversation.  “We need to get X oh bee tee dubs my robots are awesome.”

Finale

You want a big flashy finale to a middle chapter? Here it is.  This thing is huge, so pardon me if I may miss a beat here or there.  You return to Tython to get ready for the big assault on the Emperor when it’s revealed by Master Tol Braga that the endgame of this whole plan is not just to capture the Sith Emperor but to bring him back to Tython and convince him – through what I can only imagine is a well thought out and reasoned debate – to TURN TO THE LIGHT SIDE.  Oh geeze. I am so suddenly having doubts about this plan.  Not just me either, as the rest of the Jedi Council shows up to talk about their own trepidation with this plan. Namely that the Jedi I saved way back on Tatooine at the beginning of Chapter Two who was told he couldn’t go on the big important save the universe mission and you are going in his stead JUST had a vision! That you would turn EVIL if you went, so he should go in your place and save the day.  I clearly sense absolutely zero ulterior motive here.

You do convince the council the let you go and you begin the assault on the Secret Invisibile Space Stronghold of the Sith Emperor (Now serving breakfast) where you infiltrate and work your way through the base.  For those who have already completed the story on Ilum at some point, you might recognize the layout of this place.  I don’t know if it’s intentional but the Secret Invisible Space Stronghold of the Sith Emperor ( Original Fortress. DO NOT STEAL. ) has a very similar construction, layout, and design as the Not Secret But Totally Invisible Space Stronghold of Darth Malgus ( My OF is better than Your OF ) and I want to say that considering they are both cloaked, they are either the same fortress or Malgus totally intentionally stole the Emperor’s idea.  Anyway, you finally breach the Emperor’s sanctum and face off in combat with his Wrath, Lord Scourge.

Once you defeat Scourge, the other Jedi show up (Thanks for the help, guys), the attack on the Emperor begins proper and then promptly ends as the Emperor kicks everyone’s butt almost instantly.  You are the last one standing and even then you still go down to the POWAH! of his Sith lightning.  Once you wipe, the Emperor talks about how you all shall become his new weapons and his dark work begins.  Yes, indeed. You become Evil.  In a cutscene at least.  You train to become a powerful Sith, you kill innocents – or at least it’s implied.  I get kind of this weird disconnect at this point, because they say you have been under the emporer’s control for a long time.  Long enough that the other Jedi you were with become fully fledged generals of the Sith, but you never leave the Stronghold.  You are always shown fighting droids, and even at the end are “just” being given the privilege and training to interrogate prisoners.  So did you wage war in the name of the Sith? I think you do, but it’s never explicitly shown.  It sure as hell makes less of an impact to reveal that while you under Sith control you spent months killing Imperial droids over and over.

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After an unknown period of time, you are finally freed of the Emperor’s control thanks to a handy visit from Master Orgus’ ghost.  Who apparently took his sweet time getting in touch. I guess Jedi force ghosts are less reliable in manifesting than Sith ones, because those jerks are always around.  You jail break your companion from the Emperor fight and then book it to the hangar to get out.  It’s useful that you’ve been helping the bad guys for X amount of time, because now no one fights you on the way out.  However, when you get to the hangar, you find someone has already sprung all of your friends and unlocked your ship: Lord Scourge.  Yes, the big raspberry has decided to join forces with you to help stop the Emperor.  He has foreseen it.  No, seriously. That’s not a clever Star Wars joke.  He really did.  He forsesaw you fighting the Emperor. He wants to help because it turns out that the Sith Emperor isn’t out to win this war.  No… He wants to devour and absorb all life in the Galaxy to become a super-god.  And since Scourge lives in the galaxy, he kinda has a vested interest in seeing it not die.  You all hop on board the ship and… /sigh.  You head back to Tython.  Once there, you relay all this info to the Jedi Council and you begin your new mission: Stop the Emperor from killing everything.  Good plan.  I like it.  I’m happy to be apart of it.

Can someone else do it?

Final Thoughts

The second chapter of the Jedi Knight storyline is essentially the set up for the big climax.  The equivalent to the Prologue to Chapter One.  However instead of being a step back, it does very much feel like a step up in terms of scale.  You are preparing for what is probably the biggest mission any class in the game gets to experience.  On top of that, it gives you short but solid characterization for all of the Jedi Masters you are fighting with so that their defeat and ultimate fate in Chapter 3 actually carries some impact.

This chapter and the one that follows actually has some of the most crossover potential in terms of information given next to the revelation of what exactly happened to the Supreme Chancellor to cause the switch to Saresh from the Bounty Hunter story.  Here we find out what happened to the Emperor’s Wrath, which not only gives us a sense of how the third chapter of the Sith Warrior starts, but when since we also find out that Scourge doesn’t defect until after your “long time” in service to the Emperor.  Apparently the break between Chapter 2 and 3 of the Sith Warrior was quite a break.

The companions in this chapter are actually solid and interesting characters.  They have well defined personalities that don’t require to unlock half of their ‘on the ship’ conversations to get to know them.  You know that Doc is a flirt that cares about the well being of everyone, and that Rusk views the world in terms of calculated risk and victory.  Rusk is honestly one of the better ‘soldier to a fault’ characters I’ve seen done in the game.  Even Elara Dorne cracks that ‘by the books’ exterior here and there, but Rusk?  You either do the mission or die trying.  There is no quitting, no hesitance, no questioning a superior.  If you die, you will die in the service to the Republic and protecting the freedoms and people of it.  Doc on the other hand is the opposite and they contrast each other well.  Doc believes everyone deserves a chance to be healthy and safe.  He believes in prisoners over killing and that no one is above getting a fair shake.  He also constantly flirts with anything resembling a female to the point where I think Scorpio in the Imperial Agent storyline would be in trouble (until she fried him to a crisp.)  It’s interesting because it’s creepy, annoying, and ever present but at the same time – and I fully admit that as a man I might be completely misreading this and be so completely off base, so if any woman would like to weigh in on the comments by all means I welcome your experiences with Doc – but it never felt as…  insulting as Corso’s hypocritical attempts at chivalry.  It felt more like Ron Stoppable from ‘Kim Possible’ trying to get a date for the dance, keeps getting shot down but also keeps trying.  Then again, Ron Stoppable didn’t continuously try with the same girl that rejected him over and over and over.  So yea, back to creepy in a way.

Scourge spends all his characterization going, “Hmm. I see.  Unexpected. Interesting.” over and over and then he joins your crew at the literal last minute of the Chapter.  I will say that I did LOVE that his justification when challenged that Sith only act for selfish reasons is that wanting to save the Galaxy from the Emperor is horribly selfish as he does not want to die.  That right there made him my favorite companion for Chapter Three.  Sorry Kira, gotta bench ya.

The ending of the chapter is probably one of those things that really could go either way depending on how you interpreted the events.  You’re told you are the Emperor’s tool, that you have been for a long time, and yet it never explicitly shows you doing anything outside of killing droids for training under a Sith overlord.  If you honestly believe that you have been attacking the Republic under mind control, that is a big impact that not only confirms the visions about you, but would make the final chapter one of atonement as well as saving the galaxy and gives the eventual battle with the Emperor that personal edge of revenge that would tempt you to the dark side in a classic Star Wars fashion.  But how that actually plays out is to be seen next time.  Till Chapter Three, folks.

<– Chapter One || JEDI KNIGHT || Chapter Three –>

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