Warning: This post contains spoilers for the Jedi Consular storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic. If you would like a spoiler free summary of the storylines you can find them here.
The Jedi Consular is probably one of the most controversial class stories in the game. From everything I’ve seen since the game launched people have either loved the Jedi Consular and claimed it was the closest thing to KOTOR 3, or found it absolutely mind numbingly boring. I haven’t seen a ton of opinions that fell into the middle. Not that I doubt they exist, but they’re hardly the most vocal responses to the class story. I’d like to think I’m breaking new ground by making a very public voice saying that at least the prologue of the Jedi Consular is quite possibly the most meh story thus far.
To give some context to how I’ve been playing my Jedi Consular, so you have some idea how these opinions were formed. It mostly came from his voice. The male voice of the consular just sounded so pompous and proud, so SUPERIOR. I couldn’t un-hear it. So that’s the way I played him. A fat, gluttonous, prideful, condescending prick. He hoards knowledge in the desire to be the best and is not above murder to preserve his standing. He believes he is morally superior and is not capable of doing wrong because of his ‘advanced Jedi mind’. In that sense he is VERY dark side with a dash of light choices here and there. Which might seem like a weird way to play this class, but as you’ll see it fits really well in places.
The story of the Jedi Consular actually begins with a mystery. While clearing out the flesh raiders, you are given the task to retrieve the instructional holocrons created by the founders of the Jedi Order but the last one – belonging to a founder that eventually fell to the dark side – is missing. The search eventually leads you to a village of twileks who speak of one of their local heroes, and this is where the way I played my Consular and the plot met in beautiful harmony. You see the Twileks and the Jedi don’t exactly have a great working relationship. The jedi for the most part refuse to get involved in their suffering of the twileks because they have an “Illegal settlement” or in other words they set up a village on Tython without the approval of the Jedi or the Republic. So the twileks have no rights to be there, but the kind hearted Jedi won’t shoo them out either. My pompous jerk Jedi hears this and immediately is dead set that these twileks are trespassers on HIS world. So he treats them like dirt. How this works out is that it turns out their local hero has set about teaching himself the dark side specifically because the Jedi refuse to help and are considered to be jerks by the twileks. So I am pretty much enforcing the stereotype that led to this problem in the first place, and I LOVE it.
The rest of Tython is pretty much following clues you find to try to beat the twilek who is slowly going mad with the power of the dark side to a secret chamber that the dark side turned Jedi founder created. It feels a bit like a Jedi equivalent of Indiana Jones and such, deciphering the riddles of the past to find hidden treasure. During your mission you find yourself teaming up with a friend of your master: Qyzen Fess. Qyzen is a trandoshan who wishes to collect points to please his goddess the Scorekeeper. Eventually he gets captured and apparently this causes him to lose all his points. I’d debate about all or nothing mentality does not bode well for the religion in my opinion, how one set back can cost you a lifetime of effort. I imagine it’s bit like coming in fourth at the Olympics must feel like. “Oh crap, was .05 seconds slow on the turn, now my life has been for nothing.” Qyzen’s fun though, because he has delightful snarky commentary for everything. I’m not sure if HE thinks it’s snarky, but I totally do. Anyway, he joins you as your first companion.
The story on Tython wraps up with you getting a lightsaber, beating the twilek and getting a pat on the back from the Jedi Council. Even dropping the ‘Jedi’ title on you right there, and honestly I liked that a great deal more than the ‘Knight of the Republic’ one the Jedi Knights get. For one, it isn’t missing punctuation and two it feels more like a title fit for following ‘padawan’. But things aren’t all happy because your master collapses! She’s got a super bad unknown illness! WHAT CAN WE DO!? We’ll clearly the most important thing is to move the body to…
Okay. Now that we have Master Yuon to the republic capital, we need to find a cure. Consult other Jedi! They know nothing. Consult the healers! They know nothing. Doctors? Zilch. Okay, so how do we find the cure for this horrible illness? Well first we need to figure out what it is. And for that, we need to ask a bunch of datacrons that have gone missing and/or stolen and/or sold after the Jedi Temple got wrecked. This raises the question of what a holocron is versus a datacron. A holocron has a hologram artificial intelligence in it, a datacron has a hologram artificial intelligence in it that apparently knows something useful. Cause the only holocrons I’ve met so far are the ones that had the Jedi founders on them, and they were boring. And unhelpful. And kinda jerks. Oh and one had an evil Jedi that taught a twilek dark powers to destroy the Jedi and almost got me killed. Datacrons thus far do not do that.
So you end up chasing down the first datacron, and they have no clue so they tell you to find the second. So you find the second and they tell you build a house made out of brick. So you huff and you puff and…. Wait. Getting my stories mixed up. But you can’t blame me. It’s the same old thing three times from different jerks who had the cubes. The only real neat thing to this whole chain of events is that if you are familiar with Knights of the Old Republic you will see some familiar faces. Faces I wanted to punch in that game too, except now they’re holograms. I can sill be a jerk to them though and they can’t do a thing about it. So there’s a perk.
Finally, the whole thing wraps up at the ruins of the Jedi Temple where you use the datacrons to learn the ancient Cure Force Disease 3 (It’s like Cure Force Disease 2 but also replenishes all HP. And for all you ‘new skool’ kids out there, you can call is Force Disease Curaga or something.) But then an evil Sith smashes the doohickey and makes it so no one else can ever learn the cure. He then laughs about evilly, name drops the big bad, and then you smack them with a big rock you pulled from the ground.
With the thingamajig now crushed, you and you alone have the power to heal those afflicted with this terrible Dark Plague. But each time you do it takes a bit of yourself to do it, so if you try to cure too much you’ll likely die. Not that I didn’t just die to the Random Sith McEvilPants twice already, but maybe the Jedi Consular is just a preferred member and has used up all his in-the-field rezes?
The prologue of the consular is full of archaeological mysteries, secret knowledge, and the making of a villainous plot to unleash a terrible plague upon the Jedi… and it really couldn’t go about it in a more uninteresting way. Tython is just a big long ‘find the thing’ mission, and then when the ball finally gets rolling on Coruscant it ultimately just boils down into a ‘find the thing three times’ mission. Really? That’s all it is? No matter how you dress up how you find the thing, it doesn’t change the fact that all I’m looking for is a few cubes with talking dead people in them. All that keeps the Jedi Consular from teetering into total tediousness is the fact that the reasons you’re looking for the cubes is actually really compelling. The Dark Plague is a constant ticking clock that first just seems to incapacitate but then you find out can actually turn friend into foe. It strikes your master first, giving a personal stake in this. And say what you want about Master Yuon, I can at least remember her name unlike Master What’s His Face in the Jedi Knight storyline. Though may be the reason I remember it is because they actually CALL her Master Yuon instead of just ‘Master’ in most of the cut scenes.
So far the Jedi Consular prologue is probably the second weakest, only trailed by the completely unnecessary Jedi Knight prologue. The story is actually the strongest part and the only thing that keeps the tedious tasks given a float and pulls it up to an astounding meh. It doesn’t help that for some reason Tython feels like it takes forever to get done with, followed by mindless cube finding missions like you have a mighty need to make a Tetris. Hopefully now that the Dark Plague story arch has taken off I have some fun ahead of me in Chapter 1, and if not well, you’ll hear about it here as always.
Warning: This post contains spoilers for the Trooper storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic. If you would like a spoiler free summary of the storylines, you can find them here.
The trooper was the first class I ever played way back in the November beta weekends of the game. In many ways it was the class that introduced me to the game and its mechanics. Really it was a choice of elimination. The Jedi and Sith areas were crowded beyond belief, I wanted to play a Bounty Hunter when the game launched, and I had no desire to play a squishy ranged class when I was first learning the game. So the heavy armor wearing republic trooper seemed the logical choice for testing out the game.
I was lucky that the trooper’s storyline has probably one of the best starts in terms of prologue. While other classes spend the prologue establishing the status quo and familiarizing yourself with some of the major NPCs you’ll be getting to know, the trooper storyline pretty much jumps right in and uses the prologue as an establishing point from the starter world in terms of the story. While the Jedi Knight and the Consular don’t get the story rolling until Coruscant, by the time you finish the trooper starter world you’ve already established your primary antagonists and your mission.
My mistake was going for a pure light sided trooper. See, light side and dark side choices are interesting for non-force users. It seems to vary from class to class, but for the trooper the light side choices tend to be “For the People/Republic” and the Dark Side choices seem to be “For the Military”. So if you’re on orders to stop someone who may be innocent, arresting them would be a dark side choice, and trusting their word that they are innocent is a light side choice. Whether or not they are innocent is not the question, but who do you put your trust in. My first trooper in the beta was pure light sided. Always took the high road. And you know what? He was one annoying dude. Like cheesier than Superman but with none of the depth that defines their moral path. I wanted to smack him. When I made the trooper that I’m basing these reviews on, SHE (FemShep ftw) is a cold, logical military cyborg. Light or dark is irrelevant. She does the mission and chooses accordingly. She listens to her superiors and her superiors only. That’s how she’s “programmed”. Kinda like a bad ass military Robocop.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s just say that if you’re looking for a good place to jump in for a solid story, the trooper is far and away the best place to start. Anyway, let’s hop into it:
Welcome to the Republic Military, and more specifically to the elite unit of Havoc Squad! You’re apparently so elite, that despite your fellow squad members being armored to their teeth in the latest defensive gear, you start out wearing a t-shirt and pants. T-shirt. And pants. That are heavy armor. You’ve got to be kidding me. I really get to start out like that? Oh well. Pretty much most of the story for the trooper on Ord Mantell involves a powerful (and expensive, seeing how they keep mentioning the cost of the thing) missile that could easily level the whole island. It was stolen by the local separatists who apparently don’t much care for the Republic or their planet being part of said Republic and it’s up to Havoc Squad to track it down. Mostly you, with an occasional cameo by the other Havoc members to assist in an interrogation… or opening a door.
It’s a constant hunt as the separatists are routinely one step ahead of you. They kill your contact and move the device from the base just before you get there, so your only lucky break comes in the form of bribing a couple of separatists moving the thing who contracted radiation poisoning from it with medicine. (Whether you give them the medicine or not is naturally up to you.) Ultimately, you find out that the separatists have moved the bomb to their volcano base – a plot point that I consider to be one of the most AWESOME things on the planet. I LOVE secret evil volcano lairs. There you find out that the Seps are receiving aid from the Empire, which pretty much shocks no one. Still, it’s the only republic class storyline that directly involves the Empire as early as the starter planet (Yes, they’re technically there in the Smuggler storyline, but they don’t have anything to do with it.)
Then the merciless and cruel twist happens. You wanna know how they knew to always stay a head of you? Turns out that all of Havoc Squad sans you is actually defecting to the Empire and the stolen explosive is their ‘gift’ to their new bosses. The reasons given are that the Republic doesn’t value the efforts of ‘True Soldiers’ and already I’m having Metal Gear flashbacks. Is Tavus just Big Boss with a bitchin porn stache? Luckily you deactivate the bomb before they can get away with it. And then it’s off to Coruscant to start the hunt for the traitors.
We are also introduced to Jorgan Von Strangle… er… I mean Aric Jorgan. A Cathar soldier that ends up being your first companion and first replacement member in your new Havoc Squad. Jorgan is a career soldier through and through. He doesn’t care for politics, he only wants to do his duty. I find him annoying and repeatedly demean him as “Sergeant Meowmers”. He starts out as a grumpy ass because he got demoted as a causality of Tavus’ defection, he continues to be a grumpy ass because he’s Jorgan. Let’s be fair. He’s just a grumpy guy. How he ‘endears’ himself to you on Ord Mantell is constantly chewing you out for every mistake. The only pleasure in this is that you can kick his butt once you’re his superior.
Ord Mantell does a great job of setting up a conflict, giving you a villain, giving you a personal reason to want to stop them as well as a professional one, and does so with a satisfying totally makes sense but didn’t see it coming twist. Tavus dismisses early concerns about the Empire being involved, no one outside of Havoc Squad and Jorgen knew about the operations to tip off the Seps, and because of the tip offs it seemed perfectly justified when they left you behind during the Volcano mission due to your perceived “failures”. Out of the Republic classes, this one is probably my favorite starting planet story. It’s not epic like the Jedi Knight, it’s not funny like the Smuggler, but it gives you all the groundwork in a nice neat package. If only the same could be said for…
There’s always one planet that just doesn’t need to be there, isn’t there? Coruscant is where most of the republic classes get the set up for their act 1 stories, but for the trooper it’s just a bunch of mini stories lumped together by the overall strand of hunting down Tavus’ mentor who might have a lead as to where the traitors might be going.
It’s not to say there’s not some shining moments in all of that. There’s a great moral dilemma in the mission to stop the mad scientist from turning people into living time-bomb cyborgs. You find a group of test subjects that may or may not have been turned into weapons already. They’re sleepers, so even they wouldn’t know until it was time to go on a killing spree. It’s a huge risk to let them all out, and there’s no way to know if one or all of them were cyborg-ized, so the choice comes down to kill them or not. The safest choice is to kill them really. There’s seven of them or so and if just one of them goes nutzoid on a crowd of people that’s likely far more than seven dead. But you don’t KNOW if they will. So you might be killing a small group of completely innocent people. It’s really good, and actually gave me pause to think about what to choose the first time I encountered it.
The other scene I really liked was when you get called to a senate hearing about the rumored defection of Tavus and the former Havoc Squad. The General does her double speak thing where she can’t TELL you to lie, but she isn’t telling you to be honest with them either. So you get in there and you get to play CSPAN where you can be completely honest with the people who help run the entire Republic, or lie to them, or just be really really ambiguous. I’ve seen enough ‘A Few Good Men’ to know to go with option 3. The best part comes right after you finish Coruscant and have to go to a space station to save the one senator who gave you the most crap during the hearing. You can choose to let him die to go after the Havoc traitor that kidnapped him, or save him and let the traitor go. (I saved him. Mission first, revenge later.)
Coruscant was mostly a kind of bleh planet to my trooper. A few memorable bits, but overall there’s nothing to really get you ramped up. Mostly I just sat there rolling my eyes saying “Can I PLEASE go kill the backstabbers now…” You get introduced to some reoccurring characters like your superior General Garza, and the always awesome Jaxo. Honestly my first impression of Jaxo was ‘Why isn’t this awesome chick on my crew instead of grump sergeant meowmers?’ Though a few less than spoiler free glances at TORHead may or may not suggest there’s a reason for that. I stopped looking once I realized it might spoil anything, but I get the impression that there will be much more with Jaxo later on. Consider me excited, Jaxo rocks.
The Trooper Prologue is probably one of the most solid starts to a story I’ve seen thus far in the game. As I said before it firmly grounds you with a personal and professional beef in the events. The biggest shortcoming was the meandering nature of the Coruscant story arc. A lot of it felt like padding before the real adventure resumed in Act 1. I mean, would it have been so bad to actually have Wraith, the traitor you square off with during the senator kidnapping, be the one you were chasing throughout Coruscant? She is an infiltration expert, so sliding around the lower levels is not out of the question. Working underworld contacts to help secure a potential re-invasion of Coruscant? Maybe? I don’t know. All I know is that at the moment the whole mentor thing just felt like an unnecessary bit to give us something to do. But maybe that will change. Maybe the mentor will come back in a later chapter, and I’ll eat my words on this. It’s not the first time.