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SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Imperial Agent – Chapter Two

<– Chapter One || IMPERIAL AGENT || Chapter Three –>

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the second 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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Welcome Back, Agent.

Aaah, what better way to relax after Annihilation Day than a nice vacation?  Yea! No.  Your back on the clock, Agent.  Chapter Two kicks off with a call with a call to report back to Intelligence ASAP for a meeting with Keeper.  However, when you arrive at Keeper’s office you only find Watcher Two there.  Like in Keeper’s chair.  All by herself.  Oh no.  No no no no no.  Sigh.  Yes.  It seems that there’s been some promotions handed out while you were out.  Watcher Two has been promoted to Keeper, and the former Keeper is now the Minister of Intelligence.  You still don’t learn their names. They just get referred to as Keeper and Minister.  Anyway, we have a job yes?  Well it seems that the new Keeper wants you to take on a job of going under deep cover to track down Ardun Kothe – the Republic’s best spymaster that has been turned loose from SIS and now is operating with unlimited budget and no oversight in pursuit of crushing the Empire.  You need to infiltrate Kothe’s team as a defector from Imperial Intelligence.  Keeper and the Watchers have been dropping leaks and hints of a top Cipher wanting to defect for some time now, and it’s time to cash in.

You head off the Nar Shadaa where you meet your contact with Kothe’s band of spies: Hunter.  Hunter has been assigned to test you to make sure that your capable and willing to do what’s needed for the mission. Not long ago the Empire arranged a partnership with a notorious Hutt crime lord called Nem’ro.  That partnership built a massive new droid factory and Hunter wants you to blow the place up.  While on the mission, you are introduced via radio to two more of Kothe’s band of miscreants – Chance the Slicer and Wheels the tech expert droid.  Once you’ve stolen the droid blue prints and blown up the factory, you meet up at the team’s hide out.  That’s where you meet the last member of the team – Saber the weapons expert and sniper.  There at last you get to have your meeting with Ardun Kothe.  The mastermind himself.  He invites you into his office where he assigns you your codename: “Legate” which is either pronounced Leg-Ette or Ley-Gah-Tay or a few other ways over the course of the next three worlds, once again confirming that there was very little communication with the voice directors on this game.  However, the whole things goes topsy turvy on you in a second as Kothe utters a single phrase: “Keyword: Onomatophobia.”  You black out and hear the familiar voice of Watcher X run through your mind.  When you come back to, you find yourself obeying Ardun Kothe’s every command.  He explains he just activated your mental programming and that you cannot tell anyone that it has been activated or that it exists and you cannot enact any harm on Ardun or his team.  You can try to express rage, or question the situation but no matter what conversation option you choose on that dialogue wheel that shows up – you simply acknowledge Ardun’s orders.  Kothe orders you to go to Taris as his double agent inside the Empire.  When you get back to your ship, Keeper will contact you to see if you met up with Kothe and ask if you’re alright. Again, you can’t mention the programming so any option you choose will result in a monotone “everything is fine”.  Before you head off, you hear Watcher X’s voice once again telling you to wait and watch for your chance.

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Taris

Your mission on Taris is to use your Imperial strings to track down a rogue Jedi named Ki Sazen who has reportedly been building up a power base on the planet. Chance, the geeky little slicer, will be your mission contact and watchdog for your time here.  Your first objective is an old laboratory that Sazen was snooping around in and try to find what she was after.  There you find another member of Imperial Intelligence – Doctor Lokin or ‘Fixer Fifteen’ as he is called in Intelligence – who says he was sent by Watcher Four to scavenge anything he could from the lab of Doctor Godera – a name Jedi Knight player’s will recognize – but it appears that Ki Sazen got there first and stole one ‘Ultrawave Emitter’.  Lokin says he has no idea what it is capable of and thus probably shouldn’t be in the hands of a crazy power hungry Jedi (Best keep it for a mad power hungry Sith, right?)  Lokin offers to join forces so he can triangulate the next lab that Sazen will strike that was lost somewhere in the swamps.

As your scouring the forsaken swampland of Taris, Chance gets in touch to tell you that he checked out what he could on Doctor Lokin and confirms that while there wasn’t a ton of information available, he is confirmed to be Imperial Intelligence. So he wasn’t lying. Chance also mentions that he doesn’t ethically agree with the mental programming and won’t use the code phrase on you unless he absolutely has to.  You finally dig out the lab in an old transport station. No, I don’t know why a Bio-research Lab was sitting in a subway station.  Maybe there was a reason these people were all dumb enough to get bombed 300 years ago. (You don’t need to correct me on that in the comments, I’ve played KotOR1 and yes, I know how Taris got this way.)  Here you find a cult of Nikto who worship Ki Sazen.  The three nikto leaders are each finding some item for Ki so that she can use the Ultrawave Emitter and create a Rakghoul army to take over all of Taris.  The Nikto here are getting Rakghoul biological data, and the others are looking for info on colony movements and the last is looking for a Republic doctor to help finish the device.  Chance says that the best well… chance you have is to split up.   You take the colony movement investigation and he’ll go save the scientist.

Your task is pretty much just running around to various spots and fighting a few waves of enemies before taking out the Nikto leader.  To do this you get a tip from Lokin on where he would look and he gives you a stim that will help your combat proficiency that I don’t think actually does anything beyond reinforce the plot point that Lokin is a biologist.  You think the elimination of two-thirds of the necessary components would be enough to halt Sazen’s plan but oh well.  After you take out the second Nikto commander, you get a call from Chance who unsurprisingly has failed his mission.  He’s been badly hurt and uses the code phrase – the prick – to force you to come to him.  He does this regardless of your intent – even if you wanted to come help him (Chance is the nicest of the Republic scum after all.)

Chance says that you should split up, he’ll find the scientist if you find the colony movement investigation nikto. You’ll need Lokin for this, so it’s back to the old lab.  Lokin gives you a tonic to help boost your combat proficiency and tells you that if he were to try something like this, he would use the colonist’s sensors to set up a sweep.  So you travel around the swamps, shutting down sensor towers until you fight and kill the Nikto leader.  Then Chance contacts you, he failed his head and took some bad hits.  Fearing death, he uses the code phrase and commands you to come to him.  Even if you already say you were going to do that. Like before, any response you make is replaced by the monotone acceptance of the command but the Watcher X voice reminds you that they can force you to take action, hell they can’t resist doing it, but you can still think and that is your escape.  You go track down your handler – feels like that should be the other way around but the SIS are incompetent little lemmings – and find him bleeding out on the ramp leading into the Hospital where he tells you that Doctor Ianna Cel is waiting to meet with an SIS agent who will use the code phrase ‘Gemstone’.  He needs you to make the meet since he can’t.  He apparently had trouble with the four packs of not-even-gold mobs leading to the doctor.  Friggin’ lemmings.  Before Chance passes out however, he tries to order you with the mind control phrase but can’t get the words out.  Well, well, well, looks like we have an opportunity.  Of course you get some light side options. Namely ‘save him’ or ‘save him begrudgingly’ but the one I have no doubt everyone is eyeing is the dark side option.  See, you can’t HURT Chance.  Your programming won’t allow it.  But you don’t have to fetch any help either.  The Dark Side choice is just to simply let Chance die and go on your merry way.  I like that option.

You go down the ramp and kill the all too easy mobs that slaughtered poor Chance (May we never forget his… snrk… ‘heroism’… lol…) and meet with Doctor Cel who has been hiding in the hospital after getting repeated threatening holocalls from Ki Sazen.  While talking to Doctor Cel, you’ll get a call from Lokin who has an idea. You can hear him out or just hang up on him.  If you hang up, he’ll appear RIGHT NEXT TO YOU from some sort of cloaking tech.  Apparently he’s been following you around. Either way he’ll suggest the same plan: Let Lokin pose as Doc Cel’s assistant and then let Sazen capture him.  From there, you can trace Lokin right to both Ki and the Ultrawave Emitter. But to ensure that you can receive the signal, Lokin has you disable some Republic Jammers in the area.  Once you do, the call comes in that tells you where Sazen is holed up with her Nikto cult.  Time to deal with a Jedi.

Or not? As you approach the base, you get another call from Ardun Kothe.  He tells you that Chance is either injured (Probs.) or missing (Oh no. Say it isn’t so.) and that you are the new ‘primary agent’ on this mission.  He also uses that damn mind control phrase to tell you that retrieving the Ultrawave Emitter is now the primary goal and dealing with the Jedi is an optional secondary thing.  No, he won’t tell you why. Did you really expect him to? Once inside you get to meet Ki and boy is she the textbook definition of the fallen Jedi.  Okay, so she wants to use the rakghoul and the nikto to conquer all of Taris and turn it into a savage utopia but only for those who swear undying loyalty to her.  Wow.  Just… wow.  So I kicked her butt with the quickness and then you get several choices of what to do with her.  You can kill her (naturally), send her back to the Jedi to be redeemed, put her skills to use elsewhere by hiring her into the SIS, or you can fan the fires and send her to be trained at the Sith Academy (In the name of Darth Jadus no less if he’s still around).  The choice is entirely yours as beyond a letter following up your decision, I don’t believe Ki ever comes back to the plot in any way.  Though apparently if you send her to the Sith, she catches the eye of Darth Serevin.  So she’s probs dead by the time Makeb rolls around anyway.

You go to the lab to get the Emitter and to find Lokin, but instead you find a big ol’ rakghoul that turns into Lokin.  Huh.  Apparently he’s been working on a ‘perfected strain’ that allows him to turn back and forth but currently it only works with his DNA.  I’m sorry if it seems like I’m treating that as an afterthought, but the game seemed to think it was one too with how it’s just kinda tagged on the end of the quest chain like a sticky note.  “Oh btws, I can totes become a rakghoul whenever I want and maintain my human mind. Shall we go back to the ship?”  Doctor Lokin, man.  His entire story does that.  Even back on the ship.   Never really liked the guy, but apparently he gets along with the Bugboy from the diplomatic service. They discuss opera.  That is given more screen time in this story than the rakghoul transforming thing.  Seriously.

Once you are back on the ship, you contact Ardun Kothe who asks you to connect the Ultrawave Transmitter to transfer over… something.  Again, he doesn’t specify.  After the call, you start to break down however. Hallucinations of people you know, tiny versions of your crew flying out of the giant mouth of Ardun Kothe, a flaming Darth Jadus, those jerks from Alderaan lounging and drinking with a giant monster…  freaky stuff. It all ends with you passing out with a vision of Keeper (the old one… the Minister of Intelligence one) shooting you in the back.  You then see a vision of Watcher X who can’t confirm if you’re seeing him because of the stress of being a double/triple agent, the breaking down of the mind control, or the chip he shoved into your spinal cord back on Nar Shadaa. However, he does know that it wasn’t the SIS that brainwashed you – The Empire did.  He recommends you scoot back to Dromund Kaas to have a look at your personnel file and to try and be careful. You don’t have friends anymore.

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Interlude

Back on the homeworld, you infiltrate Imperial Intelligence and descend into the archives below the main room.  Yea, that elevator on the south side? That’s where this goes. The mission has you cutting the security systems so no one knows what you are up to down there and then slicing into computers to piece together the data on what they did to you.  What was that?  Well, in the wake of the end of the last chapter, the rest of the Dark Council expressed concern over either you attacking Jadus or being given such a distinguished position of power by Jadus.  Either way, they feel threatened by you.  However, instead of killing you outright they agree with the newly appointed Minister of Intelligence that you should be fitted with something called The Castellan Restraint.  A form of mental programming performed by injected a serum dubbed  IX (that’s ‘Eye-Ex’ not ‘Nine’) into the brain which will rewrite neural pathways over the next three to thirty days depending on the person.  Once it has finished, the individual can be programmed a key phrase and any commands.

Sadly, the Restraint doesn’t have a way to reverse it.  You find out that the only way to do anything with it is to ‘reset’ the whole process and assign a new phrase.  However, doing this can apparently be ‘inhibiting’ to the subject.  Not that they go into detail in the recordings about what that means. In the end that seems like your best bet so you gather up a list of supplies of what you need to mix up a new batch of the IX serum but sadly the Empire is fresh out of Dimalium-6.  The only known source is a backwater planet called Quesh.  So we have to go to Quesh.  Yay.

Quesh

Your first stop on the poisonous swamp of a planet is the chemical warehouse where you meet with Administrator Kroius about the chemicals needed to make the IX Serum.  He has everything on the your list except the Dimalium-6.  Which would line up with the whole ‘out of stock’ scenario.  Luckily, there’s a mine where the Dimalium is harvested just north of here. Bad news is that the Republic has taken over the operation and you’ll have to er… “liberate it” from them.  The spectral voice of Watcher X can’t help but chime in as well to inform you that Kroius is the one who has been providing Imperial Intelligence with the chemicals needed to mind control you and anyone else in the Empire.  This leads you to the choice of either ordering Kroius to stop distributing Dimalium all together, killing Kroius by igniting the flammable and explosive chemicals in the warehouse but then having the deal with the security droids, or just leaving.  After you decide what to do with the good Administrator, you are off to the mine which is actually little more than a hole in the side of a mountain.  I’ve seen Wampa caves bigger than this.  You snag the Dimalium-6 from the Pubs and then use the chemical mixer in the cave to whip a fresh batch of Serum IX and then shooting it right into your veins.  Seems… hasty?  Then again, what do you really have to lose here?  It might kill ya but the alternative would be being a mind controlled puppet of both the Empire and the Republic. Naturally, it’ll take some time before the Serum does its job and rewrites your brain again, in the mean time Watcher X says you should go back to working with the SIS until the time is right.

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Hoth

Looks like Kothe has another job for you.  He wants you to go to the planet Hoth and find a lost spaceship called the Starbreeze from the infamous Starship Graveyard.  Well, that should be easy.  It’s like finding a random person in a graveyard of unmarked graves.  How long could that take?  Luckily, an Imperial admiral named Davos is assembling a mission to the graveyard to find scrap to use – supposedly including the Starbreeze.  Oh, and apparently your liaison for this mission will be Hunter.  Joy.

Unfortunately, your first encounter with Davos is not a positive one.  He greets you, asks what you need, then informs his men to torture you until they find out everything you know and then kill you.  Oh because no one ever just wants to chat.  Still, having your goons try to kill an Imperial Cipher?  That takes guts. Not to mention it immediately shifts you from the asset column straight into the super suspicious bucket.  When you finish with Davos’ men – because let’s be honest, did they really stand a chance? – you are contacted by a Chiss named Thrent who you bumped into when you first arrived and asks you to come to a frozen lake nearby for answers about Davos.  The lake is actually a cover for a large underground Chiss Ascendancy base operated in secret from even the Empire. This is where you encounter Ensign Raina Temple, an Imperial who requested to work with the Chiss that has been monitoring the Davos situation.  Apparently the Chiss have been watching Davos ever since he started building up what seemed to be a private army of men, weapons and machines to head into the Starship Graveyard and then bribing people to look the other way.  The Chiss formally ask for Imperial Sanction to act from you so they can help deal with Davos, which you naturally grant. It’s good to have friends.

Your first task is to investigate supply drops that Davos had been leaving across the icy plains as he headed out to the Graveyard. You run around and find several drops to find that they are stolen Imperial tech and weaponry that was left as tribute to a group of pirates that control the region known as the Marauders to gain safe passage.  Of course, you always have the option to steal the tech and guns for yourself to the delight of Kaliyo if she’s with you.  Also while you are out hunting down boxes, you get a call from Hunter who has finally arrived on Hoth.  He asks for a status update, but none of the answers you can give are a direct answer or at least not a satisfying one to Hunter, so he uses the code phrase to demand an update.  This causes him to laugh and say that loyalty is so much easier when you don’t have a choice before hanging up on you.  I really, REALLY don’t like Hunter. He seems like the kind of jerk that kicks puppies or watches MTV.  Anyway, after your investigation Temple wants to meet up to take on a lightly enforced Marauder camp to try and get some answers.  When you arrive, the Chiss are severely pinned down until Raina uses a force trick to confuse all the pirates so you can attack and turn the tide.  Here you finally get the details on why an Imperial like Raina has been serving with the Chiss:  She’s force sensitive but not strong enough to survive the Sith Academy.  Thus if the Empire discovered her abilities, it would pretty much be a death sentence. She knows as the ‘secret police’ of the Empire, you’ll want to pursue this information but she asks that you please hold  off on that until you’ve dealt with Davos.  Meanwhile, the rest of the Chiss have got the intel you came for. Davos was bribing his way through the pirates territory and is currently meeting with the pirates in their base.  Attacking head on would be suicide, so they recommend going through the Bone Pit – a slightly less suicidal approach… slightly – and tapping the walls to get into the security system to spy on the meeting.

Turns out that the ‘Bone Pit’ is a stinking wampa cave…  and yes it IS bigger than the “mine” on Quesh.  You get to the back and tap into the security system to learn some of the details behind Davos’ scheme.  Apparently, he fought in the Battle of Hoth.  The one that resulted in most of the Starship Graveyard being there.  However he was shot down and crashed on the surface.  There he began to collect treasues, technology and Republic secrets then hid them all away so that someday he would be able to retrieve them and become insanely rich.  Wow.  That’s it?  I mean, that makes sense and all but I was hoping for something more grand than a get rich quick scheme with buried treasure.  Well, we can’t all be Darth Jadus. Your spying is interrupted by a pack of wampa that attack you but luckily Temple was listening in remotely and got all the details you missed while almost getting your head ripped off. Davos apparently struck a deal successfully and the Marauders will act as protection and escort for Davos’ team to the Graveyard.

In the Starship Graveyard you meet up with Aristocra Saganu, the leader of the Chiss on Hoth.  He explains where Davos’ treasure hoard is and proposes a plan on how to stop him.  Namely, you take the risks and the Defense Force will back you up.  Not a shocker, but I think its funny that a squad of trained Chiss commandos are worth less in an infiltration assault than a single Cipher agent.  Really puts the whole Agent position in perspective doesn’t it?  Anyway, once you infiltrate the super dreadnought ship that Davos is in and meet up with Temple, you go ahead to deal with Davos and the Marauders and Temple with the Chiss will deal with keeping the White Maw pirates who live in the dreadnought at bay.  Davos is actually quite reasonable when you find him.  He wants to make a deal and essentially pay you off to let him leave with the treasure.  You can choose to either demand his surrender or just try and kill him – both of which lead to a big fight with the Marauders and Davos – or you can take him up on his offer and ask about the Starbreeze.  He doesn’t really want to part with it but if you are willing to keep quiet and say… give him the location of the secret Chiss base under the frozen lake he’d be willing to part with it.  I really don’t know WHY he wants the location of the Chiss base.  I mean, yea, in general the Imperials and the Chiss don’t see eye to eye out of just generic xenophobia and racism, but Davos himself has never expressed a burning hatred for the Chiss.  But if you don’t mind selling out your new pals secrets you can walk away with the Starbreeze with no mess.  Well, almost.  As you finish up, Temple will show up and regardless of what you chose to do pretty much all the Chiss are dead and Temple is injured.  You bring her along with you on the Starbreeze to the meet up with Hunter who poses as Minder-Seventeen.  The “Minder” suggests that Raina should be promoted for her actions and then asks to speak to you in private.

Hunter tells you that Raina needs to die.

You can try to defend her and Hunter will sympathize or you can agree and Hunter will just mock you saying that you don’t really want to and that you want to keep her like a lost puppy.  Honestly, it seems like this was another moment where they originally planned on letting you kill her off permanently early in the game’s design but changed it later because the ‘I agree, let’s kill her. Oh no, you don’t want to do that.’ thing comes off terribly forced and completely out of left field. In the end, you get a new companion in the form of Ensign Raina Temple who is nice and serves as something of a protege to you, learning the ways of the Agent to be more like her father who was a Cipher as well.  However, Hunter does use that damn code phrase again and puts a command in your head that if Raina becomes a problem or learns of the SIS’s involvement at all that she is immediately terminated.

As you get back on the ship, you receive a call from Ardun Kothe.  He is happy with you.  Which is… yay?  He says that Hunter gives you high praise which is a feat in itself.  Not really considering he just mind controlled me into doing what he wanted.  Kothe says it is time for the final phase.  He wants you to meet him on a death trap of a planet called Quesh.  I er… uh…  never heard of it?  I certainly have no connection to a group of dead Republic miners or anything.  Oh! Also, if you happen to be a Chiss Imperial Agent, Aristocra Saganu will contact you and make you an honorary member of his house in the Ascendancy. That’s nice of him.

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Finale

When you reach Quesh, Ardun has you meet up at a facility called ‘The Shadow Arsenal’.  There in a group holocall wit Hunter, Wheel, Saber and Ardun, it’s explained that the Shadow Arsenal houses 200 stealth rockets with built-in hyperdrives to allow them to jump right to their destination and explode, and one single rocket carries a payload big enough to level Kaas City. The Arsenal was developed by Doctor Godera and a team of other scientists during the last war, but the cowards grew a conscious about their actions and sealed the whole project away on Quesh.  Kothe has been seeking out a way to find the Shadow Arsenal and wants to use it to win the war.  The Ultrawave Transmitter on Taris had Godera’s signature activation codes built into it and then the Starbreeze had the coordinates of where the Arsenal got stashed.  With both in hand, Ardun Kothe has the keys to the cookie jar.

Hunter starts assigning tasks to the team.  Your job is just to deactivate the shields around the place so they can land and load up the missiles.  Oh and to make sure of it, after everyone else disconnects from the call, Hunter uses the code phrase again to implant the order to open the shields and do everything you can to ensure the SIS claims the Shadow Arsenal.  That prick.  You infiltrate the facility and find a security station to deactivate the shields.  Easy.  Now you just go and… wait.  Oh.  Kothe calls you before you can do anything and while they are loading up the weapons.  He uses the code phrase to force you to stay behind while they leave with everything.  Kothe wants you back in Intelligence for a few months laying low until they call upon you again.  The voice of Watcher X chimes in once more to tell you that they are abandoning you and that the time has come to break the programming.  Oh sure, there’s a risk it could put you in a vegetative state, but there’s not exactly a lot of time here. Watcher X asks if you want anything else to be done with your programming which gives you the choice of ‘having payback’, ‘being free’ or ‘break the limits of your body’.  Beyond a line of dialogue, I don’t think this actually does anything.  I do wonder what your companion thinks of their boss talking to no one in particular about all of this.  They just kind of stand there.  Ultimately, the programming is changed and you will no longer accept any outside commands from anyone.  Now the real mission begins.

You head into the Arsenal proper and find Wheel and Saber handling the automated droid security inside to cover Kothe.  They’re shocked to find you there since you were just ordered to stay put.  You can bluff them into appealing to let you help Kothe and letting the pair live – Wheel will even give you some extra supplies for it – or you can just kill them.  After dealing with them, it’s time for the primary objective: Deal with Kothe.  You find him opening the vaults of the Shadow Arsenal and deactivating the security turrets.  A massive room full of some of the deadliest weapons that were ever created.  You confront Kothe, who reveals that the SIS tactician was once a Jedi who couldn’t bring himself to live up to the Code.  He pulls out his lightsaber and attacks you. You fight until you either kill him or seal him inside the vault and let the turrets blow him to pieces.  There’s also apparently a ‘good ending’ to this section where you let Kothe live.  I was never able to find the dialogue option to get that but I will say that it does open another ending at the end of Chapter 3 if you do. So be on the look out if you want the ‘True Light Side’ ending?

The story isn’t over yet though.  As you are leaving you get a holocall from Hunter.  He laments that you managed to break out your programming and that while he was done with Kothe, he still had big plans for you.  He notes that in the end, history will forget about ‘Imperial Intelligence’ and ‘Republic Strategic Information Service’ and now history will also forget you since he called in some bombers to blow the entire Shadow Arsenal sky high.  Before you flee, you ask Hunter who he REALLY works for and he just smiles and notes, “The Winning Side.”

Final Thoughts

Chapter Two is a complete mind #%$& of a story.  It’s more than just ‘you are brainwashed and must do as your told’ but also shows the effects of your mental state deteriorating as you start seeing hallucinations and hearing voices,  and then to actually take the whole thing further and use the fourth wall breaking technique of using the games own dialogue system and choices to emphasize the mind control aspect.  Giving you three choices of different things you can say and then disregarding your choice to reply in the same stock monotone phrase when prompted is just chilling to me every time it happens.  That kind of stuff doesn’t happen anywhere else in the game.  It makes the lack of free will personal to you the player as much as it does to the character, because you actual FEEL the frustration of being aware of making a choice and having your choice disregarded because of an outside force controlling you.  As Watcher X mentions, the programming affects your actions and responses, but not your mind. When you choose a dialogue option, your character is thinking that and trying to say that but the Castellan Restraint is overriding it.

Speaking of Watcher X, his role was primarily the biggest let down of the whole chapter (which is saying a lot because it’s not even BAD as much as confusing).  Not so much what he does but what he doesn’t do – that being explaining what the hell he is doing there.  It’s left frustratingly vague why Watcher X of all people becomes your mental guide through breaking your chains.  Is he just a fragment of your mind trying to help you piece yourself together?  Is it actually something to do with Watcher X’s implant as a back up plan from Nar Shadaa?  I’m more inclined to say the former than the latter because after this he never shows up again.  Oh no, instead we get to deal with Hunter and his true employer from here on out and THAT will be fun indeed.

We also meet two more companions over the course of the chapter and while I jest about them quite a bit, they at least have interesting personalities.  Lokin is a seasoned veteran of Imperial Intelligence, he almost comes across as a Watcher X type but with an actual personality.  He is actually a great adviser on matters of espionage and counter-espionage which makes him a good teammate with Vector who knows people and how to be diplomatic through tricky situations.  It’s easy to see why the two are often found chatting away. Raina Temple on the other hand is the fresh faced new recruit despite not being either.  She is part Elara Dorne (Trooper), part Nadia Grell (Consular).  A firm believer in the Empire but eager about becoming an Imperial Agent to serve it better.  Her own storyline gets more into what that means as her own secrets force her hand and seem to maybe jade her a bit to the idea.  The romance gets somewhat into the creepy teacher-student thing but is less squicky than the Jedi romances.  I’d say it’s more of a tutor/student situation.  Which I guess is better?  Eh, at least Kaliyo is still an option if that’s not your cup of tea.

Unlike a lot of Chapter Two’s in these class stories where the entire point is to set up the third chapter the same way that the prologue sets up Chapter One, the Imperial Agent’s second chapter acts as a bridge that connect the first and third chapters.  It’s made very clear that the situation you are in is the result of your actions in the first chapter, and will adapt itself properly depending on how that chapter ended (either by stopping or joining Jadus) but then also introduces you to the primary villain of the third chapter and starts the bigger mystery of the storyline.  On top of that, it actually begins to tie in other things from some of the other storylines – namely the Jedi Knight’s visit to Taris.  That’s where you first meet Doctor Godera who has gone into exile out of guilt for his creations made for the Republic during the war.  These creations were various doomsday weapons that the Knight must stop or retrieve.  It’s safe to say that the Shadow Arsenal were among these weapons that were clearly better hidden.  However, this also may explain some of Watcher One’s interests in finding Doctor Godera during that story as well.  The Shadow Arsenal may also have been what The General was referring to with ‘Missiles that could blacken out a sun’ during the Black Talon flashpoint.

Overall, I’d say that despite a couple of hiccups, this is probably the BEST chapter two experience in the game in terms of both story and a willingness to shake things up and offer a mind blowingly unique experience.

<– Chapter One || IMPERIAL AGENT || Chapter Three –>

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SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Smuggler – Chapter Two

<– Chapter One || SMUGGLER || Chapter Three –>

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the second 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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So you’ve got the riches of Nok Drayan, you got a new partner who is the former crimelord’s daughter and the heir to the throne of an entire planet, you got nothing but wide open space ahead of you.  What better time than to sell out?  Yeah, well it seems like we had to put something in the story to justify why the heck the smuggler is a “Republic class” and not just some third neutral faction.  The Bounty Hunters have that whole ‘The Mandalorians are on permanent contract with the Empire’ thing, so now Smugglers get this.  What is this?

Well, after a quick holo call from Darmas Palloran (He’s that cheerful fellow from Coruscant that you beat handily at Sabacc and helped you find Skavak) telling you to come to Port Nowhere.  Unfortunately, Port Nowhere is essentially a starship turned into a hangout for smugglers and pirates, which means it’s a rough crowd.  Doubly so once they get wind about that bounty Rogun the Butcher put on your head.  Rogun’s goons are even there waiting for you and they got Darmas!  So now we have to save the gambler but for good reason. He’s got us a gig: Becoming a Republic Privateer under Senator Dodanna.  Essentially becoming an officially government sanctioned smuggler.  Doing the more nebulous jobs that can’t officially be on the Republic’s books and what not.  All with a fat paycheck.  Well, as they say: “A gig is a gig.”

However just as your leaving, Port Nowhere is attacked by the Voidwolf.  Who is the Voidwolf?   Well, he’s a big shot Imperial admiral who apparently has teamed up with Rogun the Butcher.  And he’s got the place surrounded.  Darmas sends Port Nowhere off into the hyperlanes to get away and you run off to your first official job as a privateer.

Balmorra

Our first job is the war torn world of Balmorra.  Oh boy. Yay.  Nothing like a stroll through the war ravaged hills of the factory and droid part ridden country side to get back to work and remind me that I’m not retired after scoring the treasure of a lifetime.  Apparently, the job here is to work with the Resistance and smuggle some much needed provisions (You know, food, water, medical supplies, grenade launchers) from their double agent contact in the Empire codenamed ‘Golden’. All the while you keep bumping into a Mandalorian zabrak named Akaavi Spar who is looking to kill a man named Moff Tyrak to avenge her destroyed clan.

You eventually track down the shipment to an Imperial base warehouse, but low and behold it’s not actually there.  However, ‘Golden’ is.  And Golden is actually Moff Tyrak.  And he wants out.  In fact, there wasn’t any supplies.  He just said that to the Republic so they’d send someone that could extract him because the Empire seems to be on to his whole double agent act.  Something about not normally being able to afford multiple mansions and luxury speeders on a Moff’s salary.  Shocking, I know.  Moff Tyrak quickly proves to be an annoyance – but an entertaining annoyance.  Kind of like that butt monkey that you like to see get kicked, and boy howdy do you get plenty of options to kick him.  Since no one is willing to extract Tyrak just because he can’t manage his money without the actual shipment, Tyrak leads you to where you should be able to get what you need – the Balmorran Arms Factory.  What a weird place to keep completely innocent humanitarian supplies.  Huh.

You break into the factory with minimal assistance from the Moff, but as soon as you take your eyes off of him for like two minutes he ‘scouts the area for anyone coming’ and then somehow – I’m sure he has nooooo idea how – they all show up to stop you.  With him in tow.  Aaaand with him shouting crap like “That’s him! That’s the one!”  Nerves on a Jedi on this guy I’ll tell you what.  Luckily, Akaavi shows up again to help and to get her ultimate revenge on the weaselly Moff.  She declares that she is here to avenge the deaths of Clan Spar.  But the Moff doesn’t know what she’s talking about.  She states that she knows that Moff Tyrak signed the order to kill her entire clan that had faithfully worked with the Empire until then.  Tyrak then realizes what happened.  See, he just signs any death order that comes across his desk.  He doesn’t even read them.  After all, their wouldn’t be a kill order if they didn’t deserve it.  Akaavi is to say the least flabbergasted that her arch-nemesis is no mustache twirling super-villain but a moronic bureaucrat. You can encourage her to just let it go, or to take her revenge and be done with it before she decides on joining you on your ship because quite frankly she has nowhere else to go.  You also get the choice of what to do with a fleet’s worth of high tech weaponry that you’ve just acquired.  There’s a few options including give it to the Republic (you know, what the Republic sent you there for) or sending it to Port Nowhere to be sold off to the highest bidder (Because money).  I took the Port Nowhere option myself.  Being King of the Pirates isn’t cheap you know.

On your way off planet, you get word that your success in pillaging the Empire’s weapons has caused The Voidwolf to execute several captains under his command for the failures to stop you.

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Quesh

As you head off world and deal with the consequences of maaaaybe the Republic not receiving those high tech goodies like they were expecting, you also get a message of a bunch of other Republic privateers pinned down by the Voidwolf’s fleet on the Planet Quesh.  They claim that if you help them, they’ll help you and I like people owing me things, so it’s off to the poison planet!

You make it to the hidden landing area and wipe the Voidwolf’s forces there, but the other captains explain that unless you take out the targetting computers in a nearby Imperial base, that the Voidwolf will just lock on and blast them as they try to leave.  Also, as an added kick you find out that Beryl Thorne is there with the other Privateers. Beryl was the nice smuggler lady you met way back on Taris that A) Didn’t like Risha and B) You had a chance to sleep with.  This naturally will make things awkward if you A) have romanced someone, B) Brought that person along and C) Triply so if that person IS Risha.

So once you blast your way into the base, you finally get to meet the Voidwolf.  Sort of.  It’s a hologram. He’s still on his ship.  But you get to see him finally, and talk to him in person.  He explains that you are no threat to his plans, that he is completely ready for anything you can throw at him, and he will see you dead.  You can naturally point out that he’s going to a lot of trouble to be ready for you and wanting you dead for someone who is no threat to him.  In fact, for being such a non-existent threat, he’s really gone out of his way to study up every detail of your personal adventures and life.  His response is naturally to send more goons after you.  You kill them and blow up the computers.  You go back to the privateers and can tell them that in exchange for saving their worthless lives, they can either go back and do their duty for the Republic (Light Side) or that they now work for you instead and should report to Port Nowhere for further orders (Dark Side).

No, I wasn’t kidding about being the King of the Pirates.

Hoth

For once, I actually enjoyed Hoth.  No seriously, most times in these class stories Hoth feels like a complete drag.  It’s a huge planet with only a couple of actually story missions that really just ends up with you running around on a speeder for 5-15 minutes at a time trying to get between point A and B, staring at the bleak endless white.  But the smuggler story here?  There’s actually crap going on.  It’s not just a macguffin hunt.  I mean technically if you distill it down to its raw parts it kind of is – but not how you might think at the beginning.  Rather for the Smuggler, you end up trying to navigate and slip through the political power struggle of the major faction on the planet – The White Maw pirates.

The actual reason you’re on Hoth is actually that the Republic wants its hands on the White Maw’s top secret cloaking technology.  Something so powerful it can hide an entire fleet.  They send you there with nothing but the name of a Jedi master to get in touch with only to find that he’s not there – he’s dead.  However, Jedi Master Guss Tuno is there to help you.  He’s the assistant/replacement for the missing Jedi Master.  His idea to get you in with the White Maw so you can swipe the tech is to make it look like your stealing some good stuff from the Republic’s storage depot/ice cave (Let’s be honest, they are all ice caves.)  Only the higher ups will know, but the rank-and-file won’t to help keep it looking legit so you’ll have to fight your way in.  However, once you do you find out that: No the higher ups don’t know, No there was no replacement for the missing Jedi, and yes you are very definitely really stealing this crap.  Guss comes clean and explains that he works for the White Maw, enslaved by their boss – Shie Tenna – who he offers to introduce you to in exchange for his dirty lies.

Shie Tenna is a hulking brute that seems to be quite fond of keeping his men in line with fear and displays of power.  You are introduced to him and his lover Alinna who vapidly hangs on his every word in his secret cantina base (read: ice cave) arranged by – but strangely not present – Guss Tuno.  Shie wants you to help him take over the White Maw by removing the other bosses’ from the equation.  By which he means killing the rival.  However, once Shie Tenna is out of ear shot, Alinna speaks to you and reveals that not only is she not as vapidly moronic as she lets on to Shie, she’s pretty much the brains behind the White Maw.  She manages the operations, handles finances, sets up plans – meanwhile Shie Tenna blows stuff up and postures.  Her suggestion is to expose Shie’s rival as being an Imperial sympathizer who plans to sell out the Maw to the Imps.  The White Maw may be a pack of psychotic pirates, but they all have a fierce passion for being free to do things their way.  The Imps would not work out well in that equation.  So the choice is yours whether the wipe out the rival base or to turn them against their leader. When you return, Shie Tenna declares you be brothers-in-arms!  Only to reveal that he also apparently killed his brother and throws you into a wampa holding pen (Ice cave.)  Luckily, good ol’ Guss is there to bust you out with another lead on getting in good with the White Maw.

And I’m not even going to string this one along – yea, that lead is also a trap.  A bunch of Gand bounty hunters waiting to take you out.  Guss confesses when you save him from the bounty hunters as well.  He isn’t a Jedi Master (though he is force sensitive. He dropped out of Jedi school), he’s not some White Maw slave – he works for Rogun the Butcher.  Rogun sent Guss to arrange for you to be taken out.  Guss sees that you’re a good guy and just can’t bring himself to go through with it.  With that out of the way, he’s willing to help you break into the White Maw fortress (Not actually an ice cave for once) and to get the cloaking tech…  which turns out to be a bit more complicated than you might have first thought.

So it turns out that once you breach the White Maw’s fortress and defeat Shie Tenna, you find their “Cloaking Tech” and it’s actually just an alien kid with severe brain damage.  Turns out the species the kid belongs to has a defensive mechanism that renders them and everything around them invisible to the eye, scans, radar… everything (which is an impressive evolutionary feat I must say) but they can only do this when they are scared of something.  So the White Maw beat him whenever they want the fleet cloaked. Alinna, Shie Tenna’s girl from earlier wants to actually save the alien kid and get him offworld somewhere safe.  At this point there’s a bunch of different choices you can make to decide what happens next.  You can smuggle them offworld, you can convince Alinna to take over the White Maw, YOU can try and take over the White Maw, you can force them to give the Alien Kid to the Republic, or you could give the Alien Kid to the Republic but also send Alinna with it to make sure it gets treated right and Alinna gets off of Hoth and being stuck with the White Maw…   So yea, a lot more options than your typical “This is the Light Side” and “This is the Dark Side.”  Which I really do enjoy.  Not all these choices can be broken down into simple binary solutions and I get a kick out of the fact that the game will let you explore multiple solutions to a single problem.  I personally sent the kid and Alinna to the Republic to ensure fair treatment (Cause it’s the job, but I don’t trust the Republic one bit in terms of treating the downtrodden fairly) and I personally took control of the White Maw faction.

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Finale

So we’ve helped the Republic, we’ve lined our pockets, and we’ve got a good start on building our criminal empire.  What’s left for this space jockey to do?  Well, how about a sick burn on the Empire and snubbing both the Voidwolf and Rogun the Butcher while you’re at it?  The job is the King’s Ransom – as in that’s the name of the ship.  An Imperial treasury ship that transports all the wealth and trade between Nar Shadaa and Dromund Kaas.  That’s right.  It’s essentially a Star Wars train job.  To help out there’s another chap who has been on the wrong side of Rogun’s ire and is looking to make a score.  But before you can take off, you have to help save a safe cracker from the Hutts who plan to sell him off to Rogun’s goons to be… well… butchered.  You get the choice of either simply killing the Hutts or bargaining with them and stealing their business right out from under Rogun.  Either way you’ll have to deal with Rogun’s goons but at least you might get out of having to fight the Cartel thugs while you’re at it.

Once the team is all together (the safe cracker, the muscle, and you – the looks and/or brains) you hop on a private shuttle provided by Senator Dodonna herself to infiltrate the King’s Ransom. You fight through the ship until you reach the vaults and break into them, where you find a random assortment of awesome old antiques – several of which are actually references to the original Knights of the Old Republic games.  In the final vault however, you find three Moffs hanging out and talking trash about the Voidwolf.  They mention how he’s not Imperial born  and yet rose through the ranks with unprecedented speed.  Seems like a lot of the other Imps don’t much care for the Voidwolf, and yet as soon as they see you they don’t spare a moment calling him to get him to come and help.

The Voidwolf’s help however is not exactly what the Moff’s expect however.  The nefarious admiral announces that since the war has just started up again, the Imperial military code dictates that if a ship is at risk of falling to the enemy (That’s you), then he is well within his rights to destroy said ship to prevent it from being taken.  So he does.  That would be the cue to GTFO.  Grab whatever loot you can and make break for it.

Back on Nar Shadaa, you divvy up the loot (you can take your share, let the other two keep it all, or kill them and keep it all for yourself) and go your separate ways ala the end of any Ocean’s Eleven movie.  But just as you round the corner, Senator Dodonna is there and being threatened by Rogun’s goons and a pack of strange beasts that are all wired up with some weird cyborg stuff.  You dispatch the beasts and Dodonna thanks the stars you showed up when you did.  She wants to know exactly what these are, where they came from and how the heck Rogun the Butcher got a hold of them and could transport them as weapons.

That little plot point ends up immediately kicking off chapter 3, so I’ll see you on the other side to find out what happens next.

My Thoughts

I’ll admit, I was extremely skeptical of the whole ‘Republic Privateer’ plot point.  It just seemed like a flimsy way to tie this into the whole two faction system.  However, what it also ended up doing was opening up a wider array of moral choices.  You weren’t just locked into ‘Selfless’ or ‘Greedy’ or ‘Live’ or ‘Kill’.   There was also the matter of the job you were hired to do.  So now things start to divide into three ways: Greedy, Selfless, or loyal.  You can help the locals at the cost of the job and yourself, you can be greedy at the cost of the locals and the job, or you can do the job at the cost of the locals and yourself.  This diversifies things a bit and starts to spread out the choices and implications of them.  Do you become the loyal hand of the Republic?  Do you play the dashing rogue hero?  Or do you go full greed and become the new pirate king?  All are viable directions you could take.

This really shines through in the Hoth mission.  While there isn’t a ton of long lasting effects to these choices, it still feels like you are really given a solid choice.  It’s not a simple binary choice either as I said.  You get multiple different ways that story can end and you can even combo some of them up.  If Alinna doesn’t choose to lead the White Maw, it opens up new options for what happens to the pirate gang that are independent of how you choose to deal with the Cloaking Alien.  It really feels like you can actually role play in this chapter and feel like you are your playing YOUR smuggler and not just a light/dark smuggler.  A feeling that does have the tendency to permeate a lot of the other stories.  It’s not speaking less of the other class stories as much as it speaks much higher of the smuggler.

In terms of the chapter structure, Chapter Two felt mostly like a bridge between the end of Chapter One and the setting up the starting of Chapter Three.  It does deal with the consequences of becoming the notorious finder of Nok Drayan’s loot and does a fair job showing how that kind of exposure ups the stakes for you.  It also thrusts you into the realm of being not only the target of Rogun the Butcher – still on your tail since the prologue might I mention and one of the only main villains that spans all four parts of a Class Story – and starting to reveal the Voidwolf as a serious threat.  The Voidwolf is ruthless, cut throat and efficient.  Imagine Grand Moff Kilran if he was raised in the mob instead of an Imperial Academy.  That’s the Wolf.

Chapter Two also starts to lay the groundwork for the more or less three major archetypes your smuggler can follow: The Republic Hero, the Contractor, and the Pirate King.  To elaborate, you can tow the government line and support the Republic and try to do the right thing and end up being this mythic folk hero of the Republic.  Not bound by rules, but still looking out for the little guy.  The Contractor is more of a ‘in it for myself’ kind of vibe.  You do the job, you get paid.  No loyalties beyond yourself and MAYBE your crew.  Finally, you can actively try to use the Republic’s work to your advantage, build alliances, and gain subordinates while putting together your own little criminal empire based out of Port Nowhere.  Honestly, I found that route to be very fun.  These three trends will continue to play out through Chapter Three culminating in the grand finale.

We also gained the remaining members of our crew in this Chapter.  There’s Akaavi Spar who is a mandalorian.  Her personality is that she is a mandalorian.  It’s like honor this, and clan that.  She doesn’t even like you very much when she first joins the crew, viewing you as some sort of cut throat merc without dignity or honor (to be fair, she can be entirely right.)  If you prove her wrong, it can open up a romance option with her.  Honestly, I didn’t find her to be anywhere near as intriguing as Risha in terms of the romance department.  She spends most her conversations talking about revenge and how you surprise her.  It doesn’t help it that her voice seems almost constantly monotone about everything unless she’s angry.  So happy and sad Akaavi are creepily similar voice inflections.

The last member of the crew is Guss.  Guss is a drop out Jedi who is force sensitive…  kind of.  He can do a couple of things with the Force – but nowhere near enough to do anything like the most basic padawan can achieve at the start of Tython.  He left the Academy and fell in with Rogun and his goons.  Guss can be viewed as annoying lost puppy that won’t start barking.  He’s got a serious hero worship thing going and I can see how it would be annoying to some people.  Honestly, beyond trying to teach good ol’ Guss to be a proper criminal and to come to grips with what he wants to do with his life, there’s not much to say about him.  Oh, he’s a Mon Calamari.  There’s that too I suppose.

<– Chapter One || SMUGGLER || Chapter Three –>

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 –>

SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Sith Inquisitor – Chapter Two

<– Chapter One || SITH INQUISITOR || Chapter Three –>

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

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Well, you have sort of outsmarted your former master and become a powerful figure within the Sith ranks.  Let’s see how quick this goes downhill for you, shall we?  Chapter Two kicks off with meeting Darth Thanaton who you might remember popping up in the Prologue and Chapter One at points.  He is impressed with you – you’re NOTHING like Zash – and wants to test you to see if you are ready to enter his super special hidden circle.  He just needs you to go into a super dark and spooky tomb, way off in some corner of Dromund Kaas where no one goes all alone to fetch a dead Sith’s notes on alchemical poisons for him.  Do you see where this may be a bad idea? Good. Because you’re character doesn’t! You get ZERO agency in this.  Your character will just stumble into this trap as blindly scripted.  Yes, that’s how we’re starting out this Chapter, by walking head first into ANOTHER trap.

And just like before with Zash, it’s up to Ghost Grandpa to bail you out and save you from the insane Sith ghost that was trying to kill you.  You know…  Ghost Grandpa…  who said at the end of Chapter One that his task was done and we wouldn’t be seeing him again.  He’s here. To save us again.  Somehow.  But this time he REALLY is using the last of his strength to help us. For truth-sies.  Anyway, Ghost Grandpa tells you to find a different Sith ghost who will teach you the art of Spirit-walking – the ability to bind the souls of the dead to yourself and absorb their power.  Before you even ask, NO. There’s is NO Shang Tsung jokes anywhere in this storyline.  I will probably be making a few to make up for it.  Now you can go back, steal the Sith ghost’s soul (Flawless victory) and get his notes.

When you take the notes back to Thanaton he is less than pleased.  He kinda wanted you to die in that tomb (Wha? Noooo. Say it ain’t so.) and he needs you dead because Zash’s entire power base must be destroyed (No one tell him about Khem!)  So, he kills you.  The end.  OR IS IT?  Well, we know it’s not. It seems you actually survived thanks to binding the dead souls to you.  They actually seem to function as ‘Extra Lives’.  Your barely alive body is dragged off to safety by your two apprentices whose names are not important enough to remember so I’ll just call them Jesse and James.  Which… wait.  Hold on a minute.

Remember in the Chapter One review, where I mentioned the ‘people saving you streak’?  Yea. Assuming you didn’t break between Chapter One and Chapter Two, you have just walked into your doom THREE times only to have your butt pulled out by a third party each time in less than an HOUR.  A. SINGLE. HOUR.  Do you know how much of an idiot your character looks like at this point?  You routinely walk into traps, sometimes after being TOLD it is a trap, with no plan prepared other than ‘wing it and hope we live’.  Would it be so hard to have a moment where your character actually PREPARES for these things, or comes off as a slightly hesitant or cautious?  Maybe show how they stand to gain from doing these dumb things?  Like planning on surviving due to the Spirit-Walking so you can let Thanaton think you are dead so you can strike at him from behind.  You know, SOMETHING?!

Anyway, you use this revelation of your survival to formulate a new plan: gather more souls to kill Thanaton.  Well, at least we’re not a lackey anymore.

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Taris

Our first destination is Taris, where there have been stories about a grumpy ghost hanging around.  The thing is that there’s only one person who can actually get this ghost to show up is a Jedi padawan.  So your first goal on Taris is to gather some intel on this padawan and as you soon find out – it’s Ahsoka Tano er… I mean Ashara Zavros!  Who is kind of an Ahsoka Tano expy, I won’t lie.  She’s disobedient, rude, and somewhat short tempered.  Her emotions tend to get the better of her and that kind of has her on the outs with her Jedi Master and peers and thus provides an excellent opportunity to manipulate her into getting what you want.

The first task is to bribe another Sith Lord to use his assassins to stage a scene.  You go and dig up some random thing of no significant importance (and no, that’s not setting up a dramatic reveal that it IS important. It’s not. It’s just a random errand.)  Using the bartering power of the McGuffin, you convince the Sith to borrow the assassins.  The fun part about the whole exchange is actually being able to decide how much information you let the Sith have about what you are doing.  Do you let him in on the plot? Do you play coy?  It is his man power at risk here, especially since the plan is to have them ambush Ashara and then you save her to gain her trust.

Honestly, the whole plan comes off as simultaneously dumb and yet it works brilliantly because Ashara is just that kind of dense.  She gets jumped by a bunch of Sith Assassins and you just in and stop them (either by killing them or by less lethal means) and just like that she trusts you enough to let you help “cast out” the ghost.  She actually sits there and dumb foundingly asks why a Sith would attack other Sith.  Really? Do they teach you ANYTHING about the Sith work?  Or just to kill them wholesale?  And this is pretty much Ashara in a nutshell.  She is not bright, she doesn’t think she’s through, she simply reacts to her emotions and follows her gut instinct. Sometimes this makes her a sweetheart, and other times you just wanna bop her with a rolled up magazine and say “NO! THINK!” Don’t get me wrong, I actually really like Ashara but DAMN is she a teenager in the worst sense.

SO you actually manage to convince the teen to let you into the Jedi Sanctuary to help purge the ghost, and  you make sure to tell her not to tell anyone.  So of course she tells two Jedi Masters. Fricking Narc. You fight them, you bind the ghost who appears to be a VERY ticked off ancestor of Ashara – who was also Sith? I think? It’s not exactly clear but he does wear Sith Inquisitor Columni armor.  The choice is the usual: Fight the ghost and enslave it, or make a pact with it promising to free it once you’ve done what you need it for.

Then…  then the plot gets stupid.  Okay, so this entire time some no-name office clerk of a Sith has been helping you to put this whole thing together.  Actually, it’s more like he gets you started.  He shows up.  Says Thanaton will make him a Lord if he delivers your head.  So that whole element of surprise, Thanaton thinks you’re dead thing?  Apparently not.  Thanaton clearly knows you are alive, and is hiring goons to come and finish you off, despite you finishing off his goons before and forcing him to take you out himself.  Do I even have to go into how completely counter to the established plot this reveal goes?  And it doesn’t stop here.  Oh no.  You’ll see.

Quesh

Because no sooner are you done with recruit Ashara and getting back on the ship, than your other two apprentices phone in.  Ya know, the two that jumped the Zash ship at the end of Chapter One and dragged your charred unconscious body out of a ditch and right back into Thanaton’s office at the start of Chapter Two?  Well apparently they decided to wander off and steal the key to Thanaton’s private meditation chamber.  Now they’re being chased around the galaxy by another one of Thanaton’s flunkies.  Now it’s never established, and certainly never explained or answered – but do we think that these two little morons are the reason Thanaton knows I’m still alive?  Cause I’d venture a guess that yea, that’s the case.  Thanaton, despite being a mustache twirling snively whiplash of a villain, is not stupid.  These two however will believe whatever they are spoon fed.  So they crash on Quesh and you have to go save them.

Or not… I guess? By the time you show, they’re dead. Lord Cineratus has killed them.  Now he is on orders to kill you too.  In a nice and brilliant tactical move, you can buy him off, not only skipping having to fight him but also gaining his loyalty, service and most importantly silence.  Or you can just shut him up by killing him too.  That works.

Interlude: Korriban

Now that you’ve lost two of your three apprentices (Aww… you almost collected the whole set), Zash Val recommends you head to Korriban to pick you out a fresh one from your old pal Harkun.  This mission is short, sweet and only really serves to lord over your new position as an actual Sith Lord to Harkun while also setting up a later companion.  I guess which of the random assortment of scum it will be?  Maybe the one that killed two potential recruits already and the camera holds on for an uneasily long time? Hmmmm? (I warned you there’d be spoilers. It’s Xalek.)

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Hoth

And of course now we come to Hoth.  Apparently we are here because Andronikos heard some stories about some weird stuff happening and a ship carrying Sith artifacts crashing a while back and they were all spoopy about it.  Like the laaaaamp was tuuuuurning itseeeelf on!  OooooOOoooOoo!  Yea, anyway since Hoth is a giant ice ball where anything sitting outside for more than a few days is pretty much buried and frozen in a block, you’re going to need some help for this one.  Enter Talos Drelik.  Oh, so THIS is where the damn elves sent Talos after the White-Gold Accord.  (Ha. Crossover humor.)  He’s a wormy little archeologist that is a certified genius when it comes to figuring out where crap is.  He’s also delightfully fun, warm, and intelligent.  Thus making him the only one on the ship with a college education (No, Zash doesn’t count.  Her brains didn’t exactly work out in her favor.  Seriously, ‘Go ahead and bring the Dashade’ HA!)

Talos essentially helps lead you across a giant version of World of Warcraft’s archeology profession, only not as tedious.  It does however lead you to the ghost p0ssessing an ortolon (those blue elephant looking things) who demands that you ran sack Naga Sadow’s ancient assassin training school because he reeeeeally didn’t like Assassin’s Creed Unity.  Talos of course helps you break in to raid the tomb, because hey it turns out that is exactly what he was on Hoth looking for.  It’s a giant hole in an ice wall.  I am suddenly regretting complimenting Talos’ intelligence.

This leads to the hands down dumbest light/dark choice ever: Do you let Talos scan the relics before you bust them, or just say tough noogies and start smashing.  Seriously.  You don’t even have to do anything extra or get punished for choosing the Light Side option here other than watching a short cutscene of Talos scanning stuff.  That was pointless.  Really.  Oh and a little tip for this mission: There will be a time when Talos leaves your party to open a door and you have to defend him from three waves of progressively harder droids.  If you step back to where Talos is before the first wave spawns, you won’t immediately draw agro and can summon another companion to help you fight them off.  Very useful for say…  a healy sorcerer.

Finally, you get your last bit of direction to finding the ghost’s actual resting place: a crashed starship in the starship graveyard.  Good thing we didn’t even think to look in the Starship Graveyard of crashed starships for our crashed starship, which we now find out didn’t actually crash but landed gently after being piloted to safety by the ghost after the crew died and/or bailed.  Only downside is you have to fight through a ton of dudes who are mind controlled by the ghost because…  the ghost is a jerk who likes making you jump through hoops.  No really, that’s his reasoning.  So you do the whole sacrifice/deal schpeal and then head off to space.  But wait! Talos is there and he wants to come along.  Resigned from the IRS (That’s Imperial Reclamation Service) and everything.  Well, okay bookworm. Head on board.  We gotta go kill us a Sith, and you’re a healing companion so you might be handy.

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Finale

Back to Dromund Kaas to sneak into Thanaton’s secret meditation chamber with our secret key and oh bugger he’s waiting for us isn’t he?  Yeeeeup. With a hench goon that we’ve never seen before to actually fight no less while Thanaton sits in a bubble.  But not before he taunts us about how if we bribed Cinderblock on Quesh that he’s already wasted our money on women and drink on Nar Shadaa.  So there’s another brilliant play that went down the toilet.  Oh well, kill the bastard.  Or the bastard’s assistant, I guess.

After which you face off with Thanaton proper in a cutscene!  You channel all your ghostly powers and when their powers combine you are…  apparently dead.  Yea, it seems that the binding ritual was only meant to be done with ONE ghost at a time.  Any more than that and you leave yourself vulnerable to the spirits taking control of your body and mind and doing who knows what.  Of course, the ghost that taught you the ritual didn’t say that because he knew you were the schmuck that would dig up as many souls as possible and then he and the others could – as they literally put it – have some fun with you.  I AM AWARE OF THE MANY WAYS TO INTERPRET THAT LINE.  Also, Thanaton got thrown into a wall and ran away.

So Chapter Two ends with your companions showing up to help/save you from yourself YET AGAIN, and depending on your dialogue choices you can crack a joke and everyone has a hearty laugh.  Freeze frame. Roll credits with sappy 80’s sax solo rendition of theme song! The end.  Of chapter two at least.

My Thoughts

While this isn’t as completely POINTLESS as the Chapter Two Trooper storyline, there is a LOT of wasted potential here.  Every chance your character has to look intelligent or cunning is either pulled out from under them making them look like a complete idiot or is swiftly undone off camera somewhere.  Enemy thinks your dead giving you the upper hand? NOPE.  Get the secret key to the secret meditation chamber? He’s there and waiting for you.  Bribe an enemy agent to work for you instead? Pisses it away on booze and lets your enemy know about it.  The Inquisitor does not catch one break this entire chapter, and boy does it get frustrating to have your plans get foiled instantly over and over.

I mean, I kind of get it right? They want to show you that Thanaton is this super mastermind that can totally outplay you and write it off as child’s play. But you’re doing it at the expensive of making the protagonist – the PLAYER – feel like a complete moron.  Even worse when OTHER NPCs are saving you from obvious traps and then explaining how it totally was an obvious trap.  Why not have Thanaton think he has outplayed you, make him counter your every move but him thinking that your goal is different.  Like you were looking for relics or some ancient weapon or something Zash would do to help defeat him.  Then have it be established among you and your crew that – say around just after Quesh – that because of something Lord Cementtruck said you learn that Thanaton has it all wrong. WHAM.  He seems to be winning and outplaying, you get to see what a master at playing the game Thanaton is, and then you have the ace up your sleeve of the ghosts to smack him, but then it goes all wrong.

And that ending I will say is done very right.  The ghosts turning on you and the force walking being your undoing is not only a great twist, but is also not a knock against your character.  There is no WAY the Inquisitor would have seen it coming because the Ghosts ALL LIED.  Not one even tipped their hand or showed the slightest hint that this ritual had unintended side effects when used this way.  But they knew.  They knew and they waited to use it against you.  That I did like.  Downright LOVED.

So yea, that was the Inquisitor Chapter Two.  A lot of potential, and a lot of screw ups.  Not the worse, could have been one of the best, but no.  It just falls in the middle somewhere.  Pity.

<– Chapter One || SITH INQUISITOR || Chapter Three –>

SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Bounty Hunter – Chapter Two

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the second 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 One || BOUNTY HUNTER || Chapter Three —>

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Welcome back from your vacation Mister or Miss Grand Champion of the Great Hunt.  Ready for a REAL job?  Well, that’s what Chapter Two brings you.  Fame, fortune, and work. Legitimate, actual, bounty hunting.  Some of the hardest bounties in the galaxy!  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We have to meet Mandalore first.  Mandalore, as his name might suggest, is a Mandalorian.  In fact, he’s the leader of the Mandos. Like, all of them.  He has invited you to his personal starship (what, you need a guild to have a starship? HA! Don’t you wish you were Mandalore?) Where he gives you a task – not a job sadly – to go to Dromund Kaas and take down a giant beastie living in a cave there.  The cave in question is surrounded with Mandalorians who are trying and failing to kill this beast.  Which is weird, cause it’s just a gold mob.  You also meet a lad named Torian Cadera who I’m sure will be unimportant forever hence why I’m calling specific attention to him.  Anyway, you kill the beast and head back to Mandalore (Yes, you fly all the way back to Dromund Kaas to kill one thing and then fly all the way back to the Outer Rim.  Now I’m GLAD space travel is just pushing a button) to be told that congrats! You are a Mandalorian now!  That’s all it takes apparently?

Now whether you take Mandalore’s offer to become a Mandalorian is completely up to you.  You take the honor, or you can say ‘screw honor, I want money’ and forsake the noble warrior lifestyle for a shrewd cash grabbing merc way of life.  If you choose the latter, you enrage Mandalore who was hoping to make you take his place on the…  council…  thing of former Grand Champs…  I think?  It’s not terrible clear.  You’re not becoming the new Mandalore that’s for sure.  He’s going off to work for the Empire doing something.  You never find out what.  However, regardless of your choice you meet up with Grand Champs Bloodworthy, Jewla Nightbringer and yes, The Defenestrator (Cue the squeeing) who welcome you – and laugh at Mandalore if you shoot him down – to the club and offer you the Black List. The Black List is a premier listing of bounties that are exclusive to winners of the Great Hunt.  They are the toughest and more importantly best paying bounties in the galaxy.  This is the big leagues.  Your first job is actually an oldie but a goodie.  A bounty so hard to deal with that a betting pool has been establish for anyone who tries their hand at it.  Whoever finally brings in the target gets the whole pot.  You pay up your ante and get the info.  Looks like we’re headed to…

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Taris

Oh joy.  Okay, I don’t like Taris. At all. In any incarnation.  It’s a winding confusing mess of a world infected with rakghouls who by defeat cut through armor like butter which means lots of downtime healing.  But that actually works to the advantage of this mission, because we’re about to be reenacting a bunch of action movies from the 80s and hunting down a guerrilla warrior in the Jungle.  His name is Jincoln Cadera, and yes he is the father of that completely-unimportant-for-reals Torian Cadera, who has also shown up on Taris.

The majority of Taris plays out with you and Torian working together to take down Jincoln who has challenged you to a Mandalorian death game.  Which is a lot like capture the flag but with sniper rifles and pits lined with sharpened sticks that impale you.  So what I’m saying is that it’s not really so much like capture the flag but more like capture the flag at summer camp.  Torian helps you flush out his father, who then leaves his kid to die and you can either do the same (in fact, Torian insists that you do) or help Torian and loose the trail.  Either way it doesn’t make much in the way of a difference because Jincoln actually contacts you next for a formal declaration of the rules.  You need to find all of the ‘trophies’ that Jincoln has hidden in the jungle and then find his hiding spot to even earn the chance at a duel to the death.  You know, this is why I snubbed the Mandalorian invite on my second playthrough.  Honor bound war game grab ass bull.  Look, all you need is two guns and we’ll play ‘whose the better killer’.  I’ll even let you have the tea cup this time.

So you run around the jungle picking up little doodads like a sword, or a hat, or some such, and all the while Jincoln is taking shots at you from who knows where.  Torian is working on finding the hideout so you don’t have to worry about that step.  Once you got the four doodads, you meet with Torian who finally gets his revenge on Jincoln ruining the family name and you get paid!  Oh, you got to beat Jincoln first I suppose and if you don’t relish that after all the annoying loops he just sent you through, well then I don’t know what’s wrong with you!  After all is said and done with Jincoln and your ready to collect your sweet sweet credits from Bloodworthy, you find that Torian is waiting for you.  Seems like the kid wants to sign on  with you and see the galaxy.  Well, uh, sure? I guess, kid.  Guess you WERE important after all, huh?

I suppose I should say a few words about Torian Cadera.  He’s… uh… male.  He has hair.  Some tattoos I suppose.  Okay, I find Torian to be the most boring character you get as part of the Bounty Hunter storyline.  Pretty much everyone else has some weird personality quirk – even Gault for all his slime HAS a personality.  Torian is just…  well…  I’d say he’s a Mandalorian but he doesn’t even fit with any of the other Mandos you meet in this or any other class’ stories.  Even odder is that he’s the romanceable companion for female bounty hunters, and apparently he has quite the following.  I don’t know, I’m not a woman.  I’m barely even a human.  I’m a fricking hat.  What do I know about this guy’s appeal?  But I find him to be absolutely boring.  He’s like Corso if you take away all the annoying country boy junk.  A nice, boring, male human.  Welcome to the ship!

Quesh

Your next mission is actually a short diversion to the planet Quesh.  Seems that an adrenal company would like the Grand Champion of the Great Hunt to be the spokes-model for their newest line of combat adrenals.  This is actually my favorite mission on Quesh, because unlike almost every class mission on that planet, this one requires you to fight ZERO enemies to reach the door.  You just land and ride up on to the factory which is just a stone’s throw past the Imperial starter town.  However, when you actually show up for the meeting things don’t seem to go the way you expect.  No contract or credits are waiting for you. Just a team of Rebuplic SIS and if you let her live at the end of chapter one – a very angry apprentice. (Told you it was worth it to let her go.)  They are here under the orders of some big wig Jedi who is the right hand, top adviser to the Supreme Chancellor to bring you in for crimes against the Republic.  You can try to explain how the concept of a bounty hunter works to them – you know, you were hired to do a job by someone.  You’re the tool, not the user? Yea, none of this is getting through.  So you are stuck with surrendering (which you can’t actually, it’s not even an option in the game.  Just in a narrative sense.) and taking out your pursuers and getting a second chance to kill that padawan.  I did this time.  You get one freebie.  After that, I’m not mister nice bounty hunter.  Luckily, it has been dealt with and we can go back to getting paid now.

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Hoth

There’s another biggie on the Black List that’s been there forever and is just begging to be collected upon.  The Chiss Ascendency placed a bounty on a Trandoshan hunter/big shot pirate with the White Maw that has been terrorizing Chiss starship routes for years.  They want him brought in and alive to pay for crimes against the Ascendency.  Your only lead at the get go is a prisoner at the base – a small little jawa troublemaker named Blizz.  Blizz was an accomplice to the White Maw who used to tinker and make gadgets for the pirates until they kicked him out for some reason (too cute?).  Blizz gives you a lead on the Trandoshan and you actually find him.  Like right away, but he doesn’t want to mess with you because you’re not worth his time.  He just sicks his goons on you and walks off.  Call me Dangerfield because I still can’t get any respect here.  Blizz however has another idea to help you out.  You need to become worthy by taking down some of the biggest lieutenants in the White Maw.

So you start your Jagga-Point collecting spree across Hoth with Blizz’s tinkering helping you along the way.  Blizz builds a shield nullifier to help defeat a cyborg, boosts some heat shields to help dismantle a smelting operation in a volcano, and finally a freaky force sensitive alien that runs the White Maw’s day to day operations.  Once you’ve wiped out all of these goons, you can finally have your duel with the Trandoshan in his base.  The lizard does request that you kill him and give him an honorable death at hands of a superior hunter or you can deny him his wish and freeze him like the bounty contract stipulates.  Unlock a lot of contracts where you get a light/dark choice like this, the Chiss WILL be quite upset that you killed him and didn’t follow the conditions of the contract.  I actually want to say they stiff you on the payment too but I can’t confirm that.

However, you do get a chance to bring little Blizz with you.  In fact, if you have Mako with you she’ll practically beg to save the little guy from jail or whatever worse fate awaits him.  You agree and bargain to get him released into your custody.  If Torian feels like a blank slate, Blizz is all personality.  The wacky genius inventor who wants nothing more than to be “Boss'” (read: Your) best friend.  He talks fast, he’s constantly inventing weird little things, and he just always seems so happy to be around.  All that despite you never seeing his face.  He’s a Jawa, he looks like the rest of the Jawas (okay, he’s got fur around the edges of his coat.) But you would never mistake him for one once he starts talking.  I agree with the Bioware developers on this: I want a Blizz plushie.

Finale

After taking down two of the biggest bounties on the Blacklist in a row, your fellow grand champions would like to throw a party for you at the casino on Nar Shadaa! However, you arrive at the Casino to the sound of gunfire.  It seems the SIS are not done with you yet and have shown up ahead of the time with another Jedi – possibly by tapping your comm lines – and they’ve killed Bloodworthy, the Defenestrator and Jewla Nightbringer!  All three of them are gunned down and gone. Permanently.  Those bastards!

After killing the Jedi and the SIS, that top dog Jedi from Quesh appears via holo again to threaten you and to spout on and on about how you won’t get away with this.  This is all your fault for not surrendering. Blah blah blah. And he concludes by showing you a message being broadcast across the Republic from the Supreme Chancellor:  You are now the most wanted person in the entirety of the galaxy.  It’s no bluff either.  The team back on the ship confirms it all. The Empire is burning all bridges with you and disavowing having ever done business with you claiming that you are a rogue acting on your own.  The entire Republic is gunning for you.  Oh and you can bet that being Most Wanted to about to lure out all sorts of scum that would try to collect your head for money.  Glad I killed Tarro Blood. The only real hope is to go underground and lay low.  That is until you get a message from someone named Darth Tormen demanding you appear before him.  Hey, it MIGHT be good news? Bring the guns just in case.

My Thoughts

Chapter Two of the Bounty Hunter honestly is one of those things I have two minds about.  Namely because it was the first one I played through and now the most recent.  The first time I played it was the first time I actual ‘got’ the bounty hunter.  The idea of the hunt, and of Mandalorian honor and all that didn’t click until this point for me.  But I was also playing a straight laced ‘do the job’ bounty hunter, so the whole thing with the Republic came off as a pointless “Hey, I’m just doing my job” and nothing else.  So the entire story of the SIS coming after you and the Jedi wanting revenge wasn’t really something I even cared much about.   However, after revisiting the story I can see what it is.  This is the turning point.  You are being attacked, your friends are being attacked to remove any chance of supporting you, and you are being left with nothing to turn to.

Chapter Two takes on small bit of Chapter One that you probably didn’t think twice about at the time and turned it back on you.  It continually pushes you to the ropes and leaves you with nothing at the end.  It’s pretty much the perfect set up for a revenge story, which is pretty much what Chapter Three ends up being.  You’ve seen movies like this, we all have, about people set up to take a fall, pushed to the edge, and forced to take things into their own hands to set things right.  It’s that. Only you weren’t set up.  You did kill the guy. Just as a bounty.  The point is that the chapter does a really good job as a middle bit that builds on the first chapter and uses the established story to subvert and set up the conflict of the third part.

The concept of the Black List isn’t exactly ground breaking but it doesn’t need to be. It’s a hook, nothing more.  But it does a good job of not negating your efforts in the first chapter.  Take the Jedi Knight, or Trooper and there’s is very little connecting the first chapter to the rest of the story.  The first chapters seems to sit on little islands with their own self contained ideas.  But here?  You are doing Black List jobs BECAUSE you won the Great Hunt. You are chatting with and hanging out with former grand champions (that were conveniently set up all the way back in Mako’s first few lines of dialogue in the prologue as being BIG DEALS).  This chapter feels like it is the result of chapter one.  Which is a nice feeling.  We’ll get more of that when I eventually get around talking about the Imperial Agent.

The big thing I would have to say in this chapter is how much are you willing to bend your character?  Are you going to be the same person you were before?  My first character was a neutral but leaning toward light side bounty hunter who always did his job and never back-stabbed anyone.  The idea of taking revenge on the Republic was silly because it didn’t mesh with my character. I didn’t let the events of the story change my concept.  The second time, I ran with it.  If the Republic was gonna declare war on me, I’d declare war on the Republic.  Because of that, I will say that Chapter Two and Three became WAY more enjoyable to play through.  Just something to keep in mind from someone who has done it both ways.  This also applies to just role playing in general I think: Let the story change you just as much as you change the story.

<— Chapter One || BOUNTY HUNTER || Chapter Three —>

SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Sith Warrior – Chapter Two

<– Chapter One || Chapter Three –>

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

sithwarrior_act2_02

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

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

Taris

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

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

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

Quesh

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

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

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

Hoth

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

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

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

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Finale

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

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

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

My Impressions

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

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

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

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

<– Chapter One || Chapter Three –>

SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Jedi Consular – Chapter Two

<—  Chapter One ||  Chapter Three —>

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 second chapter, please look here.  You have been warned.

He is called “Lord of the Large Pants”

With the Jedi Order saved from the threat of the Dark Plague, it’s time for you to get a new job to save the day.  Namely, it’s time to play Star Trek and escort a bunch of diplomats around the galaxy to convince them not to break away from the Republic.  Not even joking.  Meet the Rift Alliance, a coalition of worlds that are thinking of leaving the Republic because they feel neglected and their needs ignored by the senate.  These worlds include but are not limited to places like Manaan and Balmorra.  Although I don’t think Balmorra is a Republic world actually.  However it is funny to see the Manaan representative make mention of the ecological nightmare left on his planet after the events of Knights of the Old Republic.  That made me giggle.  But I’m getting a head of myself here. Before you get to hang out with the representatives, you have to save them.

See they were all on this big party ship that they were going to use as a base camp while working with you, but it got hijacked by the Empire!  So you have to fight your way to save them.  After that, it’s decided that they’d be much safer on your ship than the party boat.  Which, okay, kind of makes sense. But my ship doesn’t even have enough beds for my crew, let alone the rest of these people.  So…  I hope the chairs are comfy?

Balmorra

The first stop on our “fix the galaxy” tour is Balmorra. Essentially the mission is to put the representative from Balmorra in charge of the planet, and in exchange he will make sure that Balmorra joins the Republic.  So it’s NOT part of the Republic at the moment.  In order to change things over, we need to find the old president and have him pass over the authority to the representative.  Because that’s apparently how presidents work now.  No elections, just point a finger and say “Tag, you’re it!”

The real issue is that the now currently in charge Sith overlords have got the president in hiding somewhere, and that’s where I come in.  Well, me and the rebellious revolutionary known only as Zenith.  Zenith is a jaded freedom fighter, and I don’t much blame him considering the history of Balmorra: abandoned by the Republic and handed over to the Sith, and depending on what happened during the Imperial storyline their unofficial support from the Republic Military not only pulled out but also publicly confessed ensuring no future support.  Yea, I’d have a chip on my shoulder too.

You pretty much spend most of the planet playing back up for Zenith in an effort to track down and save the president.  Fortunately, you are a bad enough dude or dudette to do so.  Downside, President is being guarded by Darth Lachris, the sadistic Sith you met at the end of the Imperial Balmorra storyline (Yes, this is what happens to her).  Upside, you get to kill a Sith! More downside, she royally messed up the President’s brain so he can’t do anything even if you save him.  This leads to the somewhat disturbing option of using the president like a meat puppet to pass the torch of leadership.  It’s cruel, unethical, and I did it in a heartbeat.  What? My job was to get a new president for Balmorra, not to make sure the old one lived to a ripe old age.

Quesh

Quesh is the usual short single mission that really isn’t worth talking about usually.  This one does set up some important plot threads for later, so that’s a step up from the Trooper.  The gist is that the Rift Alliance had a secret science lab on Quesh that they totally didn’t mean to neglect telling you about but oh by the way the Imperials are attacking it and it has some superpowerful tech hidden there please oh god fix it.  The super tech in the lab really doesn’t do much except offer you a choice of how they develop it.  Maybe this comes up in Chapter 3? I don’t know.  So far all it did was get me a piece of mail with a severely under level blue quality companion gift.

What Quesh does introduce is two ideas:  the first is that a tracking device was found on your ship, which means that you might have a spy on board.  This is actually a great diplomatic conundrum.  Do you tell the diplomats – one of which may be the spy – and diminish their already low opinion of the Republic’s ability to keep its house in order, or do you keep it quiet and risk worse damage being done by the spy as you try to figure out who it is without letting the others on.  I actually really liked that twist.  Sadly it doesn’t last long as we’ll see.

The other thing that happens is that we see Nadia Grell, daughter of one of the diplomats, join you on a mission and display an impressive use of Force power.  Yes, it appears that little Nadia is a force sensitive and a powerful one at that.  Nothing comes of that immediately, but it does come up more later that I can promise you.

Behave! Or the Jedi will eat you.

Hoth

Your final job for the Rift Alliance is to help a team of their soldiers finish their job and back on their way home.  A task the Republic troops on Hoth have been most unhelpful in completing (Of course, the troops on Hoth just got hit by a surprise attack that knocked out their power, are getting cornered by pirates and Imperials, and are seeking a powerful weapon to use to help win the war. But taking care of the one squad of Rift troops that wanna leave the cold planet while they’re stuck there? Not a big priority shockingly.) The job is to kill one Captain Valon, a two bit pirate who was attacking the Rift Alliance’s shipping routes that has suddenly become a lot more problematic.  See, the word on the street is: Valon is immortal.  Yup. Can’t kill him.  Why even try? And these poor guys are stuck on the ice ball until the Immortal Pirate is dead.  Wow.  Sucky job.

Of course, one quick smack around from a Jedi and the jobs done right? Sadly, no.  While the rest of the team is often getting ready to celebrate leaving, you get a message proving that while you did seemingly kill the man and leave him cold and lifeless on the floor, he is still alive and kicking. It’s up to you know to figure out putting him in his grave. Luckily, you find out that the Empire is after Valon as well.  Something about stealing an experimental healing armor?  No… you don’t think…  I see.  Well, time to bust up a lab for answers.  And after ransacking and pillaging the Empire for some sweet sweet secrets, you find out that yea it’s the armor that keeps him coming back.  You also find out that Valon’s plan is to raise a massive star ship from the ship graveyard and use it as his new flagship as the future immortal pirate leader of the White Maw. (Aaaand he might be searching for One Piece.  Maybe.  No clue.  But hey, it gives us an excuse to rap on the way! Ready Qyzen?)

Ultimately, you find the pirate, use the secret technique of ‘Keep killing him until he stays dead’, and you and the troops get to leave this Popsicle stand.  Afterward, you get a new crewmember! Lt. Felix Iresso has joined the brawl! I’d love to tell you all about Felix but so far at least, he’s a bit of a cardboard cut out.  Seriously, the guy doesn’t have any really stand out-ish qualities while you talk to him on Hoth beyond he is willing to straight up lie to his men if it means not destroying morale.  Beyond that, he’s a soldier aaaand that’s about it.  I mean, he seems like there’s definitely some backstory stuff that I’m sure to get into as I keep shoving gifts into his face.  He seems perfectly happy to leave the military behind to sign on with you. But that’s it.  Kind of a weak sauce companion compared to the fairly strong personalities we’ve met so far.

 

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

Finale

The finale is short.  Like seriously short.  You finally track down which of the diplomats is the traitor/spy/guy who keeps stealing the cable, but oh no! He was JUST sent off on an important diplomatic mission with Royalty! I sure hope that hi jinks don’t ensue.  To make a long story short, everyone’s dead when you show up.  You just walk through the ship littered with dead bodies until you find the King and Queen of WePaintsOurFaces-vania with the traitor diplomat who to the shock of no one is actually a Sith. Dun dun yea yea.  More importantly, he is one of the Children of the Emperor.  Ah, now that IS different.  You fight, you win, you save the King and Queen. And that’s it.  The finale is seriously just that one fight.  Well, two if you kill the bonus gold star robot boss trapped behind a door.  But it does set up the next leg of the journey with the introduction with the Children of the Emperor.  I do wonder if Miss Kira Carsen will be showing up for  cameo?

Final Opinion

The second chapter of the Jedi Consular story is a lot of set up for whats to come it seems.  The whole traitor thing REALLY doesn’t get played up to its full potential, and it really could have been something great.  With diplomats constantly pushing for more info, the risk high of angering them and the Rift Alliance continually looking for a reason to abandon the Republic that, quite frankly, they owe nothing.  Instead, the diplomats are grumpy but mostly content to just sit around, give you your space, be polite in the face of whatever happens.  It’s not a catastrophic let down because I really do dig the whole political angle of the Jedi being explored, so I would definitely rate it above something like Trooper Chapter 2, but it really could have been something amazing but became satisfied with being meh.

Our new companions feel like two variations of the same archetype.  Both Zenith and Felix are soldiers, but while one seems worn out and just wants to be done, the other is super jaded from broken promises.  Still, recruiting them back to back just makes the comparisons even more startling.  Especially since Zenith is introduced with so much more character and gusto than Felix.  Almost like they blew all their cool ideas with Zenith and had nothing left for Lt. Iresso.

In the end, Chapter Two decides to just settle with doing what it does.  It doesn’t strive for amazing, it doesn’t break down into terrible or tedious – it just is.  Which is a shame.  It really did have potential.  But the whole thing still hasn’t lived up to the horrendously boring snoozefest I’ve heard it claimed to be on the forums.  So who knows what awaits us beyond in Chapter 3.  I mean, besides the Children of the Emperor. (OH YEA!)

<—  Chapter One ||  Chapter Three —>

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