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SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Sith Inquisitor – Chapter Three

<– Chapter Two || SITH INQUISITOR ||

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

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

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

Belsavis

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

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

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

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

Interlude I

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

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

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

Voss

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

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

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

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

Interlude II

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

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

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Corellia

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

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

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

Grand Finale

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

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

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

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

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

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Looking Back

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

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

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

 <– Chapter Two || SITH INQUISITOR ||

SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Sith Inquisitor – Chapter Two

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Taris

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

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

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

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

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

Quesh

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

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

Interlude: Korriban

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

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Hoth

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

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

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

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

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Finale

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

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

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

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Sith Inquisitor – Chapter One

 

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

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

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

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

Balmorra

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

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

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

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Nar Shadaa

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interlude – Ghost Great Great Grandpa’s Hat

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

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

Tatooine

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

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

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Alderaan

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

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

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

Finale

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

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

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

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My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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