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Alright, I think I’ve found the most absurd example of The Old Republic’s… creative approach to morality.

There’s a side mission on one of the early planets where, playing as an Imperial character, you’re called in to investigate a rebel smuggling operation. It turns out the local rebels aren’t smuggling supplies in, they’re smuggling untrained Force-sensitives off world, so they’ll be safe from the Empire and won’t be drafted into the Sith order. You can either help the rebels cover this up – gaining a hundred light side points, or you can murder them all, gaining a hundred dark side points. Fair enough, that bit makes sense.

But then, assuming you went dark side, you get another choice when you report back to command. You can either admit all that was there was a bunch of untrained civilians – and get fifty light side points for your honesty – or you can lie, claim they were trained Jedi, and get another fifty dark side points plus a few hundred credits hazard pay.

So, let me get this straight. Murdering civilians in cold blood, then lying about it, is three times worse than killing the same people but being completely up-front about it?!
4thofeleven: (Default)
One of the weird things about the Old Republic is that BioWare really didn’t seem to have planned for expansions very well. The main storyline ends with the Sith Empire facing defeat on almost every front, beset by internal division and with most of its leaders dead. There doesn’t really seem to be anywhere to go, the story as of release largely wraps up the conflict in a lot of ways.

The new expansion emphasises that further; the Imperial storyline there makes it explicit that the Empire’s on the verge of total defeat, and their involvement on the new planet Makeb is a final desperate gambit to turn the tide before they’re completely overwhelmed.

Now, sure, it’s Star Wars, of course the Empire’s going to lose, and it’s rather nice to see an MMO where the factions aren’t stuck in an endless stalemate. Still, it’s kind of weird to have the Empire as the plucky underdogs struggling against the overwhelming military might of the Republic and the Jedi.
4thofeleven: (Default)
In today’s episode of “Hilarious Old Republic Morality”:

There’s a mission to infiltrate an Imperial fortress. There’s two options, a frontal assault or sneaking in through the sewers. You and your companion do one, and a squad of Republic soldiers does the other.

Choosing to sneak through the sewers gives you Dark Side points.

Because that makes sense, right? “Did you hear about that special forces operative who snuck into an enemy fortress while the army staged a diversionary attack? What a jerk! A real hero would have run a diversionary attack by himself and let the regular army do the sneak attack! Sensible tactics are a sign of moral corruption!”

Even more hilarious if you’re playing a smuggler – in other words, a civilian who’s chosen to volunteer to help the Republic army of their own initiative. Nope, sorry buddy, you’re not volunteering to risk your life enough, you’re a bad guy now!
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One of the impressive things in the Old Republic is the companion system. Each class has five companions, each with their own dialogue and storylines. It’s an area where they really could have skimped a bit – I don’t think anyone would have minded that much if some classes had shared a companion or two.

As is standard for BioWare, some companions can be romanced by the player character. In my current play through as a smuggler, I’m pursuing a romance with Risha, my partner-in-crime. In her storyline, it turns out she’s the exiled heir to the throne of some minor planet, and she’s working to regain her family’s power. I’ve advanced her storyline to the point where she’s made contact with a noble who might help her regain power… of course, there’s a complication. The noble’s a handsome young man, and the moment he meets her, he proposes marriage.

Leaving my poor smuggler feeling like a bit of a fifth wheel, and wondering how to convince Risha to forget about the charming noble in favour of sticking with a scruffy outlaw….

Yes, that’s right. BioWare’s apparently cribbing plot-points from The Courtship of Princess Leia
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In today’s adventures with The Old Republic’s increasingly arbitrary morality system:

My bounty hunter was hired by an old couple to salvage some parts from a Hutt-run factory they could sell for supplies on the black market. Not my usual work, but hey, a job’s a job. But, as I grab the parts, I’m approached by the factory’s foreman, who wants me to plant a tracking device in them so he can hunt down the trader the old couple are dealing with and shut him down – the Hutts are threatening his family if he doesn’t do something about the black market salvagers.

It’s a tough decision, but in the end, I turn down the foreman’s generous offer of bonus payment. After all, the old couple are dependent on the black market for clean food and water. They put their trust in me, and I’m not going to be complicit in shutting down their lifeline. Besides, what kind of reputation would I have if I sold them out for a few extra credits?

After making that decision, it did seem a little unfair for the game to saddle me with Dark Side points after that. I mean, I’m a bounty hunter, I’m not exactly morally clean – but things like this shouldn’t be damning me!

Granted, it was a good no-win moral conundrum – but those sort of situations really shouldn’t give Dark or Light side points…

Meanwhile, my Jedi knight has been asked to keep an eye on a pair of Padawans who, their masters suspect, are having an illicit relationship. I honestly wasn’t surprised that ratting them out was the Light Side option – Lucasfilm probably wouldn’t have approved a game where going against the Jedi code was the Light Side option. I was amused, however, to see as far as the game was concerned, just not reporting on the Padawans and actively blackmailing them for your silence were considered morally identically when it came to handing out Dark Side points…


Dec. 11th, 2012 08:53 pm
4thofeleven: (Default)
One thing bugging me about The Old Republic – the handling of Revan. For those unfamiliar, Revan was the main character in the original Knights of the Old Republic, and, like all of BioWare’s protagonists, gender and morality was customisable in the game. Unfortunately, at some point the decision was made that Revan was canonically male, and aligned to the light side.

Despite that, early on the Old Republic seemed determined not to impose any one version of Revan on the player – there’s a whole quest line on the Empire’s capital planet about a cult of ‘Revanites’ who say that little information has survived about Revan’s life, that even his/her gender is unknown. I thought it was a nice touch, to leave it ambiguous what really happened in the first game.

Then I played the Foundry Flashpoint mission. At the end of it, you confront Revan – who, somehow, has survived the last three hundred years with only a few minor scars. And of course he’s a guy. A generic looking white guy at that. He’s also planning genocide against the Empire, which seemed a little odd too.

After going to so much effort earlier not to contradict anyone’s KotOR 1 playthough, why the sudden turn around? And if he had to be confirmed as male, couldn’t they at least have kept him masked during his appearance, leave a little mystery about him?

Not to mention the weirdness of having your new player character hunting down and killing your old one…

Think I’m going to pretend the Foundry ‘Revan’ was just a deranged Revanite who found some of Revan’s equipment and became convinced he was the real Revan…
4thofeleven: (Default)
Continuing to play the Old Republic; my Sith character has made it to Alderaan, and is finally starting to rack up a decent number of Dark Side points. Alderaan’s noble houses are big enough jerks on both sides that I feel no qualms about zapping any of them that get in the Empire’s way… honestly, I’m starting to understand where Tarkin was coming from.

One thing that surprises me is the class choices other people are making. Empire side, it’s mainly Sith Inquisitors, same class I chose – after all, if you’re going to go Dark Side, you may as well go all the way and pick the class that lets you Force Lightning everything in your way!

Republic side, though, it seems like the most popular class is the Republic Trooper. Not what I expected, when the other choices are smuggler or two types of Jedi. People are passing up Obi-Wan and Han to be the generic guys Vader chokes in the first five minutes of A New Hope?!
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Finally checking out The Old Republic. It’s a decent enough game, though it does have some annoying quirks, and feels suspiciously like a single-player game that’s been rather poorly converted into an MMO at the last minute…

The character limitations are annoying – can’t be a Wookee or a Mon Calimari or a Jawa or any other recognisable alien except for Twi’leks, with virtually all the species choices being essentially ‘humans in a different colour’. And the Free-to-play limitations seem rather petty, with things like quest rewards and elements of the user interface(!) being limited if you’re not a subscriber.

The thing that really confuses me though, is one elements of the quests. Like in the single-player games, some missions give you Light Side or Dark Side points depending on your decisions. Cool, and if ever there was a setting that could benefit from BioWare’s one-dimensional morality system, it’s Star Wars. Except… Well, the points you get seem to have been decided almost at random!

See, I rolled up a smuggler, intending to be a Han Solo-style reluctant hero. Emphasis on the hero. But because of my decisions, the game’s convinced he’s flirting heavily with the Dark Side! What decisions might you ask? Well, there was the time he turned medicine over to Republic soldiers, instead of giving it to the people who stole it from them. Or the time he tried to stop a reporter who’d gone native from producing propaganda for a brutal Sith-aligned rebel army. Or the time he tried to talk a traumatised child solder into returning to his family, rather than letting him run away from his home world and never see them again…

Meanwhile, hilariously, my Sith Inquisitor is picking up more than her fair share of Light Side points just because I decided her philosophy should be ruthless efficiency over petty sadism. Example, in one mission, she refused to crush a slave rebellion by using a poison that would cause prolonged suffering followed by death… instead, she used a poison that would only cause death! Granted, better than the alternative, but it doesn’t really seem like it should actively move her towards the Light…
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Fandomsecrets today had a secret up from someone saying they vastly prefer Luke and Callista as a couple over Luke and Mara (No. 146 in this entry). I don’t see why that should be a secret, since only crazy people would disagree with that position*.

You know what I just realised is cool about Callista? She’s a Jedi from just before the rise of a Sith Empire, who returns in an era when the Jedi are extinct and knowledge their teachings all but forgotten. She survives events that should have destroyed her, but loses all connection to the Force in the process. She very quickly – some would say implausibly quickly – develops a strong bond with a fellow Force user. Her story ends with a question mark, where she went or her final fate a total mystery.

She’s the OT era version of KotOR 2’s Jedi Exile**!

* Because only crazy people have strong opinions about characters from the Star Wars EU.

** Yes, being similar to a KotOR 2 character is awesome. It's 'unpopular SW EU opinions' day, alright?
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So, the KotOR 2 Restored Content mod came out a while back, and I’ve finally had a chance to play through the game with it installed. It’s well worth checking out – there’s a few bugs here and there, but it adds back in a lot of stuff that was cut from the game before release. Most significantly, it adds in the HK-50 Droid Factory and as a result the confrontation between Goto and the Remote now actually has a conclusion. There’s also now a lot more bits of dialogue on Malachor V that make the end game feel… well, less unfinished. Plus there are a fair number of other little bits added to the rest of the game.

Of course, it’s still not perfect – the mod team have done a great job, but they’re limited by what resources they have, and a lot of the ‘missing’ content just didn’t exist in the first place. The game was really rushed out the door, and I’m not sure if the designers had ever worked out how the final sections of the game were meant to work. As it is, even with everything added back in, the last few areas of the game are still obviously unfinished compared to, say, the Nar Shadaar section.

Then again, I’ve always felt the increasingly unfinished feel of the game from the return to Dantooine onwards actually sort of works in terms of the story. The game’s story is essentially entirely the relationship between Kreia and the Exile, and it seems to me unintientionally inappropriate that once Kreia leaves the party, the next few sections of the game are so brief and seem so disjointed – defeating Nihilus doesn’t matter, saving the Repubic doesn’t matter to the Exile any more, they’re just delays on the way to confronting Kreia one last time. The tragedy, of course, is that the Exile and Kreia can never face one another as equals, only as deceiver and deceived, betrayer and betrayed… and in the end, as slayer and slain.

Random observation: I’ve always thought it odd that the official position is that Revan was male and returned to the light side, when KotOR 2 by default assumes the opposite on both. Certainly, KotOR 2’s storyline with the Jedi dead and the Republic on the edge of collapse make far more sense if you assume the first game ended with the Dark Side ending. Revan’s gender has les s impact, though if you have her as a woman, there are some lines of dialogue in the sequel that due to the ambiguity of pronouns could be referring to either Revan or Kreia, which I find adds a little interest to things.
4thofeleven: (Default)

This is one of those ideas that's been running through my head for a while, because, well, these are two of my favorite SW characters, and they have a lot in common, and I wasn't going to let a little thing like one dying four thousand years before the other was born get in the way of them meeting...

Title: An Audience with the Shadow Queen
Fandom: Star Wars, Knights of the Old Republic 2
Categories: Gen, G
Disclaimer: Star Wars and all characters, locations, ect. remain the property of George Lucas. No copyright infringement is intended.
Summary: A young Palpatine seeks knowledge from one of the ancient lords of the Sith.




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David Newgreen

August 2017

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