Of the sixty plus hours I’ve spent with The Old Republic, the handful of hours that make up this week’s TFOR were certainly the most mind blowing for me. And it couldn’t have come at a better time! It wasn’t long ago I was thinking that the story was beginning to drag. This edition also shows that BioWare’s decision to voice this MMO has paid off, because certain sequences in the game wouldn’t have the same emotional resonance if the game relied on speech bubbles.
After what I experienced, I really couldn’t wait to share with you just how uncomfortable the game had made me feel despite that fact that I willingly play an evil character who goes after the darkest and most violent responses and actions. The road to tracking down the padawan Jaesa Wilsaam was a road filled with blood, death and tears and althougth the outcome was a favorable one, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of regret over my actions.
“Alderaan is peaceful! We have no weapons!”
Our story begins on Alderaan, the doomed homeworld of Princess Leia, where the planet’s ruler has died and a number of royal houses fight each other in a brutal civil war to secure the crown. Loyal to the Empire is House Thul and before I can hunt down my targets - the parents of Jaesa - my talents have been requested by Imperial High Command. On the orders of Darth Baras, I would work with Thul to secure their spot as inheritors of Alderaan. Unfortunately, the leader of the faction is still loyal and honorbound to his fellow Alderaanians and it was my task to remind Thul of his new station. To get the ball rolling, I was tasked by the Empire officer to track down a rebellious nobleman, place a shock collar on him (similar to the one I had used to torture Vette) and throw him at Thul’s feet. Although taken aback at this brazen act, the cowardly toad finally decided to play ball and sent me about my task.
House Thul’s biggest rival to the crown is House Organa, who have been putting pressure on Thul through a series quick, surgical strikes against his forces. My first task was to locate and infiltrate a small army of Republic guerrillas and slice their systems to better understand troop strength and track movements. Fighting my way inside their hidden cave, I made quick work of their soldiers and battle droids before engaging in a deadly duel with a Jedi. Afterwards, I hacked the terminal and transmitted the data to House Thul. While investigating the data, Thul discovers that the Republic have launched a series of raids on three Thul targets to cover up their real objective: a small squad of Republic troops led by Thul’s former vassals have infiltrated the palace through a network of sewer systems and threaten to make a push against Thul himself. My task was to get inside, plant some explosives and block the tunnel. A simple task that ended both the assault and the lives of Thul’s vassals.
After the palace was secured, I led an assault to fend off the Republic forces attacking Imperial friendly targets. Returning to Thul, I was offered rewards and praised - something that didn’t mean much coming from such a lowly lackey of the Empire. The real praise came from the Imperial officer who sent me to act on their behalf. I was now free to go as the Thul situation was finally under control. He did offer me one final optional task that involved displacing a tribe of Killiks and I happily accepted. Being the Star Wars nerd that I am, getting a chance to interact with the Killiks was pretty cool, especially after reading the Dark Nest Crisis trilogy. The Killiks are an insect-like race that live under a hive mind and were once the original inhabitants of Alderaan. My task was to use a special brand of poison and introduce it to the Killik nests, killing their young and, ideally, persuading them to move on. The Killiks put up a pretty good fight and represented some of the more tougher enemies I went up against on the planet.
“A Jedi shall not know anger. Nor hatred. Nor love.”
With the Killiks removed and House Thul inching closer to becoming the rulers of Alderaan, it was time to set upon my reason for being on the planet in the first place. Darth Baras’ plan to draw the elusive padawan out of hiding was to track down those that held a special place in her heart and dispose of them. As she was linked to these individuals through the Force, she would “feel” their deaths and because she had yet to become a master of her emotions, she would emerge from hiding, allowing me to destroy her...or bring her to the Dark Side. I killed her first Master on Tatooine and now I am to hunt down an even greater target on Alderaan: her parents.
My contact for this mission was the haughty and arrogant Duke Kendoh, who immediately copped an attitude towards me and, seeing himself backed by three Sith bodyguards sworn to protect him, attempted to get me to kneel before him. I fired back, telling the Duke to stuff it. This ruffled his feathers quite a bit and he commanded his bodyguards to deal with me. Fortunately, the Sith knew where their loyalties lay and backed me up instead. Kendoh was put in his place and his demeanor changed dramatically. With everything in proper order, it was time to get down to business. Kendoh’s resources have identified that Jaesa served as a handmaiden under Lady Renata from House Alde - who also happens to be Kendoh’s biggest rival. Kendoh wants me to assault House Alde and bring a high profile target in for questioning.
A one woman assault on a royal House sounds easy on paper, but Reija would certainly have her work cut out for her. Located in the southern regions of Alderaan, House Alde was a large compound filled to the brim with soldiers and battle droids. While one could simply sneak in, find the target and get out, it takes some true bravado to engage Alde’s forces in battle and desecrate a few monuments. My reign of terror involved killing a set number of troopers, destroying statues erected for the Jedi and hacking the House’s central holoprojector, replacing the Republic’s emblem with the Empire’s. You know, to show them who really runs the show. My actions didn’t go unnoticed and earned the attention of a Jedi general who seemed a bit upset about what I’ve done.
After a little house cleaning, I ventured deep into the compound and found Lady Alde. Disposing of her entourage, Alde panicked and offered up additional information: Jaesa actually served under General Gesselle in House Organa. Frustrated with this false lead - and suspecting that Kendoh’s information wasn’t truly legit - I had several Imperial troops escort Alde to Kendoh’s base at the Thul compound. Locating House Organa wasn’t a difficult task - just follow the smoke and sounds of battle. The southeast region of Alderaan was the belly of the beast and home to the largest and most violent fighting in the civil war. In order to locate Gesselle, I had to disable the House’s shield generators, which would allow Thul’s troops to put more pressure on Organa’s forces giving me easy access to Gesselle as chaos and confusion began to spread. I eventually located Gesselle and her vassals (one of which was her lover) and after demanding the information, Gesselle turned her nose up at me (I swear, these Alderaanians are just begging to be blown up) and wouldn’t reveal anything unless I helped her out.
To Corellia’s nine hells with that!
Not content with having people push me around, I decided to motivate Gesselle by using the Force to choke the life out of her young lover. She stood firm until I applied a little more pressure and Gesselle’s spirit eventually shattered, tripping over herself to give me the information I required in exchange for their loved one’s life. As punishment, I allowed the young man to live but killed Gesselle and her remaining bodyguards. As it turns out, the Jedi knew of my plan to seek out Jaesa’s parents and had them sequestered deep within the Organa compound. I eventually made my way to a large audience chamber where the mother and father were kept and guarded by a young Jedi master. Both the Jedi and the parents tried to talk me out of my mission, the scared mother and father beseeching me especially, saying that they never really wanted this life for their daughter.
Their request was something I simply could not fulfill (well, maybe I could, I had some Light Side dialogue options, but I didn’t take them) and in one of the most shocking and visceral scenes in the game, I used the Force to push the Jedi out of the way and snapped the necks of Jaesa’s parents, letting them drop to the floor in a crumpled, lifeless heap. When the Jedi recovered, even he was shocked at the ruthlessness of my act. Finding his resolve shaken, I allowed myself the opportunity to goad the Jedi into combat. He soon joined the padawan’s parents in death.
With my mission complete, I was eager to check in with Darth Baras and after giving my report, he seemed to be uncharacteristically angry with me. Turns out, Duke Kendoh had been submitting his own reports to Baras, indicating that I was lollygagging in my duties and sought to fulfill my own gains rather than those of my Master. Angry beyond belief that Kendoh was spreading lies, I presented my case to Baras who understood the situation and believed that the Duke was attemping to cover up his involvement in the Alde and Organa attacks. Given leave by Baras to deal with Kendoh accordingly, I immediately traveled to his base of operations and confronted him about his lies. Clearly caught with his hand in the cookie jar, Kendoh blubbered on incessantly for his life. Knowing what was coming, he tried to get his bodyguards to defend him but they ended up siding with me, revealing Kendoh’s true intentions. The Sith guards were tired of protecting Kendoh’s life and I gave them the honor of killing the Alderaanian noble.
Feeling pretty good about myself, I decided to head back to the Fury and await developments. It wasn’t long before I was contacted by Jaesa Wilsaam herself. Speaking to me without her Master’s knowledge, a visibly shaken Jaesa offered to meet with me to discuss events and make the case that she and I are nothing more than pawns in a larger game between Darth Baras and Nomen Karr. As a show of good faith, she gave me the coordinates to her ship for a private meeting. Upon docking with her ship, Jaesa was nowhere to be found but in her place were two Jedi. Turns out, Nomen Karr intercepted the padawan’s transmission and held her back, sending these two instead. One of the Jedi, Zylix, was a brash and easily irritated punk and once again, I taunted and tried to get him to fight in anger. Zylix’s stoic partner wasn’t buying into my behavior but tried to calm his friend.
My evil ways ultimately got the better of Zylix who lashed out in anger - the Sith’s main weapon in dealing with Jedi - but ultimately struck down. The older Jedi was much more of a challenge. Once both Jedi were dead, I contacted Baras with developments but the Sith Lord had his own news to report. While I was busy fighting Jedi, Baras received a message from the padawan’s master, Nomen Karr, and issued a challenge. Rather than confront the Jedi himself, Baras was going to send me in his place. When I questioned him about his motives and why he would not engage the Jedi himself, Baras simply stated that he grew tired of the “game” between himself and Karr. With the matter closed, I was to fly to Hutta and locate Karr at his safehouse. Baras wanted me to keep Karr alive, as the shame of defeat would serve as a means of constant humiliation.
“Only your hatred can destroy me.”
Despite being Darkstation’s biggest cheerleader for The Old Republic, I have to admit that certain parts of the game have dragged a bit. Tatooine in particular. There were moments in the game when I quickly rushed through several worlds just so I could advance the story and move onto better and more meaningful areas. However, the game would come to a rescue with the finale of the padawan storyline and end it with a bang. From the moment I killed Jaesa’s parents the class story immediately went off the rails and it’s beenincredibly exciting to see how events unfold. I’ve enjoyed seeing the growth of Reija as a Sith warrior, who is more confident in her abilities and can openly engage verbally and physically with the Jedi. The banter between the two philosophies of the Force is fantastic to watch and getting this chance to push a Jedi’s buttons was something I’ve always wanted to experience.
All that being said, I’m still reeling from the encounter with Nomen Karr.
I piloted my ship to Hutta, the ugly and swampy homeworld of the Hutts, and I immediately knew why Nomen Karr kept a safe house on the planet: no one would willingly venture here, even if they lost a bet. Trudging through the southern swamps, I located Karr’s home and steeled myself for a battle Darth Baras said to not take lightly. Although I have fought a handful of Jedis and a few Masters, Nomen Karr ranks as one of the elite, the very best Jedis the Council has to offer. I found Karr meditating in his chambers and he seemed disappointed that Baras himself didn’t show up. He offered some familiar choices, renounce my mission and leave the padawan alone, but he already knew my answer.
The fight with Nomen Karr was a three stage battle. The first fight ended quickly and Karr was surprised to find that I was much stronger than he expected, a fact that seemed to unnerve him. I used this opportunity to fuel Karr’s anger by tempting him to use his emotions to fight me. Fighting a Jedi is much more than using the Force and swinging a lightsaber. It is also a mental game. The Sith attempt to sway the Jedi out of their comfort zones by appealing to their fear and anger, especially if they find themselves outmatched. A Jedi that fights with anger is a worthy opponent as they fight with unhinged and raw emotion, but because they haven’t been trained how to apply such emotions to combat, they can be easily taken down. Even if the Sith is killed, evil remains victorious because the Sith was successful in turning a Jedi to the Dark Side.
This tactic had an effect on Karr as the second fight had him switching between Light and Dark Side powers. This was a pretty difficult match and I won’t lie, I died a few times in the process. Having a companion around was certainly helpful, as Quinn had healing capabilities and could keep Karr at bay from time to time. Eventually, I bested Karr a second time and my victory had finally pushed him over the edge. His defeat and my mind games resulted in Nomen Karr, a great Jedi of the Republic, to fall to the Dark Side unleashing his full fury and desperation against me for a final, no holds barred duel. After a few attempts, I finally brought down the Jedi who had been reduced to an empty shell of a man. He begged for death, knowing that he couldn’t live with the shame of his actions, but I spared his life summoning Imperial troops to bind the fallen Jedi.
At this time, Jaesa Wilsaam made her entrance and upon seeing her broken Master, she lashed out at me. Attempting to sway her to my way of thinking, she engaged me in a short battle. Falling to her knees, Jaesa soon found herself turning away from the Light Side after seeing what I had done to her Master. Empowered by her emotions, Jaesa renounced the Jedi, blaming them for ruining her life and putting her into a situation she neither asked for or wanted. She asked to follow me and learn the ways of the Dark Side and thinking she could be a useful ally, I accepted her offer and declared Jaesa as my apprentice. This act served as a means to bring Karr to a new level of madness and despair.
Darth Baras couldn’t have been happier with the events on Hutta. On the Fury, I presented Jaesa to my master who welcomed the girl into the fold. Hearing that Nomen Karr was broken in body and spirit was enough to send Baras into an unforgettable bought of laughter as he showered me with praise. As a reward for all my accomplishments in protecting his spies and defeating his biggest rival, Darth Baras granted me the title of Sith Lord and allowed me to enjoy a brief sabbatical to celebrate my victories. Finding myself free of my Master for a time, I took this opportunity to interact with Jaesa who needed guidance about the Dark Side. On the bridge of the ship, Malavai Quinn wondered what would happen next now that Baras’ enemies have been disposed of. I was thrilled to see the hooks in the next phase of Reija’s evolution as a Sith, as she mentioned that eventually she must challenge and defeat Baras in open combat. Such is the way of the Sith: the student must surpass the Master.
But before that, I figured now would be a good time to take my new apprentice for a spin and tackle some quests I left behind on Alderaan and Tatooine. Come back next week for another edition of Tales from the Old Republic as Reija teaches her apprentice the ways of the Dark Side, participates in a new Flashpoint and comes face to face with the ancient and terrible Infinite Empire.
Teen Services Librarian by day, Darkstation review editor by night. I've been playing video games since the days of the Commodore 64 and I have no interest in stopping now that I've made it this far.