Revisiting KOTOR II: (#1) A Fresh Start

I may have mentioned once or twice that I am a Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR) fanatic.  I’ve played the game at least half a dozen times, totalling hundreds of hours, with all different classes/alignments/etc.

Naturally after that I was ecstatic to get my hands on KOTOR II: The Sith Lords, which came out for PC 10 years ago this month.

I played it once.  When I reached the end of the game, I threw my computer across the room.

Ok, so maybe I just felt like throwing things.  Despite a few bugs here and there, I had mostly enjoyed the game up until then.  But that ending. Urgh.  It was so terrible it basically resulted in a huge giant rage quit from me.  I’m pretty sure I immediately called my husband and ranted about it.

But I have heard that some people (I have never actually met any of these people) actually like KOTOR II better than the first game.  To be fair, the game was notoriously rushed to get it out on console for the 2004 Christmas season, and since then some enterprising individuals have provided mods that add back in cut content, fix bugs, etc.  So having re-acquired the game a while back during a Steam sale, and with the Restored Content mods in place, I’m going to give KOTOR II a second chance.

2015-01-11_00001

If you’d like to come along for the ride, I’ll be doing periodic posts on my progress as I play through.  There will be a few minor spoilers, but I’ll try to avoid any major ones (for either KOTOR game).  This first edition will take us through character creation, the prologue, and starting Peragus.

2015-01-11_00002I chose a female Guardian as my character; although I tend to like playing Force users better, I typically find it easier to play a melee fighter when I am not as familiar with the game.

I took the recommended attributes and skills and went through the random names until I found one I liked: Tyria Drace.  (I’m going to mostly take the recommended talents as I level up, especially for the companions, but I might personalize a little bit with the feats and especially the Force powers.)

As I played the prologue on the Ebon Hawk, I was surprised by how good the keyboard controls were and how easy it is to move around and select things–I didn’t even have a mouse and it was not a problem.  I did have to break myself of a few habits from playing The Old Republic MMO: I tried to jump by using the space bar, but that key actually pauses the game in KOTOR!  Also, I tried to use Tab to shift between targets in combat, as you would in TOR, but in KOTOR that actually shifts between player characters in your party.

Loading screen on Peragus

I also had to figure out that screenshots in Steam are F12.  Not the normal PrintScreen, which just gives you big blocks of black if you try to then paste it in Paint.  Hmmm.  You guys almost got no screenshots of this first gameplay.  Luckily, I know how to Google.

Back to the story!  There are a lot of key character introductions in the beginning.  You play through the prologue as T3-M4, your little astromech droid, and then on Peragus you almost immediately meet the old woman Kreia.  Very soon after you meet the rogue Atton (while not wearing any clothing…), and then you meet an HK (Hunter Killer) droid as you explore Peragus.  My character thoroughly enjoyed making snarky comments to all of them.  Except for T3, they are all sooo easy to snark at.

 

As you are talking to Atton (again, not wearing any clothes, which he remarks on if you’re female), you get the option to choose the ending of the first KOTOR game as regards Revan.  (The game leaves it vague whether Revan’s male or female under that mask…)

Peragus, an isolated mining facility, isn’t too bad of a setting to start the game, because there are a lot of mysteries going on that you investigate as you explore.  Why is Atton in jail when you meet him?  Where did your T3 unit disappear to? How did you even end up on Peragus in the first place?  And what does Kreia have to do with any of this?

I got so sucked in that I played until 1am—104 minutes so far in my first session.  I stopped because I hit a spot in the gameplay where it was not obvious what I had to do next, so I was kinda stuck trying to figure it out.  Also, I had to work in the morning, but why would that ever stop me?

Yeah, I was pretty tired at work the next day.

Until next time on Peragus!

Continue on the 2nd part of the series here: Revisiting KOTOR II: (#2) Get me off Telos!

Advertisements

Revisiting KOTOR II: (#2) Get me off Telos!

Check out the first post in this series here: Revisiting KOTOR II: (#1) A Fresh Start.

The solution to my quandary at the end of my first KOTOR II session was actually pretty easy: I just had to go back to the security desk, which now had new options to help me progress the story.  From there on out, it was smooth sailing off Peragus…well, except for the HK assassin droids that keep popping up.

Charming, aren't they?
Charming, aren’t they?

The only place we can manage to fly to is Telos, where we land on the Orbital Station and are promptly accused of blowing up Peragus.  Oops.  So we’re kind of under house arrest here.  And while in custody, the Ebon Hawk has gone missing, so we have to hunt for our ship again.  This is getting to be a theme.

Telos, also known as Telos IV, was mentioned in the first KOTOR as the homeworld of Carth Onasi.  The planet’s surface was destroyed in a bombardment by Admiral Saul Karath after he betrayed the Republic to join the Sith under Revan and Malak.  This betrayal was especially personal to Carth, who had previously served under Karath.

Telos is now undergoing restoration by the Republic, but there is conflict between the two groups working on the project: the Ithorians and the Czerka Corporation.  Currying favor with either of these two groups on the Orbital Station (as well as the criminal syndicate called the Exchange) can help you on your way.

I chose to side with the Ithorians, which eventually involved hijacking a Czerka droid to get access to their files, which reveal their criminal activities.

I learned the hard way to be careful about dialogue choices—they can highly affect the direction of the game.  Twice I chose options that dropped me directly into combat, and I ended up wiping out the Exchange on Telos.  Not very diplomatic for a character trying to be Light Side.  Even Kreia got mad at me about that.

I also hit my first game glitch: when I was in the Exchange boss’s office, I could not get the camera view to shift around, which is how I direct my character’s movements.  So with my view stuck I could only run forward and backward, not turn at all.  It took me a while to get out of that stupid office!

Help, I'm stuck in this stupid Exchange office!
Help, guys, we’re stuck in this stupid Exchange office!

Telos is a perfect analogue to Taris from the first KOTOR.  Both planets were bombarded by Saul Karath in service to the Sith.  On Telos’s Orbital Station, just as on Taris, there are plenty of random apartments to run around and steal things from–one guy actually gets mad at you for taking stuff from his room!

They’re also the places where the minigames are introduced in the cantinas (a good way to make money, which is a critical resource at this stage of the game).  Pazaak is a card game similar to Blackjack, but it’s hard to play at this stage without good cards, which are expensive.  You can play practice games with Atton to learn the rules.  Swoop racing is fun, but I’m having trouble with it because I have no mouse (also, I just suck).

Eventually, your quest for your ship takes you to the planet’s surface, where you gain technician Bao-Dur as a new party member.  He’s a calm, competent Zabrak that serves as your guide around Telos (seriously, you’re required to have him in your party).

All the clues lead you to the polar region of Telos, where, after again being assaulted by HK droids, you discover a secret Jedi academy with ties to your past.  You also discover your ship!  Hooray! Finally.

Over these Telos sessions, I learned a lot about my character’s party members.  A talk with Kreia produced a cutscene that revealed a lot about her past connection to the Sith (I don’t remember getting that information this early in the game last time).  After we’re all captured by the Handmaidens at the Telos Academy, there’s a scene of her probing Atton’s mind and discovering something from his past that he’s hidden from my character.  There’s also a scene of her shocking poor T3 with Force lightning!  I don’t like Kreia very much right now.

Pretty sure this is torture, Kreia.

I’ve been auto-leveling my companions for the most part.  For my character, I’ve been taking the recommended attributes and skills (except fewer points in demolitions, since like 3 characters have that skill right now).  I finally caved to taking the Two-Weapon Fighting feat after the game recommended it several times (plus double-bladed lightsabers are cool), but I am not taking Force Scream!!  Stop recommending it!  Force Scream is a Dark Side power; why would you recommend it for a character who’s so Light Side I’m glowing blue? Plus Kreia already has this power, too.

So, now we’re heading out in the Ebon Hawk to search for the remaining Jedi Masters to help in the fight against the Sith.  I’m currently at 13 hr 16 min of total play time.  I randomly decided to hit Nar Shadaa, home of the Hutt underwold, first.  See you next time in that wretched hive of scum and villainy!

Open Galaxy Map!
Open Galaxy Map!

Continue on the 3rd part of the series here: Revisiting KOTOR II: (#3) A Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy, aka Nar Shaddaa

Revisiting KOTOR II: (#3) A Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy, aka Nar Shaddaa

Check out the first post in this series here: Revisiting KOTOR II: (#1) A Fresh Start.

Last time we waved good-bye to Telos and set off for Nar Shaddaa to begin our quest of finding allies in the fight against Sith galactic domination.  The completionist in my head is screaming because I still have some unfinished side quests from Telos.  I thought I explored everything pretty well, so it may be I’m just waiting for some further trigger in the story to be able to complete them.

Also, a few of them I just gave up on, like getting this guy to follow me out of the hanger on the planet surface.  His AI just was not having any of it.  I left him.

This guy is worse than a 2-yr-old at following directions.

In any case, I may be able to go back later and finish some up.  Or I may never be able to finish the quests at all now. That’s just how it goes in KOTOR.

To sum up Nar Shaddaa, the story was very interesting, and the combat was torturous.  I died. A lot.

I hoped going to Nar Shaddaa first would give me a little insight into Atton’s character, because I knew he’d spent some time there in the past.  I got enough influence with him to get him to reveal some of his backstory (I am guessing that this is at least part of what Kreia mined from his brain in the last edition).  We discover that he is Force-sensitive, and my character helps him take his first steps on the path to becoming a Jedi.  This is excellent news, because now I can give him Force healing powers and won’t have to waste medpacs on him anymore.

Atton takes his first step into a larger world…in this random Exchange office on Nar Shaddaa. Hey, it’s as good a place as any for a conversation.

If the theme of my first few sessions was finding my ship, the theme of my ones on Nar Shaddaa was people/droids sneaking onto my ship.  Visas Marr was probably the most annoying.  No matter which dialogue option you choose (and I tried all of them), it leads straight into combat with her.  I died three times before I thought to try running away.

Unfortunately, you can’t leave the ship, but she stops attacking once you break line of sight.  I wandered around until I found HK-47, then got him up and running and sent him after her.  It’s hardly a fair fight when she has a lightsaber and I don’t.  I eventually defeated her after I switched from using melee shields to using energy shields.

Why thank you, HK-47!

Around this point, I discovered the secret to combat in KOTOR II: use your shields.  Let me repeat, SHIELDS ARE THE KEY TO ALL COMBAT.  They are easy to get from drops, or you can make them at workbenches or even have Bao-Dur make basic ones for you.  Once I started using them effectively, I stopped dying all the time.  There are many times during the on Nar Shaddaa where you only have a single character in your party, or are limited in which characters you may use, which can throw off your combat strategies.  Stay on your toes, upgrade your equipment, and use your shields.

Unfortunately, I was not allowed to kill Visas after that battle; instead she joins your party (over the objections of Kreia; Kreia objects to literally everything you do).  Also joining my party on Nar Shaddaa is Mira, a cool red-headed Scout; we are also introduced to her enemy, the Wookiee Hanharr (whom I would have gotten instead if I’d been darkside).

Eventually, I have to face the Exchange boss that’s put a bounty on my character’s head.  I chose to take Atton and T3 with me to Goto’s yacht; Atton is useful because he is ranged, now has Force healing powers, and has a special feat called Fighting Spirit that gives him a chance to get back up if he’s downed while there’s still another party member alive.  Therefore, I spend 90% of the time playing as T3, who has unlimited shields, and his droid shock arm is boss.

I actually did the yacht the hard way because I didn’t find all the defense shutdown codes until I’d killed all the droids, etc. anyways.  But I don’t think I died even once, and I got to recover a ton of mines, which can be used/sold/broken down for parts.

After I blew up his ship, Goto saddled me with G0-T0, a droid that looks like a torture device that has (yes!) sneaked onto my ship .  I remember this droid being fairly useless, but I’ll try to keep an open mind during this replay…

My companion slots are filling up!

Now I’m gonna head back to the surface to finish up all the side quests that I ignored in my haste to go deeper into the main storyline.  I’m at 20 hrs 8 min of play time.  See you next time back in the Refugee Sector!

Continue on the 4th part of the series here: Revisiting KOTOR II: (#4) Why is my lightsaber red?

Revisiting KOTOR II: (#4) Why is my lightsaber red?

Start with the first post in this series here: Revisiting KOTOR II: (#1) A Fresh Start.

Welcome back to Nar Shaddaa!  We have a new loading menu image: Visas Marr’s Sith master.

Darth Nihilus: his name isn’t mentioned, but it’s quite appropriate given his nature in the Force

I had a few side missions to finish up, so I ran around the Refugee Sector and the docks for a bit.  Missions in KOTOR II are interesting and varied; my favorite are the puzzle quests, which require a little bit of creative thinking (although I think my character would prefer straight-up combat).

One of the missions I completed (helping to reunite a refugee couple), rewarded me with the last piece I needed to create a lightsaber!  So I asked Bao-Dur to help me craft one.  I went with double-bladed, because I’ve already been dual-wielding with the Two-Weapon Fighting feat, and double-bladed just seems more badass than two single blades (plus requires finding fewer crystals to fill the upgrade slots).

I’ve been playing my character, Tyria Drace, as a pretty straight-forward fighter type: doesn’t hesitate to start a fight, definitely doesn’t waste time doing stealth missions when she can just charge in.  Part of that is role playing; part of it is that as a gamer, I often favor the most direct path to my goal.

But I have definitely been playing her as light-side, so I was amused that the lightsaber crystal I randomly got is RED.  So now I have a red, double-bladed lightsaber, which is generally connected with Sith characters such as Darth Maul.  I will be changing that color as soon as possible!  There are several interesting colors that can be found in the game, but I’d settle for basic blue or green.

I also took the time to talk to all my companions, and explore some of their interactions on the ship.  Unfortunately, my newest members Mira and G0-T0 (my second evil droid after HK-47) did not take a shine to me at all; my conversation with Mira ended with her threatening to throw me out an airlock or something.  She also thinks I have a thing for Atton, which, let’s be honest, I totally do.  And T3 is pretty desperate to conceal where the Ebon Hawk has been, even resorting to shocking HK-47 to keep him from asking questions.

My conversation with Kreia was (for once) more helpful: it’s time for me to choose my prestige class!

I really need some more attractive head gear...
I really need to get some more attractive head gear…

I chose Weapon Master, fitting with my “fighter” focus on martial arts over skills or Force powers; I figured it would make things simpler for this playthrough, but it is perfectly ok to switch choose something that doesn’t align perfectly with your original class.

After making all these big decisions, I headed back to Telos to finish up a quest, then headed on to Onderon.  Again, no solid reason for choosing this planet next; it was mentioned in a previous quest, and seems close to Nar Shaddaa.  It’s not a particularly prominent planet in the EU (though it does appear in The Clone Wars).

Next stop: Onderon

We ran into some trouble during our arrival at Onderon, however.  On our approach to Iziz Spaceport, Republic forces attempted to detain us, and then fired upon us when we were uncooperative.  And so I got to play one of my favorite KOTOR minigames: manning the guns on the Ebon Hawk to shoot down the attacking fighters.  I managed it without a mouse, too!

Shooting down enemy fighters near Onderon.

We had to divert to one of Onderon’s moons and put down in a jungle clearing.  But it seems my character has been to this moon before, during the Mandalorian Wars.  And there are some memories here that Tyria Drace would rather forget…

We’re at 22 hours flat of total play time.  See you next time on the moon of Dxun!

Continue on the 5th part of the series here: Revisiting KOTOR II: (#5) Mandalorians are from New Zealand…or Dxun

Revisiting KOTOR II: (#5) Mandalorians are from New Zealand…or Dxun

Start with the first post in this series here: Revisiting KOTOR II: (#1) A Fresh Start.

At the end of our last post, our ship (the Ebon Hawk) had been attacked en route to Onderon; we managed to land mostly-successfully on the moon Dxun.  While Atton repairs the ship, I go exploring and discover an Mandalorian enclave.

Here I meet the new Mandalore, who’s trying to reunite all the Mandalorian clans.  These famed warriors don’t actually hate Jedi; they respected Revan (and me as well) as worthy opponents.  Mandalore promises to take me to Onderon in his shuttle if I prove myself first.

So my next hour of gameplay consisted of me running around the jungle killing various beasts.  It reminded greatly of Dromund Kaas in SWTOR.

My party on Dxun; Visas Marr replaces Atton, who is fixing the ship.

Speaking of SWTOR, I discovered another habit from that game I need to break: hitting Esc during a conversation to abort the convo and choose a different dialogue option next time.  Does not work in KOTOR.  Pick your responses well the first time.

The good news is that through a random drop I got a purple lightsaber crystal!  And a lightsaber for Visas Marr as well.

Much better!  Still working on finding prettier head gear though…

I’ve been noticing that KOTOR II is really steeped in the in-game history of Revan and the Mandalorian and Jedi Civil wars, which may be confusing to anyone who has not played KOTOR I.  I remember the first game quite well, but KOTOR II is good at giving refreshers when needed.  And there’s enough mystery surrounding my character’s role in these prior events that it keeps the game interesting and not a boring history lesson.

Interacting with my companions continues to be my favorite part of the game.  Kreia teaches me how to read my team’s surface thoughts(!), and when I hear Atton thinking about random strings of numbers and playing pazaak in his head, he teaches me how to use that technique to block others from reading my thoughts.

While I’m off in the jungle killing stuff with Visas and T3, the rest of my team is hanging out on the Ebon Hawk.  Bao-Dur gives nice upgrades to both his remote and the scary G0-T0 droid.  Of all my companions, Bao-Dur has known me the longest, having served as a tech under me in the war.  So Atton goes to him for a really awkward conversation about my character, along the lines of “You think a princess and a guy like me…?”  Poor Bao-Dur.

Success!  Atton is totally into me…

In the end, I manage to impress Mandalore enough that he takes me to Onderon…but he has to be in my party.  I immediately equipped him as a melee fighter (a trick I also pulled with Canderous in KOTOR I), because I have never understood why the game starts him with a ranged weapon when he has high Strength and Constitution, but low Dexterity.

Mandalore has a contact on Onderon that can help us find the Jedi Master hiding there…except this contact has been arrested for murder.  So we must first solve the murder to clear his name, which involves talking to a lot of people in the cantina.  Some are helpful.  Some are not.

Vix is not.

Solving the murder was fun, but Mandalore’s friend probably deserved to be in jail anyway because he’s a terrible doctor.

Onderon has an ongoing political struggle between its Queen and the General of the military forces (whom we’ve learned is the one that shot down the Ebon Hawk).  Things start to heat up right as the Jedi Master makes contact, and I’m forced to leave the planet when the General’s forces come after me.  So that thread is kind of left hanging for now, and we head on to the next closest planet: Korriban, the Sith homeworld  (Clone Wars fans know it as Moraband).

Korriban: At least it’s a dry heat.

We’re at 26 hrs 35 min total play time.  See you next time for some tomb raiding!

Continue on the 6th part of the series here: Revisiting KOTOR II: (#6) Not your Revan’s Korriban