Revisiting KOTOR II: (#6) Not your Revan’s Korriban

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

Welcome back to my 2nd ever playthrough of KOTOR II, now featuring widescreen!

Widescreen
Widescreen

Today we’re on Korriban, one of two planets in the game that were previously featured in the original KOTOR.  Korriban is the ancient homeworld of the Sith (it’s now called Moraband in SW canon).

Korriban really highlighted difference for me between first and second KOTOR games.  In the first game, you infiltrate the Sith Academy, and then a lot of your time is spent raiding the tombs in the Valley of the Dark Lords, looking for artifacts of powerful Sith; it’s classic RPG dungeon crawling.

Now these tombs are all closed up, buried in rubble.  There is no tomb raiding-adventure-fun here.  Instead, after a brief trip to the (mostly empty) Academy, you enter a Force cave and experience visions of your past (and possible future?).

Looking wistfully at a closed-up Sith tomb on Korriban

Overall, it strikes me as way more philosophical than the first game.  The game is in someways less epic, and more about the personal growth and path of the Exile.

I made some mistakes with companion choices on Korriban.  Coming off the ship I took Atton and T3-M4 with me into the Sith Academy, then regretted not thinking to take Visas Marr, who has history with the Sith, having been an apprentice to Darth Nihilus (see menu screenshot above).

But Atton does have a cool orange lightsaber now, so that’s good.

Orange just seemed to fit his personality.
Orange just seemed to fit his personality.

When I saw a group of HK-50 assassin droids waiting for me outside the Academy, I switched HK-47 into my party because I thought it would be funny to watch HK droids snark and shoot at each other.  This was also a mistake, because HK-47’s programming does not allow him to fight other HK droids, and he becomes disabled for the fight, leaving my party outnumbered 3-2.

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Obvious statement: Thanks for nothing, HK-47.

With the help of HK-47, I’ve now discovered where these HK assassin droids are being manufactured: Telos.  But apparently I can’t trigger the HK factory until later on in the storyline, which is kind of a bummer because it’s one of the things I’m most looking forward to doing for the first time with the Restored Content Mod.

Soon, precious.
Soon, my precious.

The Force cave was very interesting.  First a warning: you can regenerate HP between encounters in the cave, but you will not regenerate Force points.  Use your Force powers purposefully.

I experienced several visions in the cave, going back through my past decisions that led to my choice to follow Revan, and then eventually my exile.  Many of the dialogue choices are great, and there’s a range of choices that really allowed me as a player to dig into Tyria Drace’s character and think about how she would answer.

The climax involves a showdown with Force-Revan and an Dark Side version of myself (which was actually decently hard).

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Notice I switched to the Force Regeneration lightsaber form (purple sphere)

Later, back on the Ebon Hawk, I had a conversation with Kreia that revealed even more about these past events, and her role in them.  I still find Kreia totally obnoxious, but at least I feel like I’m getting some good story out of her character.

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I forgot to check the total playtime when I saved, but it’s somewhere around 30 hours.  We just got a message from our Jedi contact on Onderon, so we’ll be returning there to head off a civil war!

Continue on the 7th part of the series here: Revisiting KOTOR II: (#7) Onderon/Dxun, Part Duex–The Math Lesson

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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: (#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: (#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.

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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!

Someone talk me into buying Shadow of Revan

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It’s been about 6 months or so now since I’ve played TOR.  I was hoping Shadow of Revan would be the thing to pull me back in…but I haven’t even purchased it yet.

I’m sorry to say I’ve been unimpressed with the expansions and updates for TOR thus far.

  • Rise of the Hutt Cartel: I still haven’t finished Makeb because I found the story average (and it’s the same for all characters on each faction), but mostly because it was TOO HARD.  I just got sick of dying.  If you are trying to do a story expansion, why make a world where it’s hard to even walk around without randoms killing you?  I gave up and went and leveled to 55 on Black Hole.
  • Galactic Starfighter: I had been kinda looking forward to this.  I played it once and was so bad at it I never went back.  I guess I’m just not much for PvP.
  • Galactice Strongholds: Really don’t care.  At all.

Shadow of Revan should be right up my alley.  I adore KOTOR and am a huge Revan fan.  For years I basically wanted a KOTOR 3 game, which would cover more of Revan’s story.  But we got TOR instead.  So I appreciate that they are making story content for fans like me.  Plus 2 new worlds, including Yavin 4? Yes!

However.

I got the 3.0 game update, and opened up my Imperial Agent (Operative) to check out the new discipline system.

And I hate it.  Hate. It.  They have basically forced you into one single skill tree, instead of letting you pick things from any of the three class skill trees.

So my Operative has lost a bunch of key abilities, and I have to re-learn how to play my character at level 55.  I get that they needed to nerf the Operative for PvP (she is definitely my best DPS), but as a PvE player, that is just not my problem.  Taking away player choice in skills will NEVER endear me to a game.

Also, I heard somewhere that the storyline for SoR is the same for all classes.  Is that true?  Can anyone confirm or deny?  If so, that’s pretty lame.

Right now, my plan is to work on my Trooper (who’s still at very low level) until I get used to the stupid discipline system.  Then maybe I can run her or another character through SoR.

Someone come convince me that change can be a good thing.  There have to be upsides to the discipline system, right?  Tell me!!