Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Star Wars: The Old Republic: Sith Warrior Storyline review

Warning: Some possible minor spoilers for the Sith Warrior storyline.

    I am Darth Tremor.

    Darth Tremor is the cyborg son of an Imperial noble bloodline. He never had much use for the Force or the Empire's aristocracy. Instead, he went on to be a loyal soldier of the Empire only to find himself drafted to the Sith Academy when it was discovered he had high force-potential. Darth Tremor was a surprisingly nice fellow for a Sith Lord. Well, not really, but if you don't randomly kill subordinates and only inflict pain on the deserving you're considered to be a saint in the Empire.

     Darth Tremor was a brainiac who always felt under-appreciated by the Sith and ultimately decided that the Dark Council had to go. Later, he became fascinated by the Light Side and Darth Revan, which made his confrontation with the latter idol all the more painful.


    Okay, that was pretentious.

What's surprising is this guy is actually almost reasonable for much of the game.
     To be a Sith Warrior is to be able to be Darth Vader, not dinky Prequel Anakin Skywalker but a Dark Lord with all the potential power that implies. The Sith Warrior isn't just a mindless brute, much like his movie namesake, he spends most of his time involving himself in the politics of the Galactic Empire. It's even thematically appropriate for the budding Dark Lord of the Sith to take the Gordian Knot approach to the majority of his problems. Your Sith master has a number of enemies, what do you do with them?

    Well, you go out and kill them, obviously.

Dark Side Jaesa was tempting despite my Lightsidedness. Why? She's feisty like my wife.
    The best part of the Sith Warrior's journey is the characters he deals with. They are vibrant and nuanced in ways you wouldn't expect in Star Wars. You have the option to either corrupt a Jedi Knight into a full-blown monster or turn them into a Light Side Sith like yourself. You can keep a Twilek slave as your abused chew toy or you can free her and develop an unusual friendship.

     You can even have your own version of Admiral Piett in Quinn, the poor dutiful Imperial who just happens to be saddled next to a juggernaut of destruction. The other characters didn't make as much an impression on me but I deeply enjoyed them anyway.

     I was especially fond of your Sith Lord mentor, Darth Baras, who is what would happened if Darth Sidious was played by Marlon Brando. Some of the best moments in the game are when he's calling your character out for growing up with a silver-spoon in his mouth. The game makes it clear you and Baras are going to eventually face each other, as Sith and student inevitably do, but it is a conflict which is evenly paced. You get to know Darth Baras better than anyone in the galaxy and when you finally face him, it is after a long and hard road.

The final confrontation with your mentor is both epic as well as satisfying.
    The Sith Warrior is definitely of above-average story and I enjoy the sense of being born into the Sith nobility. It made my role-playing of a Light Side Sith all the more poignant as I had to deal with a system designed to personally benefit me but which was obviously dysfunctional with anyone with half a brain. The fact you have no choice but to climb to the very top of the ladder, eventually becoming the Emperor's second-in-command.

    Unlike the Sith Inquisitor's storyline, the infighting amongst the Sith didn't feel gratuitous. Treachery is the way of the Sith but as a Sith Warrior, I felt like I was mostly dealing with normal levels of infighting in a monarchical society (which is to say, still a lot) and primarily concerned with the Republic. There were some good missions setting me against the Jedi Order and their government. Plus, you don't have to just kill your enemies in this game. One mission had the option of assassinating a powerful Sith Lord only to have an agent of yours impersonate him after death.

Character customization is quite good. I admit, though, I generally let Vette and Jaesa wear something more modest.
    My favorite character interactions in the game are a toss-up between Jaesa Wilsaam and Vette. Jaesa Wilsaam is a Jedi Knight fed up with the hypocrisy of the order, only to find herself surrounded by the sharks of the Sith. Vette, on the other hand, is a spunky adult-version of KOTOR's Mission Vao, who may or may not be stuck with the nicest Sith in the galaxy. Both of them are awesome. It was genuinely difficult for me to choose which of the two of to romance. Ultimately, I chose Jaesa but I like to think Vette stuck around anyway.

    What really worked for me in the Sith Warrior's quest storyline, however, was the genuine poignancy some of the missions had. I would never have expected this from the Sith Warrior of all things but there were some genuine touching moments in the story. Perhaps my favorite was when poor Jaesa wanted to meet with some fellow Light-Side Sith only to have it go horribly wrong. If I had to replay any of the games I'd played so far, it'd be the Sith Warrior.

    There's a few moments in the Sith Warrior storyline I'm not entirely fond of. For example, Darth Baras asks you what the Sith Code is but you can't recite it. Which, given you were raised in the Sith culture seems ridiculous. The road to becoming the Emperor's Wrath, however, is something I felt was quite impressive.

The Dark Side is your ally.
    One of the early missions I liked has you given a choice between killing a Sith Lord's son or making a deal with his wife to kill him so the son can take his place as her puppet. The fact you can go the additional mile and seduce the wife as a male Sith Warrior made it surprisingly Game of Thrones-esque. Having played both the Sith Acolyte and Sith Warrior storylines, I'm surprised to say it is the latter which has most of the Palpatine-esque politicking.

    However, how does it play? I think it does extremely well has a great ease of utility. It's easy to simply slice your way through literally thousands of monsters and I found it superior to the Sith Inquisitor. My only regret was there was more focus on shocking Vette than executing idiots with force choke.

    Though I could do that too.


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