Tuesday, January 3, 2012

SWTOR - Finally, a pause and a smile


** Spoiler Alert ** This post contains specific discussion of the Jedi class story quest in Star Wars - the Old Republic.  If you have not yet left Nar Shaddaa and you are playing either of the Jedi classes - and you wish to avoid spoilers in the class story line, please don't read beyond the break (or this paragraph).  If you're ambivalent, or are just interested in my own personal anecdote regarding the story, then please read on!




So my Jedi Knight is a Twi'lek female with the unlikely name of Hyacinth.  Also - just a small little side rant.  Why is it every depiction of a female stripper or slave in the entire game is Twi'lek? Are there no human strippers in the entire galaxy?  Or Rodian?  Or Zabrak? Is there some inherent bit of lore to the Twi'lek race that I'm unaware of, that entails the entire raced being subjugated as slaves at some point in their distant past?  I don't for a moment pretend to have even the barest amount of knowledge regarding Star Wars lore or the races, but my Jedi has noticed than every cantina she is forced to present herself in, all of the dancers are Twi'lek.  And quite frankly both she, and her player, are a bit offended. In any event, back to the matter at hand - the first bit of story in Hyacinth's career that made her player pause, sit back, cross his arms, and smile.

I had decided early on that Hyacinth would be a Jedi's Jedi.  That I would strive to make her the embodiment of virtue in every way possible.  And while following those choices hasn't been easy - because for Hyacinth, much to her player's chagrin, no plight is too small, no injustice too slight to be treated - the actual process of choosing her path has been an easy one.  She would, in all cases, do the right thing.  The compassionate thing, or the just thing.  If there was an opportunity to turn down a reward, she would take it - though this never once actually resulted in her not receiving an award, something I was bit disappointed in.   And if the choice was to turn someone in to the authorities or exterminate them on the spot - no matter how great the greater good might be served by just ending the miserable and pathetic wretch's life right there on the spot - to the authorities the criminal went.

Early on though Hyacinth received two companions - a plucky R2 unit (what Jedi is complete without his or her R2 unit?  Exactly.  None.) and a human female padawan named Kira Carsen.  As with all of the more recent Bioware games, there are a number of advantages to courting favor with your companions, and as a player I liked Kira's character - somewhat rebellious, pragmatic to a fault, but unwavering in her devotion to the Jedi order.  So as both 'Cinth and Kira were loyal Jedi, their choices were almost always aligned, and gaining favor with Kira was almost criminally easy.

And now we get to the spoilery part!

For once you leave Nar Shaddaa, before you reach Tattooine, it is revealed to you that Kira has a dark past.  That she was raised among the Sith, her real parents killed when she was young, and her upbringing being that of one of the Children of the Emperor.  Furthermore, the fact that she is now alive and serving for the republic is made known to the Sith and the Emperor himself.  And the final bit of conversation from Kira being that now that they know of her existence, they would almost certainly be coming for her.

And then there it was.  Up until that point, I had prided myself on not receiving even a single dark side point.  Not a one.  But here the choices were, turn her over to the republic, for possible banishment, or "They'll never touch you!"  Fiercely defend your companion.

And that, was the dark side choice.

From a game standpoint, the points would hardly matter.  A few dark side points are completely irrelevant to the game mechanics.  It really just boiled down to what I wanted to do as a player.  And how firmly did Hyacinth stand behind her convictions.  And for the first time in the game thus far, as the title of the post suggests, I sat back and smiled, as my cursor hovered over first one icon, and then the other.

In the end, Hyacinth stayed true to her order.  If it cost her the affection of her companion, so be it.  She would do what she could to stand by her padawan, but the truth must be told to the Jedi council.  The next bit of story line was also equally interesting.  For instance, I had to choose whether to reveal the matter to the Republic general spearheading Cinth's storyline, or keep the matter closed to the Council.  This was a matter for the Council, not the Republic, and so the general just had to lump it for a bit as Cinth and her padawan made an unexpected trip to Tython, the seat of the Council.

Additionally, there was at that point in the story the opportunity for several one-on-one conversations with Kira.  And those choices in the dialog tree which would probably gain the most favor were fairly clear.  But they again, were at odds with the nature of the character I had built - that of duty, above all.  It's fairly clear now that there will be no romance options between Cynth and her padawan - and that's probably for the best.  Those working relationships rarely work out.  But the story line served as an excellent example of how though Bioware's writing is often dry and cliche, it can be on, and when it hits its stride, it does so with panache.

I'm certain your class story also has a similar twist, or at least one betrayal opportunity or two along its way. I don't mind spoilers in the comments as long as they're marked, so if you have your own interesting story of that moment when you went "Ahh.. Bioware, you clever dog.." I'd love to hear about them!

Editor's note - I read up a bit on Twi'lek culture, and apparently slavery and prostitution is indeed quite endemic to their culture and a huge part of their society.  Hyacinth is still offended. :)