Warning: This post contains spoilers for the first chapter of the Jedi Consular storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic. To see a spoiler-free summary of the storyline please check this page instead.
Ah yes, the proud Jedi Consular. Fresh off to save the galaxy from the horrors of the Dark Plague that was set up in the prologue. Will this be another whirlwind tour of fetch the macguffin? Or will substantial choices that affect the destiny of the whole galaxy be made? Eh, probably something in between. Let’s get into it.
Taris. Oi. Taris. No matter how many times I visit this planet no matter the class, I hate Taris. Luckily, I’m here on better pretenses than to kill rakghouls or rakghoul infecting terrorists. No, this time I am here to find a Dark Plagued Jedi conservationist. And if you ever thought those Green Peace guys were nuts and just wanted to sock’em, well this is your chance. You meet up with a group of soldiers who were working with the Jedi before his recent dissappearance and they help you track down his whereabouts along with his Padawan. Seems like the Dark Plague has jacked the Jedi’s priorities up to 11 though because when you find this Jedi he has a new mission: DESTROY ALL LIFE ON TARIS. More specifically he wants to save Taris by removing any non-native life off of it so it can regrow to its natural state. (Considering that when it was destroyed it was a city planet to supposedly rival Coruscant, does anyone even know what its natural state IS?)
Your mission quickly becomes to track down and stop the insane Jedi. Between the padawan and the troop of soldiers, you slowly make your way across the planet. But it’s not without problems. The Jedi attacks the soldiers while you are out in the field with the only survivor being the commander of the group. He begs you to avenge his men and kill the Jedi which drives his padawan out to go save her master. The whole shebang ends with you trying to stop the Jedi from unleashing a chemical apocalypse across Taris, with his now turned padawan at his side. The choice of how to stop the Jedi and his padawan is up to you. You possess the knowledge to heal the master from the Dark Plague, but his crimes are immense and brutal… maybe it would be best to simply put them down? Honestly, I must say the conflict of whether to kill or heal the Jedi is probably what makes the best Taris storyline I’ve played so far. There are legitimate arguments for both sides, and it falls to you to make the decision. He committed horrible deeds, but did so because of the Dark Plague. Does that excuse him from punishment? He was willing to kill an entire planet worth of people if you hadn’t stopped him. Should that be overlooked? It all comes down to your decision on how to handle it. This one is definitely a harder choice than say the one on the next planet.
The second dark plague affected Jedi has taken over the Guiding Hand cult. With the assistance of the engineering genius, business man, and likes to think himself a ladies man Theran Cedrax, you must infiltrate the Red Lancer gang, prove your worth to them to gain an audience with ‘The Master’ – Dark Plagued Jedi Duras Fain. You confront Fain and either cure him, or toss him to the authorities for the crimes he’s committed on Nar Shaddaa.
So another Jedi that’s gone off the deep end is one Duras Fain. His corruption becomes a little less noble than our friend on Taris as he has taken over a cult calling himself ‘The Master’. The entire goal of the storyline here is to infiltrate the cult and square off against him. Seriously, that’s all. He doesn’t even show up till the very end really. Most of the story is actually you working with your new contact/future companion Theran Cedrax and his virtual assistant Holiday trying to get in good with the Red Lancer gang so you can meet ‘The Master’.
Theran is a character. Gambler, inventor, genius, and would probably be a ladies man too if he wasn’t so devoted to Holiday. Honestly, I don’t have much of a strong opinion of the guy. He’s pompous and narcissistic, thinks he knows it all and sure that can get a bit annoying. But for my narcissistic pompous Sage, well, I think I might have just found a drinking buddy. And who knows, we might end up killing each other! The only thing that worries me is that I’ve heard that Theran is a bit of a pacifist. Well that’s no good when I kill everyone I meet. So he stays on the ship with Holiday, thinking up new cocktails.
So you run with the gang and try to get in good by lending some Jedi assistance to their criminal activities. You are pretty much always given the chance to sabotage their illegal acts or carry them through the help keep up the facade. The choice is pretty much yours because like many moral choices, it’s in the spirit of your character’s actions not an actual choice because it always ends up working out in the end somehow. I honestly just did what they told me. My Jedi Sage is pretty much devoted to the idea that since he is a Jedi he’s above the normal mundane concepts of right and wrong, because hey, I’ve got the force, that inherently makes me a better person than you. So if the ends justify the means that’s fine for me, not for you. In case you haven’t noticed my dude is a bit on the dark side.
You finally get to confront Fain and it’s pretty much done at that point. He knows you’re a Jedi and he’s got a pretty good idea why you’re there. He gives you the chance to cash in and join the cult, which of course is a no go, so there’s a bit of battle and then you get your final choice. Do you cleanse him? Well, I said no. Because dangit, I need my strength. I’m not going to parse it out to help some two bit Jedi with dreams of grandeur. (Unless it’s me that’s the Jedi with dreams of grandeur.) But wait, what’s this? Another choice? The Nar Shadaa uh… “Law enforcement” (Do Hutts have cops?) shows up to arrest Fain for all his criminal actions under the influence of the Dark Plague. You can refuse to hand him over and possibly upset the balance and give the Hutts more reason to side with the Empire, or hand over the nutjob and walk away clean. Well, I washed my hands of the whole thing and handed him over. All I got was a scowl for it from the Jedi masters, but I helped preserve the Republic’s influence on a neutral world. That’s worth losing one Jedi that’s not me, right?
After Nar Shadaa, you get a side mission to go find a ship where another Jedi has gone nuts and is trying to blow it up. It’s short and quick, but you finally get to meet Lord Vivacar the Sith behind the Dark Plague. At least through a holo you do. I loved that part because with my Jedi it was pretty much a battle of who is the more snooty and moral righteous about the whole thing. When the shortest interlude mission ever is done, you can head back to your ship to find out two more Masters have gone silent and it’s up to you to “deal” with them, cause honestly I can’t believe the Jedi Council doesn’t know what I’m going to do at this point and is just using me to help keep a lid on this and silence the problem.
Tatooine gives us yet another Jedi Master to track down. Mostly following his footprints as instructed by a guide who has come down with “sand rot” from being in the deep desert for too long. I’m not entirely sure how much of his attitude actually has to do with the sand rot or that he’s just a jerky sand billy to begin with. Mostly you just retrace all of the Jedi Master’s footprints: Meet with the Jawa and found out that the Master told them to scrap their sand crawler to build war droids for some reason, then following him to a cave where he supposedly had a vision but actually he just found an ancient tablet that details the history of Tatooine. And for the first time since we found out that vaporator’s speak bocce, we learn something new about Tatooine in the Star Wars universe. It was apparently a fairly green planet at one point, and was dominated by four species. Of these four, only two remains to survive as the planet eroded away into desert: the sand people and the jawas. This leads to the revelation that the Jedi may have been doing something with the sand people in the Dune Sea. A good hunch since the first thing you find is an overrun settlement that the Master has been sending sand people to attack like clockwork. But it leads you right to where our Jedi friend is hanging out.
Turns out that this lost master is looking for a way to stop the “coming darkness” that everyone seems to be harping about. By studying how the Sand People have survived to be one the oldest species on the planet, he comes to the conclusion that the issue is that the weak and the sick must be cut out of society to strengthen it as a whole. That the Jedi are hurting the galaxy by protecting the weak. Of course, the guide steps forward and now we finally see what the deal with the sand rot has been. He asks if the Jedi Master would kill him too because he’s sick. Which gives you a chance to stop him with the usual shield him or kill him choice.
The last Jedi Master we’re looking for and that may have contracted the horrible Dark Plague that turns normally peaceful jedi into violent loons just happens to be overseeing a peace… treaty… on Alderaan. Crap. Well, time to crash a summit. But how do we do that?
At first you try to go through the Republic’s designated ally on the great planet of in-fighting, House Organa, but they’ve already sent a representative along with a Jedi knight, the master you are supposed to find, and a single house sending two jedi for a peace talk is probably gonna reek of attempted intimidation and strong-arming the debate. With that in mind, perhaps its time to look for a house that HASN’T sent a representative yet. That narrows down the search to just one: House Teral. House Teral is in a bit of a rut as it is apparently being constantly targeted by House Ulgo by killing their couriers, sending killiks to attack, and generally being jerks to make sure that Teral is stuck where they are (the reason is a bunch of junk about the inter house politics of Alderaan and I care for it about as much as I care to remember who all the damn houses in A Song of Ice and Fire are – which is to say: Not at all, now kill something!).
Your job on this planet is pretty much “Do whatever House Teral wants” to get you into the summitt. This is mostly putting an end to the constant attacks and improving their position in the hierarchy among the houses by getting the daughter of the head of House Teral and one of an ever growing number of Organa cousins hitched. Seriously, I would love the see the Organa family tree. It’s gotta be like a frickin throw rug.
After you finish with taking care of the mercs and playing love doctor, it’s time to meet at the summit. Here is where you find out about the somewhat completely insane plan of the last Jedi Master: In order for their to peace in the galaxy, Alderaan must be in constant war. I don’t really know where that idea came from, but she has brought out every dirty secret that each of these houses had to use against each other. Luckily I was able to use my inner diplomat to just jedi mind trick the entire room to get them to fall in line (Why is politics hard again?) and starting working to peace. This of course does not make our crazy Jedi friend happy and you duel her with the all too familiar shield/kill choice.
Well now that all the Jedi Masters have been dealt with. Shielded in some cases, or gutted with a lightsaber in all of my cases (What? Like I was going to weaken myself to help them?) It still doesn’t bring you any closer to finding the Sith Lord Vivicar. Or does it? I didn’t really mention it but there were plenty of re-occurring notes being sung by each of the masters during their madness. A planet: Malachor 3. A person: Parkanas. And a great darkness coming.
When you get back to Tython, it’s your old master Yuon that connects the dots. All four of the Jedi Masters plus Yuon and one other named Parkanas, had an expedition to Malachor 3. There they found the spirit of a sith known as Terrak Morrhage, who was mentioned by the noetikons on Coruscant in the prologue. Terrak’s spirit tormented the Jedi and drove them mad, except for Parkanas who remained strong. However, in the attempt to escape Malachor 3, Parkanas became stuck when rescuing one of the others and they left him there to become prey for the sith ghost.
This leads to the the revelation that these attacks were revenge, and that Lord Vivicar IS Parkanas. Using this knowledge, the Consular and Master Yuon try to reverse the shielding to try and get a beat on where Vivicar is hiding. This also sadly causes Master Yuon to turn against you, and begging you to end her life (Naturally you don’t have to). But you find Vivacar’s location, way out in space. And now you alone have to defeat him! All by yourself. And… not with all the jedi… um.. Miss Shan… WHY AREN’T YOU HELPING? What is the Jedi Drizzt too busy sitting in her little room to lend a hand to stop the plaguemaster of a disease that may wipe out the whole order? Well, if I have to make some sort of huge sacrifice because no one thought to send me with back up just because I was the only one with the shielding ritual, YOU ARE TO BLAME MISS SHAN.
Speaking of which. After you slaughter your way through legions of mind controlled Republic soldiers (No, you cannot shield or spare them. There lot is to die.) You face off with Vivicar himself. Of course this leads to the staunch revelation that if he dies, everyone connected to him through the plague will die as well. Hundreds of Jedi he says. Now, is he bluffing? Is this some kind of a Sith trick? Or perhaps you will doom them all? Well, that’s for you to choose. You can shield him, or kill him and damn the consequences.
I said damn the consequences, this dude has put me through 15 levels of pain and he’s gotta burn. This of course is met with praise and reward back on Tython, where I get to record my experiences in my own holocron and get bestowed a title that only six other Jedi ever have received. And all I had to do was kill a bunch of Jedi and one Sith. I am truly the savior of the order.
The first chapter of the Jedi Consular is best described as greater than the sum of its parts. Each planet is pretty much the same thing over and over: find the Jedi and stop them. Similar to how the prologue enjoyed playing “Get the thing” over and over. And on each of the parts alone, I’d rank this down there with the second chapter of the Trooper storyline. A lot of meh. However, a funny thing happens when you view the chapter as a whole. It’s not a tiring search for the same thing over and over. It’s a mystery story. Throughout the chapter you get bit by bit more information as to what these Jedi have in common, the true nature of what happened on Malachor 3, and who Parkanas was.
The Dark Plague is also used incredibly well, since it’s actual nature is never fully fleshed out. You don’t see it manifest in people the same way twice beyond the repetition of the coming darkness, and tortured visions of the events on Malachor 3. In fact, it’s not till the end that you actually find out what the full extent of the plague is when Vivicar reveals that it siphons each infected Jedi’s power into Vivicar. It especially got played with on the last two planets, where no one knows if the Jedi have the plague or not (Alderaan is the best about keeping it ambiguous really).
The Light/Dark choice pretty much was continually the question of whether to sacrifice your own potency to shield the affected, or simply kill them. Good cases are made for both many times like on Taris, where they killed an entire troop and tried to blow up the planet ( …Again), and while I haven’t tested it with a light side character, it does appear that Vivicar actually calls you out on your actions. More so than the Jedi Council does, which usually ends up being a “You couldn’t save them? Oh darn.” Even when you kill your master, it’s treated with “Well, she did ask for it. Guess that makes it okay.” I got more scolding from them for prideful remarks like claiming I was the best more than killing their ‘d00dz’. But who knows. I didn’t expect to see so many faces from the Jedi Knight chapter one to make a re-appearance later, so maybe they’ll turn up again (or not in the case of my dark side sage who kills without provocation).
So overall, the chapter was actually really enjoyable. But the enjoyment didn’t really come until the end of the chapter, so keep that in mind.