Warning: This post contains spoilers for the first chapter of the Jedi Knight storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic. To see a spoiler-free summary of the storyline please check this page instead.
Last time on the Jedi Knight story, a Sith in disguise stole the plans to a bunch of superweapons that the Republic military was working on. The Sith was defeated but not before the plans got out and his father, Darth Angral swore revenge on the Jedi Knight. Instead of begging General Garza to use their own elite team – Havoc Squad – General Var Suthra enlists the aid of a team of Jedi to track down the missing super weapons. Master Orgus Din and Master Kiwiks were sent after two of the research facilities, while the young Jedi Knight and their new padawan Kira Carsen are being entrusted with less risky but totes still important tasks.
Our first stop on this whirlwind world saving tour is the planet of Taris where no doomsday weapon awaits us but a scientist who makes doomsday weapons: Doctor Godera. Godera was the man who designed all of the superweapons for the Republic but left behind everything when the Treaty of Coruscant was signed. He was convinced it was a bad move and that it was just the Empire buying time to regroup and wipe out the Republic once and for all. So now he putts around in a swamp. Not exactly my top choice for a retirement destination but hey, a good chunk of Florida is swamp and it seems popular enough.
We aren’t the only ones looking for Doctor Godera. Watcher One with Imperial Intelligence is also looking for him. So if any of you Imperial Agents have been wondering why the Watchers start at ‘Two’, this is why. This also raises some interesting flags if you are familiar with the Agent’s story because Watcher’s jobs are to do just what they’re name implies – watch. They are not field agents normally. That’s the Cipher’s job. So the fact that a Watcher is here looking for the Doc implies that this may not be a task that was issued by Keeper directly and sure enough that’s 100% true as it is revealed that Watcher One is reporting directly to our super villain for this chapter: Darth Angral.
Watcher One is actually one of the more competent villains you face. He reasons with you and tries to come to a result where you can both get what you want (he extracts the info he wants from the Doc, then hands him over to you with no fuss). He uses decoys and disguises to ensure that he doesn’t risk personal injury in the pursuit of his goal. He even sets up diversionary tactics like having arranging a meet between a Sith and some pirates to deal in lost Jedi relics to throw you off the chase long enough to interrogate the Doctor. I kinda wish that Watcher One stuck around to be Angral’s right hand for this chapter but he is sadly a one and done villain. Probably for the best though as I can imagine he would run out of tricks fairly quick over the course of an entire chapter.
The only other character of note is the good Doctor’s droid, who is an extremely snarky hunk of junk. It calls the Republic cowards, it questions your more questionable decisions, and it is generally a fairly good comedic addition to the plot for this one world. He’s kind of a HK-51 Lite, without all the ‘wanting to kill meatbags’ that comes with being a Hunter-Killer droid. All the snark and none of the murder. In fact the robot actually notes that it is NOT designed for combat and has no clue what to do if the Imperials come back for it.
I’d talk more about the plot but it’s really nothing of note other than just chasing the Doctor and Watcher One around the planet. Most of the memorable bits come from Watcher One’s brilliant tactics that don’t feel forced or contrived, which considering I’m playing this right after dealing with two straight chapters of Darth Thanaton’s crap… That’s a relief.
Now we actually get into dealing with a super weapon: The Power Guard Project. A super-secret project as in that only those working on it and General Var Suthra know it exists. The Power Guard Project is designed to take any normal jane or joe and turn them into a cybernetically enhanced killing machine on par with a Jedi in terms of strength and ability. Sounds awesome and morally questionable. Truly this is the sci fi military we’ve been longing for. One that would happily try to tame genetically engineered dinosaurs regardless of how many pesky civvies die along the way. The only downside is that because its so super secret and no one knows about it, if a hypothetical Sith were to hypothetically take over – who would know? Well that’s the not so hypothetical case here, and the SIS isn’t happy about it.
The SIS for those who are new to The Old Republic is the Republic’s equivalent to Imperial Intelligence – the Strategic Information Service. They are the so called ‘good spies’ in this whole mess and they reaaaaally don’t like being left out of the loop. So when you actual meet up with the SIS, they are less than pleased with you and General Var Suthra. Especially since it appears that someone is leaking SIS secrets, exposing agents and potentially compromising their secret location – down an not-hidden-at-all elevator in a completely empty shop with no doors in the business shopping district of Nar Shadaa. (Oh no! How did they find us!? /sarcasm)
Most of the story for Nar Shadaa is actually trying to figure out where the heck the base of operations for the Power Guard Project is located so you can shut it down and stop the Sith that has taken it over. Through out the adventure you do discover more about what the project is and how its been accomplished. You fight early prototypes of the ‘Power Guards’ and find they are little more than machines. They don’t speak or feel and pretty much any higher brain function has been shut off in favor of making ruthless killing machines. They don’t even question the fact that their loyalties have been literally switched over to the Empire. Worse yet is the reveal that these former people were all refugees that the Republic picked up and turned into these monsters. It’s only slightly SLIGHTLY helped by the information you discover that they were all supposedly volunteers. Did they know that they wouldn’t even have a mind to think with afterward? Eeeeh, not touched on.
So by the end, most of the SIS is dead and their base is destroyed, you find Agent Galen – your original contact – to find he’s been turned into a Power Guard but has his mind left intact so he can bear witness and be fully aware of his actions even if he can’t help but obey. You can opt to either kill or attempt to save Galen mark the first of a set of moral choices involving killing or saving people that seem inconsequential typical choices but actually do come into play later in the story. Much later though, so we won’t talk about it here. Finally, you take out the Sith – another flunkie of Darth Angral – who has upgraded himself into a Power Guard body but fully aware and in control. What’s left of the SIS shows up to ‘mop up’ and you get one last moral choice of either preserving the Power Guard research data or burying and let the whole thing burn.
Once you get back to the ship, you get a call that there is an Imperial admiral that is looking to defect. One of Angral’s entourage. He’ll only meet you at a secluded mining asteroid. Var Suthra insists that you and Kira go check it out. I mention its a trap. Var Suthra says the possibility of finding out Angral’s plan is too great to pass up. I ask for back up. Var Suthra says that he won’t risking spooking the Admiral. I think Var Suthra is fricking helping the Sith and the fish faced bastard won’t look me in the eye. I’m on to you, General.
So you get the asteroid and there’s no Admiral. Just some blonde Sith. Wonderful. He explains that Kira is a Child of the Emperor and serves as the Sith Emperor’s eyes and ears (And as someone who has played the Sith Warrior story I’m now wondering if that’s an official designation like the Emperor’s Voice and Wrath, or they’re just being metaphorical. I DON’T KNOW!) He tries to get Kira to come back with him to their ‘father’ and she refuses. Then you kung fu fight! Or just regular fight I suppose. And that’s it for the interlude. You find out that Kira is a Child of the Emperor, that she was born a Sith, that she ran away once she realized they had been mindwiping her, and became a Jedi. I’m sure nothing will come of this. Nooothing at aaaall. Still, you are given the choice of coming clean with the Jedi Council about this, or keeping Kira’s secret safe. Honestly I’m curious if there will be any long term repercussions to keeping the secret safe. Other than not being able to possible stop all the betrayal in the Jedi Consular Chapter Three…
Back to the main plot, it seems that the two Jedi Masters that were on this whole Super Weapon plan haven’t reported in. So now it’s time to go bail them out. First up is Master Kiwiks who went to Tatooine to check on the Shock Drum, an ultrasonic wave emitter than can shake a planet so much that it would disrupt the core causing a planetary collapse. In close proximity to it, it would cause your body to fall apart. Much more in line with what you think of when you hear superweapon or doomsday device. Again, I just love unrepentant military mad science.
Most of the story here involves one of the scientists who worked on the device and her ‘family’ of jawa that have been helping. They kind of start sending you around helping to reset the power and then the sensors so they can try and figure out where the Shock Drum got moved to. The answer of course is in the middle of the fricking dune sea. Yaay. But before we can go and stop it, you get contacted by another Sith flunkie of Angral’s. Because apparently since the Rule of Two hasn’t been conceived for a few hundred more years, Angral has like a dozen apprentices or something. This one is different though. He explains that he wishes to duel you honorably and should you win he will give you the codes to turn off the Shock Drum, which he naturally changed after stealing it.
So you show up for the duel and true to his word it’s no trap, no back up – just a straight up duel between two combatants. This is actually one of my favorite moments because you actually get to see an NPC example of what is essentially a Light Side Sith Warrior. He’s ruthless, passionate, vengeful and is more than willing to destroy a world on an order, but he is also completely true to his word and will give you a fair fight. He also chose not to attack non-combatants when stealing the drum. I don’t know what else to say other than I am incredibly impressed that this NPC made it into the game. Also that he can be saved and convinced to go to the Jedi temple and join up with the Light Side there, or you can respect his wishes to die a honorable death for failing his master and strike him down.
With the code and location now in hand, it’s time to save Master Kiwiks from the Shock Drum. And Tatooine. Of course. Not like we’d leave this giant sand ball to its fate or anything. You still have one more boss fight to go though, as the Shock Drum has roused a Sand Demon from its slumber and its attacking the Jawas who enthusiastically marched off to their doom to try and help you. You kill the Demon and turn off the Drum. With Master Kiwiks saved from the doomsday weapon, you send her back to Tython to heal. You get to choose what to do with the Drum – save or dismantle. Chances are someone will be upset with whatever you choose so just go ahead and pick whichever you like.
Finally, it’s time to track down Master Orgus Din aka Mister Old and Grumpy Master from Tython and deal with the project he was supposed to be tracking down – ‘The Death Mark’ (trademark pending). Which I suppose could have been worse. They could have called it the ‘DethMarc’ or something like a Rob Liefeld character from the 90s. You arrive on the scene and meet with your contact, an ambassador from House Alde who introduces you to the only survivor from the attack on the lab by killiks (giant bug people. Just getting all of our mad scientist tropes out at this point.) and then immediately the ambassador blows up. See the Death Mark is apparently just a really fancy name for a targeting RFID tag. You stick someone with the Death Mark and you can pin point blow them up with an orbital death cannon (trademark pending) and apparently the unlucky politician was one of those stuck with it. The guards bust in right then and try to arrest you for killing the ambassador but the escapee woman says to take her and she will be held prisoner while you look for the real culprit.
Okay, let me stop you right there plot. Wut? I mean how does that make sense? ‘You suspect this person is a murderer, so take me and let them go!’ Who would even do that? Just because I’m a Jedi that makes me trustworthy? You clearly have not been paying attention to how I play my Jedi. Why would they let you go? So the plot can continue I guess.
You go back to the lab and kill all the killiks and free Master Orgus from being locked in a room with scientists (truly a spiritual leader’s worse nightmare) and discover that – Oh no! That survivor girl was actual the one who STOLE the Death Mark! Dull surprise! Actually, they did a pretty good job not tipping their hands for that reveal. Unlike say, the Bounty Hunter story who might as well put up huge neon lights saying ‘YOUR OPPONENT IS RIGHT HERE HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT’, I honestly didn’t catch this twist at first and it does make a lot of sense since she was meeting with the ambassador alone right before you came in. It seems that she’s been targeting people at the behest of another Sith Lord who – say it with me now – is working for Darth Angral. Her targets are all people who have been advocating for peace in the Alderaan Civil War. The next likely target is the ambassador of House Thul that has been working with House Organa to draft a treaty of some sort. So you call up the Organa guard and tell them to not let her leave only to find that… well… she’s already gone.
Yea, plot I’m going to have to stop you again. So the prisoner you did keep. You let her just wander around your palace unsupervised for the entire time and then did little to nothing to prevent her from leaving? How the hell is House Organa even a contender in this bloody war?
So Master Orgus tells you to go save the Thul guy and stop the woman while he goes to try and stop the laser. You succeed easily since a true member of House Thul trusts no one, not even allies and you can kill or imprison the woman. The Thul guy also knows how to find the Sith Lord behind the attack and gives you coordinates. Time to team up with your master and kick some Sith butt. Obi-Wan and Anakin style! But no. It seems your trustworthy master lied to you. He didn’t go try to shut down the laser. He went after Darth Angral directly. He’s on his ship. Way off at the edge of the system. So it’s Obi-Wan and Luke style. You know what that means, right? Yea… By the time you’ve got to the Sith Lord in his secured bunker, Darth Angral has captured Orgus Din and executes him publicly on the Holonet. The Sith makes sure to tune in so you can watch.
Not terribly shocked, sad to say. I mean, Orgus was just kind of a bland guy who never struck me as someone I cared about. Yea, he wasn’t as clean cut as the other Jedi Masters, he looked the other way plenty of times, but hell until I got to Alderaan I had honestly forgotten his name. This death seemed to serve more as setting up a parrellel to Luke’s journey in the movies so you feel like you’re getting a real Star Wars experience rather than an established and necessary death.
After that the story wraps up on Alderaan with the usual: kill Sith, stop project, dodge giant death beams. Yea, Jedi can dodge those apparently. And giant death beams can also just penetrate the impenetrable underground bunker. Why bother with the Death Mark? Just use that death beam. It seems plenty useful on its own.
Luckily, when you get back to your ship you find out that Orgus had the last laugh: he hid a tracker on Angral’s ship. You can find him no problem now. You track him to the Euphrades system, where the majority of the Republic’s agriculture is grown. You know how Endor is nothing but forest, Tatooine is nothing but sand, and Coruscant is nothing but city? Apparently Euphrades is a planet that is nothing but farms. I would jump at the chance to be cut down by a Sith’s lightsaber then live on a planet that was nothing but farms. But good news, everybody! Euphrades is completely destroyed! Like the atmosphere was ionized and set on fire, the land is destroyed, the water ruined. It’s completely uninhabitable and any ship that enters the atmosphere is stuck there! Yes, it seems the Devastator weapon is online and functional.
You catch a distress signal from a nearby medical ship and have to fight your way to the bridge against Imperial goons to save them and more importantly their data that might show how the Devastator works. There’s a brief moral choice about whether you think the crew should risk their lives to go down to the surface and investigate a possible ping of life signs down below before heading back off after Angral’s ship who has reappeared at Tython.
It appears that the Jedi homeworld is the new target for the Devastator. You have to fight your way through another ship (TWO SHIPS! ONE FINALE! Breaking new ground here.) to square off against Angral directly. He gives you crap about killing his traitor son again, and then Kira starts talking like the Sith Emperor and tells Angral to finish this. You have your final battle with Darth Angral and strike him down, but then Kira get possessed again and you immediately have to fight her as well! With (or without depending on dialogue choices) your help, Kira breaks free once and for all of the Emperor’s grasp (See, easy as pie.) and you return to Tython to be proclaimed big damn heroes and get Kira promoted to a full Jedi knight.
Like the Bounty Hunter and Trooper, the prologue and first chapter of the Jedi Knight story is a complete cohesive narrative with a beginning, middle, and end. By the end of Chapter One, all the loose ends are resolved and all the established villains are defeated and it does it in a fairly heroic way. This story so far has proven to be the most pure ‘save the day’ super hero story you could get and as someone who likes that sort of thing, it was great to play through even as a super Light Side Lawful Good Jedi who never came off as preachy or holier than thou. The Dark Side Jedi seems more snarky and cynical, often proposing military and tactical advantage over having sympathy for those hurt by those advantages being used against the Republic.
The planets themselves each brought a different kind of story so nothing felt repetitive despite it being four straight worlds of ‘find the thing, stop the bad guy from using it.’ As for villains, it was more of a mixed bag. Watcher One and the Light Side Sith on Tatooine were stand out enemies that I thoroughly enjoyed watching every scene with. The other two? They’re pretty much interchangeable. They have nothing unique or interesting about them that makes you want to remember them and the only reason I can keep them separated in my mind is that the one on Nar Shadaa wore a helmet.
The Jedi Knight Chapter One also is unique in the fact that you don’t recruit any companions in it. At all. You get T7 on Tython, Kira on Coruscant and you don’t get your next companion until Balmora at the start of Chapter Two. On the flip side, you’ll get plenty of fun character moments with Kira and T7 depending on who you bring along on the missions, though due to the Child of the Emperor B-plot, Kira clearly gets more limelight than the droid. The Child of the Emperor plot isn’t bad but it really gets relegated to a B-plot. I don’t think it was super necessary to have it resolved so quickly. It’s not terrible though and it does carry a good amount of weight, I just think it could have been stretched out to build the suspense. Especially considering what we start working towards in Chapter Two and Three.
Oh yes, ladies and gentlemen. Just like the Prologue and Chapter One were one single narrative, so are Chapter Two and Three and they are doozy. But that will have to wait until next time. See you then.