<– Chapter Two || JEDI KNIGHT ||
Warning: This post contains spoilers for the third 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.
The story resumes pretty much immediately after the events of Chapter Two, you’ve just spent an unknown expanse of time being completely eeeeevil and then freed thanks to a ghost and a giant
raspberry Sith Pureblood named Lord Scourge, the former Emperor’s Wrath. The big reveal is that the Sith Emperor is using the newly restarted war as a cover for his grand design to wipe out all life in the galaxy, absorb their essence, and become some sort of immortal god-like tyrant to do as he pleases. Why? Because according to Scourge, all the Emperor cares about is having power – as much power as he can get. It doesn’t matter if he’s the Emperor of jack and/or squat so long as he has power. I can definitely see how this man found a career in politics. The first world we know the Emperor is going after thanks to Lord Scourge is the prison world of Belsavis, which was a secret up until recently (except we are immediately told that the Emperor had his eyes on Belsavis for a long time, so… good job Republic! Nice to see your Secret Keeping Skills have not improved since the prologue.)
So we know that Belsavis is the target, and we know the identity of the Sith carrying out the duty, but we have no idea what they are trying to do. Guess that means we’re playing detective? Really the majority of the rest of the planet is just trailing these guys across the prison and trying to put a stop a crazy Death Cult from blowing up the planet so they can have ‘eternal death’ or some such (They kind of remind of the Necromongers from Chronicles of Riddick). However, unlike the half dozen other times we’ve had to do this on Belsavis, these guys are actually SMART. They set traps and diversions for you. Lure you to out of the way areas and then try to finish you off once they have you cornered. They don’t succeed, but they are at least being intelligent about how they do things. Hell, at one point in order to buy time they set up explosives along a volcano so that it will erupt on detonation and flood the prison with lava, so if you ignore the bombs and go after the Death Cultists, the bombs and lava will still kill a sufficient enough prisoners to fuel the ritual. It’s essentially a win/win scenario in their eyes. They either buy themselves enough time to get to their objective or still win even if you stop them with the lava. Good. Fricking. Strategy. Oh god. Finally, opponents capable of thinking ahead!
Their objective by the way is actually to detonate one of the alien (ie Rakata, because the Rakata are behind everything alien. Including the Zabrak and Twilek apparently.) reactors that power the prison. This will cause a chain reaction causing a massive explosion that will destroy the planet as well as the surrounding planets and maybe even their surrounding planets. So it would be bad. Luckily (almost by plot conveinence) you catch up to the Death Cult and have a knock out epic brawl with a squad of Republic soldiers joining the fight. It’s actually kind of a cool scene where you get a half dozen veteran troops backing you up against a room of insane Imperials.
Belsavis also kind of sets the tone for this chapter. It’s not the struggle to survive, or unravel a plot, or anything like that. It is sheer heroism. Classic save-the-day kind of stories as you and your team scour worlds to stop the machinations of what could be argued is the closest thing The Old Republic has to a Super-Villain at this point. Even the Light and Dark choices are more applicable to how you save the day than are you a good or bad person, with Dark side heavily favoring military and tactical victory over philosophical noble sentiment. Do you believe everyone deserves a second chance, or do you level the place to ensure none of these Imps can come back to bite you? That kind of thing.
If you noticed, there wasn’t really much in the way of interludes – or non-planetary main story missions – in the other chapters. Oh sure, there was a lot of running back to Tython to turn things in but not since we visited an asteroid and revealed Kira was a Child of the Emperor have we had an actual interlude. Well, that’s about to change. It looks like Jomar – that Jedi from before assaulting the Sith Emperor at the end of Chapter 2 that claimed you were going to turn evil – has vanished during a scouting mission and you are enlisted to find him. Yippee.
Turns out he was investigating a Sith space station when he got captured by Leeha Narezz, the Jedi that you helped back on Hoth that joined you on the Sith Emperor mission. She is an insane, evil, no good, dirty, meanie pants Sith now. Wonderful! She apparently lured Jomar there using his desire to find proof that you were evil, and then appealed to the fact that apparently the two of them were actually secret lover’s back on Tython. Tython is starting to seem more and more like a gender separated dorm in college. Everyone is hooking up when and where they’re not supposed to there.
You fight with Leeha and her droids who apparently also decided to become evil – and far more lethal – since Hoth, but she promptly snaps out of it once you beat her back to her senses. Jomar decides to take Leeha back to Tython (wink wink nudge nudge?) and asks that you please stay silent about the truths you just learned about the two of them. Naturally, it’s a morality choice between ‘The truth must be known, you sinner!’, ‘Like I give a crap what you do’ or ‘Pay me for my silence’. Jomar also reveals that he overheard Leeha talking on the comm about a ‘Lord Fulminiss’ being sent to the planet Voss. We have our next plot to foil! Jedi awaaaaay!
Ah Voss. That lovely world where no matter who you are, chances are the people here don’t like you. Unless you’re the Consular I suppose. They kind of like you then. Anyway, we’re not here to make friends with the locals. We’re here to stop Lord Fulminiss, which despite being weird as heck to write is one of the first Sith names in a while that isn’t obviously super dark bad (It’s actually derived from the Latin for Lightning. So there ya go. You learned something today. Lucky you!) Fulminiss has been working with a Voss Mystic and being a Sith is clearly up to no good. However, the Voss Commandos who also are working on tracking down the missing Mystic just view your insistence that anything you say is just trite Republic propaganda meant to sway the Voss to your side against the Empire. The Voss are painfully stubborn here and it creates a great bit of animosity as you are forced to work with them to finish the mission.
When you first track down Fulminiss to a cave, he’s already long gone but you get to see his ‘victims’. Former acolytes and Sith apprentices that are foaming at the mouth insane trying to kill you. Apparently the Sith Lord and the Voss Mystic have teamed up to create some kind of ‘madness plague’ (I’m having flashbacks to the Jedi Consular again… I wonder if that’s where this guy got the idea.) The next clue leads you the Shrine of Healing where it seems the same insane fate has befallen several of the Shrine’s healers, but this time the Mystic left a message that only his Commandos can activate. The message is quite simple: He’s had a vision, you and the Commando must meet him at the Dark Heart in the Nightmare Lands. Well, that pretty much ties the two of you to the hip. Stuck in it till the end, eh? So we’re going to the Dark Heart (again)… only wait… no. We can’t. Cause apparently we need a map to find it.
Are you kidding me? Do you know how many characters I’ve played? Do you know how many of them had to go to the Dark Heart? DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY NEEDED A MAP TO DO IT? Give me a sec… carry the four… divide by pi…. NONE. No one else needed a map to find this place, but now we do so we have to go into the Gormak King’s Vault (if that doesn’t sound like an old school D&D adventure, I don’t know what does. Again – Voss is just space D&D) and steal the map from an ancient horror that guards it. This ancient horror was given dark power by an even more ancient horror that created the Nightmare Lands called ‘Sel-Makor’. Sel-Makor is a name that will repeatedly show up in your adventures across multiple classes on Voss as pretty much the sole entity responsible for everything bad happening right now. This time however, you get to help kill him! No, seriously. Well, as close as you can kill the non-corporeal essence of a world’s darkness (“I know now that Kingdom Sel-Makor… IS LIGHT!”)
You finally break into the Dark Heart to find Fulminiss, the Mystic, and a giant purple glowing pit that calls itself Sel-Makor. It seems Fulminiss grand scheme was to use the ritual, which he improved using what he learned from the Shrine of Healing, with the power of Sel-Makor to drive the entire planet of Voss into a frothing rage and tearing itself apart in epic bloodshed to fuel the Emperor’s super ritual. All in all, not nearly as good of a plan as the cult on Belsavis. But that’s what you get listening to a Sith instead of a bunch of Imperial Military dudes: Crazy plans. You defeat the Sith handily, but that’s not the end. Oh no. We still got the talking pit to deal with.
Apparently the Mystic’s vision was to help the Sith get to this point, just so he could be defeated by the Jedi Knight who in turn would escort the Commando so that the Commando could willingly sacrifice herself to seal away Sel-Makor. Are you f-ing kidding me with this contrived crap? So this was all a big set up to throw the Commando lady in the glowing hole? Couldn’t we have just done that from the start? God I hate the fricking Voss. So much so that when presented with the option of letting the Commando sacrifice herself or take Sel-Makor’s offer of power to throw the Mystic in instead to fuel the ancient evil, I fricking pushed the Mystic in! Take that you prophetic jerk.
Course then I had to fight the Commando and kill her. But you know what? I’m fine with that. She was jerk. The Mystic was a jerk. The Sith was a jerk. Now they’re all dead. I’m leaving!
It’s time to find another Jedi Master Gone Bad. This time we’ve got Warren Sedoru hiding out on a Republic Cruiser. You run in, kill a few packs of mobs and bam! You’ve reached him. Seriously, this interlude is oddly short but hey if it means one less spaceship I have to run around, I’ll take it. However, unlike Leeha, Warren seems to be enjoying himself immensely. He’s taken the ship’s crew as hostages and plans to execute them in front of you. Even when you defeat him and save the day, he proudly announces that he truly enjoys the Dark Side and its emotion fueled passions. He mocks any desire to attempt to ‘cure’ him and says that now that he’s tasted the darkness that there is no way that he would ever want to go back.
This presents you with your choice: he is utterly unrepetent, he wants to continue down the path of the Dark Side even if you send him to be brought back to the Light. Do you still try? Or do you declare this whole thing to be a worthless cause and just kill him? It’s actually a pretty good question since until this point you haven’t really met someone that you had the option to save who was wholly unwanting of some sort of redemption. Even the Sith on Tatooine was morally at odds with his path, preferring honorable combat over dirty tricks and ensuring victory by destroying the only means of stopping a doomsday device without giving you a chance to win it from him. But Warren doesn’t want to be saved. He doesn’t want to go back at all, and states that he will very much fight against it. So the choice to kill him is clearly the less risky option here, since if you do send him back to Tython and he doesn’t revert to the Light Side, you’ve got a devoted Sith running amok on the Jedi homeworld.
Regardless of what you choose, Sedoru does let slip that the Emperor’s next target to kick off the grand ritual of murder is the planet Corellia. Since the war has erupted in full on that world, it’s pretty much just up to the Emperor to make sure it becomes the bloodiest battle of the entire war to get what he wants.
So how do you stop a mad Emperor set to exascerbate an already in progress war? Well, to start with you’ll need an army. Satele Shan, Master of the Jedi Order, has appointed you to be the Supreme Commander of all Jedi forces on Corellia. This is where things get epic. You start by rallying your troops from around the the city. For the most part there will be just stand ins and random Jedi you recruit that were here fighting… UNLESS you actually saved a ton of people from the Prologue, Chapter One and Chapter Two. Then all those people you helped, redeemed or saved will be the Jedi you’ll be fighting along side with in these battles. Even some of the Dark Side choices get revisited here. Like Bengel Morr, the former padawan of Master Orgus that you squared off against back on Tython in the Prologue, who you were given the choice of either redeeming as a Jedi, killing, or allowing him to go off and build power for you as your devoted dark side servant. Well, if you chose that last one, here’s the pay off. At the complete opposite end of the leveling spectrum. He shows up with a massive amount of weapons for your soldiers.
Throughout most of Corellia you are forced to make decisions on what to do with this newly acquired force of Jedi. Normally, your objective will be set by the story but you’ll have two options on where to send your troops (because splitting up always worked in Scooby Doo and certainly isn’t one of the reasons Obi-Wan bit the dust). There will be options like A) Stop the Sith from stealing weapons from a factory or B) Raid the corporate offices under a bribe from the executive to retrieve her personal assets. Another is something like A) Help save wounded people at the Hospital or B) Assault the Sith while they are caught off guard celebrating all the Republic troops they just killed. So in some of these cases it’s kind of obvious which would be the good or bad choice, and then some – like the latter – provide different objectives based on priorities. Do you save civilians or strike a crippling blow to the enemy in the short window you have a sneak attack in? It can be quite the interesting dilemma. But it’s not like these choices ever affect anything anyway.
On top of the possibility of running into people you’ve met and helped along your journey showing up, there are of course a bunch of other old faces that appear. Doctor Godera, the master mind behind all those secret projects in Chapter One is here to lend a hand with a miniaturized version of Chapter One’s ultimate doomsday weapon: The Devastator. Of course, General Var Suthra is there helping coordinate the military along with your Jedi soldiers. Sadly, things are not great for your non-Jedi friends as Godera bites the dust while your disable the Mini-Devastators but does manage to track down our last Jedi-Turned-Sith who is piloting a star cruiser in a suicide run to destroy the entire city.
You break into the ship and fight your way through it. I won’t lie, by this point in just this story – not to mention all the other class storylines I’ve played through to this point – I feel like I could navigate every and any Imperial or Republic starship blindfolded. I do not know why this is apparently the all time favorite set piece to use, but Bioware apparently loves them some starships. That or the fact that there are only a handful of rigid layouts mean easy to copy-and-paste templates with less original artwork needed to be done for these dramatic moments. I suppose that’s probably just the sacrifice of having 8 distinct class storylines along with World Stories and side quests. Most of the ship layouts in the expansions that only have faction specific or wholly neutral storylines are far more diverse. So while you don’t have all those unique stories, you also don’t have to run around the same starship layouts over and over. Dunno if that’s a fair trade off to everyone, but hey it is something to keep in mind as the game moves forward.
As you finally square off with our final Evil Sith-Jedi – Tol Braga himself. Meanwhile down on the planet, Var Suthra commands the forces to buy you enough time. The battle with Braga is definitely one of those major action pieces. Both the fight is enjoyable intense and the cut scene action handled well. Braga is vicious in his actions, faced with the futility of his plan to convert the Emperor, he seems to want nothing more than just to die. If that means letting the Emperor destroy the universe with him, so be it. When you defeat him, you get the standard kill or save choice. Unlike the repentant Leeha or the stubborn Warren, Braga begs you to finish him so that he won’t have to live with himself. The choice is of course yours. This decision is just yet another isolated case in a vacuum that won’t matter in the grand scheme.
However, what DID matter in the grand scheme was all those missions you sent your Jedi forces on during the course of the story here on Corellia. See, if you took bribes, acted vengefully, and were all around abusive with your power (read: took all the dark side choices) then your forces have dwindled, the military denied access to resources, and the enemy allowed to run off with more powerful toys. The final fight to hold off the Imperials is an uphill battle that costs lives. Namely, the life of General Var Suthra. That’s right, depending on your choices across Correllia will decide whether a named, plot relevant NPC lives or dies. There is no immediate choice that affects this. No (Save Him) or (Kill Him) choice to be found. Just if you chose the dark side choices leading up to this, the military will be out-gunned and out-manned in the final confrontation and the General will die. If you chose the Light Side options, the opposite will occur.
Holy crap guys. Your choices actually affect things not directly related to that choice? Like there are repercussions beyond the immediate numbers game of Light and Dark points? That almost sounds like a BioWare game. See, this right here is the kind of stuff I am hoping to see more of in things like Knights of the Fallen Empire. Where your choices have outcomes that may not be immediately apparent but also make sense why that would happen. If you send your Jedi to loot the CEO’s office for her instead of stopping the Imps from raiding the weapons factory, then the Imps will have better guns than you! I won’t lie, the first time I played through the Jedi Knight I was your typical Lawful Good Paladin of Justice Jedi (One of my favorite character tropes) and I just thought Var Suthra was meant to live. It didn’t even occur to me he COULD die, since he was a major character in all three chapters and never turned villain. It wasn’t until my second playthrough as the complete asshole dark side Jedi that I found out that yeah, people actually die based on your choices. It’s not a de facto win. That was an awesome surprise here.
With the three Sith Jedi dealt with and the Emperor’s plans put on hold, there is really only one thing left to do: Kill the Emperor. No, we are going to go parlay with him, or make him see the error of his ways. Tried that, and look where that got us? Instead, Lord Scourge will help us land in the heart of the Imperial capital of Kaas City on Dromund Kaas and have your team fight their way through the city to find a shuttle that will get you to the Dark Temple. It really feels intense as Imperials spawn all around you, and the cut scene as you board the shuttle feels really dramatic with everyone wishing you luck and hoping you come back. Oh, did I not mention they weren’t coming? Yea, since the Emperor can do his whole mind control thing, it was judged best to not have anything living come with you. Luckily, you have a lil’ droid buddy to help out. T7 to the rescue!
The Dark Temple of course is crawling with guards and soldiers, and at one point there was a cool puzzle you could do in the temple to get a full set of gear. Apparently, the puzzle was removed at some point, but all you originally did was push six buttons to change the light pattern on the ground until it made the Imperial logo. The puzzle didn’t have an obvious hints to how to solve it, and the lights would randomly flicker which is why I suppose they took it out. But if you just played around with it a bit, it became obvious pretty quick that you could make the Imperial logo with it and then it was just working out how many times to push each button to get the right layout. It was a cute distraction. It rewarded you with a set of level 50 gear for T7, so if you hadn’t used the droid since Coruscant like me, you could actually bust him out without the lil’ guy dying instantly. Fear not about the puzzle being removed though, because the gear is still present in the form of a broken down droid on the spiral stairway up to the Emperor.
There is a moment where T7 will inform you that one of your crew – who all split up to help distract forces from dogpiling on you – has bit off more than they can chew. I don’t know if this changes based on affection or something, because I can’t remember who it was on my first playthrough (I want to say it was Rusk) but this time it was Doc. You can choose to go help them, or stick to the mission and go fight the Emperor. The only thing you really for going is an additional scene, some Light Side points and I believe some affection gains.
The good stuff begins when you get up to the Emperor and finally reveal that he is… some random old wrinkly dude with red eyes. Well, it’s no shock twist but we can’t all have that can we? The battle with the Emperor is actually pretty awesome and is up there with some of the harder bosses to down at the end of the storyline. In fact, the first time I fought him I was dying constantly until someone online showed me this little trick to defeating the Emperor: at the top of the platform where his throne is, there are big pillars. Use those pillars to constantly break his line of sight. Everytime he casts anything just dive behind to the opposite side to make him stop, when it comes around smack him some and then repeat. His only attacks will be instants and they are far from his horrible AOEs and Super Damaging Thunderblasts. You just dance around the pillar. The second time I guess T7 or the gear he gets was buffed somewhat because the little droid actually lived for most of the fight and tanked the Emperor. I didn’t need to resort to the pillar dance until around the 20% mark. When you finally beat him, you can try to finish him or offer him a chance to convert like before. It really doesn’t matter because a giant rock crushes him and he dies anyway (Okay, so both the Jedi Knight and Consular end with a rock crushing the final boss? Apparently all you need to kill a super powerful Sith is a boulder. Why do we have lightsabers again?).
After that you get your big damn reward ceremony in front of everyone and get many thanks from anyone who didn’t die. If you are a Light Sided Jedi, then Satele will reward you the position of Master (only two acts behind the Consular you meat-headed Jedi Jock) but if you are a Dark Side Jedi, Satele says that despite your deeds and her desire to reward you with the position for them, your journey has welcomed darkness into your heart and she cannot. However, the military steps up and says that you did a ton for them (which makes sense, many of the dark side choices place military tactical strategies above compassion and trust) and they award you the title of Honorary General. Which would be cool until you realized that the Honorary prefix pretty much makes this whole title business mean diddly and squat. Either way, your character gets the ‘Master’ title since back in the beta, people complained about not becoming a Master because they made dark side choices (Anakin Skywalker, SWTOR Beta Tester) so they replaced the dark side title of ‘General’ with just everyone getting ‘Master’. A shame really. I always liked how Jedi in the prequels were automatically on par with Generals and even were called such. That option sounded cool. Oh well.
Looking Back/Final Thoughts
The Jedi Knight story is a classic epic space opera tale. You start as a simple student with some special ‘Main Character’ sense about you, and then rise of to save the Republic from a devastating super-weapon, only to then take things up a notch in assaulting the secret fortress of the Emperor and then finally stopping the Emperor himself. The whole thing just builds and it never feels like it stalls out in terms of plot progression at any point. I’ve gone on record to call the Jedi Knight the ‘essential Star Wars experience’ and I mean it. Pretty much everything you may have enjoyed about the Star Wars movies – original or prequels – is in here at some point. Heck at times you are pretty much hitting the same journey as Luke Skywalker note for note.
The Jedi Knight also sets up a great deal of the world building for the expansions and patches that followed. The defeat of the Emperor becomes a major plot point that resurfaces at the end of the Makeb story and is a major component of Shadows of Revan leading up to the Emperor’s attempted resurrection on Ziost. All of this is set in motion by the events of the Jedi Knight. Now you might note that I did say the ‘defeat’ and not the ‘death’ of the Emperor. That’s because you don’t kill him. Not really. For those confused about how this happens, you’ll want to play the Sith Warrior storyline or read my reviews starting here. Essentially, the Emperor you face is the Emperor’s Voice. One aspect of the Emperor. Technically his second voice, since the first one in this timeline of events died on Voss and then this new one took its place and now its dead. Dang. The Emperor keeps losing his Voice. Maybe he should try gargling? This also plays in the difference between what the Republic sees on Makeb versus what the Imperials see on Makeb, because Saresh announces that you killed the Emperor, but Marr reveals that he may be dead but it’s just as likely that he’s in hiding and regaining strength.
For these reasons alone, I always recommend the Jedi Knight as a ‘must play’ for those interested in the story. While the Sith Warrior gives some ideas on how Emperor Vitiate actually functions as an entity, it’s the Knight that details his motivations, goals, and the way he operates as an enemy. Oh and after Ziost, I have no doubt we’ll be seeing him again. So I recommend this storyline wholeheartedly. It may be a bit cliche, but let’s be honest – so is all of Star Wars. If we didn’t want classical tropes in a space setting, we would have stuck to Star Trek or Lord of the Rings.
<– Chapter Two || JEDI KNIGHT ||