Flieger, grüß' mir die Sonne, grüß' mir die Sterne und grüß' mir den Mond. Dein Leben, das ist ein Schweben, durch die Ferne, die keiner bewohnt! - Hans Albers, F.P.1 antwortet nicht (Adaptation in the 80s: Extrabreit)

Monday, 21 December 2015


While Tatooine had a maximum level of 30, Alderaan ups it to 34; needless to say that my heroine is by far overqualified with level 46.

Famous tragic planet, here and 3000 years earlier an epitome of feudal governance. Apparently, the queen of Alderaan died and there was no successor. As a consequence Alderaan fell into civil war, fueled by the different noble families who all vie for the throne, and withdrew from the Old Republic. House Organa, venerable family of then Princess Leia, is faithful to the Old Republic, but faces its worst enemy in House Thul, which not-so-secretly allied with the Empire.

Alderaan is a bit coldish - prompting my heroine to change dress code.

We arrive in the middle of a terminal attack of Thul on Organa´s main estate and, of course, thwart it. Some more missions, and we make the allied Thul/Empire forces withdraw. In desperation Wolf Thul takes 300 hostages and exchanges them versus the Jedi Knight who single-handedly turned the odds against him. But the imprisonment of my heroine does not last long, as the very same hostages race to free her. Shortly later, House Thul has withdrawn, my heroine named Paladine of House Organa and free to roam and try to rally all nobles again behind House Organa, for the Republic.

However, still no clue so far about Master Orgus, who went after the Deathmark, a satelite weapon which can pinpoint and eliminate specific individuals once they were invisibly tagged. Soon, I find clues, in form of a desperate survivor of the deathmark research facility. Apparently, Master Orgus got killed by a Sith who had Killiks, indigenious highly evolved insects, as allies. Promptly, the death mark starts its work within the palace. Since I know the mark can only be placed from close range, there should be a prime suspect right now: The survivor from the research station, Aleyna Hark. However, the story does not give me an option to confront her.

First victim of the Deathmark

And another noble family joins, House Ulgo. Some more side missions, involving getting back the home of House Teral vom Killiks, and halting the advances of the Ulgo vanguard. We find out that Ulgo is torturing Killiks at places near House Organa, which makes them agressive and swarm against the alleged agressor. Of course, my heroine finds the "pain factory", along with Master Orgus, who was left to die by the Killik swarm. Also, my hunch was right, and the survivor of the research station was indeed a traitor, death marking liberally people in the meanwhile.

My heroine attempts to slow down the death satelite´s work by disrupting power stations, but it is only temporary. With renewed support from House Organa after the Killiks have ceased their swarming, we find out that our traitor went for house Thul, of all! So, grudingly, my heroine goes to save that new leader so that the Republic is not framed for his murder by the deathmark. Gratefully, the Duke, who was until then allied to the Empire, gives me the location of Lord Nefarid´s hideout. Showdown. But before a few more side missions, involving the preparation of an air strike on an Ulgo vanguard, and saving the corporals daughter who turns out to be a quite capable spy in House Rist, leading to another mission which saves a supply convoy from an ambush by House Rist.

In the meanwhile, Master Ordnin has pinpointed Darth Angal´s ship at the edge of the solar system and goes for him. My heroine has been tagged by the death mark, so both master and padawan say their goodbye on a desperate race to each ones mission. My heroine enters the territory of former House Panteer, which has been taken over by House Ulgo. I understand now that House Ulgo was the cause for the civil war, invading and slaugtering House Panteer, who had the throne for centuries since.

The missions here are no surprise: Push House Ulgo´s forces back, make contact with the survivors of House Panteer, go get Ulgo. As a sideline, some Sith need to be repelled from the local ruins of a Jedi temple. Also, in Ulgo´s palace, my heroine is tasked with recovering proof that the last queen was in fact assassinated by House Ulgo.

The hideout of Lord Nefarin is surprisingly close. Sadly, this time for real I have to witness Master Orgus´ death at the hands of Darth Angal via holocomm, which the sadistic Lord Nefarious displays. A one-man commando, even if Master Jedi, was a bit too foolhardish. My heroine has been death-marked, and of course right now the satelite´s power supply is back online. However, as a true Jedi, my heroine can dodge the deathmark´s laserblast. How cool is this! The ensuing battle with Lord Nefarius is very short. A quick combination of stun attacks and my trusty T7 droid specialised on damage dealing end the fight so fast that even the deathmark has no chance to fire a second time. Normally the combat would have alterated between fighting the Sith and dodging the deathmark attack while the former was stealthed. As such, a pretty satisfying revenge for Master Orgus´ death.

Instead of returning to the ship to bring Admiral Var Suthra the good and also the bad news, the last parts of the generic mission arc has to be finished: The Ulgo king is dead, long live the Organa king (or will it be Panteer? not sure). Interesting side not, King Ulgo seemed to be a former republic war hero who decided to take matters into his own hands. Well, friend, this was a bit too far into the dark side, I am afraid.

The end fight with the self proclaimed Ulgo King is also bit more interesting. He hides behind a shield, so I have to destroy four generators, by means of special ordonance (which conveniently rests right next to it...). Victory achieved, there is a lot commending and congratulations. I guess the new alliance between House Panteer and House Organa also marks the rise of the latter house, until far in the future, a Princess Leia will emerge from it.

Red lightsaber for revenge.

Back at the ship, the news of Master Orgus have already arrived via public execution holocomm. However, as it turns out, Master Orgus wasn´t as foolish as he led me and Darth Angral believe. His true mission apparently was to plant a tracking device. Like this, the Republic gets its first real chance to find and destroy the ship.

Incoming data suggest that Darth Angral headed for Uphrades, a rich agricultural world...

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Star Wars: Force Awakens review

It is a good movie, nothing to contest about this. The pacing is right, the humor is measured, the characters are largely on spot, spacecrafts and lasers. I was especially looking forwards to Rey, a female heroine with a somewhat obscure background, and a black person as a main character Jedi Knight.

It was glorious action. The Millenium Falcon and all the air/space fights were well done. The laser sword duels seemed to be a good mix of old and new movie, their clumsiness well explained by having not yet perfectly trained combatants.

The old actors do a good job, but the movie does very well in establishing the new actors as the main focus. Well done! I am looking much more forward towards seeing the new actors in action than the old ones. Han got a well served and well timed exit. It is hinted at in his first scene already: Nobody believes you anymore Han, we already know all your tricks. He seems like an old man who starts to understand that his time is over. Some well meant advise to the youngers, and of course I wouldn´t have minded a less "forceful" exit for a well-deserved retirement, but, ah well, some drama was necessary, was it?

Well, some hopes of course got disappointed. Key words are: Maybe still a little too much of everything?

In the end, Rey has become Luke Skywalker and Han Solo in one person. Whereas Finn seems to be useless and just the nice guy, but a big looser. For one thing is clear: He cannot wield a lightsaber! This seems a bit unbalanced. The old movies, not just Star Wars, but also Star Trek, lived by a clear balance of character. The newer ones do not have this anymore, and thus miss a vital part.

New Hope was all in all still a bright movie about hope. Force Awakens seems to lean much more towards dark themes. We have two family tragedies in the center, and they hit hard from the start instead of slowly building up. Concerning Han and Leia, I would have been happy to see a less sad constellation. Han could have just been on a undercover mission, both still a happily bickering couple after all this time. Instead we are presented with esentially a third family tragedy here.

New Hope had the plans about a death star as its plot, and they were the cause of its destruction in the end. Force Awakens has the search for Luke Skywalker as main theme. The new super death planet going on a rampage comes across just as a side theme, its destruction too easily invented, not even a triumphant ceremony takes place after its destruction.

Why R2D2 reboots just at the end of the movie as a veritable deus ex machina, escapes me. Little unexplainable inattentions like this annoy me. It would have been much better if BB-8 would have managed to activate him, like R2D2 did so famously on the Millenium Falcon´s hyperdrive in Empire Strikes Back.

The scenes of travelling to Luke Skywalker are almost anti-climatic compared to all the fireworks before. I would have preferred an ending like Empire Strikes Back: Rey and Chewie launch on their search for Luke. And then I would have been content to see a much more engrossing encounter with Luke, later on. Not that open mouthed, staring fat old man.

That super death planet. Now that we have CGI, and there are still a pittance of a dozen space fighters racing around, what is this? In my imagination, the Republik should already have knowledge about a thing that big. The new actors should have stumbled in between that climaxing conflict where the Republic sends all of its fleet versus the super death planet, the sky should have been crammed with spacecrafts in a huge battle. It would then have been much more explainable how a small ship like the Millenium Falcon could have gotten through a possibly already battered planetary shield.

The invention of another rebel organisation called Resistance was unnecessary. We have a Republic, which rose from the ashes of the Empire. The victory of the Rebellion must have not been ignored by the plot! Leia´s and Han´s position as heroes of the Republic should have shown at a much higher level, as high ranking officers of a huge republic fleet. This wouldn´t have hurt the plot at all. Too much fan service here, I guess.
Ah, and the Millenium Falcon: I feel so sorry for it. Excellent flight scenes! But the poor thing gets hit and kicked around all the time, does not complain, and still work fine until the end. No single repair in between! In my opinion, any space craft should have disassembled forcefully ten times over.

But, you know, I am ready to forgive, but just because of one thing: Rey is so damn hot! And of course, she will have to receive a lightsaber staff once she is fully trained! My best hopes go to Finn, may he find his place and some usefulness! And I bet my arse on one thing: That overly large Snoog evil main guy is nothing but the twin of that Maz Kanata kobolt; this is just too obvious already. Boring; a real giant life form as dark overlord would have been a refreshing counterpoint to all this Yoda-ism.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Tatooine 2

Having left Anchorhead, things seem to pick up speed. The Czerka employee sent us into an abandoned factory plant, now being taken by Gamorrean raiders. My heroine just joins the club when the person behind them is having a nice conversation, some sort of Czerka exec with lots of cyborg implants. No more nowledge gained, but I am sure my heroine will be briefed soon.

 - iconic from the first Star Wars movie

The shock drum facility ist overrun by sandraiders. Inside, locked in, the surviving crew of Javas with an adopted human scientist. A Sith invaded and took the shock drum and Master Kiwiks, the teacher of my crew member Kira, with him. One reactivation of the power supply later, it becomes clear that I have to triangulate the now activated shock drum by placing scanners around the desert. Time is running out for Tatooine.

What, just one side mission in between? A Java wants me to reprogramm his droids gone berserk. Done. And some Geonosians, humanoid grasshoppers, have crawled out from somewhere; I am sure there was a mission connected to this, but I do not find it this time.

After triangulation, the local Sith Lord Praven slices himself into my holocomm. Of course, Lord Angal sent him, but he turns out to be a fanatic duelist; he will exchange the shock drum versus a chance for a duel. How many seconds this will last? Five?

I need some longer backtracking to Anchorhead, just to continue the Czerka plot. An old farmer has the next clue to Czerka´s secret weapon location. In between: Some heroic S&R where some pirates raided a farm and took slaves. Another rescue of a robin hood kind of guy´s loved ones, which turn out to be droid toys...  A governor wants me to sabotage their mining op. Lots of bonus goals, my heroine single handedly lays waste to another crime cartel.

Then it is time to face Lord Praven. In order to have a fair duel for this very untypical Sith, I switch my companion to passive. Such indeed, the duel lasts about 30 seconds, and the Sith has the occasion to use some more nifty dark forces.

- Lord Praven, and my heroine turns another soul to the light side

Czerka quest moves along, more readings to do, taking out a Czerka listening post on the way. Then on to what should be the final map, the Dune Seas. The plot outdoes itself: I have two planet destroying weaponry to disable on one map. How can it get any better!

 - being sent from mission goal to mission goal...

I think this is the moment where all these missions on the side start to not make sense anymore. Supposedly time is pressing, after all, the shock drum is already close to its destructive burst, but I am clobbered with four more side missions. Rescue three ambassadors from slavery, cut down some Mandalorians who threaten to attack (they are pretty one-sided that way), save some sand people tribe from poisoning from the Empire. And a very sad one: Kill Republic sodiers who had been thrown into a Sarlacc mouth; it´s that beast from episode 7 which supposedly digests victims alive fro 1000 years (I wonder how anyone could know, but yeah it is Star Wars).

Oh, and yes, the Jawa family who adopted the Repulic scientists tried to find the shock drum themselves and of course are now in need of help. There is a sand demon in the way, some beast which has a lot of offspring and they look like giant crabs. However, as usual, the bossfights are pretty unimpressive these days. 4 seconds. My heroine then finds Master Kiwiks and can shut down the shock drum. However, she does not let it collapse but rather gives it to general Var Suthras. It makes no sense trying to hide such a weapon, it will fall in false hands. And maybe one day, the Republic will actually need it...

The quest for the Czerka weapon clarifies. Some more readins taken across the map, and the communications of scientist make clear, it is not a weapon, but an old artefact of the Infinite Empire; thus, again a nod to KOTOR where it played a pivotal role. I like these connected ideas and wonder how good a true single player game would have explored all those wonderful ideas. Even though this particular one I also seem to remember from KOTOR; a Rakata criminal imprisoned, of course trying to take over the galaxy. I imagine how with just a slight trust of the light saber, this thing goes boom while that Letheles guy from Czerka screams in rage. Four seconds later, he is dust, too.

- I wonder why I forgot to do a screenshot of the shock drum; but this artefact here was much more dangerous for the galaxy, anyways

This ends the adventures on Tatooine, except for the two heroic missions which I tick off quickly. Mandalorians, and the Sarlacc. I do not even need healing from my companion until I intentionally attack two and three groups at once.

After this, I fast travel back to the ship for a debrief. It seems the Republic is happy to have the shock drummer and are going to develop it into an aerial assault weapon. Not so fast, the general relativates. I wonder if there are different outcomes if my heroine destroyed all those weapons compared to saving them for the Republic. It would be cool, but I doubt it.

- this thing in the distance must be the ship of the Mandalorian raiders; you can get close but sadly not enter it

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Tatooine 1

Yes, yes, I get it, Elite: Horizons is out. However, dear Mr. Braben, this is definitely Star Wars time, and nothing else! You let me wait over two years for a game which is finally starting to flesh out, so your game can wait for me just a little while longer!

- Tatooine

This is where my heroine is headed for, next. Master Kiwik, the former teacher of my crew member Kira Carson, is in dire need here. Kira feels her presence, but cannot locate her. The Republic admiral informs me that the superweapon here is a shock drummer, which can destabilize and destruct a planet (what else!?) and points me towards the according facility.

However, first things first.

There is a little interlude which unveils a bit of Kira´s past. It turns out that she was a former Sith trainee as a kid, but managed to escape. Interesting! Of course I completely trust her that she has indeed come over to the light side.

 - that girl behind me is Kira, a little pimped out because, skirts are sooo out

Anchorhead is the city with the spaceport, which thus survives 3000 years until the aera of Luke Skywalker. A bit far fetched? In any case, unnecessary, because nothing here is even close to the mood which the movie created for this backwater place.

Anyways, some missions on the side before my heroine inches forward towards her own storie´s goal.

Slave Trading Operation from Twin Suns in Achorhead. -> freed slaves in starport
Czerka corporate scandal about a type 7 device. -> take that mission along
Body guard vs assassins, all about vaporators? -> yep
Stolen equipment -> rampage through astromech droids. -> Javas are the thieves
Heroic: Mandalorians "infection" -> standard heroic romp through the parc

It it wasn´t for me completionist streak, I would say, overall totally uninspiring un-moodish generic quest levels. At least the Czerca plot seems interesting, even though I again get the impression that doomsday weapons are on a black friday sale.

- talking about pimping, this would be my heroine´s dress if I hadn´t triggered the "costume" option; I hate brown robes...

These are not the droids you are looking for.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Nar Shaddaa

Where Taris glowed in a bright, almost eye hurting greenish bright yellow, Nar Shaddaa´s colour sceme is dark red, with some purple and yellow in the mix. It tries to imitate those clichée neon signed streets anyone imagines in Hong Kong (and for what it´s worth, that city might even be full clichée, never was there!).

 - I wish there were more open skies

Again, spoilers ahead, because this somewhat is my heroine´s diary.

The goal in this particular chapter is to find one of the three secreat weapon projects of the Old Republic. Agent Galen had gone ahead to warn and secure the project against Darth Angral, who had received all the secret files from his son on Coruscant before. As usual, some general Republic missions accompany this task in parallel, and some mission requests from locals are sprinkled-in between.

First, my heroine gets pitted against another crime cartel who rules another district, which of course is against vital Republic interests. In the middle of that district, there are vital clues in dropboxes as to where Agent Galen might have gone; the secret project is so secret that nobody knew about it even in the local Republic´s Secret Intelligence Service (SIS). Which, foreshadow, foreshadow, has more and more agents missing in the field. The local ambassador allied with a Hutt, who turns out to have been the previous head of the Kintan Kings. Some rescues from slavery, some cutting of local swoop bike gangs who went overboard versus citizens, a drying out another wanna be powerplayer gang which supported Republic dissidents, and we have to realize that the Empire already stormed the facility who would take "voluntaries" for the secret superweapon project, which is not a single superweapon this time, but about augmenting voluntaries into super cyborg soldiers.

 - Jedi in action; notice the glowing eyes; subtle effect which I still cannot link to which skill it belongs


My heroine is sent into the red light district, of course an even more criminal place, but behind the curtains. A gang war rages, and my heroine is employed by a do-gooder private detective to look after abducted Republic fleet officers, and by a local police chief to rescue people from slavery and pit fights, to cut down the "Bleeders", a gang who steals organs and genetics like other gangs steal money. A local drug fighter wants to destroy some drug stores to dry out supply. No deal, all along the way, at the game designers discetion.

In order to find the main lab where the super soldiers are created, my heroine has to cause power distrubtions in the local grid, thereby indentifying the lab which is supposed to have its own independent power supply. They are conveniently placed all over the map, to be disrupted on the side while doing the tour of tasks from all those other missions.

- moody places, but it could have been captured a bit better, as the elements when no looking up seem a bit too generic

I find out that those hijacked soldiers were mostly killed and their skins were used to disguise empire sleeper agents. Yuck. And this was just a mission on the sideline. Talk about getting insensitive to cruelties. Of course, the that particular holocaust doctor who was pressed into service by the Nazis/Empire gets sent to prison and not to shift flags to the Republic.

The main lab for the supersoldiers has of course also been taken over by the Empire, led by Sith Lord Sadic. He gives the usual evil man exposition and lets his cronies, along with the first version of created super soldiers, attack. The fight is over within four seconds. An encrypted file is supposed to have data on where the Empire removed the volunteers and the production arrays for the supersoldiers. SIS says they can decrrypt the file, but when I arrive, all that foreshadowing is reveiled and the base has been obliterated by mark 2 supersoldiers. Of course, all guys are annoyed with my heroine, even though she had advised in the beginning to evacuate because SIS was likely compromised. Instead of force-persuading, one well meaning remaining SIS agent decrypts the data and my heroine can finally move on to what should be the showdown with Lord Sadic.

In between, I take breaks and finally start to level up my crafting. I took artifice, in order to be able to construct my own lightsabers and portable shield systems, and I realize that also some dye modules for dressing up something different than the omnipresent brown or black robes are in the list. A very cool crew skill guide is here. In the end, I realize that a level 16 crafted lightsaber already is stronger than what my heroine currently wields. And the game was already easy as is. However, the temptation to use a more powerful item is stronger than my wish for more challenge!

 - crafting is much more easy going than in the past

On my way through the industrial complex, again I am contacted to end some abductions to slavery, destroy an Empire factory which produces bioweapons and help out an Evoci agent (humanoids with flat big noses) of the Republic to look after a Empire prison where they capture and experiment on aliens. It turns out that the latter once more is about a holocaust, specifically on Evocii. In the end my heroine again gets to decide what to do with the depraved commander of the facility, and sends him to prison. A heroic mission about some Mandalorians (kind of futuristic barbarians) wanting a challenge complements the mission setup, until I finally reach the lab where the supersoldiers are supposed to be, along with Darth Sadic.

Unfortunately, it is just Agent Galen, transformed himself into a mark 3 supersoldier and remotely commaned to attack my heroine. She is careful in disabling the former republic agent and can thus turn him again "to the light side" in order to fight Lord Sadic together. Another trip to another quarter in Nar Shadaa´s bowels, the shadow town.

Things are grim down there. This quarter houses another Empire prison which holds war heroes and other former strong enemies of the Empire. Getting in there is a difficult task and requires some preparatory missions, coordinated from the local SIS hideout. A heroic mission to capture some of the cranial bombs which all prisoners wear, is offered by a mission terminal as a sideline. I still remember from the past that getting those access keys to drop from the Empireal guards took me hours. This time, however, they almost drop instantly; finally a useful change of the former random mechanic.

In the meanwhile, my heroine has reached level 38; she is cut down to level 26 on Nar Shadaa, but as usual and anyways, she tears through the enemies like a hot knife through butter. Good, because the sheer numbers of enemy groups would make anything else rather tedious. SWTOR has defnitely become a hack&slay type of game. I don´t mind, it just seems that the original MMO combat mechanics seem not very suited for hack&slay, which would imo require more fluid combat control than meshing and coordinating about a dozen buttons on a cooldown cycle.

 - a dozen buttons on deadly rotation



The generic Republic mission wanted me to save a war hero from the prison, a Jedi. This guy unfortunately has turned dark side after years of torture. My heroine dispatches him, and can conveniently convince the beaten former Jedi to turn himself in for healing and atonement. The Jedi Knights class mission ends the whole adventure on Nar Shaddaa, taking about 10 seconds of a fight versus Lord Sadic and his cronies. Well, they could make the boss fights again a bit more difficult, no? Lord Sadic was so ugly that my screenshot camera refused service (well, I need an excuse for constantly confusing the sceenshot button "printscreen" with the one used in Elite: Dangerousm namely "F10" ...)

Also, I guess repetition seems to be unavoidable. How many guys has my heroine by now turned back to the light side, stomped how many prisons and slavery markets, saved civillians from certain doom? I lost count, but at least the tale is summarily retold here.

- bye, Nar Shaddaa

Saturday, 12 December 2015


Taris was and still is one of the most ambivalent experiences in Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR). The third chapter of any hero´s story takes place on a planet which has had a thriving republican life 300 years ago, destroyed by a dark Jedi during the evens from the previous game, Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR). The Old Republic finally came back and tries to re-settle this world, which still is a post-apocalyptic jungle scenery.

This is a very spoilery retelling of my heroine accounts, but the goal of this blog is for me to remember my virtual adventures, so... this was my warning to any reader.


- at least the colour sceme fits to my heroine...

I can take back part of what I complained about in my last post: Here, my heroine "dies" her first time. This is during a so called "heroic 2+ mission", so it was made for two players minimum. So far, I did not have problems with these kind of sprinkled in-between missions. However, this time, there are groups of four, I might have overlooked one or the other area effect, and my companion Kira was specialised on damage dealing instead of healing. Whoops. Once Kira got switched to healing, my Guardian Jedi Knight of course was unstoppable again. Tank+healer combo always wins, because the game must accomodate all those nifty damage dealer players who are much squisher even when accompanied by a healer.

And also to take back about making it "too easy": The sheer numbers of enemies on your way to your next goal, it would indeed be tedious to fight them more than a few seconds. As much as I like tactical challenging combat, please not so without meaning on trash mobs who just seem to be placed there to slow you down... I better take that easy-going combat, then!

The missions there were in my past games, four years ago, exhausting. The landscape is huge, you are sent back and forth, up and down in the labyrinthian sceleton of former mega cities. It always seemed hard to keep track what you are doing why right now. This time, I am resolved to keep focus. But even still, after I am mostly through, I still might remember not all of what transpired down there:

Helped routing Rhakgouls around Republic base.
Rescued items for evacuated settlers.
Saved SIS agent and imprisoned "Locust".
Hunted clues about the former former lead scientist on the Old Republic´s weapons of mass destruction. Encountered Empire head of intelligence "Watcher One".
Solved dispute of alien refuges vs human "invaders".
Helped arrest a criminal mercenary, "The Locust". 
Found ancient antidote versus Rhakgoul bite.
Let myself infect by Rhakghouls in order to help develop a new antidote.
Erased sensitive data in the middle of a pirate hideout.
Prevented a bad chemistry mix in a factory from blowing up.
Got again deceived by Watcher One.
Found deserters and let them, well, desert.
Found some more clues about the former former lead scientist on the Old Republic´s weapons of mass destruction. Raced to save a settlement from a Sith instead of catching Watcher One.
Supported a military research team in the Endar Spire (wink to KOTOR).
Helped a doctor find a cure versus a specific Tarisian cancer.
Found out about "the lost ones" (emotionally shattering nod to KOTOR).
Finally caught Watcher One in his lair, rescued the scientist.

My most annoying back-and-forth mission ever, is the one involving the lost ones. Imagine a game designer. And the player. The player will efficiently solve all missions before moving on, so he does not have to walk back long distances for something left behind and loose time with boredom. The game designer usually knows this and places the mission tasks accordingly. Now, this particular game designer decided to be a bit too helpful. Instead of following the long path of video messages from the lost ones, I go for some more near missions first, because they require less backtracking (short path). However, after being through with the long track, the game designer sends me exactly where I went first, making me back-track that long path plus the shorter path.

This made me already upset when I had played this part on my first time, four years ago. And I still freaking remembered this nuisance, tried to avoid it but did not remember anymore how the proper order was, and promptly did it the unefficient, backtracking way again... I think this was also in the past the point where the whole Taris chapter shifted from a relaxing to a tedious experience. And so, again.

Also still shaken from that "the lost ones" experience (played it already three times in the past, and it still is depressing to follow their downfall from civilisation to primitive and then to extinction), I can finally leave Taris, but the Governor stops me once more, for an emergency once more. I feel somehow reminded of real life; there is always something to do, right? The completionist within me obeys.

- behind my heroine, Taris´ derelict swoop tracks; another nod to KOTOR

It takes a while to leave Taris. Bonus missions lured my completionist side. It turns out that the Rhakghoul have evolved, so far as even having force sensitive speciment. An entire Jedi platoon gets wiped out by one of them (yeah, another heroic mission here). Sentient Rhakghoul means, the prime directive takes effect... erm... means that Jedi should not take life of indigenious life forms who basically only repel invaders. A Jedi holocron, kind of an AI-construct, is found and it promises to try to teach the savages the light side of the force. Of course, despite the losses of life, my heroine leaves it at that and hopes that this new race does not become like Sith...

Little tourist hops to Bejik´s hideout are another nod to the places and events of the precedessor game KOTOR. Some humorous episodes with scientists trying to preserve animals which want to eat them and the usual tragic losses of peaceful settlers round the picture.

After I am through with all those additional missions, I almost feel at home on Taris. One of the last codex entries talks about how Taris was already severely harmed before the obliterative bombing by environmental pollution, and that nevertheless nature has adapted and reclaimed the planet after so called civilisation had left. Yes, I think I can feel the force flowing freely on Taris, now.

Anyways, there was a call for a flashpoint mission in between, and after Taris, it is time to go into this one. So I think. Since the game is too easy otherwise, I choose the four-player version of that particular flashpoint mission. What can I say; I get my ass handed to me after the first few trashmobs. Somehow, my companion does not heal as effectively as she could, preferring to swing her staff lightsaber instead. How annoying, but I am sure the game designers implemented this intentionally, to keep a player-only challenge in the game!

Which leads me onwards to the next chapter of the story missions, Nar Shaddaa.

Friday, 11 December 2015

A new attempt on Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR)

With the new Star Wars movie so close, the temptation to fire up this almost venerable MMORPG finally got to me. A new expansion, The Eternal Empire, promises a storytelling game experience, and I still have a Jedi Knight somewhere around level 30 of whom I wanted to experience his class storyline.

The game has evolved. Or should I say, devolved? For casuals and some short game sessions, it has become perfect. There is almost no difficulty anymore. It does not matter which of the (all too)  numerous buttons on your skill bar you have to press; you will survive, anyways. And even if you are called away in the middle of combat; no problem, your companion will take care of it even without you.

Despite my disappointment about this no-tactics-required style of combat, the game prooves to be quite relaxing. I am very tired again these days from real life challenges, and SWTOR just serves to give me that ounce of relaxation which I need before falling to sleep. (If it not even being itself the cause of me falling asleep asap...)

Of course, as always when I try to take up a long left old save file, I cannot get back into this particular story. Also, the missions have been cut down by the game designers, cut out all that useless filler-missions, focus on a few main story-threads. But, alas, I already have forgotten what had happened before and why I am doing this and that. Especially with the Jedi Knight class, every missions seems to revolve around another freaking superweapon to be disabled. And, how on earth, could I ever just sustain that slimy do-gooder character voice set of the Jedi Knight? It is torment!

After a while, I realized that there was just one sollution to my predicament: Restart a Jedi Knight from scratch. This time, a female one. And indeed. This voice set was much less nerve grating, and the imagined female counterpart to a Luke Skywalker made things interesting enough again.

You want to feel as an uber hero: Play the Jedi Knight story! This lass already arrives like a top class student who has jumped three semesters, and she only gets better from then on. If you accept and can suspend your disbelief and actually enjoy being a Jedi super hero, the story might be even a bit enjoyable.


It starts on planet Tython, where the indigenious flesh raider race suddenly attack aggresively, very apparently being riled up by some player behind the scenes. Of course, my newly arrived elite student-heroine dispatches the dangers easy handedly and quickly rises to the padawan of one of the most venerable Jedi Masters of the Jedi Council. She helps out some Twilek-Settlers and of course uncovers the true master behind the scenes, who turns out to be a former student of your same master. On the sideline, she also enters the ruins of the infamous Rakatha race (nobody knows that race, it is not denominated yet, but you know them when you played the precedessor single player game Knights of the Old Republic - KOTOR). Of course, the crowning achievement as a padawan is that you actually save your master from his former student and are finally knighted to a full Jedi, receiving your first own lightsaber.

The second chapter sends my heroine off to Coruscant, captial of the Old Republic. Frankly, I totally do not understand how and why the Empire let the Old Republic keep it, after they essentially defeated that same Old Republic in the trailer. Oh well, plot device in order to have to warring factions and enable players to play either as Empire or Old Republic citizens.
Of course, my heroine also prooves to be pivotal to save Coruscant from certain doom by a super weapon, which ironically the Old Republic developed by itself and got itself stolen. The "planet prison", once fired, would encapsulate all inhabitants on the planet in a damaging super shield without any chance to get into space ever again. One of the lead scientists is reveiled to be Sith, and the son of a Sith on the Empire´s Dark Council, to boot. On her way to dispose of this nuisance, Sith and super weapon alike, my heroine has the occassion to meddle and foil the claims of three mafia like gangs in the underbelly of the capital (Merchant Guild, Black Sun, Justicars) and earn friendship with the mysterious Gree race, along with saving upper Coruscant from multiple and lethal system failures of their life and health sustaining machinery, down there in huge industrial cavernous metallic sub levels.

As I said, these plotlines provoke yawns if you are not willing to totally enter a kind of "super hero-white-knight" mode. Despite the innumerable fully voiced over dialogues, character interaction is scarce, focused on a padawan who will at the end of the chapter become a crew member of yours. Some nagging feeling tells me, less could probably have been more in this case. Anyways, the crowning achievement of this chapter is the ownership of a nice, proper and of course overpowered spacecraft. Which tempts me to enter some of the sideline space shooter aspects of this game. But I sense danger of loosing focus again, so, no thanks. By then I also discovered how to turn back on all those numerous filler missions; hey, I am a completionist, it is a compulsive thing!

The storyline can be followed in different orders from there on. Planet Taris invites with its post-apocalyptic jungles (and frequent, often very chilling, references to the past events from KOTOR). Or, a visit to the crook´s paradise Nar Shadaa would be in order. The goal is to catch up with that Dark Council member´s spy network and get back the knowledge about several of the Old Republic´s own designs of super weapons. Ah, what compelling gey-lined story line could that have been; the supposedly good guys, and not the evel Empire, having conceived and being ready to use deadly super weapons! But no, we are reduced to chasing the even more evil Empire and getting back that stuff. Already, a second super weapon is being armed by Sith Darth Angral, a kind of planet climate killer, working similar to the planet prison, but this one lets no more heat off the planet, therefore quickly turning it into an inhabitable rocky lava planet. Off we go to hunt after it!

By now, my heroine has reached level 25, and is supposed to to the story-line´s game content which originally was designed for level 10 to 16 (Taris). And this despite me being a free-gamer with a supposed slowed down advancement! Something is wrong here. And all the game designers did so far to mitigate this predicament is to cut down your level to the maximum allowed level for the particular story chapter. I.e. landing on taris reduces my heroine´s strength back to level 22; which still is more than over powered for the game content there, anyways.

Despite my discontent about the game´s imbalance and that super trashy, B-movie like story line for the Jedi Knight, I am resolved to at least once have a complete play-through with the Jedi Knight. The net whispers that in the end, my heroine will enter deadly combat with the dark emperor himself. I want that coolness-factor, just for being able to say, hey Luke, you´re lamer, been there done that myself! (The famous child in the man.)

I write my progress down here just in case I am loosing steam again (not very improbable, of course) and want to pick it up later again, in order to get back into the main story so far.

My motivation to continue lies largely in my own imagination. The trashy parts of the story get ignored or replaced in my imagination with more interesting, personal motivations and some imagined additional interaction with the encountered characters. Besides this, firing up a light saber and smashing your enemies, while looking cool by means of one the myriad equipment available, never gets old!