Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Star Wars: The Old Republic: Taris and Nar Shadda

So, once we got through with cleaning up the murky underpants of the Republic capital, we were offered a choice of worlds to go to next. Well not a choice, really, more that we have to do both but can do them in any order. Even though one is flagged as lower level than the other. So a choice, yes, but one which you're pretty pointed at the "right" answer. That said, it did get me thinking about how there seems to be different ways to approach The Old Republic; each world so far as a mix of solo "open" content, your class-specific content, and then 2- and 4-man mini-dungeons you can run. Through Coruscant we'd done all of it, and approached the next worlds slightly over levelled, something that became more even apparent when we'd finished Taris to the same degree.

But I think really what you're presented with is a real choice - if a world leaves you cold for whatever reason you can nip in, ignore everything but your class-quest arc, and then nip out again, and there is enough "spare" exp lying around from other sources to compensate. Personally I'm finding TOR as a game about "the journey", and the stories are generally pretty good, so my inclination to skip is limited, but i do appreciate that the option is there. Anyway, onto the worlds themselves!


Poor Taris.The first world from Knights of the Old Republic, it was unceremoniously bombarded to bits by the Sith to try and kill you, Player Character, in that game, set 300 years earlier. And now it's a barely inhabited, toxic wasteland that the Republic are attempting to re-colonise. Taris has a lovely feel to it - an infusion of post-apocalypse into the Star Wars universe and quest lines that vary between "out of the frontier" to "recovery of tragic lost pasts" that blend into the visuals really nicely. The final "main" quest, in particular, following the fortunes of survivors from the original destruction, is surprisingly poignant and touching.

Another nice touch is the use of the legacy of KotOR throughout the zone. The wreck of the Endar Spire (the ship you start the game on) is a questing area, for instance, and the story gives you lots of opportunity to learn about the earlier events of the game series that this is in many ways a direct continuation of. Although they kept referring to Revan as a "he" which was totally incorrect!

The only real beef I have with Taris is that it goes on too long, especially due to the "bonus series" quests. As you finish your class quests, and the planetary plotline, you get grabbed at the spaceport with more missions, and whilst they really are optional, we felt obliged to do them. Sadly, they don't really add much, story wise, but are a chance to pickup a load of cash and exp if you feel you are falling behind, which of course by this stage we didn't. I kind of appreciate the thought, but not sure if we'll do future Bonus Series later in the game.

Nar Shadda

I'm slightly conflicted about Nar Shadda. There's nothing wrong with it, per se, but also nothing really great. The main plot is slightly forgettable, although my class quest (and Z's) was pretty fun, and the visuals are pretty cool in places...but it feels lacking in character, a disco cover of Coruscant without that worlds outward majesty and hidden decay. It's hard to get a grip on what it's about really - murky underworld dealings, gangster middle-men and street gangs is all very well, and maybe a Smuggler, rather than a Jedi, would have got more out of it, but I'll simply say I didn't regret my time there but I'm in no hurry to go back!

Afterwards, we both got side-plot missions of our own in out of the way systems, and discovered that you can board each others ships and get lifts to places, which is a pretty neat feature! and after that, another "choice" - this time Tatooine, or Alderaan...