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)

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!

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