Bastard Of The Old Republic, On Eurogamer

By John Walker on February 22nd, 2009 at 11:59 am.

Simon Evil, and his especially evil goggles.

As mentioned in the last podcast, for Eurogamer I decided to perform the horrendous task of playing the original Knights of the Old Republic, making all the most awful dialogue and action choices available. The first part of this story, covering Simon Evil’s actions on Taris, is now up. It begins like this.

“There’s something you need to know about me. I’m a good guy. I’m a generally decent person. I have my many faults, and certainly my large share of means to be irritating, rude, and bothersome. But ultimately, it’s fair to say I’m a kind, reasonable individual. I’m not the sort of person who, for instance, would usually be found mocking victims of bullying, endorsing racism, or murdering victims of sexual assault.”

And continues here.

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91 Comments »

  1. RiptoR says:

    Funny stuff, I love this sort of articles.

  2. Larington says:

    If its any consolation, I was wincing over several of those choices as well.

  3. Tei says:

    This sort of articles are legendary, good stuff. This one is fun, and is about kotor, good for nostalgia and maybe can get some people that never played the game to try it. That is a good thing.

  4. Gabanski83 says:

    I was just thinking of trying to install KotOR on my netbook, and giving it a whirl again. This tempts me even more. :)

  5. Ian says:

    I always plan to re-play games like KOTOR thinking I’d go down the Proper Bastard route and then usually can’t bring myself to do it.

  6. Gnarl says:

    I am I the only person that had a similar experience, but when they tried to play as good-guy? I mean I’ve hardly killed anybody in real life, and I wouldn’t describe myself as evil, but if a game gives me a choice kick puppy/don’t kick puppy, I’m going to see if I can beat the high distance board.

    Trying to play games through as the nice-guy gives me a cloying, sickly feeling, like I’ve eaten to much mazipan (assumning I’m given a choice of course, being kind without choice is out of my hands). I have to force myself to not kill the rape victim, and I feel bad about letting them survive. Takes all sorts, eh?

  7. Paradukes says:

    I honestly tried going for the complete arsewipe route. It didn’t last long. A very short way into the game, I met someone I was supposed to kill. The conversation ended up being something along the lines of “TIME TO DIE!… Aw, f*** it, have some money.”

  8. Lacero says:

    I tried this second time through Jade Empire. I got close to the end with only a few moments of mercy, then had to enslave the souls of half my party. I couldn’t do it.

  9. BooleanBob says:

    I was hoping you’d be a lot more callous than this, John! You don’t seem to be properly wed to the concept. Write in character! Get into the voice!

    That said I’m sure I don’t remember actually having the choice to do really evil stuff in Kotor. Galling, conscience-tweaking stuff. My memory of doing an ‘evil’ playthrough (which, like you, I have to force myself into after my first runthrough of a Bioware game leaves me whiter than the driven snow, hand-wringing heart-bleeder that I am) was of a pantomime villain, grumbling and sarcasming her way through storyline-compulsory Acts of Good and performing the most absurdly ‘villainous’ deeds like extorting money from a widow for her late husband’s tableware. All this rather unpleasant rape business kind of spoils my memory of my Dick Dastardly acts of misanthropy.

    Kotor is a game that’s made to be played Evil. Properly, full-on commitment, “I get my car insurance from the Dark Side” evil. You get a mana discount on all the best powers, you get some amusing dialogue choices (and as you mentioned, the unending hilarity of appalled party member reactions), and best of all, your character morphs into the most grotesque shell of a human being, the outer corruption betraying the inner. Your presence becomes – literally – cancerous.

    Can’t wait for the big dramatic moment at the end where you command Zalbaar to murder innocent little unhappy Mission – the only friend of his miserable existence; the ward he has sworn to protect as a big brother. And he can’t refuse on point of honour! And he still hangs around after the foul act, seething and subordinate, every second an eternity of torment as he abets you in your conquest of the galaxy! I remember being truly impressed by Bioware in those final hours of the game. That was probably the most genuinely evil choice a game has ever presented me with.

  10. Jockie says:

    Kotor 2 has the added bonus when going evil that you can take your companions to hell with you, most of them have light path and dark paths that they can go down. The han solo-esque one (whose name escapes me) can become some sort of evil Jedi Killer. I’ve played through both the games as a total bastard, and i enjoyed it rather a lot. I think i may have to replay mass effect as a horrible racist some time soon though.

  11. nabeel says:

    Speaking of which, when’s the next podcast? Good piece, by the way.

  12. Pidesco says:

    Simon Evil: Childish Force Bully

  13. brian says:

    I have a question: Why do you normally play female characters?

  14. CakeAddict says:

    Haha I’m exactly like that to, generally a good guy in games such has Kotor and NWN.
    And when I do choose a ‘bad’ option I flinch a bit especially when your companions react to the action.
    Unless it’s a option that’s so evil that I didn’t even expect it to be there.

    “What had I become? I looted her corpse.” I laughed at hard at this part. x)

    This reminded me of a part in NWN2 where you find a druid in beast form only he is stuck in that form, what do I do?
    I snapped his neck with my boot, even after my druid companion said it was not a wolf but a druid… she wasn’t very happy with me after that.

  15. eyemessiah says:

    I always play girls too. I tell myself its because they have smaller hitboxes. I know its a lie though.

  16. kuddles says:

    I can never do the “evil” options in RPGs, unless they’re more grey options like some of The Witcher. I don’t know why I can pummel pedestrians on the street with a bat in a GTA clone with a grin on my face, but merely a dialogue option where I refuse to help someone without them paying me first makes me cringe.

    Also, men like playing as women because they like the idea of controller an avatar they wish they could have sex with. I know this because I know a ton of guys who played as females in everything last year from Mass Effect to Warhammer Online to Mercs 2 and everything in-between. But you also could be a female in two first person titles, Fallout 3 and Far Cry 2, and the number of people I know who did that dropped off dramatically.

  17. Pidesco says:

    Thinking about it, I haven’t really seen an RPG doing evil properly since Bloodlines. And before that, the ones that come to mind are Fallout and Torment.

    My problem with playing an evil character in RPGs is that I never feel evil. Instead, I just feel like an idiotic, money grubbing bully, who does evil actions just for the sake of being evil and getting richer. It’s pointless.

  18. Arnulf says:

    You can do it, Walker! You can do it! Pull through, I believe in you!

    I tried it myself…. and failed miserably.

  19. skalpadda says:

    Oh dear, like others here I have also tried playing through KotOR with the intention of taking every evil option available.. and failed before I even got half way through Taris. Thank you for doing it so I don’t have to, the first part was a great read.

    I also mostly play female characters, for two reasons. The first is purely aesthetic; they will generally look better and are easier on the eyes. The second is that I usually find it easier to identify and sympathize with a female character than the average Rugged Space Marine Dude.

  20. noom says:

    Haha. Brilliantly amusing article. I have found myself similarly incapable of taking the arsehole options in Bioware and similar RPGs aswell. It’s hard to understand exactly what it is… I think a large part of the difficulty is that you’re offered so much opportunity to undertake these incredibly positive deeds. Electing not to save the most maligned sector of society from a plague that’s destroying them is somehow far more disturbing than the undertaking of hooker-beating and such in GTA, which is somehow more excusable and tolerable for its blackly comic nature.

  21. noom says:

    Actually, reading back a few posts, Pidesco makes a good point. Bioware especially offers character choices that are less about being openly evil than they are about being petty, selfish and greedy. My only past success with playing evil characters was in BG2, where I spent a small amount of time creating a party of six utterly deranged characters with delightfully and awesomely evil backstories and suitably horrible custom avatars.

  22. James G says:

    Bah, I’m terrible at playing the evil option in games. I’ve tried several times, yet loose heart, and end up either turning good, or playing the game so half heartedly that I just can’t get involved. I quite liked the way Mass Effect gave you a few chances to be badass without actually being evil, although my renegade score was still pitiful at the end, whereas my paragon score was through the roof. (My Mass Effect Shepard was somewhat of a The Doctor figure, even so far as having a go at Tali for their treatment of the Geth.)

    I think this is one reason why GTA:SA never gelled with me. The first two games were abstract enough that I never felt I was playing a character so much as an arcade game. In SA though I just felt uncomfortable, although the various stereotypes didn’t help.

    One of these days I shall have to play a realistically evil character. Rather than just slaughtering anyone who I can, I should just focus on being an entirely selfish bastard with a huge fondness for schadenfreuder.

  23. dhex says:

    “bald with a goatee – a clear sign of evilness”

    hey! what the hell?

  24. Arnulf says:

    As we all know being a truly evil is not by choosing every dastardly talk option, but instead playing nicely along.

    Until you (as the evil person) turn the tables at the most opportune moment. And betray each and everyone who had put trust in you. That’s the mark of true vileness.

    What was Knights of The Old Republic all about again? I do not seem to remember quite well.

  25. Pags says:

    Can’t wait for the big dramatic moment at the end where you command Zalbaar to murder innocent little unhappy Mission – the only friend of his miserable existence; the ward he has sworn to protect as a big brother. And he can’t refuse on point of honour! And he still hangs around after the foul act, seething and subordinate, every second an eternity of torment as he abets you in your conquest of the galaxy! I remember being truly impressed by Bioware in those final hours of the game. That was probably the most genuinely evil choice a game has ever presented me with.

    I fear this may be too much for John. £10 says he does it, but cries when he does.

    Also, for the record, extraordinarily large eyebrows can make up for the absence of a beard. Like Hood from Thunderbirds.

  26. Arathain says:

    Mr. Walker, you are far more brave than I could ever be. I always meant to do what you are doing- go back to KOTOR and get all the neat dark-side powers, conquer the galaxy, that sort of thing- and you have shown me I could never, ever do it.

    I played through KOTOR with a female avatar (being, mtself, male). When I play games that have some scope for role-playing type decision making I like to choose an avatar that is unlike me; female, different skin colour, or whatever. This way, I feel, I’ll do better at creating a character, rather than just doing the things that I would do in those circumstances. It’s only partially successful. Usually I just give in and pick a Paladin or whatever before I even start. I’ll be being nice to everyone again.

  27. Gnarl says:

    @dhex
    Don’t feel bad, when I forced myself to play KOTOR as good-guy, I picked the same head as I thought he looked friendliest.

  28. M_the_C says:

    It seems like I’m in the minority.
    My first play through any RPG is always as myself, which results in a good character, and yet I can quite happily play an evil character without feeling bad about the choices.

    Can’t wait for the big dramatic moment at the end where you command Zalbaar to murder innocent little unhappy Mission

    I don’t remember that option, it has been a while since I played KOTOR though. Maybe I was so evil that I warped everyone to my will?

  29. Optimaximal says:

    The only games where i’ve ever gone 100% evil was the Raven Jedi Knight games, because it had a simple ‘here’s the critical plot turning point’…

    Bioware games have so many shades of grey its hard to suss out the truely evil path, whilst Fallout is designed that there is no evil path – sure, there’s karma, but then the entire game is essentially about your character surviving.

    The Witcher did it best, but only because there’s a truely neutral path, although there is, unfortunately, a crux in the plotline where it can go any of the 3 ways regardless your previous decisions & actions.

  30. Heliocentric says:

    I’ve been scared off being a bastard in many games… Not by the moralising, but by games that fail you or punish you for not being a total tupping hero.

    Say no reward needed? you get more xp… so the heroic responses were really me picking what I wanted.

    Baldurs gate did reward being a kleptomaniac though, half the quests in baldurs gate and shadows of amn were found by robbing peoples houses.

    But that “cash or xp” thing always benifited those who were nice with xp, and damn it, xp is power, cash is just more junk you don’t need.

    I’m a monk ffs… what would i do with cash!

  31. Heliocentric says:

    Games that make me act like a bastard? Stalker, Oblivion, Black and white, hitman blood money… (likely doesnt count, but i always shoot the dogs, and i like dogs!)

    Games that turn me into a saint: Splinter cell series, vampire bloodlines, swat 4 , overlord(lesser evil)

    Games that turn me into a boot licking frenchman: Pirates, i dunno why, the french mayors just seem less bastardly.

  32. BigJonno says:

    M_the_C, you’re not alone. That’s what I always do. Start with something as close to myself as a I can get, then switch to something completely different, which is usually turns out to be an evil girl. It got slighly confused in Fable 2 though, as I decided to take that gender change potion for a laugh, not realising that there was no way to change back. That was funny, though slightly disturbing.

    The only game that I can’t be evil in is Bioshock. Just can’t bring myself to murder little girls.

  33. matte_k says:

    Fantastic piece, John, it seems there’s a lot of people with the same habit of playing Paragon of Virtue first time in, which makes being a bastard all that more harder/sweeter to do.

  34. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    @ Lacero:

    I tried this second time through Jade Empire. I got close to the end with only a few moments of mercy, then had to enslave the souls of half my party. I couldn’t do it.

    Heh, I learned the joys of in-game bastardry through Jade Empire. One of the games few redeeming features is that it’s really fun to mess around with your party.

    I used to just play as whiter than white goody two-shoes characters, but now I won’t consider my time with a game complete unless I’ve had a second run through kicking as many puppies in the face as possible.

  35. KwizatzHaderack says:

    Interesting experiment, John. I have to admit I’m the same – can’t say boo to a goose in most games. Paragon of shining white light, me. I think Mass Effect would be good for this kind of thing, too (oddly enough…); I remember thinking at the time how fun it would be to psychologically screw with the suicidal girl the soldiers were trying to rescue, but instead played knight in shining armour (with neon bits on). I seem to recall hoping for an option to simply push her over the edge and let Mr Gravity sort out her issues….

  36. jalf says:

    I don’t think I’d have the willpower to do this. I’m always stuck as the saint as well.

    Mass Effect made it a bit easier, because the renegade path just meant you were an ass, and rely more on threats and violence to do good. And even there, I only managed to score around 30% of the renegade points (and I still got even more paragon ones… *sigh*)

    I had no problem killing the little sisters in Bioshock though. Maybe I’d just become desensitized by the pre-release hype. Maybe I just have too many little sisters to feel that they’re somehow sacred… ;)
    But even in Bioshock, it simply became a choice of “which path has the greater rewards?”
    I didn’t really feel any moral obligation either way.

  37. KwizatzHaderack says:

    Oh, and I also play as girls when games give me the option. Bring on the psychologists!

  38. John Walker says:

    I have a question: Why do you normally play female characters?

    skalpadda nails it for me too. It’s a combination of finding my personality and behaviour more likely to be demonstrated by a female character, and preferring to see a cute lady’s bottom for 60 hours than some guy’s arse. (Simon Evil has really tight buns, which I kept finding unsettling.)

    I just like women better than men I guess. Nicer voices, nicer hair, that sort of thing.

  39. sinister agent says:

    “Men are always more evil.”

    Mr. Walker, you are a lucky, lucky man.

  40. KwizatzHaderack says:

    Ooh, Jalf, I’d forgotten about Bioshock! I was happily ripping little sisters apart just to hear the sound in that game…right up until I was taken to their nursery and several of them wouldn’t come near the “bad man”. I think one of them even started crying. God, that upset me. I felt terrible after that, and resolved to play through again being really nice to them all. :(

  41. AlexW says:

    It’s nice to see a gathering of lots of people that also can’t stomach the evil choices. It’s something about face-to-face conversation that makes evilness so much harder.

    Also, it doesn’t help that I hold out the hope that if my guy plays the angelic hero for long enough he’ll get some. Unfortunately, I only managed to get to the physical-contact stage of the Bastila Romance sidequest when we were in the middle of the friggin’ Leviathan. Bioware, you are cruel overlords!

    Also also, re: men playing as women in third-person RPGs: You’re going to be looking at this character’s backside as they run around for fifty hours. Which would you rather look at?

  42. Oak says:

    And you still got the bad ending because BIOSHOCK IS A HORRIBLE GAME FOR DUMB PEOPLE NURRRR

  43. Jockie says:

    I had a sociology lecturer at uni who was bald, goateed AND wore long leather jackets. He kept telling us to buy his book, evil bastard.

  44. jalf says:

    I’m with John Walker on playing female characters. Might as well have something nice to look at.

    It’s also just fun to play through and see where it actually makes a difference. (let’s face it, the “default” is still playing the male character. Even though Kotor gave you a choice, in Kotor2, Revan was male no matter what, because male is default. So you won’t notice much gender-specific content if you play as a male character.)
    A fun example was in Fallout 3, if you play as a woman, you get a very simple way to deal with the guy who wants to detonate the nuke in Megaton, simply by playing innocent and helpless and appealing to his masculinity. “oh, but I live here. You wouldn’t want anything to happen to little me, would you?”

  45. Andrew says:

    Great article John. Hope to see more evilness soon. I always play the saint in rpgs too. The only ones that grated were oblivion and fallout 3. I wanted to steal everything that wasnt nailed down like you can in most games(and still be nice). But oblivion makes it a pain in the ass to sell stolen goods and fallout 3 makes stealing a few items karmically balance out being the nicest person in the wastelands and eventually turn you pure bastard evil. Even if no one sees you do it. Anyway cant wait to see what Simon Evil does next

  46. sinister agent says:

    Moreover, why wouldn’t you play as a woman in a game? Whenever a game gives me the opportunity, I’ll play as a woman or a black man or aging Italian or whatever, somply because it’s a game, and the whole point of games is escapist fun, doing and being things you can’t in reality. Also JC Denton looked far cooler as a black guy.

    It’s also fun if you play online and encounter one of the idiotic legions of people who can’t seem to separate a player avatar from the human being controlling it. Having endless racist abuse hurled at you from white cretins when you’re paler than a self-harming vampire feels bizarrely subversive and hilarious all at once, and the longer you leave it before pointing out how stupid they’re being, the more humiliating it is for them.

  47. Danfishblue says:

    Oh that’s nothing.

    Try being truly evil on Planescape: Torment.

  48. Pags says:

    Also JC Denton looked far cooler as a black guy.

    I thought he looked badly tanned myself, but that might just be me.

  49. karthik says:

    Ooh, I was on Taris three days ago. I winced progressively harder at every choice in the article, until finally my cheeks were getting in the way of my line of sight and I couldn’t read anymore. I always end up playing the lightside/paragon character.

    In each playthrough, after the titular plot twist in KOTOR late in the game, I think it would make for an amazing role-playing experience to “revert” to my character’s, uhm, old self. The dilemma is sublime- do you choose redemption or revenge? As I see it, that is the only point in the game where you have the opportunity to be truly evil or good. Bioware has confused being a Sith with being a Jerk.

    Also, it’s spelled Darth Malak.

  50. Ginger Yellow says:

    Every new Bioware game, I promise myself I’m going to play super-evil, but I just can’t do it. I even played goody-two-shoes in Overlord.

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