Bastard Of The Old Republic: Part Three

By John Walker on April 26th, 2009 at 12:24 pm.

Oh, Mission.

I’ve been playing Knights of the Old Republic making all the most evil choices possible. Like you do. Written up in three parts, the final chapter of Simon Evil’s wrongdoings has now appeared on Eurogamer. You can read parts one and two by clicking on these cleverly placed links. Here’s an excerpt:

“It’s interesting how picking the evil choice that destroys a woman’s life, or kills an innocent, or sees families slaughter each other, has a very different emotional effect than aiding the enslavement of an innocent tribal race. All are obviously deeply evil, but I think I’m able to compartmentalise the more individual actions more easily, mentally filing them under “terrible thing I did in a game”. Even though polluting the Kolto would have devastating effects across the entire galaxy, I think it’s still pretend enough to laugh off. Oppression struck deeper. I was still delighting in making the evil choices, but here on Kashyyyk I was feeling those familiar pangs from the first third of the game again.”

Carries on here.

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65 Comments »

  1. ImperialCreed says:

    Read it this morning. What you made Big Z do at the end actually made my mouth fall open in shock.

    You evil man you.

  2. ImperialCreed says:

    Still though, really enjoyable series. Playing KotOR anew because of you.

  3. HidesHisEyes says:

    So depressing… :(

    I don’t think Mafia lets you really make any choices, it’s not that kind of game. It’s already happened, for a start…

  4. Jeremy says:

    I’d forgotten about you writing this. It’s a great read. I’ve just started KOTOR 2, and I’ve already accidentally gained light points.

  5. The_B says:

    Hurray! Now I can continue my Mass Effect renegade playthrough without being outshone and out-eviled by this one!

    On a more serious note – really enjoyed this series, bloody well done from start to finish. I still love KOTOR even though I’m not a huge fan of the Star Wars movies (any of them). And yes it is your fault I’m attempting my ME one.

  6. Echo says:

    That Walker guy is such a bastard.

  7. teo says:

    Pfft, it’s just a game
    People have much stronger reactions to you when you’re evil and that’s more fun. Characters can’t smile in KotOR, but they can show fear

  8. CakeAddict says:

    You know I loved that last part with Zalbaar (or whatever his name is) and Mission, I laughed when I saw the option.. it’s so evil! =3
    I’ve recently played Kotor1 again to.. perhaps I’ll do Kotor2 to.. even though that game is missing a lot compared to 1.

  9. Cooper says:

    Wow. I knew there was scope for evil in the game, but having Zalbaar kill Mission…

    I’m gonna have to play this through again. I played a completely neutral character the first time – most by virtue of the fact that I mixed the odd good deed with outright selfishness. I’d always wondered what it’d be like to push one way or the other.

    A fantastic game. Even for the odd bit of bad voice acting, over all it’s just epic. I knew it was a good game, but, after reading this, feel like I’ve only glimpsed a bit of it with one playthrough.

    It’s a sign of amazing writing that they’ve managed to make it convincing even at the extremes.

  10. Duoae says:

    Wow, really great writing, John! I really enjoyed this series as much as i enjoyed that first legendary play-through Gal Civ 2 by the PC Gamer guy. I hope they let you do many more interesting topics like this…. and if they don’t then just do them anyway and stick them on RPS!

  11. El Stevo says:

    I don’t like you anymore, John Walker.

  12. Rei Onryou says:

    Thanks a lot John, I’m playing through on my EEE and I’ve just got to Tatooine (my first planet), but now I can’t read any further for fear of spoilers that I may not already be aware of.

    Wouldn’t be a problem apart from having no time to do it! *cries*

  13. orta says:

    That was amazing. Its incredible how epic the story of KOTOR was, I played through as a constantly nice person, I find it tres difficult to be evil, even in video games.
    Perhaps the next moral choice RPG I can try this, as mentioned above perhaps Mass Effect could be that RPG.

  14. tba says:

    I played a very similar way through on my first go (I was curious about the evil/good choices vs the original black and white) and really enjoyed it.

    For me the game was about being a bastard, no matter how much of a shit head I was people kept talking to me!

    Trying again a year later to be really good, I found it a sterile game with no punch that lacked any story related to me. Then again it might have been because I knew how it ended and was not drawn in as much, anyway exact opposite experience here.

  15. Jockie says:

    Reinstalling the game now, great series of articles.

    I probably mentioned this in the comments of the last part, but Kotor 2 does a pretty decent job of allowing relationships to flourish with your party members even if you’re pretty evil, due to an influence system whereby your actions and personality will change your companions. But thumbs up to bioware for having you able to get a 14 year old girl killed by her best friend, I wonder if Lucas knows!

  16. FhnuZoag says:

    Great. Now do the same for Planescape. I dares ya.

  17. YouAteMyCheeto says:

    Wow, my brain exploded when I read the last page. Great job, John. I really loved the whole thing. It blows me away that LucasArts put so much thought into the evil side of things. I never would have guessed that they would make such horrible acts possible.

    I like Zoag’s suggestion. Do it for Planescape.

  18. Orange says:

    John Walker, the ultimate Bastard.

  19. sbs says:

    Excellent read, John Walker.

    The numbness you talked about in the end is familiar, I had the most vivid experience of that when I was watching Rambo IV. I was really kind of disgusted with myself when I realized how much my senses were being dulled(correct usage?) in the timespan of maybe a hundred minutes.

  20. Jonas says:

    I messed up my dialogue choices so hard in the end of KOTOR, I was forced to kill Bastila on the Star Forge. That was surprisingly unpleasant, but in a good way. I still remember KOTOR as a very tragic game because of it.

  21. skalpadda says:

    “It blows me away that LucasArts put so much thought into the evil side of things.”

    Well, Bioware did, I doubt LucasArts had much to do with the story writing (thank god) ;)

    Another great read, and I have to say I agree very much, it’s refreshingly different to play evil when you’re usually play good, but it does numb you after a while

  22. Dean says:

    If I remember correctly, if you take Zaalbar with you in the last bit after having him kill Mission, he becomes so consumed by guilt he eventually turns on you.

  23. Bhazor says:

    It’s good to see I’m not the only guy who struggles to be mean to imaginary people. I even struggle with books like Lolita or Nineteen Eighty Four. I feel as if my reading the book is the cause of their suffering and find myself wanting to apologise.

    Reading that helps me realise how stupid it is. I’m still going to feel like a complete dick everytime Winston has a bit of a sitdown in Room 101. Boo, O’Brien you big bully.

  24. Spd from Russia says:

    Good reading. I agree its kinda hard to hurt people personaly, even in the game, where you know its not for real.
    Could replay kotor just for that

  25. Headwoünd says:

    Aw, I tried to figure out an understandable neologism using KotOR, tour and torture in one word for ten minutes and now I forgot where I was actually going with this…

    You bastard. :c
    Also nice read.

  26. YouAteMyCheeto says:

    @Skalpadda

    Wow, I’m dumb. I really should make a rule not to write any comments just after I wake up.

  27. malkav11 says:

    Having Zaalbar kill Mission is indeed one of the great evil moments of gaming. It was even a bit worse for me, because in these games, while I take pains to be as evil as possible to everyone else, I treat my core crew of party members well – at least…as long as they’re useful. So I’d been nice and helpful and understanding with Mission, etc etc (you don’t get good points from party conversations, mostly.)….and then when she takes a hike, well, it’s time for her to die.

  28. Pijama says:

    I also support a Planescape version.

    That (evil KOTOR playthrough) is easy when compared to offer a sacrifice to the pillar of skulls…

    GO AHEAD, MR. WALKER. (or any RPS who feels like it)

  29. pilouuuu says:

    @ pijama Be careful with spoilers to those of us who didn’t have the chance to end Planescape. Or advance too much really. Planescape seems to be like an epic experience. Sometime I’ll have to play through it.

    Great article. The convincing Zaalbar to kill mission reminds me of classic Star Wars dilemas like when Palpatine want Vader to kill his son. I guess Revan can be even more evil than Darth Vader!

  30. Bhazor says:

    Reply to Pilouuuu

    Well I thought everyone knew he was a ghost already.
    Besides Planescape is better to read about than it is to play. Unless you really really enjoy taking advantage of badly, occasionally offensively, defined deranged people and terrible combat.
    Fuggin’ bring it fanboys.

  31. Kanamit says:

    I played through KotOR as an evil person first. The only time I felt any guilt was that bit with Mission.

  32. Vinraith says:

    This was a very enjoyable read. Much more enjoyable, IMO, than actually playing the game. Then again I’ve always said games like Planescape, KOTOR, Mass Effect etc would be better off as short stories rather than making claims to real interactivity.

  33. Nick says:

    Then you’ve always been wrong.

  34. Vinraith says:

    @ Nick

    To each his own. If I’m going to spend 80% of my time reading anyway, and the other 20% in awkward, unenjoyable combat, I’d rather just dump the combat and the faux decision-making (because anything as tightly plotted as these games doesn’t really let you deviate that much anyway) and just get to the good part.

    I’m obviously unusual, though. Most people adored Planescape, I found it downright unplayable.

  35. Pidesco says:

    Now, you should do it with a game that actually has proper evil in it.

  36. Funky Badger says:

    Fantastic article.

    (In my own evil playthrough I’d managed to hold onto an ember of rage at how I’d been treated by the Jedi – and in general how smug they are. Thus justifying my monstrous choices. Of course Mission had no part in this, Carth got what was coming to him, but Mission really was innocent.)

  37. Ozzie says:

    @Vinraith: I partly agree with you. Planescape is a wonderful world filled with strange and eccentric characters und an unusual story, but the combat was pretty annoying. So it wasn’t the best game ever.
    But there was more to it than just combat in terms of interactivity. Dialogues, choices, exploration and some puzzles were part of it, too. All in all, Planescape should simply have been a better game. It is still a must play for every hardcore gamer, despite its many faults. It’s just too incredible in many ways!

  38. John Walker says:

    Vinraith, I’m a little unsure how you could have read these articles and concluded that KotOR doesn’t offer real decisions. That’s what the last three articles have been about: the consequences of making different decisions.

  39. TooNu says:

    John John John, you evil sick twisted man. I hope that doing this has shown you the error of your ways and never to do something like this again. I think your mother should be told and brought in for a meeting on this matter.
    In the meantime you are to stay behind and do 1000 lines of the following:
    I WILL NOT DESTROY MY GAME COMPANIONS LIVES EVER EVER AGAIN AND I REGRET MY ACTIONS DEEPLY.

  40. Vinraith says:

    @ John Walker

    You did everything you could to derail the plot line, and ended up in essentially the same place you end up if you play the game as a good character. The same basic things happen, the only difference being the ending and a lot of the “fluff” that doesn’t directly impact gameplay.

    Honestly, it seems KOTOR is better about this than most games of this stripe. Look at Mass Effect, where being “evil” amounts to being bitchy in conversations and getting a slightly different ending.

  41. Thirith says:

    @Vinraith: You’re right, the “fluff” doesn’t directly impact gameplay, but if you’re trying to play a role within the game the “fluff” is essentially what makes the game – if done well. With all of these CRPGs, it’s usually been about the relationships with the other characters for me, not about the overarching plot and main antagonist etc.

  42. paddytehpyro says:

    When I read what Z was forced to do my mouth just fell open in shock… and a little bit…disgusted.

  43. Vinraith says:

    @ Thirith

    Clearly it’s a matter of taste, and again I know full well I’m in the minority on this. Nevertheless, being asked to choose between one of three predefined narrative paths doesn’t constitute “role playing” to me, especially when all three paths meet in the same place as often as not. I think it might be having been raised on pen and pencil games, I expect more freedom than that in something that claims to be an RPG. To me, expansive, pre-scripted storytelling is simply antithetical to allowing the player to actually role-play.

  44. John Walker says:

    Vinraith – Certainly however you play KotOR you will end up following the same main story. However, the sheer volume of choices along the way, which you describe as “fluff”, can cause you to have a wildly different experience. Major characters live or die depending upon your actions, the outcome of the main quest plots throughout can be utterly opposite depending on the extremes of your behaviour, let alone the dozens of side quests. I don’t see how that you’ll still head to the Star Forge at the end makes this meaningless. I still fucked over all those people, I still destroyed the galaxy’s major source of health, I still murdered innocents, turned families brutally against one another, robbed and stole and lied. I’m not sure how to define “role play” if such criteria do not meet it. I was certainly choosing how to play my role.

    However, you go on to suggest that pre-scripting is your issue. Since any other option is literally impossible, I can only assume you’re wholesale against RPG games, rather than believing there’s another way they should be made.

    I accept that the game will take you down its prescribed route no matter what you do. However I contend that the depth of ways to behave and the variety of consequential outcomes means that journey offers a great deal.

  45. Vinraith says:

    @ John Walker

    KOTOR may be less linear than I think, I wouldn’t know (not having been able to make it more than 5 hours into the game on any given run). So if I’m wrong about that, then this was the wrong thread to (inadvertantly) start this discussion in. My own brief experience, along with the overwhelming sense I got from reading your and other pieces about it, is that it follows the Bioware mold of sticking the player on a preset path and only allowing significant deviation in the surrounding fluff. This is as opposed to, say, the Morrowind model, which allows the player to tell the main quest to bugger off completely if so desired.

    I quite like RPG’s, but I hate being railroaded.

  46. unclebulgaria says:

    /*edit: Apologies, originally written before Vinraith’s reply.

    Walker, */ couldn’t agree more. A delightful game, certainly up there with Grim Fandango and Planescape in terms of quality of writing, if not outright humour.

    There will always be physical limitations on developers’ time; this is an example of that time being spent in the most productive fashion possible. How long would it take to code a completely open-ended game? Sadly we just don’t have the technology to model these things in anything like the adequate detail; in my opinion, games like this are the best we can hope for (and my god was it good).

    /* edit edit: de-ris:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C_syntax#Comments */

  47. Thirith says:

    My problem with what you’re saying is that you’re dismissing characterisation as fluff. In the fiction of any genre or medium that I find most involving, characterisation is at least as important as plot – and sometimes it’s the latter that is fluff.

    Morrowind does not railroad you in the same way, but it’s also largely lifeless – an MMORPG played offline. It’s got a fascinating world, but forget about the NPCs…

  48. Vinraith says:

    @Thirith

    I’ve yet to meet a game where the characterization was above the level of a B movie, so I don’t see much different between the NPC’s in Morrowind vs. Mass Effect except that the ones in Morrowind know when to shut up.

    If a game involved genuinely involving characters it might be different, I suppose, but I’m hard pressed to think of an example where that was the case. Certainly, reams of personal back story dialogue (again, ala Mass Effect) does not an involving or sympathetic character make.

    Again, I look at CRPG’s as a means to reproduce my experiences with pen and paper RPG’s. If a pen and paper GM glurged out the kind of backstory excess that spews out of every character I’ve ever encountered in a non-NWN Bioware RPG the entire table would fall asleep before he was done.

    Linear, story driven RPG developers seem to have forgotten one of the first rules of good story telling, show don’t tell.

  49. unclebulgaria says:

    Thirith: indeed. I had trouble remembering the names of Morrowind NPCs because they felt so interchangeable. Oblivion suffered from much the same malaise. I guess for me KotOR had both characterisation and plot, making it one of the more memorable games of the last decade.

    Come to that, GTA4 was probably the best game I’ve played in the last year for quality of each.

    Vinraith, have you actually engaged with any games? Would you be upset if I were to suggest getting involved can actually enhance the experience?

  50. Vinraith says:

    Thinking about it longer, the last RPG I can recall playing where any character personalities actually stood out to the point of still being memorable was the Baldur’s Gate series.

    Ouch.

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