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Poll of the Week 22.01.2014

Top Ten – KotOR Companions

One of the (many) reasons I love both KotOR and KotOR 2 so much is the characters. They’re well written, interesting, and more often than not pretty funny. So here are my top ten favourites. Note: spoilers, duh.

10. Kreia

KreiaPortrait

Kreia is a former Jedi Master, turned Sith Lord, turned companion to The Exile. While she may be controlling and manipulative, she’s an excellent buffer to have in your team, due to her ability to apply any buff that would normally only be applied to herself to the Exile also! Invaluable, if your Exile is no good at the force.

Darth-vader-Dad-fail-star-wars-the-force(Note: I would have put Kreia higher up this list for her usefulness, but due to story developments I decided against it.)

9. Carth Onasi

Carth

Carth is your first proper companion in the original KotOR, and he’s actually not too bad. If all you need is a gunslinger to back you up, Carth’s your man. He’s pretty paranoid about being betrayed (he would not get on well with Kreia). His standard setup is dual wielding blaster pistols and donning heavy armour. While he lacks a decent skill set and intelligence stat, he can defend himself well enough in melee, so he’s likely to stay alive long enough to be of use. Fiercely loyal to the Republic, and a hardened veteran of the Mandalorian Wars, he’s a solid choice, if at times a bit dull and whiny.

8. Bastila Shan

Speaking of whiny...

Speaking of whiny…

Just as loyal as Carth is to the Republic, Bastila is to the Jedi. She is adamant that she made the right decision not joining Revan to war with the Mandalorians. Although she is quite preachy, she’s a useful asset to have with you in KotOR, as having balanced stats helps a lot; she will be equally as good using force powers as with her double lightsaber. While she’s available to use, again, a reliable choice.

7. T3-M4

T3-m443

The R2-D2 of the KotOR era, T3 is the first companion on this list to feature (as a playable companion) in both KotOR and in KotOR 2. Although he can technically be a ranged fighter, if you really wanted, his main skill is his skills. They’re pretty awesome. As you might expect, if you need anything breaking into, or a computer sliced, T3’s your guy. While in the original films R2 had an amazing personality for a character who never spoke a word, T3 is slightly less charismatic.

6. Juhani

Juhanihead

If you’ve gone down the consular/force user route for KotOR, then Juhani may well prove to be invaluable. Her setup is simple; single lightsaber, decent strength and dexterity stats. It’s probably not even worth telling her to use any force powers, just get her to power attack anything in your path, and you’re sorted. Given that her homeworld was devastated by Mandalorians, she’s been plagued by idiots being xenophobic, and finally slavery, she’s still one of the best out there.

5. Atton Rand

Attonrender

If T3’s the R2 of the series, then that would make Atton the Han Solo of the KotOR world, albeit with a darker backstory. A soldier who fought under Revan in both the Mandalorian War and the Jedi Civil War, he eventually ended up as the first companion of The Exile in the Peragus mining facility. In classic Han style, he’s rogue-ish, wisecracking and handy with a blaster. He is essentially “Carth 2.0” (ie Carth but with skills).

4. Canderous Ordo

CanderousHS-KOTOR

Yet another veteran of the Mandalorian War, Canderous fought for the Mandalorians (you know, being a Mandalorian). He’s the only character to really be suited to the heavy ranged weapons of the games, both as “Canderous” in KotOR, and as “Mandalore” in KotOR 2. But, with a great strength stat and the ability to regen health, he makes a good tank too. Like T3, he makes an appearance in both games, and each time to great effect.

3. Bao-Dur

BaoDur_Rener

A Zabrak, Bao-Dur appears in KotOR 2 only. He served under The Exile in the Mandalorian War, and is renowned as an expert mechanic and engineer, responsible for the creation of the Mass Shadow Generator at Malachor V. As a companion, he’s skilled in anything mechanical, suited towards blaster rifles, and has the unique ability to destroy any force field due to his crazy arm (see below).

Baodurfulltelos

Also good for toasting marshmallows.

On top of all that, he creates The Exile a lightsaber, and (also due to said arm) excels in unarmed combat. Would you really want to be punched by that?

2. HK-47

HK47photoshoot1

Everyone’s favourite killer robot/comedian! HK-47 is, put simply, an assassin droid, and an evil one at that, making him one of the best purely ranged fighters either game has to offer, using a blaster rifle to destroy anything and (if he had his way) everything. With enough skill in repair, you can upgrade his functionality too, for things like boosted dexterity, and health regeneration.

Perhaps his greatest strength, though, lies in his dialogue.

Perhaps his greatest strength, though, lies in his dialogue.

1. Jolee Bindo

JoleeEveryone’s favourite cranky old man/comedian! Jolee Bindo left the Jedi after they refused to punish him for secretly training an apprentice/wife (who went on to turn to the dark side). He considers himself something of a “grey Jedi”, finding both the Jedi and the Sith equally annoying, probably part of the reason he lived on Kashyyyk in the forest for so many years, isolated from either group. While he might be slightly more prone to the light than dark side of the force, he is a master force user, able to use light side buffs and stuns, along with devastating dark side attacks with ease. Unless you’re playing as a consular yourself in the original KotOR, Jolee should always be on your team, if only for some crotchety old man wisdom/rants.

So, who do you think should have made the list? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Poll of the Week 27.11.2013

Which Star Wars Character Do People Want in Episode VII?

As had been for a while now, lots of news and speculations are flying about for Star Wars: Episode VII, and IGN has run a poll, asking readers to pick which character they would like to see in the new film.

Top 3

Boba Fett (23.1%) boba fett

 

Darth Maul (11.68%) darth maul

 

Chewbacca (10.79%) chewbacca

Bottom 3

Max Rebo (0.38%)max rebo

Moff Tarkin (0.33%)moff tarkin

Malakili (0.09%)malakili

 

To be honest, while I recognised them, I hadn’t ever heard of Max Rebo or Malakili, but I won’t miss them. Most surprising to me was, considering how even considerably dead characters were fair game as far as this poll was concerned, Jar Jar Binks didn’t actually do too badly, coming in at 4.68%.

See the full poll’s results here.

Poll of the Week 23.10.13

Poll of the Week 24.7.13

 

Poll of the Week 17.7.13

 

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II (2/2)

(Apologies, Steam was being stubborn and not letting me take my own screenshots of the game, so I had to source these images from Google.)

So, here’s the second part of my KotOR playthrough review, which is on KotOR II: The Sith Lords. Set (as you might expect) after the events of the first game, you play as The Exile, a jedi who fought in the Mandalorian Wars and was exiled by the council as a result. First off, the plot is definitely a step up from its predecessor, with the story KotOR II: TSL being much more complex and rich, and playing off the different motivations of different characters. This also translates to the morality system, which as before boils down to being “good” or “evil”, but this time around the choices made are not so clear cut, and there is not always a right answer to every problem.

Though there is a clear right answer here.

In terms of combat, KotOR II takes what KotOR started with and builds solidly on it. Same basic mechanics, but with a greater selections of feats and force powers to choose from, including lightsaber forms (passive bonuses/penalties you can choose to suit your style). Unfortunately, and I’m not sure if this was intentional or not when the game was developed, since the levelling process is slow many of these feats you never get around to acquiring. There is also the option to have two weapon loadouts, enabling the player to quickly switch between, for example, a blaster and a lightsaber, allowing your character to be more versatile in combat. Auto-regen of health is now implemented, and is a welcome addition in my opinion, saves time waiting for your force to regen so that you can cast heal or waste medpacks! My only negative thing to say about the combat is that if you invest in the flurry feat-tree and acquire Master Flurry, it has no penalties at all, you just get an extra free attack per round. For me, it’s overpowered, and I preferred the first game’s style of reducing the penalties (lower defence and chance to hit) but without removing them entirely.

One criticism, for better or for worse, of the original KotOR was that a fair amount of gameplay was required before the player character could train to become a jedi (before that point, you played as average Joe). KotOR II kind of solves that, by starting you as a jedi class from the word go, giving you almost instant access to start learning force powers. The downside being, however, that it takes a surprising amount of time before you can build your first lightsaber, necessitating travelling to multiple worlds to acquire all the parts you will need.

Again, there is a menagerie of companions to choose from on your journey: Atton (wise cracking rogue), G0-T0 (somewhat shady business droid), Mandalore (leader of the Mandalorians who are trying to rebuild), Bao Dur (expert technician with an awesome robot, plasma arm, thing), Kreia (your mentor and advisor jedi), Visas Marr (a sith apprentice), and a couple of companions who arrive only meeting certain conditions. The Handmaiden if you are a male Exile, or the Disciple if you’re female, and Mira if you’re good, Hanrarr if you are evil. To top off this list, our little friend T3-M4 returns, as does HK-47 (if we decide to rebuild him).

As a side note, and one which I didn’t notice made too much of an impact on gameplay, your alignment will shift your companions alignments over time. ie, if you are slaying innocents left right and centre, your companions will start to fall to the dark side too.

Some familiar locations make another appearance in this game: the plains of Dantooine and the now ruins of Korriban. New locations include the Peragus Mining Facility, the floating city of Telos (which is oddly reminiscent of Taris), Onderan and the crime-ridden world of Nar Shaddaa.

Overall, as with the first game, KotOR II looks beautiful, good soundtrack, nice environments, and even the combat looks nice, with varied more-varied animations for each type of attack, which keeps melee combat looking fresh. However, when writing about this game, there is one point that cannot be left out: It’s buggy like hell. Seriously, save often. They range from minor annoyances, like companions getting stuck on things, to game breaking bugs such as the one in the image below, from the Telos Academy. (By the way, I’ve had that particular glitch numerous times, and I think the way to solve it is to try and put up a fight when you’re asked to surrender your weapons, fair warning.)

With a lot more variety and complexity, this game is certainly worth playing, but in my honest opinion, it is the first game, KotOR, that is the classic out of the two. Mainly because it has less bloody game-breaking glitches… What was your experience of this game?

First released: December 2004 ; Published by LucasArts ; Developed by Obsidian Entertainment

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (1/2)

It’s safe to say that I know KotOR like the back of my hand, seeing as I’ve been playing it for ten years straight now. I may have a soft spot for RPGs in general, but looking back at its release and playing it for the very first time, very little has changed in my mind, I still love this game to bits.

What really sticks out at me about KotOR is the level of control you have to tailor your character and your party to your needs. As you might expect, you play as a jedi in the old republic, thousands of years before the events of the films take place. But by no means does that mean you’re limited to playing as Mr Standard Jedi, no no, you can choose whether you dual wield or not, wear armour or not, use the force or not, even if you want to use a lightsaber at all! Though, let’s be honest, most of us want to go hack-and-slash through some droids. The combat is best described as dice rolls, but no knowledge of 20-sided dice is needed to be able to build a good character, and the combat still flows smoothly.

Like a fish

Like a fish

As in almost any Bioware RPG, the morality factor is central to the way the game plays. It’s up to the player to decide whether they go the ‘holier than thou’ route by being nice and helpful to everyone, or the ‘unnecessarily evil’ route by killing everyone, essentially. Unfortunately the good/evil system does boil down to those two choices a lot of the time in KotOR, but there are some head-scratchers in there. As it happens, on my most recent playthrough, I was a chaotic, evil, dual wielding Sith warrior. Because, why not?

On top of the level of customisation you can add to nearly every weapon and armour in the game, you have almost free reign on which companions you choose to take out with you into the wild world, each with their strengths and weaknesses. Carth (soldier, decent ranged fighter, but whiney), Bastilla (also whiney), Mission (street-smart rogue), T3-M4 (loveable utility droid), HK-47 (everyone’s favourite psychotic assassin droid), Canderous (big tough guy), Zaalbar (standard wookie), Juhani (awesome melee jedi), and finally to Jolee (comedic, cranky old man, excellent at buffing). There really is enough choice to complement whichever type of character you want to play as.

While the worlds and locations you will visit tend to be somewhat linear, the environments are beautiful and varied, with a soundtrack to each that enhances each area. From beginning in the sprawling city-planet of Taris, to the farmlands of Dantooine, the desolate world of Korriban, the ocean city of Manaan, the jungles of Kashyyyk and the desert wastes of Tatooine, there is enough variety to keep the adventure fresh and interesting as you go.

And the plot? Well, let’s just say that it’s not going to blow your socks off. As plots go it follows a fairly straightforward path, with nothing much happening throughout the bulk of the game. However, the main story is supplemented by side quests, and quests related to each of your companions, adding some much appreciated extra hours to the game. Along with a certain plot twist (which will not be spoiled here, fear not), there is enough to keep the player entertained through to the last minute of gameplay. With excellent voice acting on par with any quality Bioware game, and featuring such talent as Phil LaMarr and Jennifer Hale, the conversations and cutscenes are well worth paying attention to.

Classic droid

Classic droid

All in all this Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is a classic, make no mistake. If you haven’t played it before, I recommend giving it a go. Any thoughts on KotOR?

First released: July 2003 ; Published by LucasArts ; Developed by Bioware

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