Game Review | Star Wars: The Old Republic | Sith Warrior, Chapter 1, "The Padawan's Fall&qu
Chapter Summary: As tensions throughout the galaxy rise between the Empire and the Republic, Darth Baras sends his new apprentice to flush the Jedi Padawan who threatens his spy network out of hiding by destroying everything she holds dear.
I guess this is similar to how I've been looking at the episodes of the Telltale series, although they are distinct pieces telling one continuous story and The Old Republic is an MMO. Saying that, it is a BioWare MMO and felt I had to write something after completing this first 'chapter'.
This is because the 'finale' of the Sith Warrior's first chapter was so cathartic and so unbelievably satisfying to play through that it deserved to be looked at in more depth. Alefurr, my character, isn't even halfway towards the current level cap and still has a long way to go to finish her story.
But if this showdown is anything to go by, that story is going to be just fantastic. The plot unfolds as detailed in the summary above, but the game lets you choose which side of the Force you wish to follow, and this creates an even greater sense of immersion than most MMOs can achieve.
Alefurr became a harsh, but fair follower of the light side, who just happens to be a member of the Sith Empire. This leads to some darkly humorous moments where characters expect you to kill them, and you instead let them walk away - to their great confusion.
This does have benefits, with some choices leading to different paths either within a mission, a chain of them, or even the larger narrative arc. I let Republic soldiers live, who then aided me against a Sith Lord; I then let that Sith Lord live and he has promised to aid me in the future (although it remains to be seen if he follows through on that promise).
But the crowning achievement was, after defeating Nomen Karr, and speaking with his student, Jaesa Willsaam. Karr had become consumed with vengeance against Alefurr's master, Darth Baras, and she was shocked to feel that darkness within him.
She was equally surprised to feel the merciful nature of Alefurr and decided to join me as a companion, the two of us acting as light side Force users intent on changing the Empire from within. It all felt so satisfying to experience and that all of my choices had had an effect.
Now obviously, this is all pre-written and the choices are a little more binary than that, but everything is structured so well and comes together so perfectly, that the illusion of choice is near flawless and it just elevated the material above what could have felt forced.
I will point out here that it is also possible to convert Jaesa to the dark side, and those are the only two options, but even having that choice feels like a huge thing when a lot of more linear games, MMO or not - don't have that kind of flexibility in story-telling.
Part of the credit must also go to Natasha Little, who voices the female Sith Warrior. I don't know how she sounds if you go the dark side route, but her line delivery for my character was just perfect, coming across as very amused at the reactions to her benevolent nature despite her political affiliation.
There are a couple of lines she struggles with, but those lines are either clichéd or just flat-out poor lines that any actor would struggle to deliver convincingly. Fortunately, these moments are few and far between, and usually related to the planet-based missions which have to be generic to fit all classes, rather the consistently high quality class-based conversations.
I do have to concede that it doesn't look or play particularly well, but it is seven years old now and modern graphics shouldn't be expected, especially from an MMO. But, thanks to BioWare adjusting the XP gain so you only need to do story missions, these are the only real complaints I have right now.
The fact remains that the story is the highlight here and, if this had been Knights of the Old Republic III, could work perfectly fine on its own as a standalone game. Honestly, it's my favourite Star Wars story in years and far more interesting subject matter than the new films, with more complex, nuanced characters than any of the new roster save Kylo Ren.
"The Padawan's Fall" is a fantastic first chapter in the Sith Warrior's story, with a finale that works well enough to hide the binary choice - although the presence of that choice is wonderful in itself and not something I was expecting from an MMO.