Knights of the Old Republic EP56: Fall to the Light Side

By Shamus Posted Friday Mar 4, 2016

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 95 comments

Link (YouTube)

So here it is, the end of the longest season (by episode count) of Spoiler Warning. The previous record holder was Fallout: New Vegas, which ended at episode 55. I know in the past we said we were going to do Fallout 4 next, but the crew is actually not eager to start another marathon game after finishing this one, so we’re going to do something short in the interim. I’ll probably announce it next week.

I know we’ve been kind of negative for the last few episodes, but I like that we had a lot of fun in this last installment. While I’ll probably never play through KOTOR again, I still think there’s a lot to love about the game. Also, I really want to see a game that employs my concept for reconciling Malak’s verbal bravery with his acts of cowardice. Game developers have explored the “maniacal power-hungry brute” archetype pretty thoroughly by now. I have room in my heart for a game where your adversary is a schemer, but actually crumbles fairly quickly in combat (AND NOT IN A CUTSCENE) when you finally cross bladesOr fists, or laser guns, or whatever..

One of the things I’ve never liked about D&D as mediated by a computer: When buffs and de-buffs are both a huge part of the mechanics and yet often a dumb waste of timeExtra sad panda points: When they’re inconvenient and require mucking about in complex flow-breaking spell menus.. Buffs can be annoying if you have to constantly refresh them at the start of every fight. Debuffs are useless against mooks if they don’t pay for themselves in terms of combat rounds. I can kill this loser in four combat rounds, or I can spend a round de-buffing him so he’ll die in three. In terms of expediency, it’s faster to skip the fiddling around with the spell menu and just mash the attack button.

But then you come to a boss fight. At last, a chance to use all your powers! Time to pull out all the stops and hit him with everything you’ve got. The de-buff will actually have a meaningful impact on the battle, and you’ll finally get a chance to put some of your more esoteric skills to use. You cast your power and…

He makes the saving throw. And now you’ve wasted your opening move. Boo.

Sure, you can min-max so that this is less likely to happen, but usually at the cost of making you weaker against mooks. And since you spend 90% of these games fighting mooks, that’s actually not an awesome tradeoff. And there’s no guarantee that your de-buffs will work at the end anyway. The game developer might just make the Big Bad Guy immune to them. There’s no way to be sure, and you don’t want to build an entire character to optimize your performance in the final fight, only to have the developer negate your advantages in the name of “balance”.



[1] Or fists, or laser guns, or whatever.

[2] Extra sad panda points: When they’re inconvenient and require mucking about in complex flow-breaking spell menus.

From The Archives:

95 thoughts on “Knights of the Old Republic EP56: Fall to the Light Side

  1. Lachlan the Mad says:

    Holy one-hour video, Batman!

    1. Peter H. Coffin says:

      Okay, my suggestion of a 2.5 hour session yesterday was an exaggeration, but I got the gist of it correct….

  2. ehlijen says:

    Yay! You figured out that the endless droid fight is not only pointless, but utterly pointless by being bypassable! (I was just about to scream at the screen…)

    1. Grudgeal says:

      If only the same was true for the boss fight with Malak…

    2. Kelhim says:

      When I played KotOR 1 in late 2014, I did not know that you could just leave the droids behind and follow Malak through the door. That you could leave the room during the final fight was also news to me.

      From my past experiences with playing video games in general and boss fights in particular, it was perfectly clear to me that the doors would be magically sealed …

      1. Gruhunchously says:

        Think you misspelled ‘magnetically sealed’ there. Or maybe you didn’t.

        1. Ledel says:

          A sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, and magnets, how do they work? Therefore both are correct.

  3. Da Mage says:

    I actually think a delay on Fallout 4 is a good thing. It’ll give a chance for Bethesda to release some DLC in case any of them are worth doing.

    1. Wide And Nerdy says:

      Supposedly we’ll have Far Harbor in 3 months. The other two I don’t think they’ll want to do anything with.

      I’m starting to think FO4 won’t be a great season. Its got a decent main plot by Bethesda standards but its otherwise a story thin gameplay experience. That leaves commenting on the gameplay but they’ve done two games of this and it won’t take them long to get through their comparisons especially since they’re not likely to fool around much with settlement building.

      They might get some more mileage out of talking about missed opportunities and Bethesda games never have a shortage of that.

      At least this time around there’s not as much plot to miss. One thing that frustrated me about the Skyrim season is, while I enjoyed the antics early on, it left me frustrated later in the season at how little of the plot and quest stuff they were doing. I was desperately hoping they’d do Dragonborn because I really feel like that DLC addresses some of the problems of the core game.

      Its colorful. Its got a few cool new powers (returning favs like waterwalking). Miraak is in pretty much every way a better done than Alduin in terms of setup and boss battle. Frea was a decent companion (though not quite as good as Serana maybe.) They always seem to release at least one DLC thats better than the base game.

  4. Grudgeal says:

    How I wish your comments were actual dialogue choices during that ending…

  5. SimeSublime says:

    There are a few games with bosses who preferred to act from the shadows but fell quite quickly when actually approached. From memory, the end boss in the first Spyro the dragon just ran away from you on sight, and the entire ‘fight’ was just chasing him down. The final boss for the Alien campaign in AVP2 is an unarmed elderly scientist. And of course Earthworm Jim has Bob the fish.

    1. Grudgeal says:

      There’s also The Transcendent One from Planescape: Torment, where you can actually call out said boss on its bluster and reveal that it’s not as powerful as it wants you to think it is, and also that it’s been afraid of facing you.

    2. Zekiel says:

      Bob the Goldfish was the first thing that came to my mind!

      The Lord Regent in Dishonored qualifies I think – he’s your adversery for most of the game, and he’s just as easy to kill as any other human being. (Dishonored is great for this sort of thing.)

      1. Zekiel says:

        Oooh also the Pope in Assassins Creed 2. He wasn’t exactly a challenge (at least not at the end… I don’t think we need to revisit the earlier bit where he survived being attacked by half-a-dozen assassins and then escaped by running round a corner).

    3. el_b says:

      wait so they actually made a game about ‘chasing the dragon?’ i thought south park made that up :P

    4. Wide And Nerdy â„¢ says:

      I’ve seen a couple that ran till they could access something that made them a true threat. Shovel Knight has the mechanic knight guy who runs around till he can reach his giant drill tank.

      Kefka from FF6 is kind of like this too at times, iirc.

      Dr Robotnik loses his nerve when you dispatch his assault vehicles.

  6. Neko says:

    I really enjoyed the high-speed lightsaber twirling.

  7. John says:

    Wow. That looked almost exactly like the first time I fought Malak.

    Well, without further ado:

    Why I Love Knights of the Old Republic–Part II: The Design

    Okay, so let’s start off with a clear statement of exactly what Knights of the Old Republic is. Plot-wise, the game is a Star Wars pastiche, drawing almost exclusively from the original trilogy. Malak is obviously inspired by Darth Vader, the Ebon Hawk by the Millenium Falcon, the Star Forge by the Death Star, and so on. There’s a turret mini-game because of the turret scenes in A New Hope. Taris is bombarded because Alderaan was destroyed. Sith soldiers are faceless and armored, just like Imperial Stormtroopers. Republic soldiers have comical, streamlined cycling helmets because the crew of Leia’s ship at the beginning of A New Hope wore similar helmets as they were gunned down. Casual civilian attire the galaxy over is almost exactly like that of the Lars family on Tatooine five thousand years later. Only the swoop race on Taris seems to have been inspired by the prequels–which is understandable, since of the prequels only the The Phantom Menace had been released before Bioware began working on the game. So the game is not only a pastiche, it’s a really, really obvious pastiche. I think it works fairly well, though. It strikes me as a deliberate design decision rather than laziness or creative bankruptcy–Bioware wanted the game to evoke Star Wars and were taking no chances.

    The reason I think that the game is thoughtfully designed is that Bioware made sure to give themselves a free hand, story-wise, by setting the plot so far into the past of the Star Wars universe. They could render homage to the events of the original trilogy without actually having to awkwardly depict–or awkwardly avoid depicting–the events themselves. By contrast, another otherwise excellent Star Wars game–perhaps THE excellent Star Wars game–Tie Fighter, is set just after The Empire Strikes Back. The player is an Imperial pilot who nevertheless somehow spends half the game or more fighting not Rebels but other Imperial pilots because–I can only assume–the Empire cannot defeat the Rebellion too much or too often before Return of the Jedi. We should be thankful, I suppose, that the player character in Tie Fighter remains a stalwart supporter of the Emperor throughout the game rather than defecting to the Rebels. The other advantage of setting Knights of the Old Republic in the distant past is that it renders both the Light and Dark Side endings of the game plausible. Even if the player falls to the Dark Side and (as the closing cut scene suggests) conquers the Republic, the Republic has thousands of years to get un-conquered before The Phantom Menace begins. (Jolee Bindo even alludes to this possibility in a conversation he has with Carth.)

    Then there’s the twist. The twist is great. I did not see it coming. I did not even know that there was a twist until it happened. When poor, doomed Trask spent such a long time explaining things that the player character really ought to have known already, I accepted it as a genre convention. I understood it as Trask talking to me, rather than to the character I controlled. (Which, let’s be honest, he is.) When my character completed his Jedi training incredibly quickly, I took it for another convention. It would not have made narrative sense for the game to let several years go by in training montages when the threat to the galaxy was so very, very imminent. When Admiral Karath, Calo Nord, and Darth Malak went to go whisper in private at the end of a cutscene, I thought very little of it. Villains are always doing that so that players and viewers will be appropriately surprised by their evil plans. But during the torture scene, when Admiral Karath spoke as though he knew something about my character that I did not, I thought it was very, very odd . . . and then the flashbacks with Darth Malak explained everything. A great many things were suddenly cast in a new light. It was brilliant. Perhaps the best part is that it prompted me to choose some very different dialogue options in subsequent runs. In my first run, I was humble and deferential when talking to the Jedi Council on Dantooine. In my second run, however, I nearly tricked Master Vandar into inadvertently giving away the secret. Hah–I say “nearly” as though it were actually possible. The game can be very good at making you feel clever.

    The twist, in addition to being clever, serves two purposes. First, it at last firmly connects the player character to the game’s plot. In my experience, RPGs tend to do this sort of thing either right at the beginning of the game–as when the Big Bad sends his Dragon to destroy your Beloved Peasant Village at the beginning of Breath of Fire–or never–as in Neverwinter Nights where you take a job working for the city of Neverwinter because An Adventurer Is You. Knights of the Old Republic starts off with fairly high stakes–Malak is on the verge of conquering The Republic–and yet Bioware found a way to raise them mid-game without changing the course of the plot in the slightest. Second, it forces the player to re-contextualize his own actions in the game up to this point. The player character was evil once. If the player has been good up to this point, the twist gives him an excuse to turn evil. If the player chooses to remain good, it gives him a new opportunity to role-play. If the player has been evil, he now has an excuse for his evil. It also plays into the power-fantasy aspects of a Dark Side run–it allows the player to have retroactively gotten the best of the Jedi Council without even trying.

    1. Zekiel says:

      Great write-up!

      Even though I don’t hold KOTOR in especially high regard, I completely agree that it did a fantastic job of making you feel like you were in a Star Wars film (even down to the goofy “everyone waving at the camera” Light Side ending).

  8. Lame Duck says:

    “He makes the saving throw. And now you've wasted your opening move. Boo. ”

    I always thought the worst version of this problem is instant kill moves (mostly in JRPGs), which are a ridiculous overkill and waste of resources against mooks but bosses are naturally always immune to it. Typically the only thing the move ends up killing is player characters when a boss has access to it.

    1. Joshua says:

      That’s why there’s a whole trope about it: Useless Useful Spell

      1. Destrustor says:

        Broken link there mate.
        Or maybe you’re just trying to shield unwary eyes from the TvTropes vortex…

        1. krellen says:

          I think Shamus’s blog might actually purposefully break TVTropes links.

    2. John says:

      I have no interest in most Final Fantasy games but I like Final Fantasy Tactics Advance in part because status-effect abilities are actually useful, to the point where (with a properly-built party) they are almost game-breaking. Viera Assassins with 99% chance of inflicting instant death. Moogle Gunners who can blind enemies from across the map. Alas, the main character is human and doesn’t have access to a class that can learn the Concentration ability . . . and of course the plot-relevant bosses are all immune to instant death for some reason. Ah, well.

      1. affun says:

        I am going to come off as a boring factoid, buuuuut…

        Archers have access to Concentration. Humans can become archers —> The main character can have concentration.
        I did however find it far more gamebreaking to run with the human specific Double Sword (from Ninjas) and combining it with Bonecrusher, making sure to level the character as a ninja, for the general high stat-gains. Sadly, nothing in that game is even remotely challenging enough to require any of the weird but interesting stuff you can build your characters into.

        Yes, I played FFTA too much.

        1. John says:

          Huh. It’s been a while since my last functioning Nintendo handheld died. I used to play Tactics Advance once or twice a year. And now I’m wondering if Concentration affects Blue Mage abilities . . . and I have no way to experiment. Dammit!

    3. King Marth says:

      The lack of degrees of failure/success makes save-or-die tricky; there’s no such thing as half a status effect, you either hit or miss, as opposed to ordinary attacks which can vary damage to represent how successful you were without making the action useless. For instakill in particular I think it comes down to how it completely ignores anything else that has been done to the target, it might be more interesting if those effects were treated as attacks that dealt large spikes of temporary damage on a hit, so they would still be useful for closing a boss battle and designers wouldn’t need to worry about shortcircuiting massive amounts of boss health.

      The one JRPG I’ve seen where instakill effects were actually useful was Bravely Default, where chance of inflicting status was high and the Arcanist job combined with the Black Mage capstone of “cast on all” could reliably cast Death on all enemies, or Sleep into Twilight (instakill all sleeping combatants), at a comparable cost to ordinary attack magic. I suppose the Hama and Mudo lines in Persona 3-4 had their place as well against shadows weak to Light and Dark skills, helped by how you need to spend SP (mana) on mook encounters anyway. Still useless on bosses.

      1. Trix2000 says:

        Bosses being immune to insta-kill moves (with certain particular exceptions) is a reasonable thing to allow, though, because otherwise that would be the ONLY good strategy. So you’d either end up with a really trivial encounter (use it once and you win) or a really frustrating one (use it over and over until it works). Either way, there’s no thought involved with beating it beyond finding out it’s effective at all.

        Light/Dark skills are REALLY good in SMT games, though. Not even just on things that are weak to them either (though it varies from game to game). For instance, it makes Naoto one of the best characters for plowing through standard encounters, since she could just Mamudoon/Mahamaon everything over and over and likely take out at least a couple enemies in one shot… if not ALL of them.

        1. Grudgeal says:

          To say nothing of buffs/debuffs. Certain bosses (I’m looking at YOU, Matador) practically require you to be buffed out the eyeballs if you want half a chance of beating them.

    4. Trix2000 says:

      Unless you’re playing SMT games (and Persona series), where instant kill spells are incredibly useful for your party to have and incredibly deadly if the enemies have them (but can be managed).

      I’m still not entirely sure how they do it, but they make those spells WORK where almost no other game does.

    5. Dev Null says:

      Saving throws and magic resistance are terrible things in these games, for that exact reason. Making the big boss 5% easier to fight doesn’t make him easy, and it presumably comes at some sort of cost, so ok. Making the mooks 5% easier to fight makes little-to-no appreciable difference, as Shamus describes. But making the mooks 5% easier 75% of the time, and the big boss 5% easier 5% of the time is just dumb; the skill is now _only_ effective when it is unneeded.

  9. TheAngryMongoose says:

    I have room in my heart for a game where your adversary is a schemer, but actually crumbles fairly quickly in combat (AND NOT IN A CUTSCENE) when you finally cross blades

    Trigger Warning: Fable II

    Fable 2?

    It is technically the normal combat mechanics right? Assuming you kill him in time. Me, I accidentally killed him spamming buttons out of boredom.

    1. galacticplumber says:

      Now, see, that would’ve been great if he had any sort of legitimate combat climax near that section of the game. Reasons? Verisimilitude means the villain who can’t fight worth a damn should have access to competent combatants in one way or another, else he’s probably not a threat in the traditional sense. Also that’s a combat oriented game and thus needs some sort of though combat to act as a climax. Allowing an intentional anti-climax in combat for something like this can only work if the story is good enough to keep the player engaged despite that. Fable 2 is many things. A well-written main quest is not one of those things.

      1. Ledel says:

        I thought the main quest was to spend 3 hours straight doing the log-chopping mini-game. Dang, I took away the wrong lesson from that game.

  10. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Malak is actually antipaladin.And it really seems weird that this tough guy is so afraid,but it makes sense when you think about it.Paladins are inhumanly brave,so antipaladins are weasels even when they can level cities with their spit alone.And of course he will never show that he is afraid.

  11. Daemian Lucifer says:


    So those are actually headphones?And you are listening to Taylor Swift?

  12. Joshua says:

    “One of the things I've never liked about D&D as mediated by a computer: When buffs and de-buffs are both a huge part of the mechanics and yet often a dumb waste of time”

    D&D 5E has an interesting solution to this in the tabletop version: Although buffs and debuffs can be pretty useful, most require the caster to use Concentration, which means you can have only *one* active at any given time. So, Bless is a nice spell. So is Bane. Which would you rather cast? (We take a third option with my Bard casting Bane and the Cleric casting Bless).

    This is a self-balancing mechanic to prevent a stack of buffs making PCs untouchable (or NPC Wizards having stupid Contingency spells that autocast all of their buffs a la Baldur’s Gate II).

    1. Joe Informatico says:

      And the way any single Disadvantage cancels out all Advantages and vice versa also discourages you from stacking buffs or debuffs. Pick one buff for your party and/or a debuff for the enemy, and you probably don’t have to worry about loading on more in the same combat.

  13. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I know in the past we said we were going to do Fallout 4 next, but the crew is actually not eager to start another marathon game after finishing this one, so we're going to do something short in the interim. I'll probably announce it next week.

    So a short game then?I suggest witcher 3.

    1. Syal says:

      I suggest Nuclear Throne.

      Shortest season ever.

      1. tmtvl says:

        Every time I see the title of that game I confuse it for The Burning Grail, which is definitely NOT a game for SW.

  14. Halceon says:

    “This video contains content from SME. It is restricted from playback on certain sites.”

    Oh dear.

    1. Josh says:

      Apparently it matched a bit of the John Williams music. Doesn’t say there are any restrictions on it aside from a little ad on the video. Where’d you see it come up as unplayable?

  15. Volvagia says:

    Five, serious, suggestions:

    Batman: Arkham City (Main story length: 10-12 hours.)
    Watch_Dogs (Main story length: 16-19 hours.)
    Tales from the Borderlands (Length: 10 hours.)
    Rise of the Tomb Raider (Main story length: 10-12 hours.)
    Deadpool (2013) (Main story length: 5-7 hours.)

    1. Christopher says:

      I hope it’s Life is Strange. They were saying something about whether they should do that or Fallout 4 first before they started on this game, I thought.

      1. Zekiel says:

        Good grief I hope not. I love LIS and would hate to see it lovingly torn apart by the Spoiler Warning crew!

        1. Christopher says:

          Maybe Rachel could be convinced to stand in for Shamus during the touching bits.

          1. Viktor says:

            YES. I’d love to see SW tackle LiS, and if they do, Rachel joining the cast is basically required. You always need at least one member of the cast who wholeheartedly loves the game, to provide contrast. Slowly breaking them a la Mumbles in Bioshock is not required, but is a nice perk.

        2. Volvagia says:

          Like Bunk to McNulty?

        3. Rodyle says:

          I would actually like to see it. While I love 4/5ths of it to bits, I do think there are several bad decisions from a gameplay perspective such as the entire fifth episode and while I do have some ideas on how it could’ve been improved, I would love to hear the crew’s ideas on this.

          1. Zekiel says:

            I’d love to hear the crew’s ideas on how it could be improved (cos it definitely could be), but I’d prefer not to sit through 10 hours of them making fun of a (flawed but) beloved game to find out!! That’s the sort of thing i’d much prefer an article or two on.

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Deadpool would work.Its a deadpool game,but its not very good,so there would be lots of things to comment on,both good(the humor)and the bad(gameplay and levels).

      1. Ledel says:

        I think the downside is trying to convince Shamus to play through the game enough to actually comment on it.

    3. Bespectacled Gentleman says:

      Suggestions for week-long interim episodes: Sunless Sea, Civilization?
      Edit: Ooh, I wanna see Shamus rage at Fable II!

    4. skulgun says:

      Josh should just put his steam ID into and start at the shortest game.

    5. Grudgeal says:

      How about Revengeance? It’s about six hours long, it has a ludicrously silly story and villains, and we all get to make fun of Josh’s playing.

      1. IFS says:

        I’m not sure if I would love or hate to see that. Revengeance is a great game but its also so different from all the games they’ve done before on SW. Then again it would probably be hilarious to watch pretty much no matter how they approach it… Hell I say do it.

    6. Lachlan the Mad says:

      They could bring back Half-Life 2, starting at Episode 1…

      1. The Rocketeer says:

        They did Episode 1. They could totally do some Episode 2, though.
        Don’t think I don’t see you dusting off that Episode 3 joke.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Yup,they should do episode 2.Just for completeness sake.

    7. Taellosse says:

      Arkham City won’t happen because Josh hates playing those games.

      Watch Dogs won’t happen because everyone in the crew hates that game.

      Rise of the Tomb Raider is a possibility, as is Tales from the Borderlands – as I recall the crew generally agree (those that have played both) that both those games are at least decent.

      I was going to say Deadpool isn’t an option since it was pulled from Steam a while back and I doubt Josh already owns it, but I guess it got put back up for sale sometime recently. Still, while Shamus and Mumbles could probably talk about Deadpool as a character, I don’t think either of them care much about him, and certainly nobody else does. I doubt there’d be a ton of enthusiasm.

  16. Destrustor says:

    “When buffs and de-buffs are both a huge part of the mechanics and yet often a dumb waste of time”

    It’s one of the many varieties of reasons I enjoy The Binding of Isaac and the Disgaea series:
    Their approaches to status effects actually allows bosses to be affected.
    One of the most useful debuffs in BoI is being slowed, which reduces projectile speed, projectile distance, movement speed and jump attack distance, all by half. Everything in the game can be affected if you have the appropriate items, no exceptions.
    Every status effect can be applied to bosses, and they’re often non-negligible hindrances to their efforts to kill you.

    And in Disgaea, every status ailment and debuff can also be applied to everything, barring the super-secret post-endgame bosses. Granted, it’s also usually infinitely more efficient to just crush the enemies under sheer damage, but the option is there regardless. And if you do bother with the statuses, they actually have some fairly potent effects.

    And on the subject of save-or-suck magic spells in standard tabletop RPGs, I think they should always have Some effect, even if they don’t succeed. Even if it’s something as minor as lowering your spell resistance or saving throws by 1 for just the very next attempt of that same spell or something.
    The spells that do pure damage already have that kind of mechanic, where you can dodge a fireball and still get singed; I don’t see how it makes sense that someone could just shrug off a barrage of continuous spells fired on them from all sides indefinitely. Your magical defenses would get weakened or exhausted at some point.

    1. Killbuzz says:

      It’s funny that you mention Disgaea as a counterpoint because bosses having status effects immunity (and status effect being generally useless) is very much a jRPG thing. Tabletop rules, which western RPG’s either adapt or are inspired by, don’t typically have that issue – ‘bosses’ play by the same rules as enemies and player characters. In D&D, it’s almost always better to use your wizard for buffs or debuffs than for pure damage.

      Then again, I find Shamus’ assertion that buffs and debuffs are useless in Kotor bizarre. A Force power like Insanity is incredibly useful, allowing you to disable potentially dozens of enemies at once for enough time for you to kill them all. Force Speed gives you two extra attacks per round, almost doubling your attack power. If anything, they’re too powerful.

      1. Grudgeal says:

        But they’re also completely worthless against Malak, meaning that your entire strategy for playing up to that point is invalidated by that one encounter. If a boss fight can be said to be the exam that tests what you’ve learned up to this point during regular gameplay, Malak fails that criteria egregiously.

        1. Killbuzz says:

          I think everyone is in agreement that it’s a bad boss fight. Still, this hardly invalidates the usefulness of (de)buffs throughout the rest of the game, and even against Malak buffs are still useful, since they don’t require a saving throw to succeed.

      2. John says:

        Buffs are only sort-of-useless in Knights of the Old Republic. The basic problem is that most buffs take a full combat round to apply and are only active for a few rounds after that. If you tried to use a single Jedi to apply all the available buffs and then keep them applied, that Jedi would never have the opportunity to do anything else, such as attack an enemy. So it’s generally a bad idea to try to apply a lot of Force-buffs while in combat–especially when playing solo. I personally recommend sticking to Improved Energy Resistance and Master Speed. Unlike every other buff, Energy Resistance and Improved Energy Resistance have a duration measured in minutes rather than combat rounds. They also mitigate damage from blasters and–crucially, for the Malak fight–lightsabers. In addition to the aforementioned extra attacks, Master Speed also gives you a defense bonus. It is the single most useful Force ability in the game and one that every (armor-less) Jedi character should take. The Force ability that improves your saves vs. Force abilities is useful in the fight against Malak but otherwise inessential.

        Stun/Stasis/Stasis Field and Fear/Horror/Insanity are indeed tremendously useful. They are the key to defeating large enemies like tarentateks and rancors who are–I guess–just too big to be affected by Force Wave. (Size matters not?) The key is to remember that a stunned or quavering monster is a monster that is (a) not hitting you for massive damage and (b) standing still while you slice it up with a lightsaber. They work fine against smaller organic opponents, too, although Force Wave is arguably more effective in those cases, since it does damage as well as stuns. The problem with de-buffs is that they very rarely work against final-boss Malak. I played a game as a Consular recently on Hard mode and checked the combat log in order to compare the DC of my force abilties against Malak’s saving throws. I forget the exact results, but the odds that I would be able to stun Malak–or even hurt him–with the Force were miniscule. In fact, I’m not sure that it was even possible for him to fail his saving throws.

        1. Josh says:

          Actually, I repeatedly stunned both Terentateks in the tomb fight with Force Wave.

          1. John says:

            Yeah, I saw that. I was pretty surprised, too. What I meant was that when you use Push/Whirlwind/Wave on a large monster, the game tells you that the monster is immune. I thought that applied to the stun effect as well, but apparently not. I do note that they never get knocked back, knocked down, or spun about in the air. And I’m not sure if you did any damage that way.

            1. Add Terentatkes are said to be immune to the force as the reason they’re so fearsome. I totally didn’t expect that and I would had commented on it had I remembered once the chapter was over.

        2. Atarlost says:

          Energy resistance doesn’t help against lightsabers. They do energy damage and it only gives resistance to elemental damage, ie. things dragons would breath if they existed. So just two grenades, two droid widgets one of which only shows up on that one horrible optional droid in the Vulkar base, and lightning. Resisting lightning might be useful, but having a more useful force power is even more useful most of the time.

      3. Joe Informatico says:

        Not completely true: the original Dragonlance game modules for D&D contained an “obscure death” rule, which strongly encouraged the DM to make certain plot-important NPCs (mostly named villains) immortal until an appropriate part of the story when it was more dramatic for them to die.

        BioWare has recently adopted temporary invincibility for some of its bosses: Kai Leng is the most notorious, but a few in the Dragon Age games also become temporarily unhurtable while they call in their mook reinforcements.

  17. Ledel says:

    So the Star Forge is the part of the game where I almost walked away from it forever.

    It took me 20 minutes to realize that the hallway has an infinite amount of sith mooks to throw at you. I guess the reasoning for this is that they want you to be able to reach max level before the final encounter (because you will need it).

    The confrontation with Bastila wasn’t too bad. They had laid the groundwork for your rivalry with her, so it was nice that it comes to a head, and you can choose the way in which you handle it.

    Then I finally reached the fight with Malak. The first 4 times I went in there he managed to stun-lock me at the start of combat and killed me before I was able to swing my lightsaber once. I finally got him to the point where he starts draining the Jedi for heals, and it took me another 2 attempts before I realized I could Destroy Droid the pods they were in.

    It didn’t feel like I was losing the fight because of a lack of skill or power. it felt like the epitome of having a DM wanting their villain to be powerful, so they gave him superpowers that could only be overcome with an extreme amount of lucky rolls.

    1. Zekiel says:

      Good grief I hate the Malak fight. It is so stupid. Bioware just aren’t very good at boss fights. Its long, its a slog, you either have to run around interacting with bits of scenary (not very heroic) or have to cope with Malak healing himself using them (prolonging the fight more). And as Shamus pointed out a long, long time ago, this is the epitome of how not to do lightsabre combat – the player hacking away at Malak like they’re trying to fell a tree. When you finish the fight it it with relief that you don’t have to do it anymore, not out of any sense of relief that the character of Malak has been defeated.

      Incidentally this is almost exactly like the fight with the Archdemon at the end of Dragon Age Origins – it goes on far too long and by about 30% of the way through I was petrified that I’d die and have to restart the whole tedious business again. Developers, this is not what you want the player to be feeling at the climax of your videogame.

  18. silver Harloe says:

    when this series started, I thought “I never played this game, maybe I should buy it”
    now… not so much. I’m thinking just “go to youtube and look at the romance scenes and the dark side ending”

    1. Ledel says:

      It’s actually not that bad if you’re used to the old D20 PC game style that it’s based upon. There’s definitely a lot more to explore that SW didn’t touch on, and having the NPC reactions to different dialogue options available does allow for some replayability entertainment.

      That being said, unless you’re wanting a game to scratch the OG Star Wars itch, I would probably leave it where it is for the moment.

  19. nerdpride says:

    Funny that Josh never noticed you could use healing items from the pause-the-game item menu. I think it was once per turn but still you could take a combat action and recover at the same time.

    1. Ledel says:

      I’m glad he didn’t use/abuse that. I’d rather this not turn into another New Vegas “And we’re back at the inventory” playthrough.

  20. Smam says:

    You guys mentioned in-fight banter, and there’s actually a mechanic for that in the Way of the Samurai and Kenka Bancho games. In the case of Way of the Samurai, you have a dedicated talk and draw sword mechanic that can both be activated at any time during the game, no matter what is happening. Cutscene of important figures talking? Whip out sword. In the middle of the street? Whip out sword. And the game reacts to this, usually with a reaction of “what the fuck are you doing you psychopath”. You can also interrupt cutscenes and fights in a similar fashion by speaking up in the middle of it.
    In some games in the series this talking in combat mechanic adds an effect of being able to yield during combat or put the enemy in a “rage” state by insulting them.

    In the case of Kenka Bancho, however, insults and banter are an integral part of the gameplay, every fight starts with trading insults between your character and the enemy, and whoever gives the best insult gains advantage at the start of the fight. It basically takes the form of a quick-time event where you need to piece together a coherent insult from a series of phrases that appear in sequence.
    So the general order would be like “Insult openers – continuing phrase – insult closer”.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Another game that has the mechanics* for mid-fight banter – Fallout 4!

      * Or at least the skeleton for them.

  21. Falterfire says:

    Re:Killing the final boss mid-monologue:

    In Borderlands 2: Handsome Jack will monologue for a while after you kill the Warrior . You can cut him off mid-monologue if you want just by shooting him with your gun of choice. If you don’t, Lilith will eventually kill him at the end of the monologue anyways

  22. Nidokoenig says:

    Mid-combat dialogue often suffers from the problem of having a certain amount of dialogue to get through, you can’t expect people to read subtitles for it, it lowers the amount of skill you can expect, and you need a button or two for it.

    With a certain amount of dialogue to get through, you either get people wanting to replay the fight and deliberately prolonging it, the dialogue is skippable and mostly for flavour, or the enemy gets reduced to one hit point and keeps going until they’re done. These all suck.

    Since you can’t expect people to read subtitles in the middle of an intense battle, you either spend a whole bunch of cash on VA for other territories, or you lower the difficulty. Vanquish does the VA for European languages and I have no other examples. I was shocked when I switched the language to German for practice and people actually spoke it.

    Unless the dialogue is mission-critical orders, you’re distracting the player if you expect their input. If your game has any kind of ranking system, this doesn’t work. Notably, Kid Icarus: Uprising has loads of dialogue in the on-rails flight sections, not interactive, but I find myself cueing off of it. “He said the thing, that means the next wave is on the left!”. Playing without VA, using the post-game options, is torture.

    The button thing means you need to make room on the pad and in the control scheme for speech. You can’t expect a player to take their thumb off the analogue stick or face buttons for a mid-combat action, so you have four shoulder buttons, so maybe you could scroll through options with the bumpers and leave the triggers free for choosing dialogue. Keyboard controls might even be worse, you have to make the options reachable with your thumb while your mid three fingers are locked to WASD.

    Honestly, it’s probably easier to just have mid-combat banter use a clashing lightsabers animation. Good luck making that not look ridiculous with every combination of lightsaber available!

  23. Langis says:

    The sequel certainly made it up plot-wise for boss fights.
    Darth Sion had to be persuaded to die, give up on his immortality – the fight being more about persuasion and dialogue than the horrible KotOR combat.
    Treya had her 3 floating lightsabers where you could either attack her or the sabers.

    It’s not much, but it’s a start.

  24. Steve C says:

    OH. MY. DARK. LORD. I can’t fucking believe this…

    You know all those clone jedi in the tubes? That exact character model was the character model I chose for my PC. I thought all this time (until just now while watching this Spoiler Warning!) that they were all supposed to look like me on purpose. That no matter what your character looked like, everyone in the tubes would look like your PC by design.

    I thought they were my clones. That Malak was feeding off of me and my dark side as Revan to power the Star Forge and himself. That the Jedi had actually killed Revan and made a set of clones to use for their purposes. Thereby making the Jedi Council all pragmatists and hypocrites. That if I hadn’t given what the Jedi needed that the Jedi would have just killed me off and tried again with a new me. Malak had seized their clone labs and the other versions of me. The truth was that I was not actually Revan, and never was. I never had my memories erased! I was a clone of Revan, just like all the rest of the identical looking guys in tubes. A clone that was their own person, making all their own choices.

    I thought it was a really great narrative twist at the end. A twist that was far better than the initial Revan reveal. “You are Revan… psych! Na.. you aren’t that awesome guy. You’re just a copy of him.” Now you have a choice. Go murder other versions yourself in all these tubes in order to win against Malak. Or repeatedly knock Malak down to 50% hp while he goes and kills them all. I was playing my PC as a dickish, greedy narcissist so the choice to kill other versions of me really hit home! (Or maybe because I’m so evil I want to keep them alive so I can feed off them myself.)

    Malak’s dialogue was actually pretty cool. Everything was explained in a nice tight bow. Malak kept insulting me and thought of me as pathetic and beneath him because he had an entire room full of me. Made sense he’d view me that way. I’m just another identical mook to him like all the identical sith I’ve been killing. His threat at the end seemed menacing too! Re-read his dialogue with the perspective that it is *your* character in the jars:

    Malak— If only you had been the one to uncover the true power of the Star Forge you might have become truly invincible.

    (IE- Done to Malak what he ended up doing to you. Putting Malak in the tubes would have made Revan invincible cause Malak thinks he’s the shit.)

    Malak— But you were a fool. All you saw was an enormous factory. All you ever imagined was a fleet rolling forth to crush the Republic. You were blind, Revan – blind and stupid!

    Malak— The Star Forge is more than just a space station, in some ways, it is a like a living creature. It hungers. And it can feed on the dark side that is within all of us!

    Malak— The Star Forge corrupts what remains of their power and transfers the dark taint** to me!

    (Malak zaps a tube-jedi. The guy goes looking like a Revan with a healthy light side blue, to a Dark Side grey, evil Revan just like in the leveling menu screen.)

    Malak— You cannot beat me Revan. Not here on the Star Forge. Not when I can draw upon the power of all these Jedi!

    (IE: I’m using YOUR power x10. You cannot beat me because… math!.)

    Malak— And once you are beaten I will do the same to you. You will be trapped in a terrible existence between life and death, your power feeding me as I conquer the galaxy!

    All this time I thought everyone was being coy about the =true= twist of the game. That the twist is that you are NOT really Revan. I’m not the chosen one, good or evil. I’m a replaceable mook like all the faceless mooks I’ve been killing or even the army of endless replaceable droids. The cool twist ending that was the best part of the entire game… the part that made it most memorable for me the past 13years… was… just… a… fucking… coincidence. Are you fucking kidding me!?

    (**Malak you are sucking my taint? I viewed this a wink at the player given all the weird shit I can say in dialogue choices. A wink that would be missed by kids too young to get the joke.)

    1. Drew C says:

      I take it you didn’t know anyone else who played KOTOR? And you didn’t spot the other clones running around the Star forge (the group of Jedi you find in the Star Forge who lose to the sith that say “more victims for us to slaughter” afterwards has one among there number)?

      Actually now that I think about it I more amazed to find a fan of KOTOR from back in the day who only played it once.

      Edit: sorry had too

  25. Phantos says:

    The slow wave of dread washing over everyone who thought KOTOR was a good game has made me think:

    What games have I played that gave me that reaction? That realization that something I thought was great as a kid is actually a poop castle and I just didn’t notice.

    The two Sonic Adventure titles were pretty shocking to me when I revisited them last year. I wonder if I just liked the music in those games so much, I tricked my brain into imagining a better game to fit with that.

    Or maybe I was a dumb kid.

    1. Nidokoenig says:

      The Sonic Adventure games were pretty legit, it’s just everything’s been improved since then. They were never masterpieces, though the variety was nice.

  26. Steve C says:

    At one point Shamus mentioned that there are wide swings in difficulty. That it feels like there is a game mechanic the Spoiler Warning crew has been missing. And you are right! You have been missing a key mechanic.

    I mentioned it here when you started this series but I think it got eaten by the spam filter. (I accidentally included BBcode instead of HTML for a while there.) I also mentioned examples on the forum here at around the same time.

    The mechanic being missed is actually two things: 1) Stun is OP. 2) Use a melee weapon in melee.

    If a Jedi/Sith gets stunned, they effective lose all of their AC if they only wearing robes. Plus all the enemies get a big bonus to hit. Basically if a target gets stunned the attacker has a 95% chance to hit as they only need to roll a 2 or higher on a d20. If you get stunned, it’s going to be a hard fight. If you stun them, it’s going to be an easy fight. Also since Regina is a scoundrel, she deals bonus sneak attack damage against stunned targets.

    Holding a ranged weapon (or no weapon) in melee is a bad idea in KOTOR. Anyone attacking in melee gets a +10 to hit because you don’t have a melee weapon out. The fight on the catwalks in the Star Forge is a perfect example. The first time through Josh was using Force Lightning spam. He never attacked with his lightsabers. In other words he was in melee without a weapon. They ripped Regina up. Second time through Josh spammed Force Wave. That both stuns and pushes everything out of melee. No insane bonus to hit.

    Same thing would happen with the other Jedi. If they don’t have their lightsabers out and glowing then they are unarmed. If a Sith mook or Jolee starts with force powers like Force Lightning then they are unarmed and are easy to hit. If they attack first, then use force powers, they are armed and have normal AC… probably. It’s a little weird at deciding when the +10 comes in or not cause just because you see your lightsabers doesn’t mean you are armed. The takeway is it is unsafe to use force powers in melee. You can, it’s just a bad idea. The exception is force wave. If you push them out away from you, then you aren’t fighting in melee combat at all and it doesn’t matter either way if you are armed or not.

    BTW In the final fight, Malak was using drain life on the guys in the tubes. You could have used drain life on them to heal if you got there first and didn’t kill them with force lightning.

    TL;DR: Force Lightning is a good ability to use against multiple weak targets from range. Force Lighting is a bad ability to use against a single strong target in melee.

  27. Hey, I would second the recommendation for a Tales from the Borderlands mini-season. 5 episodes, each 2-ish hours… would only take a few weeks and be a nice little narrative and humor based lead up to the inevitable Fallout 4 madness.

  28. baseless_research says:

    soooo alien isolation? pretty please with sugar on top?

  29. Ninety-Three says:

    So Shamus, can we look forward to Spoiler Warning: Marlow Briggs 2, or whatever you end up doing, next week? Or will you be taking the usual post-season hiatus before getting to whatever comes next?

  30. Rodyle says:

    What about Mark of the Ninja?

  31. Chris The Gamer says:

    About your wish to see a game with a scemeing villain that is actually weak in combat.

    In Spiderman 2 you fight Mystery for a bit. He traps you in a weird funhouse fighting gallery, and stages an alien Invasion of New York. I would say those are the most annoying parts of the game, so it’s really satisfying when this happens:

  32. The outro of the game for dark side Is something I really enjoy.

    It’s also pretty cool to play the darkside ending if Bastila is romanced (for some reason the player did not romance Bastila fully it seems, if they did then Bastilla would say “I will stand by your side as your lover and apprentice.”.

    Bastila also “serves” as a pretty good apprentice if going darkside, she’ll “wait” for the player character’s approval before going with a double cross plan against the republic, note how she glanced over to the player character who is off camera (from the point of view of the republic).

    I kinda wish the game had been split in two, instead of just the last chapter.
    Heck, I’d gladly play a game where you could play fully as a dark side character (SWTOR does not count, that’s an MMO).

    Speaking of SWTOR. If BioWare “finished” the current story line stuff in SWTOR and then re-mastered the game so it would work as a normal single player RPG, I’d definitely buy and play that (it would effectively be KOTOR3 in a way). As it is now it’s pointless for me. I can’t mod SWTOR nor can I access a command console etc.

  33. @Shamus regarding Malak being scared of Revan, he probably is. Malak tried to betray Revan at some point, and Revan sliced Malak’s jaw off with a lightsaber. Soon after that Malak got revenge though as he attacked Revan’s ship during the (flashback) fight with the jedi’s and Bastila.

    Malak was braver during the first confrontation the player has with him, but after that Malak has obviously noticed that Revan is far from weak, possibly even stronger than before. So Malak being chickenshit on the Star Forge is very succinctly put IMO.

  34. Max says:

    Soooo, when is KotOR II? =)

Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.