At some point in this game, you’ll eventually encounter some bounty hunters. There are a few different bounty hunters and numerous different places they can spawn, but sooner or later you’ll tangle with these idiots. When that happens, you’ll get hit with a writer-mandated stunlock and end up getting captured.
And so we come to a great big pointless sidequest with…
Cal wakes up in a prison cell. BD-1 is missing. His lightsaber is gone. His communicator is gone. He’s cut off, alone, and defenseless.
Well, not totally defenseless. We still have the ability to shove stuff around with the Force. So we need to break out of our cell and explore the seemingly empty complex. We rescue BD-1 and reach a gladiatorial arena run by the crime lord Sorc Tormo. We have to fight waves of monsters, followed by a rematch with the bounty hunters that captured usSorcTormo sportingly gives Cal his lightsaber..
This entire sequence feels disconnected from the rest of the game. I imagine it must be the product of one of two things:
- This was supposed to be a longer and more involved side-story, but it got hacked down to the bone when time / budget ran low.
- This bit was thrown together at the last minute to pad out the runtime or satisfy some obnoxious and heavy-handed corporate mandate.
Nothing about this is set up beforehand, and none of it pays off later.
Hopefully you remember our pilot Greez from earlier in this series. Previously the story has hinted that Greez has a gambling problem and he likes to bet on these sorts of arena fights.
Tormo claims that Cal has Greez to thank for his capture. But how does that work? What did Greez do wrong? Did he tell Tormo how to capture Cal? Did Greez have a bunch of debt and Tormo randomly decided to capture a Jedi to pay off that debt somehow?
He’s No Jabba
I can kind of see what the writer is doing here by attempting to repeat the Jabba the Hutt story from the original trilogy, but Jabba’s story got plenty of setup. By the time Jabba appeared, we knew him by reputation. It was an awesome moment to finally see what Han Solo’s long standing nemesis looked like! Furthermore, the confrontation against Jabba served the main plot:
- Show our heroes being united after the events of Empire Strikes Back.
- Show just how far Luke has come in his training. He couldn’t overcome Vader at the end of ESB, but he’s obviously outgrown the petty squabbles on Tatooine and has a broader perspective now.
- Introduce the tension we’re going to be feeling during the rest of the story regarding Luke’s seeming flirtation with the Dark Side. He shows up dressed in black and Force-choking dudes, which seems pretty sketchy. But he also attempts to negotiate with Jabba peacefully rather than just murdering everyone outright.
- Advance the Han / Leia romance.
- Rescue Han Solo, who is instrumental to the plot later on. Also, this will end his entire subplot and allow him to fully commit to the Rebellion.
In contrast, this bit with Sorc TormoEvery time I try to type this name my brain thinks I’m trying to type Sancre Tor. comes from nowhere and goes nowhere. Here is another case of a writer borrowing a fun idea, but leaving out all of the context, stakes, build-up, suspense, and catharsis that made the idea fun in the first place.
Imagine how much more punch this sequence would have if the game had been spending the occasional line of dialog to build up Sorc Tormo and convince the audience that he’s a major threat. As it stands, he needs to introduce himself because we’ve never heard his name before stepping into the arena.
The game acts like you’re supposed to know who this clown is. So I thought maybe he’s from the Clone Wars or something and this was just some really clumsy fanservice? Nope! This is his first-ever appearance.
The sequence doesn’t even make sense. You wake up in a cell with no guards around and you’re free to explore, solve puzzles, and rescue BD-1 at your own pace. Then when you arrive at the packed arena Tormo says, “It took you long enough!”
And I’m like, “Well, this is why you don’t have your conscripted gladiators keep their own hours, you massive dipshit.”
Once the fight is over, your friends crash the ship through the giant window and rescue you. This seems a little obvious and easy, but whatever. Afterward, Greez apologizes, but I’m not clear on what exactly he did wrong. If he helped Sorc Tormo capture Cal, then that’s too great a sin to be casually forgiven and forgotten in this brief exchange. If he had a bunch of debts he couldn’t pay and Sorc decided to kidnap Cal, then that’s on Sorc for involving Cal in business that was rightly between himself and Greez.
In a gameplay sense, this feels sort of random and unwelcome. It’s just a half hour of puzzles that are shallower than the stuff we’ve been doing, followed by an out-of-nowhere boss fight against foes we don’t really care about, followed by a rescue out of nowhere.
In a storytelling sense, this whole thing is an abrupt interruption. The main story had just started to get “good”. Previously, the story was built around the large and abstract stakes of rebuilding the Jedi order. After the events on Zeffo Pt 2, those broad stakes had become deeply personal as we discovered the unresolved personal drama between our main villain Second Sister and our quasi-mentor Cere. Then suddenly the writer yanks that away so we can get captured by someone we’ve never heard of, over business that’s never explained.
The one silver lining is that the writer left Sorc Tormo alive. Presumably he can show up again later in the series. Hopefully next time he’ll have a better introduction and more relevance to the main plot.
Next up, we’re heading back to Kashyyyk…
I’m not a huge fan of the Kashyyyk jungle terrain. I understand the need to keep introducing fresh new environments, and I can’t deny this place is gorgeous, but for whatever reason I had a terrible time parsing the Kashyyyk terrain. I’d get to some platform and have no idea where I was supposed to go. I couldn’t tell what platform was my next destination, and I couldn’t get a sense of which bits of knotted roots were platforming features and which were cosmetic scenery. I never had this problem in the tomb levels or imperial bases, but on Kashyyyk I spent a lot of time fumbling around and trying to figure out what the game designer wanted from me.
I don’t know. Maybe I need to spend more time outdoors?
Lack of Clarity
We finally reach Chieftan Tarfful and he says that Cordova went to the temple at the top of the world tree. So that’s where we’re headed next.
Hang on… did I really need to track down this Wookiee head of state to get this information? Wouldn’t the fact that there IS a temple on top of the most famous and recognizable landmark on the planet have been enough for me to go on? Wouldn’t it have been common knowledgeOr at least, not a state secret. where Cordova went? Couldn’t I have just asked around?
I’m picking at this because Cordova’s plan is so hopelessly muddled. Did he hide the Jedi holocron and THEN go on this planet-hopping expedition? Or did he go on this expedition and then hide the holocron? If the former, then why is his path so random and based on bits of ephemeral informationHis chain of hints would fall apart if Tarfful died in the war that’s currently consuming his planet, or if the perma-storm on Zeffo ever changed position.? If the latter, then how did he know to record all these vlogs for us?
I’ve been through this game three times, and I’m still foggy on these details. It’s possible Cordova’s plan actually makes sense if you can manage to straighten out the timeline, put these messages in order, and follow the logic of his research. I’m just saying this whole setup is needlessly convoluted. The plot needs us to go to four planets to find a thing, but we’re hunting down secondary artifacts and following out-of-order clues that take us on a looping pattern through the systems.
Confusion is the enemy of drama. This entire plot would have been stronger with more clarity.
The climb up the world tree is filled with interesting moments. We get to befriend and ride an enormous bird. We unlock some new abilitiesWe can now dive below the water instead of just swimming on the surface. Have fun re-visiting all the planets and hiking all the way out to every stupid pond to gather up those collectibles you couldn’t get the first time!.
We finally reach the top and get the next update from Cordova. Apparently he found the Astrum here on Kashyyyk. So… he found it, right? He has it? Mission accomplished? The first time I saw this cutscene I saw that Holo-Cordova had THE Astrium in his hand, so I wondered why he sent us to look for it. Like, he’s holding it now. So are we supposed to figure out where he put it? Also, he says he couldn’t find one on Dathomir.
Then at the end of the cutscene, Cal concludes that our next stop must be Dathomir?!?
Dude! He just said he’s already been there and couldn’t find it. And he’s holding it in his hand! Why do we need to go there?
What’s really going on is that we’re not looking for THE Astrium, we’re looking for AN Astrium. That was not made clear by the earlier dialog. Cordova apparently found this one and we never learn what he did with it. But I guess we have to go get a different one? Apparently he sent us on a scavenger hunt to find a thing he already has, at a location where he already failed to find one???
Actually, I’m making it sound more sensible than it is. He doesn’t directly tell us where to go. He just announces how happy he is to have found the thing he sent you to look for, and his message ends. It’s like he forgot why he was recording these messages. Cal just assumes that he’ll be able to succeed on Dathomir where Cordova failed.
Like I said, this tomb-tourism plot is really muddled.
 SorcTormo sportingly gives Cal his lightsaber.
 Every time I try to type this name my brain thinks I’m trying to type Sancre Tor.
 Or at least, not a state secret.
 His chain of hints would fall apart if Tarfful died in the war that’s currently consuming his planet, or if the perma-storm on Zeffo ever changed position.
 We can now dive below the water instead of just swimming on the surface. Have fun re-visiting all the planets and hiking all the way out to every stupid pond to gather up those collectibles you couldn’t get the first time!
Good Robot Dev Blog
An ongoing series where I work on making a 2D action game from scratch.
Bethesda felt the need to jam a morality system into Fallout 3, and they blew it. Good and evil make no sense and the moral compass points sideways.
Spec Ops: The Line
A videogame that judges its audience, criticizes its genre, and hates its premise. How did this thing get made?
The Terrible New Thing
Fidget spinners are ruining education! We need to... oh, never mind the fad is over. This is not the first time we've had a dumb moral panic.
The Best of 2012
My picks for what was important, awesome, or worth talking about in 2012.