(This is part of my journey going checking out Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)
KOTOR 2 begins in a most mysterious and confusing fashion. Figuring out what’s going on and what led up to the events of the start of the game are the goals of this area.
So I awaken on Peragus, a mining asteroid station that’s silently — ominously — empty. I stumble out of a bacta tank and start investigating; the medical logs give me some clues, such as a series of mining explosions and malfunctioning droids. Clearly something went very wrong, since nobody’s around and the other people in the tanks were killed on purpose with sedatives.
Oddly enough, it’s in the morgue that I find another survivor of the Ebon Hawk: Kreia. She’s a blind seer-slash-pain in my tuckus, and she urges me to figure out how to repair the ship and leave quickly. To help, she’ll sit on a bed and clear her thoughts and occasionally throw me snarky telepathic comments. In other words, your typical NPC companion competence at work.
I’ve always felt that Peragus was a misstep as an opening level for KOTOR 2. It’s serviceable in helping you get to know the game and its systems, but in so many other ways it is a dull start. There are only two people to interact with, everyone else is dead, the environment is a boring metallic grey everywhere (except for the even more boring tunnels), you fight droids left and right, and just as you’re getting familiar with your character, the game makes you play as a droid for a while. It’s a level that I just can’t wait to be rid of, frankly.
Even worse is the fact that I have to jog around half of the level in nothing more than underwear. Seriously, it’s kind of a plot point.
If there is one thing it does well, it’s instilling dread in the player. It’s an unnerving, not a welcoming, start to a game. It’s like touring around a haunted house knowing that the monster is going to come back soon and you best be gone when it does.
Since there are so few people to talk to, most of the backstory is filled in via logs (which makes this oddly feel like System Shock 2). To summarize a lot of it, my character was somehow brought on board the Ebon Hawk after an ambush hit the Republic cruiser Harbinger. When Peragus took the Ebon Hawk in and realized they had a Jedi on their hand, the staff started to bicker over whether or not to turn me in to the “Exchange,” a mob-sounding organization that put a price on Jedi heads. To make matters worse, droids and tech started malfunctioning all over the place, hurting and killing the staff. One employee says it seems like someone is clearing a path to “get the Jedi out of here.” Hm.
Along the way, the droid I played eventually got killed by an off-screen character, so we’re probably being set up for some big reveal.
The role of “smarmy smuggler-type” in KOTOR 2 will be played by Atton, who seems like a slightly less self-pitying character than Carth. As a female character, I’m a little put out by how much he keeps hitting on me, but hey, I have force powers and can scramble his brains. I’m not worried about it.
Clothes! Blessed clothes! Peragus isn’t a treasure trove of gear — it’s specifically mentioned that only low-level blasters and grenades can be kept due to the explosive nature of the gas — but I’m able to cobble together a functional outfit. I even have my first blaster, a mining laser, which is a start in my goal to have a dual blaster-wielding Jedi fighter.
You like fighting droids? You better, because Peragus is wall-to-wall droid encounters, and each one is more dull than the last. A couple of them are surprisingly tough, so using energy shields and a Stun Droid force power is definitely recommended.
After battling through the mining tunnels, I arrive to find another survivor of the Harbinger/Ebon Hawk: HK-50. Kind of knew he was around, what with cutscenes and all, and it isn’t that joyous of an encounter. He’s barely hiding all sorts of condescension and malice toward me, and he refuses to help me gain access to the dormitory levels. I had to trick him into it, thanks to KOTOR’s equivalent of a tape recorder.
HK-50 somewhat fills in more of my backstory, saying that I passed out/was drugged on the Harbinger, stuffed into cargo, then transferred unconscious to the Ebon Hawk. He all but points his thumbs at his chest and says “I DID IT! ME! MUAHAHA!”
The dormitories are a tomb, full of gassed victims and left-behind recordings. I take an unscheduled spacewalk on the outside of the station, only to see the Harbinger come out of hyperspace and dock with the station. For the record, this WAS the ship I was originally on before getting carted off like a lump of expensive meat. So who is piloting this spacecraft right now?
It’s Darth McCraggy! I’ll give it to the game: He is a very disturbing figure, visually, and his reveal is nicely done. He’s doing that Jedi/Sith meditation pose on the bridge among all of those dead and decaying bodies. Couldn’t have jettisoned them?
As an aside, the Star Wars franchise doesn’t make a great case for becoming a Sith. It seems to be a motif that all Sith lords have to be messed-up physcially, missing body parts or turning yellow or, like this guy, looking like a parched desert floor. At least Jedi retain their good looks.
After a lengthy time running around the station solo, I’m finally able to form a full party — Kreia and Atton join up with me. Probably in the nick of time, since stealthed figures start trailing us from a distance, all Predator-style.
Surprise! HK-50 is a bad guy after all! Yeah, so he was under contract by a mysterious client to bring me in, which is why he’s been drugging me and sabotaging an entire station to facilitate my extraction.
KOTOR 2 seems to relish zigging where KOTOR 1 zagged. HK-47 was your friend and ally in KOTOR, but in KOTOR 2, the first HK you meet is your enemy. And it just keeps on going like that. It’s a nice change-up but it makes me wonder if Obsidian felt a little too pressured to be as different from KOTOR 1 as possible.