KOTOR: Digging into Taris’ smelly underbelly

(This is part of my journey going playing through 2003’s Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)

The lower city of Taris is far more rough-and-tumble than up in the fresh air. In quick succession, Syppi bumps into a (helmetless?) Mandalorian named Canderous and a bounty hunter collecting on a couple of poor Rodians. With a gang war brewing in the background, it’s time to stir the pot and try to come out ahead.

And if that’s not intimidating enough, down here there are teenagers! Actually, it’s just one teen, but she comes with a Wookiee attached. Her name is Mission, and while people love to hate on her, I find her one of the more endearing characters in the game. Having a giant Wookiee bodyguard (named Zaalbar) is a plus to the interest factor.

Well I’m feeling more than a bit foolish. For all the times I’ve played this game, I never really used the transit feature on the map for quick transport to and from the hideout. That’s so convenient for free heals, and I can’t believe I never noticed it before. Sigh. At least now I can easily zip back to upgrade my armor and weapons. KOTOR has a simple and efficient upgrade system that I wish most games would copy. Just a few slots for each upgradable gear type that can be equipped with whatever mods you find. That’s how I like it.

So good news/bad news on the Bastila hunt. The good news is that Hidden Bek leader says that he knows where the Jedi is. The bad news is that she was captured by a rival gang, and the only way to rescue her is (for some reason) to win a swoop bike race. And to do that, Syppi has to go to the most dangerous part of the city to get a part for the bike. It’s an RPG, just go with it.

Just as the team is getting ready to go on a mission to get the part, Carth spills his guts about his trust issues. Captain Exposition there says that he was disillusioned when two leading Jedi — Malak and Revan — turned against the Republic after the Mandalorian War and dragged a whole bunch of former troops into their sway. That boy’s going to have even more trust issues when he recalls this conversation later on in the game, let me tell you.

Now it’s time to explore the third layer of Taris, the Undercity. It’s basically the planet’s surface where trash and scavengers and rhakghouls (zombies) roam.

Down here, Mission runs up to Syppi all frantic about the fact that Big Z got kidnapped by slave traders. She agrees to help sneak Syppi into the base in exchange for a Wookiee rescue. I’m down with that — and with getting a third party member who is good at traps and locks — so let’s head on out!

Said Wookiee is rescued ridiculously easily in a sewer crawl — and Big Z decides to pledge a lifedebt to Syppi in return. So now, yes, I have my own pet fluffy murder machine. Even better, this means that I can boot Carth from the party! Consider your lifedebt repaid just for that, Big Z.

Down in the sewers is a rancor, perhaps confused how he could even fit down here. Maybe he grew up in the sewers from a small age and this place is the only world he knows. In any case, Syppi tricks it into eating a grenade, which gives him terminal heartburn. Literally, it burned his heart.

A few more levels of pew-pew through the Black Vulkars’ base, and Syppi grabs the swoop accelerator for the big race tomorrow. Can’t wait! Anything has to be better than pod racing.

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