KOTOR: Manaan musings

(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.)

Star Wars is well-known for its one-biome-fits-all planetary design, so it only makes sense that sooner or later we’d come upon an all-ocean world. Manaan is… kind of like an open-air space station sitting on top of the ocean, which is an inviting setting in which to adventure. Let’s go Jedi some stuff! Jedi it reaaaal good.

I seem to recall that Manaan got into SWTOR as well, and I know I was kind of jazzed to return here. Feels like a bit of a sterile oceanside resort. However, this city is teeming with tension between the Sith and the Republic, both of whom want the precious, precious kolto that the Selkath harvest here. For their part, the Selkath play it neutral, selling to both parties and strictly enforcing a peace on their planet.

One of KOTOR’s more memorable quests is on this planet. It involves becoming a lawyer for a guy who’s being tried for murder. As with many RPGs, there are easy ways to resolve this, but to do it right takes a lot more effort and footwork.

The Sith base on Manaan is a rather tough “dungeon” (and unfortunately generic in theme). What’s notable is that there are several discoveries of how the Sith have been recruiting Selkath to make into apprentices, which is kind of a no-no around here. I’m not too keen on fighting the Dark Jedi with twin blasters, to tell you the truth, but I soldier gamely on. And I game soldierly on.

Finally I have proof that the evil Sith are evilly up to no good, which was painfully obvious to everyone except the Selkath authorities. I mean, when you treat with guys who look like discount Cobra Commanders, you have to suspect that maybe they don’t have your planet’s best interests at heart.

I have a real problem with the Republic on Manaan. You go right up to the head guy on the planet and tell him that you’re there on Jedi Counsel orders to find the star map and it’s extremely critical to the fate of the Republic, and he’s like, “Oh, yeah, I *might* know something about that. But first you gotta go on a suicide mission to destroy a Sith base before I say anything.” You do all that for the jerk, and his big revelation is that the Republic has been going behind the natives’ backs and setting up a kolto mining operation of their own. But something happened under the ocean, the communication went dead, and he can’t be bothered to check it out himself so why don’t you go give it a looksee?

The real shame is there is no option to force choke the guy to death. And this is in a game saturated with dark choices.

Is there anything creepier than a deserted undersea base? No wonder so many video games and movies like using these as modern haunted houses. There’s definitely something unconcerting about seeing giant sharks lazily swim about right outside these way-to-large windows while a lone merc babbles about the Selkath going insane and shooting up the place.

Oh hey, here’s something creepier! Let’s jump into a big, bulky environmental suit and sloooowly jog outside of the base while nasty sharks try to get a free meal. It’s a short segment, but it gets high marks for tension. The feeling of vulnerability is palpable.

I’m starting to get tired of the endless wave of bounty hunters, dark jedi, and apprentices that Malak keeps sending to capture Bastila. But at least I save a giant shark from poisoning (the Republic operations were making the locals pretty upset) and got the star map. AND I got a really wicked-looking suit of armor that I upgrade to make me immune to all of the annoying mind-control Force attacks that the dark jedi use.

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