(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.)
When I first played through KOTOR, I remember being insanely excited at being able to go to Yavin as part of this new, post-release DLC that BioWare put out. It was a bit of a let-down, alas; instead of seeing where the Rebel base would be in A New Hope, Yavin here is pretty much a small space station with a fight and a pricey vendor.
Poor left behind Bastila, she’s enjoying a weekend stay at Darth Malak’s Torture Resort and Spa. He’s trying to turn her to the dark side, mostly via high voltage current, and she’s, “No, no, I’ll never do it!”
Meanwhile, Syppi’s crew finally puts the map together and finds the Star Forge system. Trouble is, some sort of disrupter field cripples the Ebon Hawk and forces a landing on a nearby planet for repairs. At least it’s a very pretty planet and not some dumb volcano zone.
This close to the end of the game, I don’t have as much patience with side quests and faction bickering, which this unknown world has in spades. I kind of just want to slice my way through a lot of bad guys, get to the end boss, and see that final cutscene. But I guess we’ll do it your way, BioWare, even if that means butting heads with a lot of rancors.
If you ever wanted to know what Malak looks like with his face mask removed, here you go. Being a Sith is just as bad for you as chewing tabacco, kids. I don’t recommend it. He’s being told that the Star Forge is pumping out ships like crazy (for that is what the Star Forge does — it’s a ship factory) and the Sith are getting the fleet ready to dominate the Republic.
At the top of the temple summit on the unknown world, Bastila reappears — and sporting a pretty groovy goth look. Malak finally convinced her to go full-on dark side, and it kind of suits her. And here’s where I’m bringing my personal twist to this playthrough — even though I’ve been goody two-shoes the entire way through, I’m switching to PURE DARK SIDE POWAH for the final hour! That’s right, I’m going evil in a bid to rule the galaxy. I think I’d make a good emperor. Of course, this means that I have to kill pretty much half of my companions, starting with Jolee and Juhani, but that’s a small price to pay for galactic domination.
So, yeah, not everyone is taking this betrayal with good grace. Carth runs off like the coward he is, and Mission vows to fight against Revan. Yet Big Z is stuck in the middle, having sworn a life debt to Revan. Now, what’s the really, really evil move here is to use a force power to dominate Zaalbar’s mind and make him kill his best friend Mission. I don’t have that, so I just have to take them down myself. That’s four companions down in as many minutes, plus Carth running back home to mommy. All that’s left on team Dark Side is Syppi, Bastila, Canderous, HK-47, and that other droid nobody cares about.
A mostly unseen battle rages in space around the Star Forge as Syppi, HK, and Bastila sneak aboard and conduct their own Trojan Horse raid. In typical BioWare fashion, this final level throws out of the window any real narrative, choices, or dialogue for a non-stop gauntlet of tough fights.
I’m not sadistic in real life, I’m really not, but I have to admit that there’s a kind of glee in seeing Grampa Yoda here slowly put the pieces together that he’s been six types of betrayed. Well, that’s what you get when you memory-wipe your greatest enemy and then try to get her to play ball.
It’s a bit of a letdown that the final showdown with Malak is one-on-one. After a full game of hanging out with companions, nope, it’s just you and Mr. I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream.
With Malak killed, the Star Forge falls under Revan’s control, and the Republic fleet is destroyed. All hail Revan! All hail KOTOR!
And that’s it — the end of one of the finest CRPGs that BioWare ever produced. It still holds up great over a decade and a half later, although I won’t deny that there are some frayed edges (especially with the graphics and some of the systems design). For the purpose of keeping this playthrough at a manageable length, I didn’t go into all of the companion or side stories, but there’s a really good amount of content on hand here.
It was nice to revisit KOTOR, but I may have played this one too many times for it to really hold any surprise or deep joy. Looking at it from SWTOR’s perspective, I can see many things I actually prefer more about the MMO — including the stories. It was a good foundation for the future, is what I’m trying to say.