We’re playing through a whole bunch of awesome games with stories that were memorable and inspiring to us, starting with Knights of the Old Republic II. We’ll discuss it section by section as we go, and we’d love to have you guys play along and add your thoughts. This week, we played through the old Jedi meeting grounds and definitely the real location of the rebel base in A New Hope, Dantooine.
We encourage you to leave your own thoughts in the comments. If you’re following along, play up through the end of Onderon and Korriban by Monday, September 28. You’ll know you’re done when you’ve faced down a Sith Lord, braved a never-before-seen tomb, and stood in the throne room of Onderon’s monarch.
SPOILER WARNING: These discussions will contain spoilers, but only for the section we played this week. So if you’re following along, you don’t have to worry.
Ah, Dantooine. Now this is more what I’m talking about. It’s short and sweet. And while it may feel a bit too compact to really dig in and explore, it feels a lot more like a finished RPG area compared to the last two planets we visited. Same level of polish as Peragus. There’s not as much to do here as there was on Telos, but what does go down is pretty exciting. Particularly the finale.
That is exactly the sense I got playing through this area: here is a portion of the game that flat out got done. Everything worked, every character had a story, the quests had no hiccups, and I actually really enjoyed where they went with it narratively. Just a failing colony on a war-torn world, trying to make it.
My one notable criticism is the dungeon here, the Jedi Temple ruins. They’re not amazing, and closer to the Telos bunker than Peragus or G0-T0’s yacht (the latter two each having a bit more going on than running through hallways slicing through enemies). You also meet the Disciple there, who’s really a new character for me. He only joins your party if the PC is female, and this is my first playthrough meeting that condition, so his dialogue past the first encounter has taken me into uncharted narrative territory.
He seems a little bland compared to the likes of Atton and Kreia. He does have an interesting backstory and connection to my Exile; I just wish he wasn’t so emotionless. The Disciple and Bao Dur both seem like they’re delivering most of their lines after an ill-advised NyQuil binge in the cantina backroom on Citadel Station. And he joins Visas in the Party Members Who Are Just A Little Too Worshippy Club. Still, I’m interested to see where his story goes, and the jealousy from Atton that arises with this budding love triangle is pretty entertaining.
The ruins served a decent narrative purpose, though: We were introduced to the salvager community, and some mercenaries, and given a good demonstration of what the good, honest settlers are up against on Dantooine.
My favorite quest on Dantooine, narrowly beating out the explosive climax, was the lightsaber crystal cave. It just felt cool. It’s a well animated area, a dark cavern alight with force sensitive crystals. You find your PC’s personal fixture there, too, which I have always thought felt kind of cool: A reflection of how well my character is walking their path, wrapped up in a lovely overpowered upgrade for a weapon that is probably a bit overpowered itself. With that crystal and some other upgrade parts I got on Dantooine, my exile became a whirling dervish of death. Combat got almost easy.
The cave was cool, but I have to loudly disagree that it edges out the climax. Nothing beats the Defense of Khoonda, which is the highlight of Dantooine and probably one of my favorite quests in the entire KotOR series. I loved using my skills to do all of these little things to impact the outcome of a massive battle. From fixing up some droids to healing wounded soldiers to giving a rousing speech—I did just about every optional objective, and the game rewarded me with a pretty lopsided skirmish. You gotta love freezing a dozen mercenaries with stasis field, popping Battle Meditation, and watching the scrappy militiamen of Khoonda gun down what is, on paper, a greatly superior force. I’ve always been a sucker for the whole Seven Samurai routine.
It felt narratively honest, too. A group of semi-professional militia, without help, are no match for a large gang of marauding ex-soldiers, some of whom were probably elite operatives. Their best asset was, ultimately, the Khoonda. And that’s what the game lets you amplify, should you choose a light side playthrough. By turning it into a true fortress and maximizing your mechanized defenses, you level the playing field. And Jedi are a hell of a tiebreaker. It becomes a mismatch for the good guys.
Of course, if you go dark, you sabotage an already old and decaying structure, and cause said mechanized defenses to betray their masters. That turns the whole thing into a rout the other way.
Either way, I liked this mission,and what followed. It’s a great demonstration of how your exile and the group truly altered the fate of the planet. Just well written and well done.
The other side quests on Dantooine are fairly forgettable, with some nuggets of trademark, Obsidian moral greyness thrown in for good measure. We also get to meet Master Vrook Lamar, with whom I have a love/hate relationship. I hate him because he rounds out the Biggest Condescending Assholes in the Galaxy Trinity, along with Kreia and Atris. But I have a bit of a soft spot for him, having played on the Vrook Lamar server for years in the Old Republic MMO.
If nothing else, Vrook gives you the sense that the story is about to hit a tipping point. The excitement and polish of Dantooine definitely reinvigorated me and reminded me how much awesome there is amidst the rough and unfinished bits of this game.
I think meeting the masters is, before the endgame, the true narrative high point of KotOR II. The writing is just really, really well done; there is a sense of real history with each one, and they clearly all vary in their opinions of you. These encounters each subtly but substantially round out your character, and really make you feel exactly like the person you are trying to play.
And thus we leave Dantooine behind and prepare for some explosive encounters ahead. Remember, if you’re following along, play up through the end of Onderon and Korriban by Monday, September 28. You’ll know you’re done when you’ve faced down a Sith Lord, braved a never-before-seen tomb, and stood in the throne room of Onderon’s monarch. Send us your comments for Onderon and Korriban on the Contact page (not in the comments, to avoid spoilers for those who haven’t gotten that far yet), and we might include them in the next discussion!