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 investigated the modder-restored, mysterious droid planet, M4-78.
We encourage you to leave your own thoughts in the comments. If you’re following along, finish the game and save the galaxy by Monday, October 12.
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.
So let’s get the elephantine industrial droid in the room dealt with right away. M4-78 was clearly put together by modders, and clearly doesn’t mesh with the rest of the game in several large and small ways. Some areas are bugged (including missing skyboxes in an early mission). The minimap doesn’t work how we’re used to. The area flow is painfully linear and awkward (which is slightly mitigated by “Escort Droids” that will teleport you around the map). There is a lot of dialogue missing, and of what is there, it’s extremely apparent which lines were professionally recorded for the game and what was contributed by amateur community members tied to the mod project.
All that being said, it’s pretty damn impressive how an entire planet and several storylines were able to be salvaged from some scraps of game code by passionate fans working in their spare time. I wouldn’t recommend running through this place every time you play KotOR II, but once is definitely worth it—if only to get a sense of what Obsidian wanted it to be.
I absolutely agree with that assessment. Playing through M4-78 is almost like paying tribute to an Obsidian team that was forced to rush through this game. It’s a shadow of what they intended, sure, but it’s sufficient. It’s not broken, it’s not jarringly out of place, and it shows us what the story was supposed to be. It’s a band-aid on the most broken piece of an underrated game.
The story is probably among the weakest of the worlds you visit in this saga, which is certainly no fault of the modders. The beginning segment where you’re forced to send a droid in to deal with the other droids (and I chose HK-47 because, come on) was genuinely funny and different. But once the meatbags are allowed inside, things become a byzantine mess of fetch quests and reporting to nearly identical droid units whose designation numbers you can never keep straight to unlock each new area. A lightheartedness and quirky sense of humor absent on the other worlds help lift things along for most of the way, but I still felt like I wasn’t having fun most of the time.
There just wasn’t enough for the modders to work with the give the droid planet a true place next to the rest of the game. That said, I think that to appreciate it at all, you have to look at what it accomplishes when you finish, regardless of how much of a slog it is to do say. Vash gets a MUCH better ending and story than finding her as a corpse in a cell on Korriban, and you are able to define your PC and their relationship to the Jedi Order a bit more than in the vanilla version.
Yeah, that was a nice moment. And there is a kernel of a really interesting tale in Kah, the distraught Padawan who believes his master slain and turns the planet’s mechanized defenders against you in the vengeful grip of the Dark Side. His redemption story seemed like a high school youth theater production of what could have been a really great Broadway show, held back by iffy voice acting and minimal presentation flair. Plus, it seems the endgame of this planet was supposed to include the possibility of both Kah and Master Vash leaving alive… but that path was cut off awkwardly (and with no explanation in Kah’s case) as it would be too difficult to reconcile with other areas of the story, which still assume M4-78 does not exist and Vash died on Korriban.
Vash getting a story at all goes a long way towards improving the middle acts, in my opinion. Each Jedi Master has a different and intriguing relationship with the Exile, and it’s tantalizing to think that Vash and Kah might just have been the best of the lot had Obsidian gotten a couple more months to work on it. Falling to, and redemption from, the Dark Side are massive themes of the Star Wars universe. Thanks to the modding community, we got a bit more Star Wars out of our story, and I appreciate that.
As a gamer, M4-78 was kind of unfortunate, but I appreciated enough of what it added narratively to feel it wasn’t a wasted few hours. I also definitely think it’s best to play late. By making M4-78 your fifth middle act planet, you arrive with an Exile who is essentially a juggernaught. A Guardian is mowing down enemies like a buzzsaw, a Consular is either shocking and choking everything in sight and beefing themselves up to some kind of superhero status, and a Sentinel is doing sort of whatever they want to do. Being able to breeze through just about anything you encounter makes M4-78 a bit faster, which covers for the gameplay holes.
Agreed. The great thing about the late game in KotOR is that you feel like a Jedi from one of the movies. You try to avert conflict. Someone gives you attitude and pulls a blaster anyway. You shake your head, ignite the saber, and… it’s over in all of ten seconds. Chumps shoulda listened.
All in all, the M4-78 we get is really a hologram of what might have been. The reanimated corpse of the greatest casualty in KotOR 2’s original vision. And you know what? I’m glad it’s there. I’m glad we got to see what we did of it, and I’m grateful to the unpaid heroes who worked hard to make that happen. It’s ultimately unnecessary and more than a little unfulfilling, but it’s not a throwaway. In any case, we needed a little bit of time to wind down and contemplate the path we’ve taken before heading off to confront the final challenge.
M4-78 is a shining tribute to why the modding community is important. Gaming is so unique an art form in this way. It’s not a fixed thing, like a painting. It’s playable, and gives the individual experiencing it agency. And for those brave and talented enough to try, games can be tweaked and added to, improved and deepened. The authors of the Restored Content Mod are responsible for at least giving us an idea of what Sith Lords was going to be had enough time been available, and for that (considering I really like the game), I am sincerely grateful.
And thus, we’re off to face destiny in the final chapter. Remember, if you’re following along, finish the rest of the game by Monday, October 12. Send us your comments for the endgame 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!