The End of the Exile’s Journey

Originally posted at GamSpot on July 17, 2005

The Fourth of July, 2005. A time of family, food, and fireworks. But this year, that morning held another memorable moment – Knights of the Old Republic II is history!

So on to my thoughts. First, this Knights was everything I could have hoped for after playing the first one. Great battles, interesting characters, and (above all) an amazing story. Suiting up in the Ebon Hawk for the second time never felt so good.

There were a few weak points. On Malchor V, when Hanharr come back to fight Mira, I had to roll my eyes a little. How did that all happen? Did Kira bring him? Why was Mira just wondering around the planet? And then, after the fight, I just let him walk away (light side)? Lame.

Another weak story point also had to do with the final planet. You see your ship fall to its death down the cracks of Malchor V. As a matter of fact, the cut scene is called, “The Death of the Ebon Hawk.” Yet, when my character needs to leave the planet, the ship just floats up and takes him away. And what about the other characters? Darth Traya (Kira) tells you what happens to everyone, but then you fly away from the planet without dropping anyone off. Where did they go? How did they get to the future that Kira saw for them?

I guess I had problems with the story because, to me, that was the best part of the game. And with that said, that still was the best part of the game. When you went back to Dantoonie to meet the three Jedi Masters who you spend the entire game up to that point searching for and they simply try to sever your connection with the force again, I couldn’t believe it. I really thought, based on the dialog from at least two of the Masters, that they had learned from the mistakes that they admitted they made when judging me before. Yet, as I stood there, they told me what a danger I was and how I had to be stopped.

And then Kira comes in and kills them! That blew me away! I thought she has just used the force to simply to hurt them, but when I walked up to their bodies they were dead! Now what? Ah, onto Malachor V. The whole sequence of going through the ancient temple, fighting Darth Sion, and finally facing Kira (Darth Traya) was fantastic. (Facing the other Sith Lord was also sweet. Landing on the Ravager, placing the bombs, then the long walk up to his bridge to finally face him. . . very dramatic – loved it.) So she was a Sith – even though she didn’t want power. She wanted the death of the Force – and sacrificed herself for my character to try and accomplish it. The connection with Revan and my character, that he left to fight the true Sith in their empire and that I might also have a similar destiny, gave the two games a nice continuity.

The final scene of the Ebon Hawk sailing out into open space after the destruction of Malchor V was nothing short of cinematic. The music added the final touch to truly send off a great game.

One of the greatest compliments you can give a game is to want more, and I can’t wait for Knights of the Old Republic III.

Post tenebras lux

The Last of the Sith Lords

Originally posted at GameSpot on June 12, 2005

I’m nearing the end of Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords – just landed on the last planet of Onderon. (Probably not the last last planet – I’m sure there’s some twist still yet to come. Regardless, I think I’ve got about ten hours left. Is Kriea really evil? Will I have to fight her for sure, or choose to let her live? We shall see…)

I’m enjoying this one as well as the original Knights, although that game was really my first true experience playing a RPG so it will always hold a special place. I’ll have to write about that event later – definitely a great moment in gaming…

I love the sense of accomplishment in the game. I’m sure it’s true of most RPGs, but to go back and visit a planet I had been to before was a great experience. Walking down the corridors of Telos nearly thirty-five hours later in the game was like old home week. “Oh, there’s the plastic cylinder I opened last time,” or “here’s the shuttle bay where I fought what’s-his-name.”

Except this time I, along with my character, felt much more powerful and very much in control of the situation. Now with a light saber, and thirty-five more hours in the game, it was as if I was feeling the game world in a more complete way.

Does that even make sense? That’s the only way I can think of to describe it. Maybe the best way to put it is that spending a long time with something makes you feel more a part of it, and that goes for games as well.

That being said, I hate that the game is coming to a close! Much like a good movie, I want to watch the first part over and over again – because then the story never ends.

These are my random thoughts on KotOR II. And while I don’t want the game to be over, I still can’t wait to see the ending!

Post tenebras lux

Never underestimate a gaming Grandma

Originally postedĀ in GameSpot on June 2, 2005

If I’m going to talk about video games, then I have to start off by dedicating this post to my grandma. When I think about it, she was the first one to really get me interested in video games. Well, she didn’t start my interest – but she was the one to get my brother and I an NES so we could actually play.

Ah, our own system! No more would I be forced to sit on the sidelines at my friends’ houses while they played. No more would the phrase, “You can play the next game” bring a sting of resentment into my heart. My grandma bought us a system, and it was all ours.

You know how grandmas are. She had always spoiled my brothers and I, and the Nintendo was just another step in that process – a precious, precious step. God bless her! She had it all – cable, late bedtimes, and now a real NES for her grandkids to play.

But she didn’t stop there. What was different with my grandma was that she actually played the games with me. I remember countless times when we would play Super Mario Brothers. She would be Mario, I was Luigi (I always liked him better, I don’t know why), and we would go through the stages. Of course, as anyone who has played the game knows, the “2-player” mode on Super Mario Brothers only let the other person play when the other died.

Needless to say, my lives lasted a lot longer than grandma’s. I would play through many of the levels (especially the level-ending Bowser fights) while she would sit and watch, just happy that I was happy. What a gal, huh?! When I think of some in theĀ previous generations today who think video games are a waste of time or refuse to even try to use new technology, she was a breath a fresh air.

One last thing: I know there are some people out there who play their games in this way, and if so, I completely understand. I still do it myself from time to time, if the pressure is high enough. What I’m talking about is the ability to mimic on-screen moments with your controller, or even your entire body in order to help yourself through the game. Come on, I know you know what I’m talking about – Mario jumps, so you move the control pad up when you hit “A.” Master Chief peeks around a corner, and you find yourself moving your head to the same side.

It’s an interesting (and sometimes unnerving) gaming phenomenon – and my grandma was the best at it. You could actually measure the height of Mario’s jump in real time by how high her controller went up!

So I raise my controller to you grandma – and thank you with every save, every stomped Koopa, and every 3-hit-combo.

Post tenebras lux