Part 56: Malachor V: I Believe in the Kingdom Come
Last we left off, Atton sailed the Ebon Hawk into the shattered planet of Malachor V - then promptly hit a rock and crashed.
And we just got it waxed too.
We'll have to go the rest of the way on foot.
Welcome to Malachor V, site of the last major battle of the Mandalorian Wars. Yes, the whole planet pretty much all looks like this.
After we spent the entire game building up our party members, making them badasses, talking to them about their emotional needs, solving all their problems, and establishing how the Exile was able to regain the Force only by channeling it through his friends... the game ditches the Exile on the last planet alone by himself.
I've said in the first post that this game has basically the same plot as Planescape: Torment, and the similarities are really apparent here on this last planet. I guess I'm about to spoil the end to PS:T, but if you haven't played that by now then what is wrong with you. Go out and find a copy, damnit.
Anyway, for the ending of PS:T, also written by the same writers, the endgame has the whole party being teleported to another dimension. Upon arriving, there's a lot of confusion as they all get separated, and the main character, the Nameless One, is left alone by himself. As the Nameless One fights his way through the place, the player is interrupted by various cutscenes of the other NPC party members, also alone, trying to meet up with the Nameless One, and getting picked off by the baddies in the process. I've never heard many grievances about that particular ending.
So if KOTOR's ending is pretty much the same thing, why all the complaints? Well imagine the above scenario, except they cut out the parts that show what happened to your other party members. Suddenly it's not so poignant and tragic any more. Instead, it's just an hour of your single character slogging through a legion of boring enemies until you get to the end boss. The best part of this game, the writing, is suddenly gone. The urgency to hurry through this place to help your friends is gone. And you don't get to find out what happened to them, because that's cut too.
Well, where they were supposed to end up was being scattered to the four winds after the Ebon Hawk crashed. Each of them was to make their way towards the final confrontation, alone. Let's just assume that was the case for our LP, and we'll go from there.
The main (and only enemy) on Malachor V's surface are these Storm Beasts. What are they? Where do they come from? Why are they so easy to kill? Nobody knows. I do know that you have to eradicate every last one of them from the surface of the planet, or else you're completely fucked for the next part of the game. The game doesn't tell you this of course.
I'm gonna spare you a painfully repetitive twenty minutes of gameplay and just say the above screenshot repeats itself about 40 times.
There's a version of a scene between Kreia and Sion that never made it in. It was suppose to trigger when the Exile arrived on the planet, but another scene was put in to replace it. It was the one where Kreia Force chokes Sion; you saw it a couple of updates ago.
"Master, he is here."
"I know. When he arrives, bring him before me."
"He will not survive Malachor."
"He already has. But this time, the cracks shall be driven deeper than they were so many years ago."
"What will you do with him, my master?"
"You know what I shall do. You, who wear my teachings so well. I will *break* him. He is a blank slate upon which my teachings may be written - as I intended for you, so long ago."
"Leave me. Await the arrival of the exile. When he comes, bring him before me."
Meanwhile, Jedi Jesus is still taking his leisurely stroll through the depths of Malachor V.
And the brochure said it was lovely this time of the year. Those things are never accurate .
Meanwhile, we have to wrap up Mira's character arc. Like the others, she's gotten separated during the crash.
"Of course, apprentice. The huntress is with the exile. She has a special talent for... finding that which should remain lost. It also makes her difficult for me to sense... but not to a creature bred for such things."
"Shall I send the assassins for her?"
"No, I have brought a beast to Malachor to deal with that one."
That's Hanharr, Mira's old friend from Nar Shaddaa. Kreia sent him here eons ago to wait for Mira to arrive.
This is actually where Mira woke up in her cutscene, under the Ebon Hawk's wreckage. Notice she seemed to have miraculously survived a fifty foot fall down sheer rock. The ships from this era need seatbelts or something, because every time they crash, the occupants have a nasty habit of spilling outside the ship. Where's Ralph Nader when you need him?
Anyway, Mira's no longer here, so we'll keep moving on.
We can see our destination from here, but we can't to it just yet.
Almost there .
KOTOR 2 is just one of those games where the combat is pretty dull and the dialogue is fun.
The door closes behind us...
This is the obligatory boss fight of the surface level. They couldn't be arsed to come up with anything more creative, so they just upped the size on the models of the regular monsters around here. We've been just burning through all the other Storm Beasts around here, so this shouldn't be too hard.
369 damage in one hit. That's like 90% of Jesus's health bar .
Fortunately this thing goes down just as quick.
And last we've reached our journey's end - the Trayus Academy, the place where all the Sith are striking from.
The True Sith who built this place must have been fans of Art Deco. That and American McGee's Alice.
The Sith form a little party to welcome back the wayward son.
No seriously, does anyone have a shrinking potion so Jedi Jesus can fit into that rabbit hole? That's some weird forced perspective stuff there.
We get one last chance to admire Atton's handiwork...
... before an earthquake shakes the Ebon Hawk loose...
... and sends it into the maw of Malachor V. 'Twas a good ship .
The Ebon Hawk was one of the many things that was vastly improved from KOTOR 1, and something that was never given enough credit for. The main problem with KOTOR 1's characters was that most of the inter-party banter took place outside the ship. Since you could only take 2 party members at a time with you, you tend to miss out on a lot of the NPC stuff unless you knew what you were doing. Like, taking Jolee and Canderous with you on X planet, to talk to Y, after Z has triggered, on a night when the blue moon is waning, will cause those two to trigger a funny conversation with each other.
What KOTOR 2 did was move all that into the Ebon Hawk, so almost every time you return to your ship, you get some triggered cutscene between your NPC crew, and you don't have to miss out on anything. Of course, Obsidian did a good job on that, only to add the utterly obscure influence system to confuse matters.
There was also multiple fight sequences inside the Ebon Hawk, and remember the tutorial level had T3 going outside the ship as well. There is actually so much content for the ship spread out over the course of the game that it's pretty much a 'planet' in and of itself. I've talked about the writing team establishing the droids in this game nicely, but the Ebon Hawk was quite the dependable, inanimate character as well.
Anyway, that's my ode to our departed ship.
All of KOTOR 2's loading screens contain some sort of screencap of an event or area from the particular map that's loading - all except the load screen for Malachor V. If you look under the loading graphic, to where the arrow is pointing, you can actually see Mandalore and Visas walking together on the surface of Malachor. It was probably the payoff for the bonding between the two on the Ravager, but this never actually happens; in fact you don't see them at all for the rest of the game.
Mandalore also has some cut lines here if you talk to him about the planet - but since you can't get him in your party at this point, you can't actually ask him.
"What do you know of this planet?"
Pssst. Hey Mira. Turn around.
Hanharr does the traditional Wookiee greeting of shoving one's fist into someone's mouth.
"What's that? His arm has clipped into your head? Oh don't worry, that's how Wookiees say 'hello'."
First rule of Jedi Jesus's combat training - run the hell away.
Next, take advantage of crappy enemy AI to buff yourself and cast spells while they just stand there.
Once buffed, Hanharr is a pushover, unlike the first fight Mira had with him. This may have been slightly more difficult if Mira wasn't trained as a Jedi.
"There's no need for this - you don't owe me a life debt, I release you."
"Words will not break the shackles on my wrists. Words will not end the hatred I have for you."
"So you serve Kreia now?"
"She has chained me within a life debt. She honors me by showing me no mercy, only hatred... she understands the heart of a warrior."
"You are weak, a child of the Hutt's moon, frightened, forever fearing the dark. You shall always be prey, Mira."
There's an alternate ending to the scene: Mira asks Hanharr to take her to Kreia.
"I am no slave. I am Hanharr, Hanharr who was taken from Kashyyyk, Hanharr who put chains upon those who chained him, who bartered human lives in the place of my kind."
"You never stopped being a slave, Hanharr. I give you a chance to prove it - and end your debt to me."
"You lie. You would never show me mercy or death."
"Lead me to Kreia, Hanharr - if she is as powerful as you claim, then she will destroy me, and you shall be free."
"Your words smell of truth. And your eyes show no deception. I will lead you to the gray one, and she will end you... and my life debt to you both shall be no more."
"Whatever you say. But you walk ahead of me, just the same."
It got cut because - well, there's no follow-up scene in the full game, and this is the last we ever see of Mira.
Next we have a solo mission completely dedicated to Bao-Dur's Remote. Yes, his little floating pipsqueak has an extended sequence dedicated to him. We don't know what happened to Bao-Dur, but at least we know what happened to his Remote! All is well!
I guess I'm not being fair. I didn't show much of him during this LP, because all he does is go, "Deet deet!" in response to HK-47 or G0-T0 making fun of him, but he packs a lot of monosyllabic personality into that little frame.
"Use the sequence I am unlocking in your memory banks on the engine core of any vessel you encounter on Malachor."
"Once the sequence has begun, it cannot be stopped, so make sure the General is off the planet before triggering the sequence. Otherwise, there will be no retreat."
The brave little Remote who could.
I'll explain a little about what really happened here.
During the Mandalorian Wars, Revan diverted the Exile and his fleet to the skies above Malachor V to wait for the Mandalorians. Bao-Dur noticed the planet had strange Gravitronic readings (don't ask me what that is), and he utilized it to build the Mass Shadow Generator. That's a pretty weird name I think, but in reality it was a giant gravity well.
The Mandalorians came with their entire fleet, and after a while it was apparent that the Republic was going to lose the battle. The Exile, sensing this, ordered Bao-Dur to activate the Mass Shadow Generator. The planet was basically crushed against itself, and all the nearby ships, Republic and Mandalorian alike, were pulled by the increased gravity and crashed onto the surface. What we've been walking through is the cracked surface of the planet and the remains of all the ships that were destroyed here.
The Remote is trying to reverse what Bao-Dur did, by powering up the Mass Shadow Generator again. He has run around finding all the downed Republic ships and tapping into their power cores.
Unfortunately, if the Exile didn't clear out all the Storm Beasts in the area first, this is just completely fucked. The Remote has no weapons or hitpoints to speak of, nor is it very fast, so if any monsters are left alive it's not really possible to finish this bit, unless you were super sneaky.
This is the last of the 4 ships we had to find.
"I have one last command for you."
And that's the last we ever hear from Bao-Dur.
He's the only party member we never really know what happens to. It seems they just forgot about him, even in the deleted content. There's a few clues. The first was during the siege of Telos; when you arrive on Citadel station, the guard captain makes a comment about seeing HK-47 and Bao-Dur disembark from the Ebon Hawk, but were missing after that. We know HK-47 went off to find the droid factory, but what Bao-Dur was up to will remain a mystery forever. But we know he survived at least that far into the game.
The other clue is that he's appearing here as a hologram. He's not speaking to the Remote from the ship through a comm or anything; his hologram and his instructions were programmed into the Remote, in case something happened.
To me, the scenario that makes the most sense was that he was killed during the crash of the Ebon Hawk. He was completely knocked out when Atton crashed the ship into Atris's Academy at the beginning of the game, which may have been foreshadowing. Either way, he disappears some time between the siege of Telos and Malachor, and the Remote is carrying out his final commands.
"You realize I cannot permit you... or the exile... to activate the mass shadow generator here on Malachor. In that, your programming and mine... conflict. And since you have no offensive weaponry to speak of, the probability of your programming overwriting mine is low."
"Without them, the galaxy would be reduced to anarchy within years. And if there is anything I can't stand, it's an untidy galaxy."
"Correction: One could rust listening to your speeches, fat one. Perhaps it is the large, unwieldy vocabulator within your moon-sized frame that prevents your calculations from taking me into account."
"Unfortunately for you, I have arranged for friends to meet me here. And you seem to have brought none of your own."
Several HK-51s show up to surround HK-47.
"Statement: As always, fat one, you have miscalculated. And while I find this small droid annoying in the extreme, I find my urge to shoot you takes a higher priority."
"Unexpected Correction: We are not here to aid you. We are here because our predecessor unit summoned us."
"Ah... an unfortunate oversight."
"All I wished... was to fulfill my programming. Either way... the Republic is d..."
"Observation: I thought he would never die."