For the Republic!

Come GET some!

Wow! Not since the ‘Hope’ trailer have I been this jazzed.  Troopers ROCK!

Some people recently asked me what the heck a trooper was, and I was like…what? Then I had to think about it. Besides the iconic stormtrooper/clone trooper, how many people actually know where the original word ‘trooper’ came from? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a trooper is a private soldier in a cavalry or armored unit.  Almost anyone who has seen movies has seen images of cavalry, right? John Wayne’s works like ‘She Wore a Yellow Ribbon’ and ‘The Undefeated’? You know, the guys on the horses? Charging in to save the day in the nick of time? What? You DON’T? Sheesh…what do people learn these days…?

Ok, back to basics. Cavalry units, that is soldiers who fought from horseback, were generally thought of as elite forces, separate from the rank and file of infantry, artillery, etc. That fits this new update from Bioware to a ‘T’. These soldiers of the Republic are anything but common. And the video… I won’t ruin it. Just…watch it. Watch it NOW! Even if you plan to play Empire, you need to see this stuff:
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Finally: a good bad guy!

What is it with the bad guys always becoming weenies? I mean, come on, Darth Vader was the ultimate bad guy. Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi were notable films in a lot of ways, but the main focus was always Darth Vader. He was big, clad in black and very scary with his mechanical breathing and that nasty little thing that he did when someone displeased him. ‘I find your lack of faith disturbing’. THAT is bad guy. Sure he wimped out at the end, the love for his son undid him, redeemed him and let him die a Jedi. That was the whole point of the Star Wars story, Episode 1-6, the fall and redemption of Anakin Skywalker. But… Why are all the other bad guys only bad guys for a while and then become weenies?

Ok, let’s look at Exar Kun. Jedi who becomes a Dark Jedi, bad news bad guy, right? Wrong. Sure he wreaks havoc for awhile, and then his base is discovered, he gets obliterated and turned into a Force Shade. And then what happens? Several thousand years later, he gets beaten and destroyed by a group of student Jedi, not even full blown Jedi Knights. Talk about going out with a whimper… *sigh*

Lets look at someone different, a non Force user. Mitth’raw’nuruodo, more commonly known as Grand Admiral Thrawn. He was probably the best bad guy ever created for Star Wars. He didn’t need the Force, he was just that good, always three or four steps ahead of everyone else. He was not about fighting for the sake of fighting. To quote one of his subordinates, ‘Thrawn always stood for order’. He wasn’t a proponent of the New Order, he wanted a stable galaxy, and the Rebels upset the galaxy. So he fought the Rebels. The only time that he was outfought was when two of his enemies outsmarted each other and wound up working together against him in the novel ‘The Last Command’. And then he died knifed in the back? By his bodyguard of all people…? Aw COME ON…! *Double sigh*

I am not even going to go into Isard, Prestage, Zinj, the list goes on and on… They are all weenies. Dangerous for a time and then they went out with whimpers. Whatever happened to bad guys you feared? Darth Vader was scary, Emperor Palpatine was scary in Empire Strikes back and Return of the Jedi. Malgus at least seems scary at the moment, but will he too go the way of the weenie? I hope not.

Ok, we come to last week’s update. A new timeline, ‘Rebirth of the Sith Empire’ and a new bad guy. The first Grand Moff Odile Vaiken, is long dead by the time of The Old Republic, but his legacy is the strong and overwhelming Sith military. Born on Korriban, and utterly loyal to the Sith, Vaiken seems to be a new direction in the evolution of bad guys.  He is skilled, intelligent and loyal. He was not in it just for himself, he wanted his empire to succeed. And to die the way he did, on the bridge of a Star Destroyer in battle, well, that was anything but weenie like. Wait a sec… Star Destroyer…? Hmmm… *evil grin* Very few problems cannot be solved with a Star Destroyer in orbit.

We had some good news this Friday as well. It looks like we are going to see more of Darth Malgus now, with the announcement of a new book, based on him. I truly hope they do not do what they did to Anakin. I don’t care if the man has issues. I want evil. I want blood! I want guts and horror and war and carnage! I want my bad guys to be bad guys! Not weenies!

To sum it up, Sith and servants of the Sith have always had to lose in Star Wars. The good guys always win in Star Wars, maybe not right away, but always in the end, the good guys win. But… Um… Who ARE the good guys in The Old Republic? The Republic with its fractional corrupt government or the Empire with the Sith leading it and all the stuff they do?  With the massive amount of reviews that were dropped on us recently, we have received some hints that there may not BE any ‘good guys’. It all may be shades of gray. And that is typical Bioware, always the moral choices with lots of room for interpretation. I for one can’t wait.

If Odile Viaken is any indication of the sort of people who follow the Sith Empire now, well… I look forward to fighting them as Republic and fighting beside them as Empire. They will make great allies and enemies. Memorable ones, and that is what we want. We don’t want weenies.

Well, what do you think? Are the bad guys going to go out with bangs or whimpers? And bad guys may be either Republic OR Imperial.

Good Sith and Evil Jedi? Wha…?

Light or Darkness

Jedi and Sith. Light and darkness. Good and evil. Simple, right? Bioware seems to be hell bent on making what we thought was simple complicated. The whole good/bad thing gets kind of fuzzy, like Dr. Peter Venkman from Ghostbusters put it. Those of us who grew up with the original Star Wars trilogy know about good and evil. Darth Vader was evil, Luke Skywalker was good. Empire was evil, Rebel Alliance was good. Stormtroopers, brainless soldiers following orders to the letter with no questions asked, were evil. Smugglers and… um… murderers (Han shot first in the original) …were… um… good? Ok, so he turned good at the end of that movie, but is it so easy to define?

What is good? Oh, man, I doubt I could put that in words if I had a hundred pages to try. We all have our own definitions of good. Selflessness, heroism, courage, kindness, etc. But in the first movie, Star Wars: A New Hope, good was fairly easy to define. The people fighting the bad guys were the good guys, even if all of them were not ‘good’ themselves. Han Solo in particular was a mercenary, out for one thing and one thing only: money.  He took the charter job to carry Luke, Obi-Wan and the droids to Alderaan not out of a sense of helping others, but for one HECK of a payout promised by the Jedi. He certainly did not attack the detention bay of the Death Star to rescue Princess Leia out of the goodness of his heart. He would not have lifted a finger without the promise of a massive reward.  Yes, at the end of the movie it was shown that he was not simply a greedy, self centered scum, but it took most of the movie. But for the most part, in A New Hope, good was fairly easy to recognize. Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi were good.

Now as to evil. Again, where to start? We all have our own definitions of evil. Selfishness, greed, lust for power or other gains, or simply an excess of pragmatism. Why did Darth Vader strangle people with the Force? Was it pragmatism? The easiest and quickest way? Or was it because it was the most terrifying way to do it? Did he enjoy cowing his subordinates, or was it simply the fastest and most efficient method of promoting an underling? From the time of Episode IV until the end of Episode VI, Darth Vader stood as the personification of evil to most movie goers. He wore black, he was big and scary and treated his subordinates like dirt. It wasn’t until the end of Return of the Jedi, when we see his redemption that the entire story comes to head.  Until then, he was always the bad guy, the ULTIMATE bad guy. A sound of heavy breathing still scares me to this very day, wondering if my own throat is about to be compacted by icy insubstantial fingers of the Force. Darth Vader was evil.

Now, as to good and evil in games. Most video games through the history of them, you play a good guy. From the earliest games like Defender and Galaga, you were trying to protect others, fighting unending waves of bad guys to win. There was no question, you were the hero, and what you were doing was ‘good’. Not so more modern games. Role playing games in particular have always catered to all kinds. People who wanted to play ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’. Baldur’s Gate II was probably the best of its era in games where you could choose. You could be an amoral mercenary, killing anyone and everyone who got in your way, a cynical ranger dealing death to orcs and scum from a distance with a bow, or a noble paladin sworn to serve your gods and dealing holy fury to the enemies of truth and justice. Or anything in between.  And in all things, there was choice. You COULD play as a paladin and do evil. You then lost your powers and had to play the rest of the game as a fighter with a few odd quirks. I personally loved playing as a monk, always Lawful Neutral, that way I had to choose VERY carefully what to do and when.

And then games like Mass Effect, and Dragon Age: Origins where your choices for good and evil have a massive effect on the game. Do you support the noble good guy, even if he really seems to have no clue what he is doing? Or the schemer who had his brother murdered to try and snatch the throne? He knows how to get things done after all. Do you play the good cop, bringing truth and justice to dark places? Or the evil scum who is only in it for themselves? Only speaking for myself, I almost always play good guys. I see too much evil in daily life to want to perpetuate it in any way even virtually. Maybe that makes me a wimp, but I think it makes me a better person than many I meet on a daily basis.

Bioware has not given out a lot of information on the actual story of Star Wars: The Old Republic. Part of this is intended to whet potential player’s appetites, which it does very well. Part is likely because they have not finalized everything yet. I mean, come on, how COULD they have finalized it all by now? In any MMO there is a lot of stuff to get done, and in this MMO…sheesh… If half of what they tell us is true, it will put all the others to shame content wise.

But they have said that it will be possible to be a light side Sith. Or a dark side Jedi. My first reaction, like many people probably, was to say ‘WHA…?’ But then I thought about it. Jedi are not necessarily ‘good’. They have to do what it takes to protect the galaxy as a whole. Does this mean they can be paragons of virtue all the time? Heck no. Obi-Wan lies to Luke. Forget the ‘different point of view’ garbage. He flat out LIED to the young man. He did it because the truth would have caused all kinds of problems. We see Anakin, as a Jedi, act Dark Side. And that is what started his fall, in Episode II, avenging his mother.

But we never saw any Light Side Sith in any of the movies, probably because Lucas didn’t like the idea. Jedi were good and Sith were evil, period. Right? But now we have this quandary. If you are serving evil, does that make you evil? Do Sith warriors, Sith Inquisitors, Bounty Hunters and Imperial Agents HAVE to be evil in SWTOR? Bioware’s answer seems to be their stock one. ‘It is all up to the player.’

I personally am looking forward to playing a Dark Side Trooper or a Light Side Sith Warrior. How about you? What do you want to play?

Yin-yang image courtesy of: Dreamstime.