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Bastard of the Old Republic

Part 3: Return of the Bastard.

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Image credit: Eurogamer

(You can now read the entire Bastard of the Old Republic series in one place.)

The story so far (far away): Simon Evil, a member of the Republic rescued from a battle with the Sith, finds himself in the middle of a predicament. Aided by the Jedi Bastila, Republic pilot Carth Onassi, and an assortment of irregulars who accompany him on his journeys, he is tasked with discovering the location of a Star Forge, a terrible machine capable of wiping out civilisations. Because he wants one.

My task has been to play through Knights of the Old Republic, making all the most evil, selfish and genocidal choices available at every opportunity, ignoring the swelling tidal wave of guilt that built up inside me (in part one), and not stopping once I found myself picking the gruesome, murderous options with genuine glee (in part two). It's now over, the story is complete, and I can assure you it didn't end well for people. Here's what happened.

Simon Evil's last actions were to join the Genoharadan, a fiercely clandestine assassin's guild, tasked with murdering complete strangers on various planets purely for profit. At the same time, three pieces of the Star Map required for finding the Star Forge remained undiscovered, and there was the small matter of destroying a planet's ecology to take care of on Manaan.

Manaan, home of the slurpy-talking Selkath fish people, also hosts a number of splendid side-quests that all intertwine with the main search for the Map. There's a murder mystery to solve, the disappearance of Selkath youths to investigate, and queries over why the Republic is hiring every mercenary it can get its hands on. Each offers plenty of chances for Dark Side point-gathering. Especially fun was encouraging the young Selkath to pursue their education at the evil Sith training facility, despite having killed every other living creature in the enemy base.

But Manaan's most glorious opportunity for an utter extreme of wrongdoing is in its main quest. You learn that the Star Map is blocked by a gigantic fish beast previously thought to be only mythological. It lies on the other side of an underwater Republic scientific research facility, in which all the Selkath have gone mad and tried to kill everyone. A couple of surviving scientists tell you two ways it might be possible to kill the enormous shark-thing. One involves polluting the water it's in with an untested toxin, the other overloading the machinery with a special gas that will destroy the enter base.

The Sith are rubbish at looking after their homes.

Now, approaching this from an evil-as-possible perspective, destroying the base might at first sound the more aggressive act. However, consequences must be considered. Manaan is the galaxy's only source for Kolto, a vital substance used for healing people by both the Republic and the Sith alike. It's why the Sith and Republic are on Manaan at all. And the major source for the Kolto is where mega-sharky lives. Toxin + galaxy's source of health = properly damned evil. And it works. It works so well that when you go back to the main city you're arrested, and expelled from the planet forever. The consequences are far-reaching, people discussing the horror of this loss on other planets. That was me. I did that. (Oh, and I should add I killed the two surviving scientists for absolutely no reason whatsoever.)

Which is why it was important to complete the Genoharadan quests first. Finding the three targets on various planets isn't too challenging, and by this point Simon was getting pretty strong with his Dark Force powers. Each taken out, I returned to Hulas on Manaan and told him of my victories. And it turned out the sneaky bugger had tricked me into killing the other three leaders of the Genoharadan, so he'd be in charge. That meant a trip to Tatooine to fight him to the death, which I guess makes me the boss of that organisation. Sadly it's so shadowy and secret, I'd never know who to boss around, so that became a bit of an anticlimax, if a useful source for gathering Darkness.

My next destination was the ludicrously spelt Kashyyyk, home of the Wookiees. It was interesting to see quite how much more polarised the good/evil choices were here, thanks to the presence of the Czerka Corporation - the smuggling criminals who had been making Taris such a hellhole even before the Sith turned up. Things were bad on Kashyyyk, the Wookiees being rounded up and sold into slavery by the corrupt Czerka officers, with the help of their stooge leaders. Analogous to the slaving operations performed in Africa, the Czerka maintain order on the planet by supporting friendly chieftains in leadership positions of the local tribes, providing them with arms to keep power, and having them teach the Wookiees to speak Galactic Basic, so slavers wouldn't need to speak Wookiee. These echoes of our own revolting past remove the subtlety of taking sides. Or, you know, make it easier to pick the evil choices.

A lovely beach holiday with the evil robot and a nice book.

It's interesting how picking the evil choice that destroys a woman's life, or kills an innocent, or sees families slaughter each other, has a very different emotional effect than aiding the enslavement of an innocent tribal race. All are obviously deeply evil, but I think I'm able to compartmentalise the more individual actions more easily, mentally filing them under "terrible thing I did in a game". Even though polluting the Kolto would have devastating effects across the entire galaxy, I think it's still pretend enough to laugh off. Oppression struck deeper. I was still delighting in making the evil choices, but here on Kashyyyk I was feeling those familiar pangs from the first third of the game again.

It turns out Zaalbar, the Wookiee in your party, is the son of the deposed leader, said by the new chieftain to have gone insane. There is an opportunity to not only recover his life and dignity, but drive Czerka from the planet entirely, ending the slaving operation. I didn't do that. I helped the puppet government by ensuring Zaalbar's father would never see power again, further entrenched Czerka, but worst of all, convinced Zaalbar that it was all for the best. I brainwashed a good man into believing in terrible things.

Along the way I convinced a man to dedicate his entire life to meaningless vengeance, left the innocent Wookiee Grrrwahrr to die of starvation in a cage in the middle of a swamp, helped cause a species to become extinct, and after having hermit Jedi Jolee Bindo join my group and tell me his story, replied, "I hate you, old man."

I'd left Korriban for last, as it was the home of the Sith Academy, and I wanted to be as evil as possible when I reached it. If I was going to win the competition for a place in the academy, I was going to win it with style. Of course, before I reached the planet there was a slightly revelatory diversion. If you've not played KOTOR, and are still hoping to after reading the last six and a half thousand words about it, this is where to stop reading until you're done. This is the big twist, and you'll spoil the whole thing for yourself if you read any further.