You know what the best part about this game is? In most games, I resolutely play that biggest goody-two-shoes I possibly can. It’s just who I am; I’m generally uncomfortable with cruelty, even to fictional characters, and so the “good” option is generally what I pick when given the chance. Besides, lots of games make being evil just as hard, if not harder, than being good, since there are generally authority figures to work against if you’re being evil. The most common balance is that evil is more lucrative and easier, but risks severe punishment, while good is more difficult and less lucrative up-front, but you get other rewards (like XP, loot, nice powers, and cooperation from NPCs). KotOR has a similar balance, although both paths are generally of almost equal difficulty. Here’s the difference: I’m actually tempted by the dark side. Seriously. I really like all of the good characters, but something about how the game is written, particularly how you can be wonderfully manipulative as an evil character, makes being evil quite appealing. I’m still planning on staying on the Light Side, but it’s weird to have the little voice that says Awww, Carth’s hitting on me. How adorable also say Wouldn’t it be fun to break his little heart? Evil hasn’t been so much fun since I played Regan in King Lear.
I guess this is also a property of the Star Wars universe, particularly in the original three films. You have the heroic heroes on one side, and there’s absolutely no reason why you wouldn’t side with them, except Darth Vader totally kicks ass. Seriously, you don’t get to see much in the way of Jedi awesomeness (Obi-Wan’s cool, but he doesn’t do much flashy stuff as an old guy) until Yoda lifts Luke’s X-Wing out of the swamp, accompanied by his best lines (that’s “Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try” and his response to Luke’s “I don’t believe it!” which is “That is why you fail.” Pure awesome). In contrast, you have Darth Vader, who is voiced by James Earl Jones (badass), has a cool black suit with a swooshy cape compared to Obi-Wan’s plain brown robes, and can choke people with his mind, plus he’s second-in-command over the entire freaking Imperial Battle Fleet. Then, of course, you have the emperor, who can shoot lightning out of his hands. The Jedi vs. Sith conflict is subtlety versus overt power in many ways, and it’s nice that the Star Wars universe is one in which there’s an actual reason to be evil.
Back to KotOR, I guess: I became a Jedi (green lightsaber? hell yeah!) by correctly reciting the Jedi Code, building my own lightsaber, and defeating a Padawan who had turned to the dark side in lightsaber combat and turning her back to the light. Then I solved a murder, killed some Mandalorian raiders and helped a droid commit suicide. Next up on the agenda: stopping a family feud, finding a farmer’s daughter, getting a new power crystal for my lightsaber, and investigating some probably evil ruins.
I love this game.
[Featured image: technobuffalo.com.]