All About DarthVillainous
Before I begin, I want to say it's pretty rare for me to post anything like this or respond to news like this; however, I felt compelled to do so this time for two reasons: I absolutely love Star Wars (especially KotOR), and until yesterday, I loved BioWare.
First, some background I feel is necessary to understand where I'm coming from. I grew up playing the NES, Game Boy, and Sega Genesis. Around the time the N64 and PS1 hit, I stopped gaming, simply because I couldn't as a teenager afford it, and my parents are ardent anti-gameites who refused to buy me a system. Sure, I played the occasional PC game now and then, but I wasn't into it as I formerly had been (partly since the PCs in my house always sucked).
Flash forward to early 2005. I was at my cousin's house, and he was showing me the box for this game he'd gotten for Christmas on XBox called Knights of the Old Republic. I loved Star Wars - have been a Star Wars geek ever since I discovered it in my teens - but after flipping through the manual, I wasn't that interested. It looked overly complicated. I was more interested in something like Jedi Outcast. However, he convinced me to give it a go ... and from the opening title crawl I was hooked. Nothing in the Star Wars universe outside of the films and Timothy Zahn's novels made me geek out so much. The story and characters were amazing, even moreso than in the films or Zahn's works. And when there're characters like Luke Skywalker and Grand Admiral Thrawn in those, that's saying something.
Upon beating KotOR at my cousin's, I went out and bought an XBox and KotOR and beat it again. Then I found out there was a sequel: I bought that, too, and was amazed to discover it was even better (glitches aside, of course). The story was far more complex, far more subtle - it wasn't just "let's save the galaxy from the bad guy." It fleshed out Revan's character, making him one of the coolest and most complex characters in Star Wars. The story of the second game had that rare quality of making its predecessor better - an even more amazing accomplishment when you consider that the first KotOR was amazing in its own right.
Plain and simple, KotOR got me gaming again. I now have something like 300 games on 9 systems. I play games for the same reason I watch movies and read books: because I love stories.
So why is BioWare's announcement a betrayal? A lot of people are pointing their fingers to the fact they're making a cash grab since it`s an MMO. I wholeheartedly agree; however, I don't feel this is their worst offense. I wouldn't mind it if it was an MMO that was a related or parallel story (the Mandalorian Wars, anyone?). No, BioWare's worst offense is destroying the story that they (and Obsidian) gave birth to. A story I care about deeply, with characters I love: Revan, the Exile, Bastila, Canderous, Carth, Visas, Atton, and the unforgettable HK-47, just to name a few. I wanted to see Revan and the Exile take on the True Sith in KotOR 3, along with the Mandalorians, who would get revenge for the Sith deception against them years earlier. There`d be an actual ending with closure (not just, "this is what happened to them" 300 years after the fact), and Revan and the Exile would either ride off into the sunset or be back for more adventures against new threats. From internal evidence in KotOR 2, I'd guess this is roughly the direction Obsidian was going with their story (though I'm sure I don't have half of it figured out).
Now, it's all moot. Revan and the Exile are surely dead, and what`s worse, they failed. After all, if the True Sith are emerging to slaughter the Republic 300 years later, it means Revan and the Exile didn't destroy them. That'd be like if at the end of Return of the Jedi Vader wasn't redeemed, but instead let the Emperor kill his son; if the rebels didn't destroy the second Death Star, but were instead smashed by the Empire once and for all. None of these scenarios is fun, or good, or anything positive: they just plain suck. They are also against the spirit of Star Wars: as Timothy Zahn once said (I'm paraphrasing here): "the Star Wars universe is one where things ultimately work out for good, as evidenced by the ending to Return of the Jedi. Not only do the main characters survive, but minor ones like Lando and Wedge do, too." Sure, there will be dark moments, like Order-66 or the aftermath of the Jedi Civil War; but in the end good will triumph, and the characters we know and love most will live to see it. Not so here. For all BioWare's claims they`re trying to capture the spirit of the films, the very premise of TOR goes against it. The good guys didn't win.
The other story beef I have with TOR concerns this invasion of the Republic by the True Sith. I mean, how boring and redundant can you get? This sort of invasion storyline has been done to death a million times before, both within Star Wars (Revan's Sith, the Sith of Darth Bane`s era, the Mandalorian Wars, the Yuzzhan Vong ... the list goes on and on), and without (the Reapers and Geth of BioWare's own Mass Effect, the Covenant in Halo, the Combine in Half-Life, and even in other media sources: the Dominion in Star Trek, the Cylons in Battlestar Galactica ... again, the list goes on and on). I'm sick of it. It's redundant and repetitive. Something different should be the order of the day.
I have other objections to this whole project, but many of these have already been voiced by others (BioWare has sold out, it`s an MMO not single player, etc.) As bad as these objections are, the worst betrayal BioWare committed was their betrayal to the story set out in KotOR I and II. I've come to expect this of some companies, but I never expected it from BioWare, since they have put so much emphasis on story in the past. Not anymore it seems, no matter what they might claim.
Count me as one angry and depressed Darth.