Legacy of the Sith Story Review: Manaan

I said in my first impressions post that I found the story of LotS somewhat lacking both in length and content, but I've got to admit that I'd only played through the Republic story once at the time of writing that. When I went on to play through the Imperial storyline afterwards and started sorting through my screenshots, I felt that I'd perhaps judged things a bit harshly, because I kept thinking "yeah, that was actually pretty cool" as I recalled various moments.

The first half of the expansion narrative, which is set on Manaan, is a peculiar beast because the overall plot doesn't really have strong ties to anything that came before, and it doesn't feel like it's setting up a follow-up story either (though you never know, I suppose), which makes it a very odd fit for an expansion called Legacy of the Sith. It makes me imagine a Bioware road map from long ago that perhaps had this story update slotted as the last patch of Onslaught, with Legacy of the Sith instead being supposed to launch with a bundle consisting of the Elom flashpoint and whatever story update(s) are meant to come after. But then the pandemic hit, everything got delayed and they had to reshuffle things to still be able to launch an expansion for the tenth anniversary... this is 100% blind speculation on my part, but it would certainly explain a few things.

Anyway, let's talk about this oddball of a story that makes up half of 7.0. I'll discuss the other half in a separate post. There will be spoilers for all things Manaan after the next screenshot, so if you're not ready for that and don't want to know what happens there, feel free to skip this one.

Even though we've established at least since KotFE that Republic and Imperial stories can't both be true at the same time (anymore), events from the Republic Manaan storyline are referenced in the Imperial one, so I guess at least some version of events is meant to take place in both continuities.

We start things on Republic side by witnessing Arn captaining a ship watching over the Manaan system as part of Task Force Nova, which gets shot down by a mysterious weapon that is later identified as an Imperial ion cannon. The player character shows up to the rescue and you descend onto the planet to take the cannon out. You meet some Selkath, who are not best pleased to have you there, but grudgingly help you out because they like the Empire even less. And that's really the gist of the Republic story, which is why I found it a bit underwhelming to be honest.

The two main character threads throughout are Arn struggling to get to grip with what it means to be in command, now that he's been promoted from padawan to knight, and the player character interacting with a grouchy Selkath colonel called Gallo. The former is only really interesting if you like Arn a lot as a character (and he's not really one of my personal faves - sorry, Arn fans), and the latter is fairly by the numbers: she helps you, you help her, you grudgingly grow to respect each other etc. About the most interesting aspect of it is that you learn a lot of strange new expressions involving water or fish...

The big choice at the end is also a classic Star Wars trolley problem, where you have to choose between saving some people now, or sacrificing them for a presumed greater good later, which is the sort of thing that always gets people arguing about whether Bioware flagged the wrong option as light side but which isn't really particularly compelling to me.

None of this is badly done, but neither does it do anything particularly new or exciting, and the characters that got the main focus just weren't that interesting to me. I was reminded a lot of how the Republic story on Onderon didn't exactly wow me at first either. I do have some sympathy for the writers and for how hard it must be to write an interesting "good guy" story in this game, because when Republic characters are supposed to live up to their ideals, it's easy for them to end up simply being nice to everyone, not arguing (much) and being thoroughly bland. The last time Republic-specific stories had some spice (in my opinion) was pre-KotFE, when Satele decided to team up with Darth Marr against official policy, and Theron as a spy was at least occasionally doing questionable things. Things were generally more exciting back when Saresh was Supreme Chancellor... because she was on your side but she was also an annoying politician and that was always good for drama. Sadly that also meant that most people hated her and the devs eventually wrote her out by just making her outright evil and therefore safe to dispose of.

I digress a bit, but basically I was thinking about this because the Imperial story manages to be much more interesting due to focusing on internal conflict. It starts with your character saving Major Anri's ship from being chased by Republic fighters, after which we learn that the events of the Republic story just happened, but the Empire is still trying to hold on to some kolto extraction facilities, which is where you come in to help them.

You rescue and make the acquaintance of a certain Colonel Korrd who gives you various tasks to shore up local defenses and fight back against the Republic, supposedly relayed from the real person in charge, a Sith called Darth Norok. Korrd is cagey about letting you talk to Norok directly because he's worried his Sith superior will be annoyed by being bothered unnecessarily, which seems sensible enough if you've ever dealt with any Sith in this game, but the snippets of holocalls between them that you do catch seem ever so slightly off in some way.

Eventually you take over a Republic transport and find none other than Darth Norok himself in a prison cell there - apparently he was shot down at the start of the invasion and has been imprisoned ever since, meaning that Korrd has been using his name as a front to issue his own orders. You free Norok and he accompanies you to destroy the Republic's biggest, baddest gun... but when you get there he orders you to hijack it instead to sow chaos, even if it means being unable to accurately choose your targets and risking friendly fire. If you defy his orders, he'll draw his lightsaber on you and you have to kill him. He's flagged as both a champion mob and a tank by the way and therefore takes forever to die!

When you return to base, you and Anri confront Korrd about his lies, and he's unrepentant as he thinks Norok was a fool anyway and he (Korrd) only did what was best for the Empire. If Norok is alive, he comes in at this point to start choking Korrd, which is when Darth Krovos calls in to ask how it's going (she also does this if Norok is dead) and tells Norok to stop choking one of her direct underlings. During this conversation you can decide to rat Korrd out to Krovos or cover for him when Norok raises his accusations.

I killed Norok in one of my playthroughs and covered for Korrd there, and in another I left Norok alive and spoke up against Korrd, but didn't act against Krovos' follow-up request to have him arrested so that she could deal with him personally, which oddly enough, still left Norok angry with me for some reason. I don't know if he actually likes you if you ignore Krovos' orders and just murder Korrd on the spot, which is also an option. Apparently it's also possible to turn against Norok in front of Krovos at the very end if you prefer that. Lots of choices!

I really liked this story because while clashes between nutty Sith and the interests of ordinary Imperials are not a new theme, this was a unique take on it that I honestly didn't see coming. I also mentioned in my review of Onslaught that many of the newly introduced Sith in recent updates have seemed almost too nice to me, so I enjoyed seeing a violent brute like Norok again (as strange as that may sound) - yet at the same time he wasn't so over the top insane that it made you wonder why anybody put up with him at all.

So, looked at in isolation, the story on Manaan is a solid enough content update (though I've got to confess I found the constant rain and darkness somewhat off-putting in terms of environments I like to spend time in); it just feels a bit disjointed in the way it drops you in medias res, with no connection to anything, and then ends just as abruptly when either Tau or Darth Rivix show up to whisk you away to Elom.

1 comment :

  1. I saw the republic story line for the first time on YouTube. And honestly i was shocked about how bad the voice acting of the Selkath Gallo was.

    I can not pinpoint what exactly threw me off, but i instantly disliked the voice acting on the spot. Never had that happen before.

    Maybe it was because the head and mouth of a Selkath are so different from what we are used to in the game. And animating such creature was difficult to do.

    Or Biowares approach to save some animation money and made the Selkath constantly turn the back into the camera.

    But even without the visuals that didn't go well with the sound, the voice acting alone sounded cheap.

    The YouTuber had the music and environmental sounds turned off, so that i could focus more on the voice acting and it was just bad... in my ears at least.

    It might just be me, because of all the different settings the YouTuber chose, in comparison to my own preferred settings. But ja... it is, what it is.


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