Nov 30

Still Waiting for X-Wing 2

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Still Waiting for X-Wing 2

When I think back throughout my long history of Star Wars gaming, no experience was more amazing than the first time I sat down and played X-Wing. This game was followed up by TIE Fighter, a game which I played even more than X-Wing, and to a lesser extent I also enjoyed X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter. Then there was X-Wing: Alliance, but the less said about that game the better. The point is, ever since TIE Fighter, I’ve been waiting for another Star Wars flight sim game to come along and blow me away. The inclusion of space combat is always the number one thing on my wishlist every time a new Star Wars video game is announced. So I was obviously excited when space missions were announced for The Old Republic. It was the number one thing I wanted to try out and eventually I got into the beta and was able to try my hand at space combat. And now that the NDA is down, I can finally share my experience with the rest of you.

I knew going into this that I wasn’t getting the free-flying X-Wing-style space combat that I really wanted. No, those hopes were quickly dashed by the words, “rail shooter.” For those unaware, rail shooters are those where your ship follows a predetermined path (as if it was riding on a set of rails) and you really only have control over targeting and firing your weapons. Despite my disappointment, I have been so starved for Star Wars based space combat that I didn’t really care.

When you first get your spaceship, there are three missions available to you. These three missions are fairly easy to complete and and are intended as training and introduction to the whole space mission mechanic. However, they are so easy that I found them to be somewhat boring, particularly the escort mission. Eventually, you do unlock missions with a higher difficulty and things do improve from there. The ability to upgrade your ship is also a welcome addition and really helps complete those higher level missions. And as a rule I enjoy whenever MMOs add “twitchy” elements to their gameplay.

The environments look really beautiful as well. Even if you play with your graphics on the lowest settings, it’s really something to see. And buzzing along the surface of an Imperial cruiser blasting away at its shield generators and turbolaser turrets is pretty damned awesome. Completing space missions give very nice experience awards and can be a really good way to level up.

Sadly, this enjoyment can quickly turn to tedium. Thanks to the rail shooter style of gameplay, every time you play the space mission it’s exactly the same as the last. The replay value of these missions is essentially zero. Still, they do offer a nice diversion from questing and another for people to level their characters up. And as long as you play each mission only once, you’ll never notice the repetitiveness. So, no, I didn’t really get what I wanted out of the space combat in SWTOR, but it at least gives me some way to pass the time while I wait for Lucasarts to release X-Wing 2.

Oct 21

TOR Lore 101: The Hutts

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TOR Lore 101: The Hutts

The Hutts have often played a major role in Star Wars lore, and seem to poised to do the same in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Yet, for many of our listeners, Jabba the Hutt in Return of the Jedi is their only exposure to this race.To remedy this, Mos Eisley Radio’s two local lore hounds, Evan and Leo, discuss the Hutts, their homeworld, and what to expect once we are all in the game.

“I know that laugh…”

Evan: If we’re gonna talk Hutts, we have to start with Jabba and where he came from creatively. Originally, the character was said to have been greatly inspired by the characters played by film actor Sydney Greenstreet, particularly in movies like The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca. Although this might have been the case with regards to the deleted, and later re-done, Docking Bay 94 scene, for those seeing Jabba’s first official on-screen incarntion, I think the Jabba we all know and love owes more to Marlon Brando’s Don Corleone in The Godfather. This wouldn’t be surprising given the friendship between Lucas and Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola

Leo: Everybody knows that gangsters gotta be fat, and Lucas came up with the name “Hutt” as a derivation from the Arabic word for “whale.” Jabba, however, isn’t really the best representative of his race as a whole. Most people remember him as the big fat slug who had a thing for half naked Humans and Twi’leks. His love of alien women was considered a bit of a strange and sick fetish amongst other Hutts. Not all Hutts are as fat or immobile as Jabba either. Those among the lower castes can’t afford to have a repulsor platform to carry them around everywhere and have to move under their own power instead. For this reason size is considered a measure of one’s status in Hutt society. Of course, a small Hutt is still pretty damned big by our standards.

E: Wasn’t there even a bizarre story from Tales From Jabba’s Palace about him and, who was it, Ephant Mon beating up Stormtroopers? In any case, for some the only other Hutt they might know is Ziro the Hutt from The Clone Wars. Whether or not you like the show, they at least took this Hutt in a different direction and didn’t just make him a clone (insert joke) of Jabba. His character was based on Truman Capote and it shines through in the accent. Unlike other Hutts, Ziro speaks mostly basic, though that may have had more to do with making it more TV-accessible than anything else. His episodes in the third season give us more Hutts than I think we’ve ever gotten before.

L: Pfft. Much like everything else on that show, I hate the Hutts on Clone Wars. Although I do remember reading an article somewhere speculating that Ziro was the first openly gay Star Wars character. An amusing proposition when you consider the fact that all Hutts are, in fact, hermaphrodites. They possess both sets of sexual organs, and so whatever gender an individual Hutt associates themselves with is a matter of their own choice. So some Hutts always think of themselves as male or female, while some switch gender roles throughout their lifespan. For example, it is quite common for “male” Hutts to consider themselves “female” while pregnant and raising a child.

E: *Sigh* Yes, exactly. Ziro can’t be gay in terms of how we use the term since they’re all hermaphroditic. But having purple body paint and talking like Truman Capote certainly does make you wonder what direction they were going. Though there is a third season episode where we learn “he” had a romantic relationship with Sy Snoodles.

But we’re getting WAY off track here. Point is, we haven’t seen too many Hutts that were not anything more than Jabba clones. The Han Solo Trilogy gave us a small look at how they’re organized as their own crime entity within and yet separate from the Black Sun organization, run during The Saga by Prince Xizor. We also get a taste of that in both KOTOR games where the Hutts you deal with (and even dance for, depending on your character design) enlist your help to get a leg up on The Exchange.


The Glorious Jewel and the Smuggler’s Moon

L: Hutta and its moon, Nar Shadda, are two areas that are relatively unexplored in much of Star Wars lore. There are several comic books that give us a view of Nar Shadda but very few novels have ever visited these two places. The novel Fatal Alliance, despite it’s many many many flaws, was nice simply because it’s gave us a look at Hutta and it’s culture.

A little known fact is that the Hutts are not actually native to their “home planet” of Hutta. Hutts originally evolved on the world of Varl which was destroyed at some point in ancient history. One story (the one commonly accepted by the galaxy at large) is that they fought a massive war across the planet which utterly devastated the ecosystem. The Hutts, however, tell a tale of their two suns, whom the Hutts worshiped as gods, being destroyed in a cataclysm involving a black hole. Since the Hutts survived when their gods did not, many Hutt feel that this has elevated their race to god-like status and has certainly led to the Hutts feelings of superiority regarding all other races. After this, the Hutts claimed the world of Evocar as their own, enslaved the native Evocii, and renamed the planet Nal Hutta.

E: The relationship between the Hutt overlords of Nal Hutta and the enslaved Evocii is actually brought up very early on in the stories for those classes which start on Nal Hutta, the Bounty Hunter and Imperial Agent. I really did not know much about Nal Hutta apart from what little they told us in Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords while you roam around Nar Shadda. I guess I am glad that we’re seeing more Nal Hutta than perhaps we will see of Nar Shadda, at first at least, since the latter has already been used in two well-known SW games, the aforementioned KOTOR 2 and Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight.

I’m not sure which would be a more interesting place to explore, actually. In Hutta, we have a swamp world gone industrial; kind of like as if someone went to Naboo and turned all the bog regions into dumping plants (though I don’t think anyone would mind the locals being forcibly removed). For Nar Shadda we’re looking at almost a REALLY dirty version of Coruscant. We’d mentioned how Corellia is a slightly-less-polished version of the Galactic Capitol, but this city world (moon), sometimes referred to as the “Vertical City,” is likewise huge, but also just plain nasty.

L: So little has been seen of Hutta that it will be cool to see, but I’m more partial to the cityscapes that Nar Shadda will offer us. The city moon of Nar Shadda will be a really cool contrast to Coruscant’s city. I’m looking forward to seeing how Bioware differentiates the two worlds that at first glance seem so similar, but are really quite different. The moon should have quite a few Evocii, since that is where the Hutts exiled them to after taking over their homeworld. I’m particularly excited to explore the undercity of Nar Shadda, which is full of mutated, violent Evocii.

E: Alright, well, we obviously have lots of ground to cover with just these two worlds. Hopefully, as the Bounty Hunters and Imperial Agents are running around Nal Hutta and while everyone gathers on Nar Shadda for Huttball, they’ll stop and smell… wait. No. They really shouldn’t smell ANYTHING on either of these planets. If they learn one things from this, it’s this: Hutts are gross. Also, don’t go anywhere with one of them, even if they offer you candy. I’m sure metal bikinis chafe.

Sep 29

The Lost Suns Issue 4 Review

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The Lost Suns 4 Review

Lost Suns #4: The Penultimate Review

Well, we’ve almost made it to the end. Here is the penultimate issue of The Lost Suns (I’ve always wanted an excuse to use the word “penultimate”) and this issue is packed with two big reveals, one of which could have a large impact on the game we will be playing: what happened to Zho in Sith space, and most importantly for the game, what was the large installation that Darth Mekhis was constructing?

This issue is once again full of flashbacks; this time telling us what Zho was up during those years he had disappeared into Sith occupied territory. As usual, Zho is the only character with any real development as we see him turn from a man fighting against the Sith every way he knew how to someone who is so traumatized by the events he witnessed that he uses the Force to erase his own memories. Having all of those memories come flooding back at the end of issue three seems to have broken and defeated Zho until Theron steps up and reminds him what they’re fighting for.

And what are they fighting for? Why, to destroy the Sun Razer, Darth Mekhis’s ultimate weapon. Based on ancient alien technology, it is a giant sun powered shipyard being used to built fleets and superweapons in a fraction of the time it would take using conventional methods of construction. Does this sound familiar to anyone? Although the comic never comes out and says it, I’m guessing that the Sun Razer’s design is based off the Star Forge from Knights of the Old Republic. And this is the real reason that the Empire demanded those seven insignificant systems as part of the Treaty of Coruscant. Apparently these seven systems are some of the only ones in the galaxy capable of supporting a Sun Razer. Stay tuned for the next issue to see how our heroes stop the Empire. Issue five hits your local comic store on October 12th.

Aug 26

The Lost Suns Issue 3 Review

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Lost Suns #3:    Space Truckin’

In this issue Theron, Zho, and Teff’ith set off across the galaxy in pursuit of whatever secrets Darth Mekhis may be hiding. Along the way Theron shows off his awesome kung-fu moves, gets totally bummed about his lack of Force powers, and enjoys the local wildlife while out camping. Zho gets to act like a crazy person and shouts a lot. And Teff’ith is, well, she talks like her mouth forgets to speak every third word that her brain is thinking of.

Anyone who has read my other reviews knows that I’ve been waiting for the past two issues for Teff’ith to become something more than a pointless add-on character. Well, you know what they say about being careful what you wish for. This time she’s in every damn panel and every time she opens her mouth she utters the most annoying and strange lines of dialogue. Of our trio of protagonists, she continues to be the weakest link and I think the comic would have been better off without her.

Jedi Master Zho continues to be the only character in this comic I find myself really caring about and connecting with all that much. The closer our heroes get to the mystery of Darth Mekhis’s plans, the more unbalanced he becomes. It’s his unbalanced nature that makes him a truly enjoyable character to read and Alexander Freed does a great job writing him in this issue. At times Zho is just a kooky old man who enjoys the tingling sensation of frostbitten toes, and others he’s paranoid and convinced that he seems to be holding the fate of the galaxy in his crazy old hands. And by the end of the issue we find that he may be right.

Sadly, the action doesn’t seem to flow so well in this issue and I really enjoyed issue two more than this one. But, the issue does end on an awesome cliffhanger that has me very excited for issue four!  Issue four arrives at comic book stores on September 14th.

Jul 28

Lost Suns 2: Review

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Lost Suns 2: Review

Let me start off by talking about this amazing cover. Benjamin Carré’s cover art for issue one was quite spectacular, but he really outdid himself with this issue. It is simply the most awesome rendition of Darth Marr, or any other Sith Lord for that matter, that I have ever seen. But beauty aside, it does do that one thing that annoys me more than anything on a comic cover: featuring a character that has basically no relation to the story. Darth Marr shows up in total of one panel (maybe two, assuming that’s his hand in the next panel) during a flashback and doesn’t even speak. But really, that’s my only major gripe about this issue.

Most of the problems from the first issue have been fixed. The writing seems to flow better from panel to panel. The one exception is the flashback at the beginning of the issue. Like issue one, the first several pages are Master Zho telling a story. But this time we just get a rehashing of the story of how the war started and progressed, far less exciting than the Battle of Rhen Var from issue one, and with a lot more exposition. But Zho does give us a very interesting revelation at the end of his tale, providing some hints as to why the Sith demanded certain planets in the Treaty of Coruscant.

The art has also improved from issue one. The artists seem to be more familar with the characters and manage to keep a more consistent look throughout the book. The only time consistency was any sort of problem was during the training flashback from Theron’s childhood. Which is too bad, because I found this to be the most interesting part of the story. It’s during this sequence that learn more about Zho and Theron’s relationship and that maybe Satele Shan was wrong to trust this man with raising her child.

Lost Suns 2: Review

During that flashback and throughout the whole issue, Zho’s character is finally fleshed out. We learn that he’s turned into a vagrant because he’s lost a bunch of his memory and we find out why he was out in Sith space in the first place. At least, we learn why he thinks he was out there. Teff’ith, however remains a pointless contrivance in this story. Except for one page she continues to do nothing but stand around in the background, leaving me to wonder why she was included and if she is even needed. Here’s hoping she does more to shine in future issues.

With Mekhis’ plans starting to coalesce and the appearance of the Sith Knights, things are finally starting to pick up steam and both the artists and the writer seem to have finally found their grooves. I was a little worried after issue one, but my worries have (mostly) been dispelled. If you were on the fence before and skipped the first issue, I can now tell you that this is a series worth buying.

-Leo Andre

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