Staying Neutral in Kotor

KOTOR shark choice

I’m almost always evil in games. The kind of outrageous and over-the-top portrayals of evil we often see in games makes it an entertaining prospect, so I was looking forward to being especially evil in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic which, remarkably, I’ve somehow managed to never play, probably because I tried to play it on an Xbox where it had horrendous framerate issues and controls that made me feel like a clumsy oaf.

I have encountered some difficulty, though, in my committment to the Dark Side.  The trouble is there’s no Chaotic Evil option in the Star Wars universe. You’re with the Republic, or you’re with the Sith. KOTOR’s moral choices are hilariously bipolar. There’s no intermediate path built into the game. Take the example in the screenshot above. The choices are presented thusly: 1. Evil, 2. Good, 3. Evilest. I ended up going with option 1 more out of impatience than anything, as option 2 required me to solve a basic puzzle and option 1 invovled pressing a button. Impatience, it seems, is the first step on the path to the Dark Side. The rest of the path was not so easy to tread however, not because I felt any particular amount of shame about harming local wildlife, destroying a planet’s ecology, its economy and political standing in the Universe. That came easily to me. I had more difficulty with the Institutions of evil.

The trouble is the Sith are all dicks. They’re just so throroughly drab and uniform in their evil. For the most part the mooks are a humourless bigotted lot whose only real acts of evil, aside from being tiny mindless cogs in a vast fascist machine obsessed with domination, is to be a bit rude to people who try and talk to them.

At parties I’d stand awarkwardly to one side, trying desperately to look noncholant, as though I came on my own and not with those drunken oafs in the grey pseudo-Nazi uniforms busy making rude jokes about the Twi’leck barmaid’s tentacles. She’d know I was with them of course, and shoot an angry glare my way before storming off, I’d hold my hands up apologetically, ‘I’m really sorry!’ I’d mouth, but it wouldn’t make a difference, it would be too late. I’d be a massive twat by association. I want to join the Dark Side, not the Jerk Side.

KOTOR kill sandpeople

Had the means to negotiate with these chaps. Slashing randomly was faster.


So I’d have to hang around with the higher-ups, the Dark Jedi, perhaps even the Sith Lord himself. They’re properly evil, that lot. They’re dangerous, they carry lightsabres and they wear black. So far so good. The problem comes when they open their mouths and release unleash a seemingly unending vomitous stream of cliches. Also, they’re just a bit TOO obsessed with the being evil side of things, such that it colours their every action. Okay, that’s the point of the Dark Side, I know, it corrupts completely, but living with these people would be more than tiresome. A simple discussion about what to have for dinner would become some sort of competition in evil. I’d go for a lamb roast, and that’d be okay because we’d be eating an ‘innocent youngling’, but then someone would want to know if I had turned the lamb to the Dark Side before slaughtering it, and I’d say ‘No, you morons, you can’t turn a sheep to the Dark Side, it’s a fucking sheep’, and they’d be like ‘Ah but the black sheep are one with the Dark Side’ and then I’d get so irritated I’d order pizza, or, depending on my mood, Force Choke them all to death for the Dark Side points.

Anger, frustration, irritation, all are paths to the Dark Side of the force. So forcing your underlings to associate with jerks is probably a good way to keep your minions throroughly entrenched in the rage-filled blood-soaked evil side of things. But, as I’d tell the Sith recruitment officer before dueling him to death, it’s just not for me, thanks all the same.

KOTOR lightsabre pose

The red one’s mine. The other one I got from some dude. He’s dead now. I killed him.


What I love about KOTOR’s portrayal of the Star Wars universe is that it gives a voice to the little people trying to live their lives on their respective planets, to whom the Jedi and the Sith are just a mental group of violent religious fundamentalists battling each other for ‘the greater good’. Stepping away from the automatic assumptions that Star Wars encourages, ie: the Jedi are infallibly Right and Good, and the Sith are definitely not, and you’re faced with a whole new vision of the Jedi order.

They take gifted children away from their parents at a very young age, and then deny them access to their families, or the outside Universe, cloistering them inside remote training facilities where they are indoctrinated to always obey the wisdom of the Jedi Council, who they will probably never meet. Yes, they’re a bloody cult.

No wonder they don’t train recruits above a certain age. As with my character in Kotor, I take their valuable training, lie through my teeth about respecting the Council’s wisdom, and then leave at the earliest opportunity to loot the shit out of the unsuspecting Galaxy.

KOTOR kill sith

Stabbing your enemy in the back while he’s three feet in the air: maximum dishonour.


Also, the Jedi aren’t allowed to experience ANY strong emotions. No rage or hatred, but no love either. Presumably sex is also out of the window given the focus and restraint required to wield the force. If things ever got out of hand between Yoda and a particularly attractive fellow sentient space-cabbage, the resultant orgasm would probably level a city. (Yoda lies back and lights a fat rollie of Dagobah’s finest plantlife, “Quite good that was!” he says, oblivious to the devastation around him).

Where were we? Ah yes, cold emotionless life of servitude to the Jedi Council? Sorry, not for me thanks Mr recruitment advisor, *force lightning*, “ackkk!”, *ping* Dark Side Points Gained!

Nope, neutrality for me all the way thank you. Not stale noncommittal neutrality, mind. I’m talking schizophrenic unpredictable insane behaviour veering between Light and Dark so fast that the result sees me in the cloudy grey regions that lie between the poles. No nights out with the Sith, no indoctrination at the perhaps too-kindly hands of the Jedi Elders, just unpredictable entertaining madness. Thank you KOTOR for that.


Ludo out.


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