Friday, May 6, 2011

Bonus Gaming Challenge (Day 31): Hardest Moral Choice

*SPOILER ALERT* - Naturally, today will contain spoilers for Jedi Academy and a tiny one for Dragon Age: Origins, so don’t look if you don’t want to.

I could have just done this as a normal post, but it makes sense as a Gaming Challenge topic, so I will occasionally be doing bonus days for it from now on.

I almost didn’t do this topic, not because it was too difficult, but because the answer is too obvious.  Morrigan’s offer at the climax of Dragon Age: Origins forced me to sit back and think it through thoroughly for a good 10 minutes before I could make an ultimate, still tentative decision.  It gave me a genuine moral choice that I simply couldn’t determine what was the best thing to do.  However, as I have done before in my 30 Days of Gaming Challenge, I prefer to find a more interesting answer instead.  And I think I found one.

The only other decision I spent the same about of time on as the Dragon Age decision came from Jedi Academy, which surprised me.  Jedi Academy is a really fun game, and was one of the first of the eternal line of Star Wars games to allow you to carry different lightsabers.  That was definitely a major selling point, as you could use one lightsaber, two lightsabers, or a lightstaff.  With three fighting styles as well, the combat system was relatively sophisticated.  It had to be two lightsabers every time for me, on the fast style of combat, so that no one could stand up to the flurry of blows I was landing on them, especially with Force Speed on.  Great times.

The story was interesting, as you fought your way across the galaxy investigating leads and assaulting Sith footholds.  The level design was quite good, and felt familiar because I had spent a lot of time playing Jedi Outcast, which has some very similar levels in it.  It was challenging too, especially with the number of saber-bearing opponents to tackle.  It was also one of the only games I ever played online in Multiplayer mode.  That was a lot of fun.  Massive use of force powers, so you had people speeding about all over the place and the carnage was so much fun.  Force Jump made for fantastic aerial ambushes, and you never knew where someone was going to leap out at you from.  Hilarious.  It was a little difficult to control, especially at speed, but it wasn’t an insurmountable challenge, and I was seldom frustrated by the game on that front.  Graphically, it was decent enough to make it enjoyable, although certainly not my favourite game artistically.

Anyway, the choice.  The ultimate choice between the Light Side and the Dark Side comes quite late in the game, and it’s very difficult, but not for the same reasons as in Dragon Age.  There isn’t any real choice in your dialogue throughout the game, and so you don’t really get to declare yourself to be good or evil as you play.  However, you generally have some idea as you decide whether or not to take the time to hack apart the civilians in the bars or pushing people over cliffs.  Also, you can choose whether or not to take Light or Dark powers whenever you finish a level, so you definitely have a clear idea of where you stand by the final stages of the game.

You are given the choice to join the Dark Side, and then the screen pauses, waiting for you to decide, and you know what?  I have a really hard time with it.  It’s not because it is a particularly unsolvable dilemma like in Dragon Age, where even if you are a good character you don’t know what to choose.  If you’re a Jedi, you’ll stick with the Jedi.  If not, you’ll probably turn.  After all, there’s not much of an incentive to join the cause you’ve been destroying at every turn, except for the offer of power.  That one’s always tempting.  No, the reason that it is so difficult to decide what to do is because the Dark Side is so much FUN!

I play a good character most of the time.  I find it really difficult to be evil, and I’ve never completed an evil characters campaign when I’ve tried on Neverwinter Nights.  But when you haven’t really been overly drawn in to your character in Jedi Academy, you are so tempted to say, “Why not?  Let’s kill some Jedi!”  You may have been good, but there’s no punishment for turning, and you get to see the more interesting ending of things.  Also, Force Lightning is so cool.  Why was it not a Jedi power?  What did they have against electricity?  SO basically, the decision in Jedi Academy is so hard because good characters are essentially forced to choose between staying in character and playing it as an RPG, or breaking character and just having a good time messing everything up and becoming all powerful.  It’s such a strong temptation that I have a difficult time deciding every time.

The final boss for the Dark Side, by the way, is MUCH harder than the Light Side boss.  Two words: Kyle Katarn.  Longest boss battle ever.

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