Everything ties back to Malachor V. (No but actually… almost literally everything in this game.) This was one of the planets where the addition of the restored material was most evident and most appreciated. The planet’s always felt so… abrupt. You’re dumped on its surface by yourself and while the restored content still does that, it does ease you in a little with the Exile hearing the thoughts of her companions that lead them all to Malachor.
In a way, it makes you feel a little more like the Exile. The game’s told us how she forms bonds with others and grows strong from those bonds. Being painfully separated from other party members feels like a deliberate choice by the game creators. Or maybe I’m just a sucker who loves my crew. You can’t get back on the Ebon Hawk and none of your crew is anywhere to be seen so you have no choice but to fight your way into the depths of Malachor V where Sion and Kreia are waiting.
Meanwhile, your crew isn’t just sitting idly thanks to the glorious restored cut content. Kreia has brought freaking Hanharr to Malchor V to hunt and kill Mira. She (obviously) defeats him and spares his life in return for him leading her to Kreia so that she, Disciple, Visas, and Atton can make their move against Kreia. After all, four Jedi must surely be able to beat one Sith. Spoiler: they don’t. Instead three of them (and a surprise Mandalore) get defeated and tossed in the cells while Atton runs away and straight into Darth Sion. Apparently, there’s a chance that he could have died in this part of the game if my fantastic tactic of ‘run away and throw your lightsaber a lot’ hadn’t worked. I’ve heard some of the ‘Atton’s dying’ dialogue and I don’t think my heart could have taken it.
Meanwhile, Bao-Dur’s little sphere whizzes around the surface and uploads some programing into some of the crashed ships so they’ll blow up and undo what he did to the planet all those years ago. It goes great until it activates the last one and G0-T0 appears with every intention of stopping the little ball. This, I’d like to note, is where the game originally left it but with the addition of the cut content and HK-47 being the new Droid Jesus… there’s more! Now HK-47 storms in to stop The Fat One with his HK-51 Disciples, leaving the sphere free to complete its mission. Yay?
Once you make it into the Trayus Academy, (real inventive, Darth Traya,) you have to basically slaughter your way through dozens of Sith. Even though I’m a light sider, my tactic of choice here is Force Storming the crap out of everyone so it doesn’t take all day to fight through three different sections of the Academy. Thankfully, this also leads to a restored part of the game that I’m grateful for: rescuing your friends. Kreia/Traya’s voiceover says that the Exile will have to choose between rescuing her friends or confronting her straight away. For me? It’s not even a choice. Obviously I rescue my crew because I’m not a horrible person. The Exile asks Mandalore to lead her friends to safety and he reluctantly agrees. The biggest bummer here is that you don’t get to talk to all of them one last time.
From there… you have two more Sith Lords to confront. Sion is… strange. He has a fixation on the female Exile and it’s creepy. He also will.not.freaking.die. It takes maybe three times of dragging him all the way down to almost dead before he finally gives up and lets you go on to fight Kreia. Related to this, he seems to not only have this fixation but to also want to kill you to spare you from… Kreia killing you? Sith just Don’t Make Sense.
And now at last… the final confrontation with Kreia. All of this helps contribute to why I think Kreia may be one of if not the best villain in Star Wars. She hates the Force and wants to destroy it but she still has found a way to use it even after it was stripped from her. The Exile is a wound in the Force and Kreia finds that beautiful and loves her. It’s complicated and a mess and everything isn’t just black and white. It’s part of why so much of Kreia’s dialogue in the game has such an impact. (“It’s such a quiet thing to fall” is one of my personal favorites.) Kreia and her three floating lightsabers take some time to defeat and it’s weird fighting disembodied lightsabers but it’s doable and she grants you one last favor before she dies. She looks into the future of our companions to see where the galaxy will take some of them. Interestingly enough, she makes a reference to Mira’s real father and now I really want to know who the heck that is! Typically, she ignores Atton and calls him a fool. And then the final Sith dies.
It’s all over. Finally. Except it isn’t because now the Exile is going to go after Revan into the Unknown Regions to fight whatever this real war is because she’s a hero too and that’s what heroes do damnit! She’s not quite the same as Revan though… she takes someone with her. Atton decides to come along and it makes me very very happy.
And now that’s it. For real this time. Some of you might have seen my tweets but the Restored Content really does add a lot to a game that I already loved. There’s something about how it flows and how little added lines of dialogue here and there can flesh out the characters more. It’s a damn shame that the game didn’t have this treatment from Day 1. It deserved it. I cannot recommend enough that people play this game with the mod installed. It’s 100% worth it. The folks who dedicated their time and energy to the mod are actual heroes. Kudos to them.
This also brings us to the end of this entire HK Excursion. This was definitely one of my longer retrospective projects due partially to Celebration and also to procrastinating on figuring out how to livestream gameplay. (Spoilers: I never did.) I’m happy to say that I loved the comics and the games just as much as the first time I experienced them and that playing Mass Effect so recently didn’t drag down my enjoyment of the game play as much as I’d expected. They’re older games for sure but the story most definitely makes them continue to be worth your time.
It’s been a fun ride, KOTOR. I’ll see you later. Maybe in the Unknown Regions.