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So, let's just pretend I haven't not posted here in ages.  Still here.  Still playing SW:TOR.  Still writing...or trying to write...or something.

Brief non-spoilery sum-up: the romances in SW:TOR are kind of strange, some of the storylines have plans that really make no sense in them, both factions are evil as frak, and I still love the hell out of the game.  (Though I have a bit of a problem with the flat out black vs. black story.)

I have yet to meet all of the romancible characters (because I play at a leisurely rate.  very leisurely)  but there seems to be an abundance of sweet, slightly prickly young women with terrible pasts.  This is kind of odd.  Actually, the romance options don't seem entirely well thought out.  Your companions are all your subordinates, officially or otherwise, which means your romances aren't with equals.  Now, with the Smuggler and Bounty Hunter, they're really only your subordinates by choice and you only have very unofficial power.  On all the other classes, they're officially your subordinates.  Which is problematic.

Though not all of them feel like subordinates, even then - Kaliyo and Vector feel like the Agent's partners and Kira mostly feels like the Knight's partner.  (Vette also seems pretty partner/friend at least to a female Warrior.)  Unfortunately, others really, really do.

Also, some of the writing for the romancible characters just pings my "WTF" meter.

Raina Temple (one of the romance options for a male Agent) has some early flirty dialogue that just feels wrong (to me).  Instead of it seeming like she just instantly finds the Agent incredibly hot, it feels more like she just expects that the boss will want to sleep with her. Which is all sorts of NO and Do Not Want.  I'm probably misreading it, but still, I'm not sure you want a romance option that's open to that misreading.  (Also, there really is no romance option for a good male Agent, depending on how we're defining good.  Kaliyo is dark and creepy (and is a very plausible romance option for an evil male Agent, or, if only they'd add same sex relationship options, for an evil female Agent - there's enough subtext that she's bisexual that I think I could call it text) and Raina is (bizarrely) in love with the Empire (while, if one's playing good, one's not always going to be picking the most pro-Imperial of options - in fact you're arguably a traitor) and one of her companion story bits is just WTF: she's Force Sensitive, something her family hid.  To protect herself, she kills her own father.  If there's a way to talk her out of it, I sure couldn't find it.  Even though, as presented, we should've been able to rescue him.

Why is Vector the only non-evil companion for the Agent?  Why????  (After going through the companion stories, Kaliyo seems the second nicest of the companions.  Kaliyo.  The companion I figured should, logically, have stabbed my too-nice Agent in the back, on account of him being too nice. Little did I know.)  ...  I suppose that means there's no sensible romance option for an evil female agent.  (Barring them making Kaliyo a same-sex romance option.)

On the flip side, both of the Bounty Hunter romance interests don't seem like they'd make much sense for an evil Bounty Hunter - even though the story is one of the more inherently evil in the game.  Unlike the other class stories (at least as far as I've played them - I've still only finished two storys), you are forced into pretty directly evil acts as a Bounty Hunter.  (Because Star Wars has always mixed up being a Bounty Hunter with being an Assassin.)  Yet both Mako and Torian, despite being all about bounty hunting, come off pretty good seeming.  It's weird.

Finishing out the weird that I'm aware of Empire side (my Inquisitor is still on Dromund Kaas), there's the strange case of Malavi Quinn.  I'm not sure it even needs spoilering, since the internet pretty much went WTF!? the moment the first female Sith Warrior got to the point in their story in which they are betrayed by him.  Because it makes so much sense to give a traitorous companion to a Sith class.  I mean, Sith are just so well known for their forgiving natures.  They keep whole trophy rooms of the parts of people they've forgiven.  If those people are at all lucky, it was a part they didn't need.  (Or is that if they're unlucky? I get those confused when it comes to Sith.)

Then there's the Republic oddities.

Corso...  *sigh*  Oddly, trying to write an in-character-to-me Corso who would still seem in-character to people who like the character actually made me like the character a little better.  I still can't imagine my Smuggler getting jiggy with a guy who wants to take care of her  (No, so much no, there's not enough no in the galaxy no!  ... Though that might be a little of my own personal opinion of that sort of thing slipping in there.  Hem.) I can at least see why other people might find him an okay romance option.  And I sort of like him as a dippy farmboy now.  But... it still bothers me that the only romance option for a female Smuggler is a guy with an archaic sense of romance, who wants her to settle down on a farm with him.  As a romance option, fine.  As the romance option, it feels like the writers couldn't imagine a female Smuggler who was leading the life she wanted to lead and had no interest in giving it up.  (I cannot see Risha or Akavi being all "let me take care of you" and "lets settle down" with a male Smuggler.  Okay, Risha might make you king, but that's still a bit different. The Goddamned Zabrak Batman*?  No way in hell.)

Then there's the Jedi Knight.  Oh dear, the Jedi Knight.  I'm sort of entertained by Doc, when I don't want to see him kicked in the nuts by an entire parade of women.  I suspect he's far more entertaining if you don't romance him.  I'm not sure what possessed me to have my Knight flirt with him.  No, actually, part of the time one can read his cheesy pick up line and her responses as two people playing a game.  But there are times when he acts so dismissive of a friggin' Jedi Knight that it grates.  The cheesy lines are fine.  Even his arrogance is fine, up to a point.  After that point, it feels too much like an endorsement of treating women like crap.  (Again, my impression.)

And then there's kind of the overall problem with the two Jedi romances (especially male Jedi) and the Trooper romance - you are freaking romancing your subordinates!  Okay, it's Dark Side for the Jedi to romance people.  So there's that.  But the Trooper romance... I just don't know.  I like Elara as a character, but... it just feels like you're taking advantage of her situation a little.  On the other hand, she comes on to you, and it doesn't have the weird vibe I got from Raina coming on to my Agent.  I just don't know.  (I still don't like Aric very well as a character, but I want to punch him in the face a lot less now that I'm playing a male Trooper.  When I tried playing a female one, I felt HULK SMASH every time he opened his mouth.  I might feel less that way if I tried again, since his issues are not actually sexism.  He's just severely abrasive and bad with people. ... I suspect he's another character I'd like better if I tried to write him, but I don't have any particular urge there.  If they did ever show up in my fanfic, it would be as antagonists.  Not bad guys, mind, just... well, look logically at who I am writing about.  How else would it go?)

Okay, all my saved up "What?" regarding the romance options is out of my system.  On to the storylines.

I somehow still thought of Jedi as wise.  I've no idea how or why, since they've never been portrayed that way.  Then I played through Chapter Two on my Jedi Knight, headdesking all the way.  "We're gonna kidnap the Emperor!  And turn him Good! :D"  Yeah, nothing could possibly go wrong with that plan.  Never mind the weird things the Emperor's Wrath says to you.  Never mind that one guy's vision of the mission failing and you falling to the Dark Side.  Can't possibly fail.  Nope.

Spoiler: it fails.


I mean, it's kinda entertaining and all, but... really?  I was fine with the plan of Epic What!? in the Agent story because it felt very in-genre and totally the kind of plan you'd get in a Bond movie.  (Though I don't know how that plan would've sounded to someone playing a professional Agent or an evil Agent.  It might have the same sort of *head cock*  really, story?  Where's the more logical option?)  This just felt a bit wrong.  If they wanted to include Lord Scourge and they wanted the Jedi Knight to be the Empire's prisoner for a bit, have a good sensible heroic plan that goes horribly wrong and they get captured.  I guess that the plan is to kidnap the Emperor and turn him good (HOW??????) just doesn't quite feel right.  It's one thing to win over a Sith you're fighting or working with, but when you throw in kidnapping it gets all brainwashy.  (But the Republic would never do something like that.  Or take advantage of existing brainwashing and control codes. Never.)

Also, the Jedi Knight story introduces a plot point that's kind of a problem for the entire game: the Emperor wants to kill everything.  Yes, you read that right.  Everything.  All life in the galaxy.  So he can become more powerful.  Because...evil?  While most of the Empire has absolutely no idea of the Emperor's plan - no one's talked to him in a very long time and the Empire is really being run by the Dark Council - this rather nags at the back of one's head when playing Empire side, you know.

But that's okay, because if you run the Foundry flashpoint Empire side, you find out that Revan, with presumably the knowledge of at least the Jedi Order and possibly the Senate, plans to wipe out over 90% of the Imperial population.  Which kind of nags at the back of one's head when playing Republic side.

I get wanting the story to be gray vs. gray.  I really do.  But when one faction's leader wants to exterminate everything and the other faction has a plan to commit genocide, that's not gray vs. gray.  That's Black vs. Black.  How can I possibly want either of these sides to win?  Actually, worse, given that the Empire would not be on board with the Emperor's plan (no, not even the Dark Council), they nearly come out looking like the better side.  (I say nearly because the Dark Council is a bunch of evil, evil SIth and generally speaking the Empire is on board with a lot of really not okay shit.  And you do encounter high ranking Imperials with plans to commit genocide against non-humans.  So, nope, both sides are pretty much irrevocably evil.)

Everyone's story is basically a tragedy if you play them good.  They're helping an evil government with plans to commit mass murder and no matter how hard they work to temper the evil and to support the good, it's a drop in the bucket of Everyone In Power Is Evil.  And they don't even know.  And all those good people you meet on both sides are just as in the dark.  I think Bioware may have turned the Star Wars universe every bit as dark and messed up as the New Jedi Order stuff did.  Thanks, Bioware.

If I'm going to finish "Conflicts of Interest" and keep writing about Jezari and Kyrian and company, I'm going to have to not just depart the storylines as already planned, I've got to drag the whole freaking universe back to gray vs. gray.  Which basically means calling discontinuity on the Foundry (the Republic can be bad, but not that bad) and leaving everyone unaware of the Emperor's plan (which, canonically, they would be).  And, since we all know the Emperor didn't succeed...  Which leaves us where I thought we were originally: both sides have a severe problem with evil, and good people on both sides really should jump ship and wander around doing good.  (And I can't help being slightly amused that "wanders around doing good" is kind of the canonical end for the Smuggler and Agent classes.  Or a canonical end, anyway.)

*I suppose that should be explained.  When you first meet her, she does several Batman appear/disappears on you.  So I started calling her "The Zabrak Batman."  When I got her as a companion and discovered she was more than a bit dark, the Goddamned part got added.  Even if she's still far nicer than Frank Miller's creation.  Sorry, Akavi. ^_^;;;
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