Spoilers spoil things.
You may recall that in my Consular review I glossed over the Knight's prologue on Tython as "too big for its britches". This is primarily due to the fact that they both downplay the severity of the threat you face and make it seem incredibly serious in its own right. This story has you chasing down a Dark Jedi on Tython before he helps the native Flesh Raiders to destroy the Jedi Order.
So here we have the first problem. Dark Jedi are on Tython, the ancestral Jedi planet which they retreat to after Coruscant's temple was destroyed, and very few Jedi Masters seem to even be aware of how dangerous and potentially subversive this is. Those who are aware don't, for the most part, give two hoots. Not only can Dark Jedi impress the native Flesh Raiders who hate the Jedi and want to kill them, but they can also rationalise their reasons for leaving the Order to impressionable young students. Indeed, there are two Dark Jedi on Tython and one of them is an impressionable young student who follows the other due to promises of power. They're not only impressing the Flesh Raiders, but they're training them in the Force and making them veritable, albeit flesh and fat, warriors. You'd think that with such stakes, the Jedi Council would treat this with all seriousness?
Annoyingly, they don't. They do state that a good number of the Council are off-world, but even then there are still numerous Councillors and even more Jedi Masters on the vast world of Tython, and all they can spare are two Councillors - Bela Kiwiiks and Orgus Din - and their impressionable young apprentices - and a quirky astromech by the name of T7-01 - to combat this actually very severe threat? This is the existence of the entire Order at stake; you might think the Council would install their Red Alert bulb! Be aware also that the Dark Jedi at the end of this planet quest is your master Orgus Din's former apprentice, Bengel Morr, whom he fears to have died on Coruscant and is out for revenge; he's not exactly going to be that effective as a Jedi when his fears come into play, are they? Also bear in mind that you're facing down Jedi with actual lightsabers with a vibroblade and, as a result, the odds of you coming out on top are such that Han Solo would berate you for even mentioning them. Of course, you do end up defeating the Dark Jedi and saving the Order.
Moving on to Coruscant, the scale of things doesn't exactly change. Again you're dealing with entire world-threatening affairs; this time it's a special "Ion planet prison" which nullifies all transports entering and leaving, and it's been stolen from its inventor's laboratory and you must stop it from being activated. Again, rather than have more specially-trained agents go after it - why aren't General Garza and Havoc Squad alerted to this? - you're sent to find it. Some credit to this, though, at least there are actual Republic officials guiding you constantly, such as a special SIS Operative and General Var Suthra. You also have Orgus Din and Bela Kiwiiks from Tython. Maybe not given the sincerity it deserves, but at least it's actually treated with a decent level of respect.
So after stopping small initiatives such as a crazed Rodian techie, two things become apparent: first, the Planet Prison is being held in the destroyed Jedi Temple, and second, that files on nearly every single Republic superweapon have been stolen, so the two Jedi and Agent Galen take off to other worlds to find them. It's your job, therefore, to find the Planet Prison and shut it down in turn. You discover whilst doing so that its inventor, Doctor Tarnis, is actually a Sith Lord. You face him when he's in holo-contact with his father, Darth Angral, and three of his apprentices, and when you kill him he swears revenge on you. Although you rejoice, it soon becomes apparent that you, T7, and Bela Kiwiik's padawan Kira Carsen, must locate the two Jedi and Galen, as contact from them mysteriously ceases. The superweapons are therefore at an incredible risk with no protectors.
After going to Ord Mantell after tracing Tarnis' holo-call to his father, you realise that Angral is planning to use all of the secret Republic weapons to his own end. In spite of this danger, you are first redirected to Taris, which - in spite of everything going for it - actually doesn't have a superweapon attached. It has a dangerous reactor which will apparently cause major planetary damage if destroyed and of course there are the Rakghouls, but it doesn't have a superweapon. Logic. Instead, you're after the Doctor who invented these weapons, Nasen Godera, in an attempt to extract him before the Imperials get to him. Of course, the Imperials have got to him and you must chase them down and rescue him. Godera has, as a result of being asked to design these weapons, begun to resent the Republic but still has every respect for the Jedi, so you invigorate him to begin working for the Republic again in order to help destroy the weapons he created; something which he is all too eager to do. Godera is actually quite an interesting character, simply because of his simultaneous respect for the Jedi and distrust of the Republic. I guess having two stories deal with high-end Republic traitors was too much, but he's still undoubtedly a fantastic character to meet and contend with.
After both of these excursions, you're finally tracking down the superweapons. Nar Shaddaa's isn't an actual "weapon" as such, but it is a deadly initiative which grafts cybernetic upgrade after cybernetic upgrade onto the subject's body, transforming them from meagre human to all-powerful "Power Guard". It also causes you to increase a maximum of two body sizes, as Lord Sadic - one of Angral's apprentices - shows when he becomes body type 3 despite having started as body type 1. Are you tired of always being deemed too scrawny? Sign up for the Power Guard program! We guarantee that you won't be disappointed with the results (side-effects may include being ostracised from all sensible establishments and having your limbs controlled by an external and evil source). Agent Galen is also one of these Power Guards, although he manages to break his cybernetic programming with your help and in turn aids you in defeating Sadic and shutting down the Power Guards on Nar Shaddaa.
However, despite the fact that Orgus Din and Bela Kiwiiks are still missing and in peril, you and Kira Carsen ignore their desperate needs for help due to an out-of-the-blue distress signal which turns out to be a trap for Kira. You are confronted by someone who keeps on referring to himself and Carsen as "family", although she vehemently denies it, and the truth comes out: Carsen and this Valis are both Children of the Emperor. You both defeat this slimy guy and go and tell the Council about Carsen's past and about the Children of the Emperor.
Wait. This takes place in chapter 1 but after chapter 2 when the Consular highlights the existence of the Children of the Emperor, it's rebuffed with a simple exclamation that the Council doesn't know a great deal about the Children? I know BioWare are big on not canonising choices in the storyline, but this discrepancy would be best avoided if Carsen had no choice but to explain herself; at least that way the Council would definitively say "We know of a Child who has proved her worth and so we have an actual eyewitness for how they work" and actually help the Consular in this matter. Heck, the Children aren't even knowingly recorded in a Holocron until the Consular's Rishi quest! All in all, the synthesis between these two classes really hasn't proved the best, but that's a minor point.
So after this minor trip which would actually be fairly lengthy in real life (explaining psychology and your past doesn't take five minutes), you're back to finding Din and Kiwiiks. The latter is on Tatooine and the former on Alderaan, so of course you rescue Bela Kiwiiks first. Again, Tatooine's "weapon" isn't so much a weapon but a defense initiative more than anything. It's a "Shock Drum" which causes vibrations which increase in magnitude until eventually the planet itself disintegrates. Angral's Sith Apprentice here, Lord Praven, challenges you to a duel to discover the location of the Drum and save Kiwiiks. Praven is an absolutely beautiful Sith character. Not in terms of looks but in theory; he actually respects honour. He doesn't just cheat nor does he lash out when he knows he has been defeated, but he willingly backs down and you can even convince him to turn to the Light side rather than just outright kill him. After being the bruiser for the majority of this story, it's nice to finally get a minor "Jedi!" moment. You save Kiwiiks and destroy the Shock Drum.
Alderaan actually has a weapon! This "Death Mark" is an orbital laser which can fire through walls and apparently leave no marks on anything except those who are targeted. The targeting beacon can only be placed when you're nearby to someone, so of course you're falsely accused of being the guilty party when it was actually someone else in the room who themselves is actually doing the accusing. This guilty party is actually an accomplice to the Sith Apprentice of Angral, Lord Nefarid, and her actions reflect the message of the Consular's story; that internal affairs are sometimes the reason for planetary destruction and chaos, not simply external affairs. In this case, she attempts to disrupt peace talks between Thul and Organa by having the Republic superweapon target a Thul nobleman, which would reflect badly on the Republic and, more importantly, Organa, as it would make it seem that Organa had used the talks simply as a means to earn Thul's trust and expose them as a target. After you convince the Thul nobleman that she is guilty and she is eventually handed over to House Organa, you locate Nefarid, who shows you an unpleasant broadcasting. Darth Angral has defeated Orgus Din - who actually wasn't in that great trouble on Alderaan itself and promptly left to encounter the Sith - and kills him as you watch. You defeat Nefarid whilst avoiding the Death Mark and of course destroy it.
You then travel to Angral's ship, but not before discovering that his ship has mounted a combination of the Death Mark and Planet Prison technologies which can render a living planet completely barren. This "Desolator", therefore, becomes the staging ground for the climactic final duel between you, Carsen, and Angral. However, a fourth party intervenes: The Emperor. Taking over the body of Kira Carsen - which actually, is pretty creepy - you are forced to fight her after Angral is killed. She, through the power of
Much like the Trooper, the Knight's second chapter begins with a rescue on Tatooine. You even go to the same caves to find their clearings! After saving the Jedi from the Imperials who are of course on his heels, you are invited by Master Tol Braga - an actual Kel Dor in a class mission! - to join an Elite Strike Team which he is in the midst of constructing with one simple, clear-cut goal in mind: capturing and forcing the Emperor to abandon the Dark Side of the Force and embrace the Light.
The second chapter sees you help the other two members of this Elite Strike Team, Warren Sedoru and Leeha Narezz, with their own initiatives. Sedoru is on Balmorra trying to locate cloaking technology which they can use for the Elite Strike Team's Elite Strike Ship which is similar in nature to the cloaking technologies used by the Emperor's Space Station. Narezz is on Hoth, attempting to find an elite Imperial Shuttle which belongs to the Imperial Guard so that they can then use the on-board databanks in order to help them understand Imperial technologies and essentially bypass systems on the Space Station.
The Knight also actually gets an interesting story on Quesh. In fact, I'd say it's the only time Quesh is more interesting than either of the two planets which surround it. You go to the aid of a former Dark Councillor, Sajar, who was persuaded by Tol Braga to abandon the Dark Side of the Force and embrace the Light. At least we know that Tol Braga has a precedent for believing his goal to be possible. Here, you meet the Emperor's Wrath, Lord Scourge, who has been sent by the Emperor - who seems very slow at understanding just at what point arranged assassinations are a sensible idea - to kill Sajar. As soon as he sees you, though, Scourge just checks out and walks away nonchalantly without killing anyone. Sajar is meanwhile sent to Tython and is never seen again. This is actually interesting as it presents different ideals, particularly of Sajar and an early Scourge, and actually presents some credence to Braga's plan.
That said, there is actually another precedent to Braga's mission...
Before The Old Republic was released, there was an entire series of audio narrations detailing the events across the galaxy before the starting point of the game. These varied from hundreds of years before to a couple of years before. One of these such narrations actually reveals how two powerful Light Side adherents discovered the fledgling Empire and go to confront the Emperor, hoping to destroy him and end the growing threat. He defeats them and bends their wills to the Dark Side of the Force, sending them out as agents of evil and exacerbating an already out-of-control conflict. These two warriors have gone down in history as Darth Malak and Darth Revan. You may have heard of them.
I won't go off into why a lot of KOTOR fans dislike this particular revelation in this review (but I do have plans to touch on it), but these audio narrations aren't just for the audience to enjoy. They were actually read from an in-universe perspective by Archivist Gnost-Dural, another Kel Dor and someone who I believe is well overdue an appearance in-game. This means that there is a recorded precedent of people going to face the Emperor and coming away agents of the Dark Side. Nobody ever mentions this. All doubt that is ever presented is in the form of a vision which the Jedi you rescued has which shows you bowing before the Emperor. Not a single member of the Council, not even Satele Shan, raises the point of Malak and Revan having this fate befall them, and given how famous they are both in-universe and out I don't see how this hasn't crossed anyone's little brain in-game. Granted, I am looking at this from an out-of-universe perspective for the most part, and if there wasn't an in-universe recording of Revan and Malak's fall, then perhaps I would let this slide. For the sake of the review, though, I move on. Additionally, having this precedent makes what happens nowhere near as grandiose as it deserves to be.
So your Elite Strike Team uses the Elite Strike Ship to enter the station and eventually come across the Emperor. After defeating Lord Scourge, you all charge the Emperor, only for him to simply immobilise the team with lightning and bend their wills to the Dark Side of the Force. Sadly, you only get to see cutscenes of your character doing "evil!" things. You don't get any conversations until after the spirit of Orgus Din snaps you out of it, and I think that this is a massive wasted opportunity. Having dialogue with only Dark Side options would actually have been fairly epic; whilst I don't see anyone liking this, it would actually be representative of exactly what your characters are going through and thus helps you empathise with them. As it is, though, you just see your character doing evil things and actually are distanced by quite some way.
You find that Scourge is actually waiting for you in the hangar, having freed your companions, and requests to be brought to the Council, stating that he has important information which would save the galaxy. Indeed, it is revealed that the Emperor is planning to consume the entire galaxy in a ritual which would give him immortality - another event which has a precedent in out-of-universe sources; how many of these things are there? - and so you're off to stop the Emperor's vile schemes.
Chapter 3 returns to the overly large-scale format. This time, however, it is justified as you are the only known Jedi Knight to be able to resist the Emperor's control, and so to send anyone else might prove extremely detrimental. Chapter 3 for the Knight also balances in ideals alongside actions and is rather good fun in general.
The Emperor's plan on Belsavis involves an entire Death Cult destroying the entire planet. Destroying a planet of convicts is actually a very interesting choice, but it does make sense as he can at least be sure of the number of victims on the world. Hearing "Executor" pronounced like "Executive" - particularly as the Imperials who pronounce it more than the Republic are British - is the only real annoyance I remember from this planet, but that's an extremely minor nitpick. Otherwise, you feel pressured to race to the finish as the pressure itself escalates the closer you get to doomsday. The final story mission on Belsavis for the Knight is the only one which actually has a timer, if I recall correctly. You have four minutes to defeat Executor Krannus - who is a Champion with rather a lot of HP - and deactivate his room-spanning technology which would result in the planet's destruction. I must admit that I found the idea of a "Death Cult" absolutely fascinating. Bearing in mind the Emperor's plan, he definitely chose his minions for this mission well!
After Belsavis, you discover that "Hapless Jedi" from chapter 2 has been captured by Leeha Narezz who is keeping him aboard another space station. I must admit that I do love how the Elite Strike Team's Elite Strike Members are, despite being agents of evil, completely separate from the Emperor's larger plans - apart from Tol Braga but we'll get to him. Having other teams and individuals working on the grand plan really does emphasise the scale and long-standing nature of the plan which the Emperor is finally putting into effect, and as a result it doesn't feel rushed at all. Oh, Narezz and Hapless Jedi had some love affair. Drama!
Voss sees you helping a widowed Voss Commando and tracking down a Sith Lord by the name of Fulminiss who is in cohorts with an ancient Dark Side Entity who lives in the heart of Voss by the name of Sel-Makor. Without certain other factors in mind, it does seem strange how we go from planetary destruction to just spreading corruption of a Dark Side Entity, but again it emphasises the dangers of internal conflict. The Voss Commando actually ends up sacrificing herself at the end to vanquish Sel-Makor, and this would have some lasting effect with regards to peace once the corrupted influence finally dissipates from the planet. It's a beautiful ending on such a visually repulsive part of the planet.
After this, you go and rescue a Republic admiral from the clutches of Warren Sedoru, and move on to Corellia, which is once more a hub for planetary destruction. Such tools at the Emperor's mercy include armed forces, special turrets, and an Imperial Battle Cruiser. Exciting stuff. The starting mission to this planet, though, is one of the most amazing spectacles possible, especially if you go Light Side from day 1. You are re-united with a Bith Jedi you saved from the first Dark Jedi way back when on Tython, Bengel Morr,
So, let's talk about Tol Braga. Narezz and Sedoru are both kept under the Emperor's influence and defeating them breaks them out of it - although Sedoru proceeds to go slightly insane. Tol Braga, on the other hand, is not under the Emperor's influence. His extreme naivety in believing that he could take down the Emperor actually led to his resolve being broken the minute he realised just to what extent he had underestimated him. As a result, he is actually free from the Emperor but still acts in his name, since he believes that nobody will be able to defeat him. It isn't a statement of defiance; it's a statement of defeat and despair. It's a shame very few - if any - other characters go through this sort of development, as it makes for a remarkable character at the end.
So once Corellia is safe, you actually go to Dromund Kaas to confront the Emperor. You have to take T7, although there is a puzzle in the Temple itself which rewards you with a couple of pieces of gear for him when properly completed, as you are both the only characters over whom the Emperor can never have any influence. Good fortune that we happen to receive a Droid, but I digress. You confront the Emperor, who gives an epic speech of defiance, and duel him until he is forced against the stairs and seemingly dies. You are proclaimed a hero, however, Carsen's companion story reveals that the Emperor's Children are still hearing his voice, but how could that be possible if he was dead..?
In between chapters 2 and 3, the Knight actually has access to three holo-recordings recorded for him by none other than Bengel Morr. They can be accessed at any time after chapter 2 in the rear of the Defender. This class is the only class to get these sort of recordings, and I think that that is a shame, although I do like that it gives the Knight an unprecedented uniqueness in this regard. Having a face from your character's past contact you also happens in the Trooper and Smuggler stories, of course, although they're both done as part of the story and once done can never be seen again. Here, you can play all three messages until kingdom come if you wish, and it's fantastic to be able to constantly reflect in this way.
Despite not having the most coherent of starts, the Knight story definitely has its epic moments. It's the only Republic class to have a truly solid third chapter, although whilst it does also have a good first chapter, the second chapter does slightly collapse but that's only if you're aware of certain other factors. With those out of the way, I can see chapter 2 being regarded as coherent as the other two chapters.
I do have to say that I do agree with the claims that the Knight has the best Republic story. Maybe it's because it's so undeniably "Star Wars"; indeed, you can draw more than a few parallels between the story of the Hero of Tython and that of Luke Skywalker. Regardless, it is very enjoyable and definitely worth sitting through.