Here we are, folks, the final Class Story critique!
The Imperial Agent is the second of two Imperial classes who many claim to have the best story in-game, the other of course being the Sith Warrior. It's my own personal favourite, but, looking at it analytically, does it also deserve its high pedestal?
Spoilers, spoilers everywhere (and not a drop to drink).
You arrive on Hutta and are tasked with ensuring that local Crime Lord, Nem'ro the Hutt, does a deal with the Empire and thus taking over control of his assets in the gas industry. To this effect, you have to snuggle up close to his personal advisors and make it look as if his rival, Fa'athra, is doing deals with the Republic and sabotaging Nem'ro's own assets. This is all under the moniker of the "Red Blade", a notorious pirate. After succesfully framing Fa'athra for the murder of one of the advisors, Nem'ro pledges himself to the Empire and your mission is deemed a success.
Upon travelling to Dromund Kaas, you meet with an imposing Sith individual named Darth Jadus. Imperial Intelligence, it is revealed, is mostly its own thing without much direct Sith meddlings; Jadus is unique in that he has an incredibly vested interest in Intelligence and what occurs, to the extent that he is fully-aware of your endeavours and personally congratulates you for them. He's also a Dark Council Member, one of the only two in the entire game you will meet in the first chapters. "Keeper", the man in charge of managing each operation, reveals that there is a branch of terrorists on Dromund Kaas, although their main objectives are initially unknown, so you're tasked with finding out what they are.
After discovering the existence of a cluster of bombs in the Dark Temple, you discover that the Dominator, Darth Jadus's personal flagship, has been destroyed. Jadus himself, and hundreds of soldiers, diplomats, citizens, and slaves onboard gave all perished, and the identified perpetrators are attempting to escape. When you sabotage their escape, a terrorist called "The Eagle" broadcasts a message celebrating the death of Jadus and promising incoming and monumental change to the Empire. With this threat established, you - as Jadus's chosen servant - are tasked with hunting down and eliminating all known cells.
Before you can start, though, you have to travel to Korriban to rendezvous with Jadus's daughter, Darth Zhorrid, who has assumed his position on the Dark Council. She tries to kill you but only to prove the loyalty of her servants and your suitability, effectively warning you to show the same loyalty to her as those who she had just commanded to kill you.
On Balmorra, you have to infiltrate a cell working to free a Gran codenamed "Gray Star" whilst also doing damage to Imperial operations. Gray Star is not, however, imprisoned by the Empire, but instead by the Republic. As part of this, you have to choose whether or not your true allegiance means doing damage to the Empire's buildings and other assets in order to be a convincing member of the Resistance. Annoyingly, none of the people you meet in this mission ever resurface, although there is at least some mention of Zenith in the Operation Summary Codex. Infiltration and being all "I'm on your side - not!" was a great choice for the first wider-galaxy quest as it reminds of your first mission on Hutta.
On Nar Shaddaa, you have to collaborate with a former Agent, "Watcher X", to stop the production of a stimulant named "Cyclone" which, whilst having the side-effect of eventually causing cellular decomposition, is providing temporary enhanced strength and combat proficiency for the Terrorists. You actually have to procure a sample for yourself in order to inject it into your body and find a cure that works, which goes to show the lengths to which you have to go to achieve success. As a part of your Nar Shaddaa mission, you are actually granted the ability to disguise yourself as a Droid for one mission and that one mission only. Sadly leaving Nar Shaddaa by any way (Warzone, Flashpoint, etc.) will cancel the disguise. Still, running around as a droid is pretty damn awesome. Watcher X ends up escaping following a power outage which you cause in your final mission, and you can choose to let him run or allow Intelligence to hunt him down.
Zhorrid contacts you after your completed mission, and orders you to return to the planet's surface and extract a man who helped design her father's projects, including the Dominator. After he is subdued, you can actually peruse through his files and get a full technical read-out of the Harrower-class Dreadnought which Jadus used as his flagship as well as something termed the "Eradicators". Upon delivering either the news of his death or the man himself to Zhorrid, she asks for advice for how to deal with the Dark Council, who never take her seriously. Seeing as she is essentially a spoiled brat with a tendency to lash out at every little thing that she perceives as wrong - being humble and deferring to receive a "blessing" will get you hastily expelled as if you had insulted her mother - you can't help but feel empathy with the Dark Council.
On Tatooine you have to contend with the marvellous "Ghost Cell", a squad of legendary and mysterious assassins. Indeed, they are so legendary that people doubt their existence. They're fascinating as they use "Holo-Shrouds" to disguise their members as someone else and even replicate their voice, to the extent that your helper, former Cell Operative Mia Hawkins, is tricked into accompanying an "Imperial Officer", who was actually the leader of the Cell, who then proceeds to flawlessly imitate you yourself. What is it with the Tatooine missions of the Warrior and Agent which means that they must have you conversing with yourself at various points? Regardless, going up against an already deeply established Cell is a fantastic experience compared to both Nar Shaddaa and Balmorra.
Your mission on Alderaan sees you working to stop the financier of the Terrorists, a seemingly independent man named Denri Ayl. You are allied with House Cortess and a group of native Killiks who communicate with you through Joiner Vector Hyllus. After discovering Ayl and killing him, you find a message from the Baroness of House Cortess, warning him of your impending arrival, and so you and the Killiks break into House Cortess and confront the Duchy. Despite the Duke actually ordering his wife killed by the captain of the guard, you can choose to allow the Killiks to Join Cortess rather than just leave them be. Vector supports you either which way.
With these done, you now only need to confront the Eagle, who is hiding out on Hutta. You learn just before this, however, that his network has control over the Eradicators, which are a host of Satellites positioned over key Imperial strongholds, designed to cause destruction and bring terror to the hearts of the civilians. Stopping him and destroying these satellites is therefore imperative. You confront and kill him, but before he dies the Eagle reveals that he has, for all this time, been working with a mysterious benefactor; this benefactor is promptly traced to an Imperial Harrower-class Dreadnought.
Upon arrival and successful infiltration, you find that the benefactor is none other than Darth Jadus, who had faked his own death above Dromund Kaas. He believes in uniting the Empire through terror, and that his return after the Eradicators' strike will be seen as triumphant and glorious. Here, you actually have multiple choices. You can either pretend to help Jadus, and secretly sabotage his ship before engaging him in combat and imprisoning him or just outright help him, even betraying Watcher Two's position in his hangar. The first option prevents the Eradicators from firing, and the second, of course, leads to their being fired and Jadus' plan being complete. If you do choose this option he actually sends you to kill his daughter. Not only is the twist of Jadus being alive fantastic but just the idea that there are so many different options for ending this first chapter is as well.
Chapter 2 sees you being sent back to Nar Shaddaa with the goal of infiltrating a band of SIS Operatives led by a powerful individual named Ardun Kothe. You rendezvous with a rather charming young man by the codename of "Hunter", who directs you to destroying an Imperial Droid Factory to prove your worth. This works and you are allowed to meet Kothe and your fellow operatives, "Wheel", "Saber", and "Chance". You are given the codename of "Legate", but then Kothe makes a startling revelation; through use of a single word, "Onamatophobia", you become completely subservient to any order which he and any member of the strike team wish. You are 'programmed' to not be able to reveal your brainwashing to anyone, even your own companions.
Your objective on Taris is to help the SIS Strike Team to recover something called the "Ultrawave Transmitter", designed by old hat Doctor Nasan Godera, which is capable of influencing Rakghouls. It has been captured by Dark Jedi Ki Sazen, hence why the Republic is involved. As part of this mission, you find yourself aiding "Chance" and working with a former Fixer named Eckard Lokin, who has just a thing or two to tell about Rakghouls. You discover than Doctor Ianna Cel, an NPC who gives a quest to Republic players, is being targeted by Sazen and her followers due to her knowledge about Rakghouls, and so Lokin volunteers to act as her assistant in order to get captured and reveal their base's location. "Chance" is wounded before this by Rakghouls and you have the chance to save him or let him die since he no longer has the strength to utter your trigger word. Sazen is stopped and the Transmitter delivered.
Following a conversation with Kothe, you hallucinate all sorts of crazy stuff happening on your ship; floating droids, Watcher Two and a fat man from Nar Shaddaa "soliciting" on your bed, and a Jurgoran just happily standing by your wardrobe. Standard stuff, you know? Watcher X communes with you via a spinal implant he personally installed way back when, and reveals that Brainwashing was an Imperial Science, so he sends you to Dromund Kaas to find out exactly what they used; the databases reveal that the "Castellan Restraints" had been used as a security means following your confrontation with the Dark Council member Jadus, and that a natural gas found on Quesh was used in the process. Rather than concoct an antidote, X suggests once more undergoing the process of the Restraints and countermanding the original programming. It takes time, though, so you're compromised when it's time to go to Hoth.
On Hoth, you have to recover an old ship from the belly of Star of Coruscant, but of course you don't know where it is to begin with. You are allied with the Chiss Ascendancy and a young woman, Raina Temple, who help you discover its location. The White Maw Pirates are also after the ship, and they are in league with an Imperial Admiral. The Admiral can at least be reasoned with but the Pirates have to die. After you deliver the ship to "Hunter", he programs you to remove Temple if she becomes a liability.
Kothe reveals to the team that both the Ultrawave Transmitter and the ancient shuttle house codes for the "Shadow Arsenal", a collection of weaponry designed by Nasan Godera. He certainly designed a lot of weapons before he abandoned the Republic. These missiles are, unfortunately, located on Quesh, so of course you have to return there and aid the team. Halfway through, the Restraints you began to go under last time you visited the planet are finally primed, so you and Watcher X together reprogram yourself to reject the original programming and finally free yourself from all future attempts to control you through brainwashing. You either kill or spare "Wheel" and "Saber", and then you confront Kothe, who in turn can either be killed or spared, but this has very interesting future connotations.
Just before you leave the facility, "Hunter" contacts you and expresses his admiration for having broken free of your programming, Not that it matters to him, as he's arranging to have the entire facility bombed and destroy an Imperial asset and, if he wasn't already dead, hopefully a crucial Republic one as well. With the revelation of a third faction working successfully against Imperial and Republic assets, and with no chance of a Republic alliance, Imperial Intelligence is on its own to combat this mysterious force.
You start your quest to hound Hunter's force by responding to a possible sighting of him. However, it transpires that he had led a group of armed militants to a Mining Colony, posed as Imperials, and massacred the inhabitants after a broadcast message of surrender was publicised. This, of course, makes it seem that the Empire was behind the massacre, which of course results in an outcry from the Republic.
Intelligence, meanwhile, has pinpointed something of import to the conspiracy on the planet Belsavis, and so you are sent to infiltrate the prison and find out what it is. You have to assemble a team of prisoners and break into a Megasecurity Ward, under the premise of uncovering treasure and riches beyond their wildest dreams. You are pitted against the SCORPIO Computer, which oversees all the Machinery of the planet. After successfully infiltrating the Ward, two members of your team "request" to be allowed to be let go to do as they wish, although you can persuade them to stay. You discover in the ward three imprisoned individuals who make contact with you via holo. They reveal that they are the Star Cabal, an organisation built to enjoy peace and prosperity without either Republic or Imperial interference. Since their time, however, the organisation has taken this simple objective and turned it into a violent vendetta. The SCORPIO Droid is actually one of their own designs, and she tries to kill you before being re-programmed to be bound to you, similar to Khem Val for Inquisitors.
Armed with this information of who you're fighting, you are dispatched to a space station where the organisation's holocommunication archives are. The file which the Watchers on Dromund Kaas discover has an elaborate trap built-in; a hidden loop detectable only by an advanced cybernetic brain, which is then completely overwhelmed by the trap. Unfortunately for Intelligence, the vat majority of Watchers, including the former Watcher Two (now Keeper), have such enhancements. With such dilapidation, you're left with only a few leads, such as one on the planet Voss.
On Voss, you're directed to meeting with a Voss named Bas-Ton at his tea-house. I personally wouldn't recommend it; the teacakes are disgusting and the less said about the lack of Earl Grey, the better. He, actually, is an Imperial citizen cosmetically re-purposed to look like the real Bas-Ton, who is probably dead somewhere. His family haven't noticed the difference, but perhaps the new Bas-Ton is better than the old. Anyway. This Bas-Ton himself ends up dead as Fa'athra the Hutt, alerted as your true identity by Hunter, has pursued you to Voss. After he is dealt with, you discover that the Voss are honouring something known as "The Prophecy of the Shining Man", himself a member of the Star Cabal. Because of his reverence, the Voss honour his every request, including one to never commit to an alliance with either Empire or Republic for 3,000 Days. This is the only time any individual discovers the true reason for the Voss continually deferring allying with either faction, and it's fascinating to finally know why.
With this task complete, the Star Cabal finally acknowledges how dangerous you are by shutting down Intelligence. Its Operatives are being drafted into the personal forces of Sith Lords, and you are assigned to a Kaleesh named Razer (as long as he doesn't have any controversial conflict with a tornado, he'll be fine) as a "Commander". You are, however, helped by a mysterious individual who eventually reveals herself to be allied with what's left of Intelligence. Keeper/Watcher Two establishes herself as being alive and well, and reveals that your assignment to Corellia was deliberate; the Cabal is pooling its final resources into its Corellian plan. They plan to keep the wealthy aristocracy from doing anything productive in order to help fuel the destruction of both Republic and Empire and emerge anew as the dominant power. By implanting false information and faking your death, you lead them into lowering their guard in the wrong places and bolstering it in others, allowing the Imperial forces to rout them from behind.
With the Cabal on the run, you are finally tasked with ending them. The key members have gathered, in-person and via-holo, on their space station and are preparing to make a full-blown retreat. After infiltrating the station, you kill two members of the Inner Circle, and pursue Hunter to a room housing an object known as the "Black Codex". This machine can literally erase a person's identity and create a whole other "person" to replace them. After you defeat him, Hunter revealed that this is exactly what was done to her; Hunter has, all this time, been a woman holo-shrouding as a man. I can guarantee that this is something not many people would have been anticipating, and it is a quite emotive twist and end to an otherwise detestable character.
You can have a myriad of endings at this point, like chapter 1, but here an additional ending only presents itself if you spared Ardun Kothe. Regardless of which ending you choose, a Sith Lord will appear. With Kothe dead, he and another Sith request the Codex for the Council, and they can be obliged or killed. With Kothe alive, he actually kills his fellow and mortally wounds the first Sith so that he warns you of the approaching Jedi. Kothe then requests the Codex for the Republic, a choice that actually leads to you changing factions altogether and working as a double-agent again. The alternative to both of these options is the same; taking the Codex for yourself and giving it to the Minister of Intelligence (the Keeper of the Prologue and Chapter 1). Whilst I said that the Smuggler was the only story to have wholly different individuals depending on certain choices, the Agent's story comes incredibly close to being the Imperial equivalent.
The Agent's story, as I said in the initial blurb, has been my own personal favourite story. The second chapter is one of the strongest - if not the strongest - such chapter as a whole in the entire game, and the pure "unknown" factor after defeating the Eagle and escaping the Shadow Collective facility both make for fantastic lead-ins to the conclusion of chapter 1 and the entirety of chapter 3 as a whole.
The insights you receive make this story fascinating in its own right as well; only in this story do we see how the Empire truly functions away from the Sith's prying eyes, and even then the Sith are still everywhere. Of course the revelations regarding Voss are also wholly unique to this story and help us understand a monumental deal about that planet and its political quagmire.
All-in-all, I definitely do agree with the precedent which states that the Agent has one of the best stories of the entire game.
I hope you guys enjoyed these critiques of the various class stories. They've been fun to write, and I hope they've been interesting to read.
I'm not quite done being all-analytical yet; I still have one more analysing article planned, and it's one that doesn't have anything to do with class stories. You'll see what I mean come Friday.