EU Action/Reaction: Getting Ready for The Old Republic

weekly-column-v2Welcome to another installment of EUCantina's weekly opinion column, EU Action/Reaction! Each week, I tackle a specific Star Wars EU event that has garnered a significant reaction from Star Wars fans and offer my own view to further the discussion. Once you read the article, feel free to leave a comment and offer your own thoughts!

This week, I am really feeling the excitement for The Old Republic. I'm sure plenty of fans are eagerly awaiting the game, and I'm using this week's column to help fans old and new get acclimated to this new time period. Contrary to popular belief, we really don't need to wait for The Old Republic to launch before we dive into this exciting era of the Star Wars Expanded Universe.

The Old Republic is going to be pretty dang cool. Of that, I have little doubt. But I was skeptical at first, especially given how radically different the time period was. All of a sudden, both a Republic and an Empire existed, with the Jedi and Sith holding fast to a treaty that officially ended aggression between the two. It's as close to a reboot as you're likely to get in the Star Wars Expanded Universe for a while, and the mechanics behind this weird galactic state are to make everyone even. Between all the factions, all the classes, all have equal footing in the galaxy. Not only is that a classic design for the starting point of a video game, but it's also a surprisingly good jumping off point for storytelling. Believe me, I know how unapproachable this time period can be if you don't approach it tentatively. It seems easy enough to understand at first, but then phrases like "Treaty of Coruscant" start getting thrown around, and unanswered questions concerning just where the heck this Sith Empire came from begin to pop up, and suddenly the time period seems difficult to adjust to. Don't make that mistake! There is actually a lot of great material that has already been released, and it's all specifically designed to ease the transition of fans, both new and old, into this thrilling new era of the Expanded Universe. You don't need to browse Wookieepedia for a few hours; that'll just exacerbate the problem. Actually, there's a lot of content designed specifically for online access (and it's all free) that deal with just this purpose. And then there's the novels that have just kicked off, and even looking back to some slightly older video games, that will do a lot of good in helping to prepare you for The Old Republic. Don't be afraid, and don't hesitate any longer. If you want to get ready for The Old Republic, there's no better time than right now.

History Lessons from Master Gnost-Dural

Want some awesome history lessons that explain everything from the discovery of the Force to the Treaty of Coruscant? Well, look no further than Jedi Master Gnost-Dural's Galactic Timeline. Starting from the Treaty of Coruscant and working its way back through the even more ancient history of the Expanded Universe, Gnost-Dural begins to compile a record of the Star Wars universe to better understand the never-ending struggle between both the Jedi and Sith, and the Republic and Empire. Of course, that's just the in-universe reasoning. In all actuality, this timeline exists to help introduce fans to this time period. Narrated by Lance Henriksen (Bishop in the Alien films and Frank Black in Millennium), this is voice acting at its finest. BioWare's casting of Henriksen is nothing short of perfection, as his gravelly voice is a perfect match for a Kel Dor. It also shows the lengths to which the company will acquire star power for this major project, utilizing it in a way that adds (but doesn't overshadow) the final product. Of course, this Galactic Timeline isn't updated too often. It's been in existence for about two years now, and it's only halfway finished. It's been building slowly toward The Old Republic, and although the biggest reveals are yet to come, enough entries exist to make experiencing the timeline truly awesome. As of now, the timeline already extends to events that occurred before even Knights of the Old Republic, and Gnost-Dural provides some great insight into the events of the critically acclaimed game. And hey, if you've always wanted to learn about how the conflict between the Jedi and Sith first started, or how the first Republic was formed, or even how the Force was originally discovered... this timeline appears to be the first to reveal such huge bombshells. It's definitely something to watch in the coming months, but it's also something worth experiencing now. It will take just seconds to get sucked into this Holonet-style timeline, and it'll leave you yearning for more.

Master Gnost-Dural updates the Jedi Archives

Required Reading

Still looking for more TOR goodness? Well, the novels and comics are already clamoring to tell stories in this period that is ripe with potential. Take Sean Williams' The Old Republic: Fatal Alliance, which was just released in Summer 2010. It's the first TOR book (the next, a prequel called Deceived, will focus on Darth Malgus in the days leading up to the sacking of Coruscant), and it is an outstanding addition to the Expanded Universe. The novel, which has each of the game's possible character classes as a main character, really serves to tell a fairly straightforward story that I can easily imagine being a large quest in TOR. The characters are all true to form, but I found the biggest surprise to be the inclusion of Jedi Grandmaster Satele Shan, who also appears in the TOR webcomic and the actual game itself. It's nice to see such a tight cohesion across the storytelling mediums, especially given that a lot of TOR is likely to center around a small number of years at the beginning. The book is a great starting point for fans interested in the game or time period, and explains a lot without reading like a history book. Author Sean Williams is at his very best in this book, and it appeared in my list of Top 5 Best EU Additions in 2010, which should enough convincing for any skeptic!

The cover for Fatal Alliance

But hey, let's not forget the comics. While a TOR series is planned for the future, fans really get something nice with an online (and free!) comic. Called Threat of Peace, this webcomic takes place immediately after the events depicted in a certain super awesome trailer. Sure, Coruscant gets sacked and the Jedi Temple is destroyed. But what happens next? What do the Jedi do, and what do the Sith do from here? This webcomic jumps at the chance to give excited fans some answers. Along the way, you'll also get to see the Dark Council and a rather shocking appearance by the Emperor. Personally, I found the Sith portions far more intriguing than the Jedi parts, but I suppose that's due to my natural alignment to evil. The webcomic definitely comes recommended (come on, it's free!), and the artwork is quite impressive, so if you've got a half hour to kill and a slight curiosity about what the galaxy is like during this period of crazy upheaval, chances are good that you'll walk away impressed and looking for more.

Wait, What About Revan?

Back in September 2010, EUCantina uncovered a new trailer for The Old Republic that somehow got lost amidst the post-Celebration V news bonanza. It's quite a doozy too, and not just because it offers a great look at the game in action. You see, there have been a lot of unanswered questions from Knights of the Old Republic. The fate of Revan, surely, has been one of the biggest questions. Based on the latest trailer, entitled "Mysteries of the Knights," we look to get some answers. Yes, there is a mention of Revan's rebirth, which apparently takes place after the events of Knights of the Old Republic. We also get a glimpse of his infamous helmet. Oh, and it seems considerably likely that fan-favorite, HK-47, also makes a glorious return! While neither of the Knights of the Old Republic games will need to be played for the basic grasp of this timeline, especially given that this is as close to a reboot as the Expanded Universe is likely to see, it's clear that there will be quests in The Old Republic that will address some of the lingering questions from BioWare's first foray into the Star Wars universe. If you have the opportunity, play the KOTOR games! They're pretty dang cool. And for the fans that already have, I'd suggest brushing up on the games one last time. The timeline may be moving forward, but there will surely be countless throwbacks and nods to TOR's predecessors. So there you have it, my fantastic readers. I hope you're all eagerly awaiting The Old Republic as much as I am. It's a really interesting period in the Expanded Universe, and every time I delve into it, I am always shocked by just how amazing it feels to have that breath of fresh air. I'm of the opinion that it will, in effect, save the Expanded Universe. Not that it's in need of saving, but in that it provides a bastion of hope for both excited fans and those that have become jaded in recent years. It'll give us something to talk about for many years to come, if only we'll let it. So for those who haven't jumped in and experienced the first offerings of The Old Republic, I'd suggest doing it now before it's too late!

- Chris

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About the Author

Chris Carey contributes to EUCantina as a writer and editor. He pens our popular column, EU Action/Reaction, and also contributes to our novel and comic reviews. Chris joined EUCantina in 2010 to help edit articles, but it quickly became obvious that his writing skills needed a more visible platform. He currently resides in Maryland, and has a degree in journalism.