Hoth is a cold, harsh mistress. Beautiful but unforgiving, it's a place of dead ships, betrayal and stark beauty. I loved it. The planet is also huge, by far the biggest I have yet visited in the game, with large open areas and tight, winding canyons. Graphically it looks superb and very evocative of the Hoth seen in The Empire Strikes Back. Like Tatooine the world builders have managed to conjure up quite a bit of variety from what could have ended up as a plain white wasteland.
The storyline was a lot of fun and changed up the recent Republic versus Empire stories of recent planets. The main enemy on Hoth is actually a faction of pirates known as the White Maw, and they have their own internal power struggles that powers along the stories. At one point I even teamed up with some Imperial NPCs in order to capture a White Maw base, though of course it all ended with the expected double-cross.
The real star of Hoth for me was Merec's class story. Still working as a privateer for the Republic I had to infiltrate the White Maw and discover and take control of their secret cloaking system that they are using to bypass Republic and Imperial fleets. The Republic wants the cloaking system so that they can evade the Sith.
The smuggler story on Hoth is really fun, first of all going under cover and infiltrating the White Maw, then getting involved in their internal power struggles and playing them off against each other, and finally finding out the true nature of the cloaking device (which is a brilliant twist that offers up a really difficult decision). By the end of it neither Merec nor the Republic nor the Empire had control of the device, but Merec did have a new band of pirates answering to him.
Along the way Merec had a romantic liaison with a powerful Republic senator (much to Risha's annoyance) and picked up my final companion, a work of genius characterisation called Guss Tuno. Guss is a Mon Calamari (think Admiral Ackbar). He's also a failed Jedi Knight, a liar, a sneak, a backstabbing two-faced worm and very, very funny. Even his little comments as you run round the world or click on him are amusing.
The voice actor, Gary Schwartz, does a great job, turning simple lines like "I healed you with my Jedi power!" into funny asides. Guss made me laugh out loud several times. In fact there are loads of funny lines in the Smuggler's story on Hoth, it was definitely one of the best planets for the class story so far.
I found a couple more datacrons, one of which required some well timed leaps between moving packing crates as they were being crane-lifted. Needless to say I managed to miss my final jump and ended up getting defeated by an upset elite mob I landed near.
Having said all that, there were a couple of slight issues I had with the planet. Nothing terribly immersion breaking, but rather a missed opportunity and a slight irritation. I found it odd that the taxis were regular speeders and that Bioware hadn't taken the opportunity to use snow speeder style vehicles like those seen in Empire. The models are there as there is one on the ground near Aurek Base. The other issue I had was with the music. Whilst as fantastically composed and produced as all the music in the game, I felt that it really did not match the scenery or atmosphere of the planet and would have been better used somewhere like Tython.
Overall I had a great time on Hoth, and I managed to finish up Chapter 2 of my class story as well (more on that in a future post). I'm now looking forwards to taking Merec to Belsavis, after a quick trip to Alderaan to finish up the bonus quest series there.
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