For the first of my (hopefully) many of my retrospectives, I’ve decided to look back at Star Wars video games, in and outside of Lucasarts. It was recently closed, yes, which may actually have been a good decision, if I hadn’t been so excited for 1313. But there is a lot of great Star Wars content out there, if you’re a gamer like me, and now, with EA, there’s potential for a lot more. Basically, for this retrospective, I’m just going to be putting together a list of my five favorite Star Wars games, and why they’re my favorites.
5. The Force Unleashed
I remember when I first watched the trailer for The Force Unleashed, I though “Wow, this game looks insane!”. And, quite frankly, it was. Sure, in theory, any force user should be able to do the things that Starkiller (or Galen Marek, if you prefer his real name) does, but they don’t, and he does, so it was a lot of fun. I mean, you could use force lightning to kill Rancors! How could that not be fun? Sure, some elements of gameplay (like the boss fights) were lacking, but it was more than made up for by the games length and narrative. Unlike the second installment in this series, The Force Unleashed had a fairly lengthy campaign, over a multitude of environments. Even though it was a linear game, the planets were fun to explore, mostly because they just looked great. The campaign also had a pretty great story, in an era that we don’t see a lot of content from. The origin story, if you will, of the rebel alliance was intriguing, and seeing Starkiller transform from a ruthless killer to a Jedi was great, and was done extremely well.
4. Battlefront II
The first Battlefront was a great game, but the Battlefront II took everything that was good about the original game, and either added to it or made it better. Core gameplay mechanics remained similar – the objective was to take out the opposing army and capture the command posts. This made for a lot of fun, especially when playing with friends. The game was built for multiplayer, as the massive teams of NPC’s provided perfect environments for human players to battle it out with each other. On top of that, the maps are amazingly well done. Each planet has a few different maps, that range from open outdoor maps to tight indoor maps. This, coupled with the class system, allows for a variety of gameplay styles. Some maps are perfect for close quarters fighting, others for intense firefights, and still others are excellent for vehicle usage. And then, of course, there’s space combat, which is a lot of fun. Even the single player is a lot of fun, and it has a decent story that could have been better, but was (and is) surprisingly good.
3. Empire at War
I’m a big fan of the RTS genre. I love the more complex games, like Age of Empires and Starcraft, but my first exposure was with this simple, yet fun, Star Wars RTS. It doesn’t require to build your own base, or to gather resources, per se, but that doesn’t make it a bad game. In fact, I love it because of it’s relative simplicity. However, that simplicity doesn’t last once you get into Galactic Conquest, and are provided with an entire galaxy of planets in which to battle. This is where most of the game’s fun comes from, as you invade planets and defend your own planets from invading forces. The units are great as well, ranging from recognizable vehicles like the AT-AT and the T-14 airspeeder to the not as well known TIE Maulers and the T2B tanks. The land combat is a lot of fun, yes, and varying environments provide different experiences, but the best part of the game is the space battles. Yes, I love the slower paced land battles, especially building resources and a military, but the fast paced space battles are a lot of fun. They don’t require a lot of resource building, meaning that you just drop a fleet out of Hyperspace and relentlessly attack your opposition’s forces. It’s a lot of fun.
2. Knights of the Old Republic
Obviously, KotOR had to be on this list. It’s a sprawling epic that takes place in an era of the Star Wars universe that, at the time, hadn’t been explored. The RPG gameplay mechanics are some of the best I have ever seen, barring only Bioware’s Mass Effect games. The game is fun, and the only fault with it’s gameplay is the slow combat system, which is turn based. I mean, i mostly enjoy I just feel it interrupts the gameplay a little more than it should. But the game isn’t built around the gameplay, really. Yes, it’s a fun experience, but what makes Knights of the Old Republic so awesome is it’s characters and story. It introduces some of the characters that shaped the Star Wars universe, like Bastilla Shan, to give but one example. The characters are awesome, and nearly every character that actually has a major role to play is written very well, and is a lot of fun to interact with. But it’s a plot based story, and the game certainly excels at creating an excellent plot, starting on Taris and then building to the climactic final act.
1. Republic Commando
A tactical shooter revolving around the best clone troopers in the Grand Army of the Republic, Republic Commando is my personal favorite Star Wars game. It’s an excellent first person shooter, and holds up against many other FPS’s of the time. The gameplay is standard first person shooter gameplay, except you can carry a seemingly unlimited arsenal of powerful weaponry that you can turn on enemies ranging from Super Battle Droids to Trandoshans. Sure, it’s a fairly short game, but every single mission is a unique, awesome experience. On top of this, the characters are great as well. They aren’t the silent protagonists that one would expect from a game like this. In fact, there is a lot of banter, and each of the characters, despite being clones, have distinct personalities. Each of the characters is different, and the team dynamic between the four member team is enough to make the game one of the best games out there. The single player is the best part of the game, hands down, but even the online, which actually has a loyal community that sticks around, can also be a lot of fun.