Greetings Everyone! That’s right folks, it’s that time of the year! Slip into your Chewbacca bathrobes, and put on your Yoda slippers, because today is May 4th(get it? GET IT?!?)
I must admit that I do own one.
For those who have(somehow) missed it, Star Wars is a Scifi/Fantasy Phenomenon that spans generations. Originally Released in 1977, this legendary franchise has eight films, with more on the way. And a entire universe(not joking) full of books/comics/TV shows/games/etc…
But what is a Star Wars, you may ask? Well first off, fuck off with that question. Secondly, Star Wars is essentially about a family that must bring balance to the force(space magic), all while getting warped up in galactic shenanigans. Oh yeah, and High Ground.
Star Wars is unique in a way that there are many stories to be told. Be it from the Old Repubic Era, all the way to the New Republic Era. And the stories can, and have been told in almost all forms of media. Even George Lucas talked about this in Splinter of the Mind’s Eye.
“After Star Wars was released, it became apparent that my story — however many films it took to tell — was only one of thousands that could be told about the characters who inhabit its galaxy. But these were not stories that I was destined to tell. Instead they would spring from the imagination of other writers, inspired by the glimpse of a galaxy that Star Wars provided. Today it is an amazing, if heunexpected, legacy of Star Wars that so many gifted writers are contributing new stories to the Saga.“ ―George Lucas, from the introduction of Splinter of the Mind’s Eye
And today, I figured we could look into the past, present, and future of Star Wars games. I won’t go into detail on everything since that would go on too long. Instead, I’ll give an overview of games from a certain generation. And if the generation has any, praise the good, and crucify the bad.
The first official Star Wars game was released in 1979, known as Star Wars Electronic Battle Command. Released originally by Kenner, Electronic Battle Command is just a shitty version of Battle Ship. So you are not missing out on much.
Star Wars games released in the eighties were either movie games or movie tie-in games. Or elements from the movies, but had fuck all to do with them. The only notable games from this time, as I like to call the “Movie Era” were the Super Star Wars games, released on the SNES. All were Run and Gun games, that were really fun to play. But the difficulty level on them was super high.
1993 was the start of great things in the Star Wars video game market. With the release of Star Wars X-Wing, new stories could be told in video game format. X-wing was critically acclaimed, and received many awards, and was given three sequels, and a lot of expansion packs. The game is simple as it gets, you are a rebel pilot, and you fly around in an X-wing doing missions for the Rebel alliance.
The next notable release is Star Wars: Dark Forces, later known as Star Wars: Jedi Knight. This Series, originally released in 1995, primarily follows a mercenary, turned Jedi, Kyle Katarn. The gameplay mostly consists of FPS elements, with puzzles and platforming crammed in. Though later games do allow you to use a light saber in third person. With the release of Jedi Knight, and X-wing, things were looking very promising for Star Wars fans, and with a new trilogy on the way, the future was looking very promising.
Following the release of Episode 1, fans would have been really disappointed with the games released. The Jedi Knight series was still coming out, along with two successors to X-wing, Rouge Squadren, and Star Fighter. There was a decent RTS released, Star Wars: Galatic Battle Grounds. But those are just mere specks on the tidal wave of pure SHIT that was released in the four years after the release of The Phantom Menace. At this time, they released FOUR racing games, and six, SIX, movie tie in games. All garbage, all I sadly played. But all would change, after the second movie, The Attack of The Clones was released.
After the release of AotC, there were only three tie-in games released, along with one spin-off. The spin-off, being Star Wars: Bounty Hunter, allowed players to play as Jango Fett. And told his story, before the start of the AotC. The game wasn’t bad, it had many fun elements, but was far from the best. But at least it was a sign of better things to come.
2003, the year a legend was born. Only three games were released this year. One being of the Rouge Squadron linage. The other two, being entirely new. The first was Star Wars: Galaxies. The first Star Wars MMO. It had three expansions and was pretty damn fun. But sadly, it only lasted eight years. It was shut down for a new MMO, which I will(begrudgingly) get into later.
The second game was the legendary Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. This game is, and always will be, my favorite western RPG. And my most favorite Star Wars game, and story. Hell, I love it so much, I play it once a year, AND named myself after one of the main characters. Created by BioWare, this game takes place many years before the Prequels. The game was met with many awards, received two sequels, and a lot of books. Though, I do have a feeling that this became popular due to the poor quality of the Prequels.
Now how can anything in 2004 top what was released the prior year? Well, it seems that LucasArts took note of this, and only released one game. Though the game was still fun as hell. I am, of course talking about Star Wars: Battefront. You know, the good one? Though I must admit I didn’t play this one as much as its sequel, the same elements are there. You take control of a nameless soldier, and along with the rest of your army, fight the opposing side. You win by either controlling all command points or obliterating the enemy forces. There is a story mode, which takes you through main battles from the movies, and is pretty enjoyable. The game is mainly PvE, but you can play with other people if you wanted to. Why do I mention only this games gameplay? Well for later of course!
2005, the year that the prequels ended, and a ten year wait until the next batch of movies started to be released. But of course, nobody knew that at the time, so all they would have felt is just an empty void. And it seems LucasArts anticipated this, and released six new games. Only two being movie tie ins. The other four, being their own games. One being Lego Star Wars, which is a lot of fun for being a Lego interpretation of the Prequels. The second game was Star Wars: Republic Commando. A Halo-esque squad based FPS that take place during the Clone Wars(not the movie or show, but the in universe event) The third being Star Wars: Battlefront II(AGAIN, NOT THAT ONE!) which improved everything from the first one, while keeping all the elements the same. And lastly, but more importantly, the sequel to KotOR, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Sith Lords. Although released at the end of 2004 for Xbox, the PC version was released in 2005. This game, in many ways, surpassed the original, but its only fault is that many things were cut before the game was released. But worry not! Because mods exists that add much of the cut content back to the game.
After 2005, the Star Wars hype train died down. The next five years saw the release of only 11 games. Four being games based off of the new animated movie/show Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Two games were just Lego games, one retelling the original trilogy, and the other combining the previous two into a “complete saga”.Two of the games were Battlefront games, exclusive to the PSP. And there was a new RTS known as Star Wars: Empire at War.
But the most notable games that came out in these five years were the Star Wars: The Force Unleashed games. Both were God of War-esque hack and slash games. Where you play as Galen Marek, the edgy apprentice of Darth Vader. The two games are supposed to bridge the gap between the prequels, and the original trilogy. But the story is really bad and raises many questions. One being, why am I playing as this edgelord, when I could be playing as Darth Vader. Wait, Didn’t I PLAY as Darth Vader? What the actual fuck then? Then you go on to think that there hasn’t been a game yet where you primarily play as Darth Vader. And finally, you decided to lie down and cry.
Now we get to the final three years before the Disney take over. And how many games were released? Three, fucking three. One being another Lego Star Wars game, but this time, it covers part of the Clone Wars TV show. Kind of disappointing that it couldn’t go further, as the show got very good in its later seasons. And another being that god awful Star Wars Kinect game that we all wish would be erased from space time.
And the last pre-EA, pre-Disney game? An EA game of course! The game being, Star Wars: The Old Republic. An MMORPG developed by BioWare, the same company that made KotOR, and published by EA. The game is a sequel of sorts to the original KotOR games. But it is set 300 years after the first KotOR. This MMO is odd in the fact that it has a unique story, and quest line for each class, which there are eight. But its faults is that it is the only interesting part. Not once, during my first playthrough, or my second playthrough did I participate in ANY dungeons, raids, or normal MMO stuff. And I have to wonder, why wasn’t this just a single player game? All the elements are there, it would even save them from having to maintain online servers. Just some food for thought.
Now, we get to the end. The biggie, that shook the entire Star Wars fandom. The event, equal to World of Warcraft’s Cataclysm. The Disney acquisition of Star Wars, and LucasArts. It may not seem too bad to people outside of the fandom, but to hardcore fans, like me, it was heartbreaking. Disney being in charge meant two VERY important things. Firstly, all previous cannon, besides movies and the Clone Wars TV show, were no longer cannon. Another important detail being that EA had full control of the Star Wars video games.
EA having control over Star Wars was and is a very bad thing. The very first thing they did was cancel most games LucasArts was working on. Star Wars 1313, Outpost, First Assault, and possibly many other titles were all canned. The second worst thing comes from the retconning. Since all of the previous games, including EA’s Old Republic, are “Legends” That means that their names and brand awareness are free to use. And yes, I am heavily referring to EA’s “Battlefront” which I will go into more detail in a bit.
Now, it has been four years since the acquisition. Remember how many games came out before? A lot when movies are released, and a few in dry periods. Well, even after the confirmation of movies being made, and two being released, just how many games are there? Three, just three. One being a part of Disney Infinity, but it is enough of an add-on, that I must count it. Another being Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which considering that the previous games were super fun, this one is very lackluster. Then there is the third game…..
Star Wars: Battlefront. This piece of absolute TRASH pisses me off so much. I waited years for Battlefront 3 with the promise of ground to space combat, and so much more. And when EA announced this, I was immediately skeptical. I thought it would be a Star Wars themed Battlefield. But no, they couldn’t even do that. At least, the Battlefield games are full games when released. At least the Battlefield games feel fun to play. AT LEAST THE BATTLEFIELD GAMES DON’T STEAL THE NAME OF MY FAVORITE GAME, MAKING ME SEE A FAKE WHEN I TRY GOOGLING THE ORIGINAL!
Not only did the game feel incomplete. Not only did it take five DLC, costing 50 bucks for a season pass, to make it feel like a complete game. But it fails when compared to the originals. Those games somehow had more maps, eras, and overall fun. While the only thing the new one has is that it “looks pretty” And I think this is true when referring to most new games. They all look nice but fail when compared to low budget games, like Undertale or Night in the Woods. And they seem even worse when compared to games made for the last console generation, like Persona 5.
Now before we get to the conclusion, and my hopes/fears for the future, I want to address one thing I have left out. And that is mobile games. You know, those things we see others playing, but claim to have too much dignity to play ourselves. As we play said games on the toilet. Now it should be obvious that Star Wars has mobile games, it would be odd if it didn’t. And I must admit, I have played three of them. But how many are there? Well, I’ll put it into two different categories. A Pre-Disney, and a Post-Disney category. Pre-Disney has a total of 25. Now keep in mind that that is spanning 15 years. So that would average to 1.6 mobile games a year. The post-Disney Era, has a total of 14 games, spanning 4 years. And that is an average of 3.5 games a year. So it is pretty obvious where they are focusing game development. Do I blame them? From a business front, no. Most people have smartphones, and a lot of people do play games on them. So more Star Wars games means more money is being made. But as a gamer, and Star Wars fan, this pisses me off. But what can one do in the end, but bitch and cry?
In the end, even if there are bad games, and even though EA is treating Star Wars poorly, I still love it. I have many great memories of this series. From playing Battlefront 2 with friends to the first time I played KotOR. And I have a feeling that good games will come eventually. I think, as fans, we have to draw a line with EA. From what we know of the new Battlefront 2 so far, they already addressed some concerns. Like the first one lacking a story, and the prequel era. But they still have more to fix, if they wish to win me back.
Looking at the EA website, it seems they are working on two other titles besides Battlefront 2. One being released next year, while the other game has few details. Here is a quote from their website.
A brand new Star Wars story will debut in a new action adventure game from Visceral Games™. I’ve been blown away by the level of collaboration between the Story Team at Lucasfilm and Amy Hennig and the team at Visceral as they create an original, authentic narrative in the Star Wars universe. It is an amazing example of how we’re taking an already strong partnership to another level.
That’s not all we have in production right now. Our partners at Respawn Entertainment are making their own 3rd person action adventure game, one that features a different style of gameplay and takes place in a different timeline we have yet to explore with our EA Star Wars titles. And we’re early in pre-production on some other projects we think you’re going to be excited about as well.
No matter the genre you play or the platform you play on, we will have a great Star Wars game for you. Join us, and together we can rule the galaxy.”
With talks of original narratives and different timelines, things do seem a little promising. And with rumors of a KotOR remake surfacing, things may seem a bit better. But take it all with a grain of salt. It is EA we are dealing with. So please don’t overhype yourselves.
Well, thank you all for reading through my long article. I actually had a fun time writing it, and hope you may have learned about a new game you want to play. Most of the games mentioned in this article are either on Steam or GOG. In fact, there is a “Star Wars Day” sale on both platforms. For GOG, you can get 19 games for 55.15 USD. And as for Steam, you can get 24 games for 60.68 USD. So check them out if you are interested. Thank you, and may the fourth be with you…….
(TheElusiveRevan was later pushed off a cliff for using such a cheesy closing line)