Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Riffing on: Star Wars games

Ask any gamer about science fiction games worth playing, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is sure to be mentioned- in fact, it’s still held up as one of the best RPGs of modern times, and certainly one of – if not the – best Star Wars game ever.

That’s not to say that Lucas’s brainchild hasn’t produced other great titles – Empire at War, The Force Unleashed and Battlefront, for three – but for every one of those, there’s been a number of crappy, badly-made, or frankly insulting titles forced into the limelight by greedy shareholders.

Naturally, the reason I’m writing this article at all is twofold – one: Star Wars Kinect was a godawful pile of drek not worthy to be given the Star Wars branding, which very nearly destroyed my faith and love for the series - mostly because of this:

And secondly, because it looks like Star Wars: 1313 – the newly plugged ‘adult’ title Lucasarts are hoping can restore their Kinnect-phobic fanbase - could restore that faith:

In the past, you could group Star Wars games into three broad groups – those made for kids, those made for fans, and those made to make money. Under the current regime, games made for fans have largely gone by the wayside, as developers rape Lucas’s mind to produce crap tie-in titles to the (amazingly) still-running Clone Wars TV series – a series that I, as a fan, have avoided, as it’s basically cocking around with the canon.

It wasn’t always this way, of course – back in the days of Jedi Knight, Super Star Wars, and even the sadly overlooked Force Commander, the games were made for the fans – and it showed. The serious titles took pains to stick to the storyline, expanding and improving the expanded universe of the films with great skill, offering hours of enjoyment.

Then there was Empire at War, which truly captured the strategy gamer fanbase, after Galactic Battlegrounds proved a letdown – all of which culminated in the excellent Battlefront series, which made multiplayer fun again after the Dark Forces 2 servers bit the dust.

Sadly, it was after this triumph that things started to go downhill, in my opinion.

Firstly, Battlefront 3 never materialised – a critical error, as it would of sold millions of copies on the Xbox, PS3 and PC, and made shareholders millions of dollars, which is the whole point of the videogaming industry, right...?

Then, the games turned childish, with endless ‘Clone Wars’-branded nonsense and Wiimote-waving rubbish clogging the shop shelves, and leaving fans like me cold.

While The Force Unleashed took the series in a new direction, and pulled off a coup with a decent story and exciting gameplay – it was then followed by a crappy, rushed sequel which made a mess of the canon (again), and demonstrated that Lucasarts was still happy to take a crap on fan’s aspirations – while mugging their wallets.

This lack of decent Star Wars games has continued for a while now, leaving the hardcore fanbase growing ever angrier at the lip-service given to the series’ games – especially Kinect (did I mention it’s awful?) leaving us with nothing worthwhile to take us back to a Galaxy Far Far Away.

That said, with the advent of 1313, perhaps this exile could finally be at an end, and fans might finally be given something worth playing again. Time will tell – as will whether 1313 manages to avoid being a next-gen title...