By GLHF May 4, 2022 3:23 am
By GLHF |
There might not ever be another cinematic universe that moves people like Star Wars. Nearly 50 years since the original movie it still feels central to pop culture, and that’s even in spite of three deeply unpopular prequels, some revisionist touch-ups to the originals and an incredible volume of entertainment media carrying the name.
Entertainment media, dear reader, like these games. These are by no means the only titles to use the cinematic universe, and indeed trying to document all of them would be like auditing every grain of sand on a beach. No, these are the titles that stand out. They take the universe to new places, either mechanically or thematically. They allow us to get that bit closer to the worlds we watched on flat cinema screens, poke around in them, and bend them to our will.
And that’s the real kick to playing a Star Wars game – you’re always starring in your own private movie.
What a journey the LEGO Star Wars franchise has been on. What began as a series of light-touch action-adventure games that many suspected were babysitting fodder for young kids until picking up a controller and saying ‘Huh, this is actually pretty good’… is now a juggernaut IP whose latest launch was nearly as big as Elden Ring’s.
And the real genius of it is that it can delight young kids just as easily as jaded old Star Wars gatekeepers with exhaustive universe knowledge. It does so though an inimitable slapstick comedy style where one waggled eyebrow says a thousand words, through a bouncy, colorful aesthetic that looks absolutely spellbinding in this new game engine, and through a kitchen sink approach to covering its source material. Every minute of The Skywalker Saga is packed to bursting point with lovingly recreated scenes from the seminal sci-fi movies, even the most esoteric characters popping up for an appearance (and they’re probably playable too), and while mechanically it’s nowhere near as demanding as the aforementioned FromSoftware game, that accessibility and flow is just as enjoyable.
Dogfighting. One of the essential component parts to George Lucas’ franchise, and one of the hardest to make a satisfying game about. Plenty tried over the years, and some achieved real acclaim, like 1997’s X-Wing Vs. TIE Fighter. But we had to let technology catch up in order to really convey the drama and spectacle of little pretend space ships going pew-pew at each other against an almost featureless black backdrop. That moment came in 2020.
In truth the backdrops are never featureless or black here, the ships don’t feel small and the stakes always feel much bigger still. It’s polished, deep in narrative, and by teaming you up in titular squadrons of five in multiplayer, EA’s take on the Lucas dogfighting sim leds some real camaraderie to the proposition.
The reasons for including both of Bioware’s extraordinary Star Wars RPGs on this list instead of taking a hard stance and picking just one are manyfold. First: imagine a world where only one of them existed. Worse, isn’t it? Yes.
Second: after playing the first KOTOR, exploring the cinematic universe at a pace and depth of detail that the movies have never allowed, having real agency over your character’s alignment to the dark side or the light side, carefully selected your lightsaber color and formed meaningful bonds with some all-timer companions like HK-47 and Carth Onasi… well, you’re not going to just stop there and leave the sequel unplayed, are you? No.
And nor should you, because KOTOR 2 is even more expansive in scope, even weirder in its world-building, and leaves the magical moment of getting your first lightsaber even longer, until you’re practically quivering at the thought of holding it. They’re very, very good games, is what we’re trying to say.
Also: PAZAAK. Who’s for a game right now?
Not to be outdone by the sheer cowardice of that last entry, which choose two games instead of one, this entry in fact covers four games. Star Wars Battlefront (2004), its 2005 sequel, EA’s 2015 reboot and subsequent 2017 sequel all live under the shelter of this one bold text heading, despite there being radical differences in design, monetization model, and, certainly at launch, quality, between the quartet.
In our opinion, Pandemic’s originals deserve the highest praise for taking such an ambitious concept as an entire playable large-scale battle from the Star Wars universe and making it feel instantly understandable, gratifying, and preposterously exciting. But after a rocky road through release, fan reaction, much patching and flim-flamming on microtransactions, the EA sequels do deserve your time too. They’re conceptually the same – you’re one pawn in a massive cinematic battle, only this time the cinematic battle looks so good it’s barely conceivable that this is a game running in real-time – but now bolstered with modern sensibilities to reward time investment.
Back in 2002, we didn’t even know how the prequels would pan out. Maybe Episode 1 was an anomalous misstep before two towering motion picture achievements to follow. That very idea tells you how long ago the year 2002 was, and what a different world Jedi Knight II released in.
Powered by the Quake III engine, it showed us seedy sci-fi cityscapes with a luminescence we’d never seen before. But more than that, it was a shooter and Jedi sim all at once – you’re firing blasters down one corridor, waggling a lightsaber through crowds of hapless stormtroopers the next, toying with bandits using your force powers a few minutes later still. This was still the era of the corridor shooter, but Aspyr’s sense of pacing and adventure made it engrossing, zippy, and thoroughly immersive.
In 1995, Doom ruled the world and Star Wars games were still something of a novelty. What a treat it was, then to have id Software’s innovative first-person shooter form the template for Star Wars: Dark Forces, a breakneck journey through the galaxy’s most enemy-filled corridors.
It also took things further, with environmental puzzles, and a much greater focus on storytelling than Carmack & co ever placed on their titles. These component parts seemed to come together in an effortless fashion – stories can work in shooters, we were surprised to learn.
Not the franchise’s first stab at an MMO, but certainly its most successful. Perhaps its greatest misstep was giving itself that particular name and inviting comparisons to Bioware’s venerated solo RPGs, which it couldn’t possibly live up to. Instead, The Old Republic has to spread itself thin over a much bigger world, but still packs in a huge volume of fully voice-acted NPCs and distinct biomes.
The scale of its production, in fact, puts The Old Republic among the most expensive videogame projects ever released. Voice actors aren’t cheap, turns out. It’s still live over a decade after launch though, and though official figures weren’t released it was rumored to make back its estimated $200 million budget by 2014.
A narrative-driven action-adventure full of variety, spectacle, and a uniquely gurning protagonist, Fallen Order takes the universe to a Metroidvania format and harnesses the usual force powers and lightsaber-twiddling not just for combat, but platforming and puzzles.
Young Jedi Padawan Cal is living relatively peacefully in hiding on Bracca until an imperial drone catches him using the force to save his buddy and two inquisitors start tracking him down. Inquisitors trained by Vader, no less. The subsequent adventure packs in an absurd amount of planet-hopping and sightseeing, which is all the more fortuitous because it’s capable of some stunning views.
Written by Phil Iwaniuk on behalf of GLHF.
evergreen, GLHF, Star Wars, Video Games, Video Games
GLHF is a gaming content agency serving media partners around the globe. With a central team supported by local experts, the company provides best-in-class written and video content to some of the world’s biggest publishers.
May 10, 2022 12:36 pm ET ·
The Bat Family only works in pairs, apparently.
May 10, 2022 12:01 pm ET ·
An online post about wildlife officers who issued a citation over the discovery of lobster tails out of season has caused a public backlash. (…)
May 10, 2022 12:00 pm ET ·
Electronic Arts has announced today that, starting from 2023, its football games will be available with a brand new name – EA Sports (…)
May 10, 2022 12:00 pm ET ·
The Detroit Tigers will meet the Oakland Athletics in MLB action on Tuesday afternoon from the RingCentral Coliseum. This will be the (…)
May 10, 2022 9:00 am ET ·
There’s a new trailer available for Gotham Knights and it’s a full 13 minutes of thug-thumping, city-exploring, bike-riding goodness.
May 10, 2022 8:53 am ET ·
A Poni Adventure awaits you with these tasks and rewards.
May 10, 2022 8:41 am ET ·
In this guide, we show you how to quickly defeat the Legendary level 5 raid boss from Alola.
May 10, 2022 8:36 am ET ·
The calls on Giannis Antetokounmpo and Al Horford were ridiculous.
May 10, 2022 7:31 am ET ·
Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is a prequel to a true Suikoden successor, but it is not the Suikoden successor you’ve been waiting for.
May 10, 2022 5:32 am ET ·
There are 107.65 million Switches out there (I’m looking at mine on my desk right now), and the Pokemon games did rather well. Pleasing (…)
Powered by WordPress VIP
There’s no other cinematic universe that moves people like Star Wars, and here are the best video games it has spawned.