The 10th Hour 08.27.11: Top Star Wars Games
Welcome to a one-day late edition of the 10th Hour. Blame Hurricane Irene for my tardiness. Power and internet have been both inconsistent since Irene hit us on Monday and everything has been extra annoying because of it. Thankfully, outside of floods and power outages, nothing truly bad happened in my area. But that also means I have had a lot less time to plan what I wanted to write about and I ended up digging one of the ideas from the “ideas for when I don’t have much time to write” pile. In this case, an entire column dedicated to Star Wars games. It was either, that or a “10 TV series that deserve the video game treatment” column, but then I realized….do we even have 10 series worth turning into video games? So Star Wars it is! Let’s leave the other idea for next week when I have more time to dig around.
10. Star Wars: Episode I Racer: It’s Star Wars meets Wipeout in this futuristic racer. Racing the pods from Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (the best part about that movie), you travel at insane speeds in this futuristic chariot hoping to win the race and avoid crashing into obstacles. At the time of release I felt like this game was the fastest racing title I had ever played, even faster than Extreme G. It also became one of my favorite N64 games of all time. The game was given a sequel in Star Wars Racer Revenge, but I felt the original was better on every aspect. This is one series I wouldn’t mind to see revisited in the near future. Even non-Star Wars fans had fun with this little gem.
9.Super Star Wars series: The entire SNES series are remembered as all-time classics and some of the best movie-based games of all time. They are also remembered for their insane difficulty and some changes to the movie’s story in order to accommodate new gameplay challenges. That’s why they are so low in my book: I could never beat them. As a matter of fact, most people who love the games have never beaten them either. The games combined hardcore action-platforming with some side challenges like driving vehicles. If you think games are too easy nowadays, grab these classics and prepare for some (fun) torture sessions.
8.Star Wars: Rouge Squadron/Battle for Naboo: These two N64 titles are awfully similar, but Battle for Naboo takes place during the Episode I timeline of course, while Rogue Squadron takes place during the original trilogy. Both titles are 3rd-person shooters in which you control a variety of vehicles from the Star Wars lore (such as the iconic X-Wing, Y-Wing, etc.) and complete mission objectives. The biggest difference from other Star Wars space shooters is that these two were more action-focused arcade-style titles instead of the in-depth simulations that were common at the time. This decision opened the games to a more varied audience instead of the limited “niche” market of games like X-Wing vs TIE Fighter. The result is a couple of classic titles that have a large fanbase.
7.Lego Star Wars series: The series that started the Lego-video games craze, Lego Star Wars is just plain fun. With 4 entries, one based on the first three episodes, one based on the original trilogy, one that collected all six movies into one game and one based on the Clone Wars cartoon series, someway; somehow, they have managed to remain fun even when the gameplay is fundamentally the same. You proceed through story based levels to get studs, unlock new characters and replay those levels to access previously inaccessible areas with your new characters. Although the difficulty is on the easy side of things, it is one of the few “kids” games that adults can enjoy and I believe the series is responsible for launching the Lego moniker into video games successfully. So thank this series for Lego Harry Potter, Lego Pirates of the Caribbean, Lego Batman, Lego Indiana Jones and whatever else they decide to make in the future.
6. Star Wars Battlefront series Although I liked the first one better, there is no denying that the sequel also introduced some cool stuff (like the space levels). Basically, Battlefront is a copy of EA’s Battlefield series but with Star Wars characters and the ability to play in 3rd-Person. You could shoot your blaster, then get into a land vehicle (like an AT-ST) and terrorize foes, then get on an X-Wing and take to the skies. Levels are based on all six movies, meaning that you could have battles between the Empire and the Rebels in one go and then take the field as the Galactic Republic vs the CIS. Other neutral factions (like Wookies) would show up in some levels to add spice to things. There was also a class system in place similar to Battlefield that gave you options for standard soldiers, heavy troopers and snipers among others. Although the game was never as popular as Battlefield, fans (myself included) still hold high hopes for a third entry with all of modern technology behind it.
5. X-Wing vs TIE Fighter: A part of the X-Wing series that also included X-Wing Alliance, Star Wars: X-Wing vs TIE Fighter is considered the best game in the series. The games are known for being a “hardcore simulation” of what controlling these legendary spacecraft would be. That means not only shooting stuff out of space, but also managing such things as the effective use of weapons and managing power resources and wingmen effectively. Missions were also larger in scale than most other Star Wars shooters and included not only combat scenarios, but also escort, reconnaissance and inspection missions. Like Battlefront, this series has a devoted fanbase that is patiently waiting for a return to the series.
4. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: Now, I love the KOTOR series. But I found the sequel to be inferior to the original. Maybe it is because gameplay mechanics were largely the same? Or maybe because the big plot twist can be spotted from a mile away and I predicted what would happen hours before it did. Whatever the reason, there is no denying this was a fantastic game using the same combat style and narrative heavy gameplay that drew in Star Wars fans from all over the globe and made characters like Kreia and HK-47 into icons. Yes, I know HK was in the first game too. I have played dozens of RPG’s in my life and both KOTOR titles rank near the top of the pile. But the first was better than the second. You will see further up the list….
3. Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rouge Squadron II: The game that is tied with Smash Bros. and Wind Waker as my favorite Gamecube games of all time, Rouge Squadron II did everything the N64 predecessors did….just better. Better graphics, better sound, better missions. Everything was better! Did I mention you could unlock a ton of stuff, including two levels in which you get to play as the Millennium Falcon? I also enjoyed the larger variety of enemies, especially ground troops since that area was pretty barebones in the other games. I also found it to be a much better game than its sequel, Rouge Squadron III: Rebel Strike, since it doesn’t have that game’s horrible on-foot missions. I know X-Wing vs TIE Fighter fans will be pissed, but I consider this game to be the “benchmark” Star Wars space shooter.
2. Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast: This first and third-person game follows the continuing adventures of one Kyle Katarn in one of the best Star Wars series of all time. I find Jedi Outcast to be the one with the best plot and gameplay elements. Sure, wielding a lightsaber and using Force Powers has been done before and after, but it is the combination of these elements with the well-devised plot that allows this game to succeed where many others have failed. I still believe Tavion and Desann are some of the best non-movie characters added to the Star Wars lore and Kyle Katarn is no slouch either. It is hard to talk about this game without spoilers, but suffice it to say that is has an outstanding story and solid gameplay to back it up.
1. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic: Can anything else be #1? This was my introduction to the formula BioWare has made famous: story driven RPG’s with plenty of branching conversations and decisions that truly affect the story. I still get a kick out of being evil and annoying my goody-two-shoes partners and HK-47 is as funny the 1,000th time as he was the very first. Besides, it has a ton of memorable moments and a story that is not as easy to predict as the sequel. I still get goose bumps during the first Rancor fight. If you like RPG’s, if you like Star Wars or preferably, if you like both, then this is a must play game. Sure, games like Mass Effect have improved virtually everything that BioWare tried here, but Mass Effect isn’t Star Wars.
Once again, thank you for reading and commenting on my article. I will see you next week on another edition of the 10th Hour. Hasta la Vista!