Experienced Points: Lucasarts Games that Deserve Another Shot

  By Shamus   Apr 30, 2013   149 comments

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My column this week is an expanse of self-indulgent nostalgia. I go back through the Lucasarts catalog and talk about a few games I’d like to see again. Yes, I left out Battlefront. I never played it myself, and I’d already given a slot on the list to another game I hadn’t played.

I didn’t put it on my list, but I’d love it if we could get a real KOTOR game. It’s a crime that KOTOR 2 got so little time and money and The Old Republic got so much. KOTOR 2 was probably (and I admit this is a completely wild guess) a fifteen million dollar game. The Old Republic reportedly cost two hundred million. If just ONE PERCENT of the TOR money had been added (retroactively, by time travelers I presume) to KOTOR 2 it would have made a massive difference to the quality of the final product. However, this is a bit of an apples-to-Gungans comparison. The games were made in different times by different developers and funded by different companies.

Still. Woulda been nice.


A Hundred!20209We've got 149 comments. But one more probably won't hurt.


  1. I’d like to see Obsidian do a KoTOR3 type of game.

    With a “comfortable” budget and a “loose” deadline (unlike KoTOR2 had) I think they would be able to create something as good as or better than KoTOR2 and with the QA/finish that KoTOR1 had).

    BioWare is too busy with their MMO and their Dragon Age and Mass Effect franchises to focus on something else.

    Obsidian though has proven themselves with KoTOR2, they are fully capable of doing a star Wars RPG/adventure game indeed, and boy do they know how to write, the question of what a Jedi is and morale is handled very well in KoTOR2.

    • krellen says:

      Obsidian’s version of the Force and the righteousness (or lack thereof) of the Jedi runs contrary to the established canon of Star Wars and is unlikely to ever see the light of day again.

      • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        While I agree with the sentiment and the prediction, there is support within the canon (especially in the Zahn books) for the Obsidian approach to the Force.

        But even if there weren’t, the Force in Star Wars has never made much sense, which is why KOTOR2 had such rich ground to turn in exploring the philosophical ramifications of a mystic force which both controls your actions and follows your commands.

        I would love to see more authors go somewhere with that idea. And it’s not like the original owners were doing much with it.

        • drkeiscool says:

          I would love to see KotOR 3, but I have to wonder just good it would actually be. I mean, KotOR 2 could basically be titled “Why the Force Sucks: by Chris Avellone”. Does Obsidian have anything else meaningful to say about that time period in the Star Wars universe? If not, then it may just be better to let it stay the way it is.

          • Was there not something about Obsidian actually preparing a pitch to Disney for a new Star Wars game? I think it could be fascinating. First of all, because there is such a long time buffer between KOTOR games and the films, you could move the plot onwards by hundreds of years, if you think there’s nothing interesting left to talk about in the time period around Darth Malak/Nihilus.

            But I don’t think it’s necessary, because the thematic complexity of the interplay (and dissonance) between the force and morality is nowhere near explored enough in KOTOR2. What KOTOR2 seemed to be trying to do (and in my opinion, succeeded only sporadically) is to create situations where the light side/dark side of the force did not really align with good/evil, let alone with good/bad consequences. This is such an interesting area that you could easily spin it off into a whole series of games. If Disney really manages to spit out a SW film each year, I would be surprised if someone didn’t decide to explore this idea, to some extent at least, in the films themselves. It would fit in well with the idea of making superhero stories ‘darker’ or whatnot. Of course, it could be done extremely badly (imagine Lucas trying!), but I think I would rather trust Obsidian in this regard than JJ Abrams!

            • Lame Duck says:

              I’m pretty sure the thing Obsidian was pitching recently was going to be set between the prequels and original movies, which…well, I have quite a lot of faith in Obsidian but I’m instantly wary of anything in proximity to the prequels.

            • krellen says:

              Just a note, SWTOR takes place “hundreds of years” ahead of KOTOR (300, to be precise), and Disney doesn’t strike me as the sort of company to discard existing canon.

              • Guess it depends what counts as SW ‘canon’ at this point? I thought Lucas pretty much decreed only the films were canon and the rest of the EU was glorified fan fiction?

              • Correct me if I’m wrong, but as far as I know, SWTOR takes place after KOTOR2.

                KOTOR1>KOTOR2>Revan novel>SWTOR
                is the timeline, and if you want spoilers google (or look on youtube) for: swtor revan

                Also, note that although I said KoTOR3, this does not mean it should continue the KOTOR1 or 2 stories. I just meant another “KoTOR” game.

            • StashAugustine says:

              Obsidian said the pitch was for a game set just before A New Hope.

          • Thomas says:

            Right, last time we discussed this, I suggested Kreia was an unreliable narrator and other people suggested to me that she’s obviously got authorial support.

            Since then I’ve played it again and when the thing happens Atton says ‘what the person who kept on talking about all that not-helping other BS who continually lies and manipulates and breaks the people around her is actually evil and unreliable. What a surprise.’

            Kreia really isn’t supported by the game. She’s pretty much insane and she’s motivated entirely by personal bitterness. She was powerful and then she had the force stripped away from her and she hated the people who did that to her and hated the force because it was taken away

            • Syal says:

              Yeah, the game’s not about Kreia telling you how it is, it’s about everyone telling you how they think it is and you figuring it out on your own.

              • Felblood says:

                Kreia just tells you louder and more constantly, which make sense when you get to the end, since she isn’t merely more plot important than the other PCs; she IS the plot.

                The lack of any sort of proper endgame cutscene does leave this weird situation where she is the last person who vomited their personal philosophy all over you, which gives the impression that her last speech is somehow the takeaway for the whole game. That isn’t intended to give her words the weight of being the full stop to the entire game, they just ran out of money.

    • ENC says:

      “With a “comfortable” budget and a “loose” deadline (unlike KoTOR2 had) I think they would be able to create something as good as or better than KoTOR2 and with the QA/finish that KoTOR1 had).”

      The problem is, EA don’t have that kind of risk they can take at the moment through recovering from the GFC.

      Also, Shamus: I know you didn’t mean it this way, but it is reportedly for a reason. No one bothers to check EA’s financial statements (and notes to them) to actually deduce whether the marketing budget could’ve purpotedly been that high, and the figure is just thrown around to make the game seem like a silly failure rather than having any research done behind it. Then, journalists such as yourself will just repeat it and readers will take it as fact, or close to truth.

    • Corran says:

      I’m surprised no one mentioned this article: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2013/02/08/new-republic-obsidian-actively-pitching-more-star-wars/

      As to the comments about the setting being a straightjacket; Obsidian have said in multiple interviews that LucasArts were very easy to work with and only request two very minor changes; neither involving the story.

  2. wheals says:

    Huh, I hadn’t seen the news that Lucasarts shut down.

    I really don’t have very much to say; I’ve only ever played one LucasArts game. I do know that they made a lot of games that had nothing to do with any of Lucas’s movies, but I don’t think I’ve played any of those, either.

    The one game I played was “Star Wars: Rebel Assault,” which happens to be the very first game I can remember playing (which is strange, since it came out before I was born, so it must have been amost 10 years old at least when I played it.

    I guess it was the granddaddy of the space combat sim genre. Although you could also say that it is the direct ancestor of modern FPSs since basically all you do is shoot and respond to (what are basically) quicktime events. You can hardly blame it for not being a real space flight sim — it came out in 1993, the year DOOM came out, after all.

    As the reviews on MobyGames say, it really is visually impressive for a 1993 game. I still remember the last mission (I think there were 50?), doing the trench run and blowing up the Death Star. And one of the other missions — beggar’s canyon, of course! Funny how memories can just surface like that.

    But basically it’s an arcade game, ported to DOS. Not worth buying for anything besides the nostalgia value.

    EDIT: Also, the way the Escapist splits your article into two pages confuses me EVERY time you post a link. The buttons are so small and hard to see. Can you change it so it all appears on one page?

    Also, this post is basically irrelevant to your article. Dammit, I should be too young to wax nostalgic and start telling tangentially related stories when somebody mentions a topic!

    SECOND EDIT: AND now for something relevant! Can somebody who liked Republic Commando tell me how it is more than just a shooter set in Star Wars? There’s nothing wrong with that, but why bother? In other words, what makes it “Star Wars,” since it backed out of the easy way of being a Jedi?

    As for TFU, they just need to hire Timothy Zahn to be the creative director for the next game in the series. He should clean up the power creep ;) (I’m only half-joking, too; although writing games is different from writing books, I would defintely buy any Star Wars game he participates in.)

    • Humanoid says:

      Rebel Assault’s only notable feature was being at the forefront the CD-ROM “multimedia” experience of the early-to-mid 90s. I can’t place it exactly, but it was one of the first few such games, possibly only being beaten into first place by The 7th Guest. It wasn’t a space combat sim – nowhere near, as it was really nothing but a rail-shooter. Wing Commander was a full three years earlier, and before that Elite. The game is almost exactly the same as the space combat sequences in SWTOR right now actually. Not trying to denigrate your experience playing it, but it was mostly flash and no substance, doing unprecedented things like having Vader’s minimally animated mugshot full-screen on the 14″ monitors of the day. Aside, despite not having played it for about 18 years, I still remember the password for that bugger of a level that was the first Star Destroyer “destroy the turrets” sequence – FALCON. Had tremendous difficulty with that level as an unco kid.

      Rebel Assault came with my Sound Blaster 16 + double-speed CD-ROM drive bundle (plus other bits and bobs like a cheapo Suncom joystick, basic speakers and some educational software), one of about a dozen other games in that megabundle. It was the most advanced but also the worst game in that bundle, which included legacy titles like Wing Commander, Civilization, Railroad Tycoon, Syndicate, and some lesser but still enjoyable titles such as Return to Zork and Ultima 8.

      That bundle was my making as a PC gamer, quite literally life-changing for someone who’s previous PC gaming experience had been playing EGA-or-earlier era games on a horribly outdated 286 in the early 90s.

      Ahhhh, sorry for drifting away on a cloud of nostalgia there.

      • krellen says:

        I like SWTOR’s space combat, though.

        • Humanoid says:

          Enough to warrant it being a full game? With dodgy targeting reticule and questionable “collision” detection against a static movie playing in the background?

          I’m probably being a bit too negative, easy with the benefit of hindsight, but I felt that game was a bit of a quick cash-in even back then.

          • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

            I’ll defend Rebel Assault on the merits. Wing Commander may have come out 3 years earlier, but wing commander didn’t let you do the Trench Run. The cutscenes, skimming along the Star Destroyer, or the Canyons, or flying the Hoth mission -even that short cover-based shooter bit (which was greatly increased in RA2, which I thought was a better game) were new ideas in trying to make games. I happily played RA1 and 2 alongside TIE Fighter and Dark Forces for many years.

            • Humanoid says:

              You may be onto something here, because Wing Commander 3 was released only a year after Rebel Assault and featured, of all things, Mark Hamill doing a trench run…

              I know there are mixed feelings here about the notion of ‘cinematic’ games, but it’s amazing to think how far the FMV employed moved between those two titles.

          • krellen says:

            As it exists in SWTOR right now, I’d be okay paying 20-30 bucks for a game that was just that. Maybe a few more levels over what they currently have in the game, but yeah, I could see that working (not as a full AAA game, though.)

      • wheals says:

        Hell, I never said it was GOOD. I was around 7 years old when I played it, and I haven’t seen it since. It’s a lot easier for a 7-year-old to be impressed than someone who actually has played other games.

        Also, I didn’t realize that Wing Commander preceded it. I suppose there was no real excuse for it being the way it was. Although I’d like to imagine that we’ve gotten better, how much real player agency is there in Modern Warfare 2? (Disclosure: all my knowledge about MW2 comes from the Spoiler Warning special episodes.)

        Who knew: they made crappy games in the past, too!

        • Ehlijen says:

          Even the original X-WING preceded Rebel Assault, I believe. Glorious 320*200*16 colours resolution…I dare to you tell me which of those background stars is actually a TIE fighter :p

    • StashAugustine says:

      Weirdly, Rebel Assault II on my cousin’s PS1 was the first game I ever played.

      Republic Commando: Honestly, it theoretically could be in a different setting and it wouldn’t make a whole lot of difference. But it was nice to see Star Wars from the perspective of a couple grunts. (It’s also a pretty decent shooter in its own right.)
      And there is nothing more that I want from Star Wars than Timothy Zahn writing a game.

      • Felblood says:

        That’s ironic, because there is nothing more that I want from Star Wars than for every EU novel (but especially Zhan and the post Zahn stuff) to be lost in a fire, for all of time.

        Don’t get me wrong: I enjoyed Zahn okay when I read his Star Wars books (the only Zahn books I enjoyed, as I moved from there to sample the rest of his publishings and was disappointed) but they left a bad after-taste. The longer I go as a person who HAS READ the books, rather than as a person who IS READING the books, the more I dislike them. After a few years, that developed in full-force hate.

        On top of that, he created a Star wars galaxy that nobody knows what to do with. Post Zahn novels are all over the map, in terms of tone and iconography, even more than before. each writer must struggle to capture and essential “Star-wars-ness” and also push forward a Dragon-Ball-esque sense of constant threat escalation, and different writers will prioritize one over the other.

        I dropped out of SW EU fandom, after just a couple of years of that, because i was sick of the see-saw effect that caused.

        • StashAugustine says:

          What didn’t you like about them? I enjoyed his non-SW stuff, so it may be a difference in taste. I do agree that most of the EU is pretty bad, though.

          • Felblood says:

            It’s not just the Zahn series itself that bugs me, it’s the effect that it had on the EU going forward from that time. Before that, you could pick up a Star Wars novel trilogy (for they always came in trilogies in those days) and know the rules of the game, even if you had skipped a trilogy or two.

            Zahn didn’t just tell stories within the established setting, he told stories with the setting that changed all the rules.

            First and foremost, it retconned into existence a whole lot of new but inportant characters, who turned out to be very popular, despite the fact that I personally didn’t care for them. This led the publishers to give a bunch of even worse writers a license to try the same stunt, trying to create more marketable characters to make into collectable, etc.

            The EU quickly became such a mess of OC Mary Sues, which various writers would write in, write around or pointedly ignore, for various reasons that rarely made sense in-canon.

            Mara Jade was the worst example. Mara was Palpatine’s backup apprentice, in case the whole Skywalker family thing went south and he had to get someone to replace them both and/or off Vader for him. Hense, her introduction later would form the justification for Starkiller, and even blander and more overpowered reader/player avatar. She was also introduced to give Luke his own love interest, now that his family secrets are out and she belongs to Han. Lots of readers, especially teenage girls getting into Star Wars, loved this perfect Sith/Ninja/Amazon with nerves of steel; I found her boring but serviceable.

            Many of the EU writers must have hated her, because it seemed like a trilogy couldn’t go by without someone writing her out or breaking the couple up off camera to make room for their own Bond-Girl wannabe.

            At this point EU canon was starting to look like a comment thread flamewar from fanfiction.Net, and I decided it was time to bow out.

            To this day, anything that happens after the Battle of Endor is strictly a Do Not Care Zone for me.

            I eat up Clone Wars and Old Republic stuff (or I did the Old Bioware stuff, EA Bioware isn’t making me feel like my paragon Jedi should be tempted to shank a hobo for his food money to buy lightsaber parts, the way Old Bioware could.)

            I’ll grant you, the SW galaxy needed something new to throw at our heroes than the, “Oh another cult of evil force users has come to light, better exterminate them without falling into darkness ourselves!” whihc had powered more of the EU until then, but this caused more problems than it solved, and it wasn’t for me anymore.

    • drkeiscool says:

      Republic Commando had some excellent squad-based combat. You could give general orders like “Advance” or “hold your ground”, and you could also order them into preset location to a sniper rifle or grenade launcher to defend an area.

      It might not sound like much, but the pseudo-tactics really helped immerse you into the whole “commando squad” mentality that a lot of other FPS’s just don’t have. Add in some fun – if shallow – squadmates, and it was a blast.

      The setting was also great. A lot enemies that the movies reduced to Jedi lightsaber-fodder are actually dangerous again. Fighting a Super Battle Droid actually feels like fighting an enemy who exists to solely to kill people like you. Er, well, I may be over-exaggerating, but point still stands.

      • broken says:

        Really? When I played it it felt extremely mechanical and forced: the various spots to place your grenadier and sniper were obvious, and if you didn’t place them there you had a hard battle ahead of you. It felt less like me making tactical decisions and more me figuring out the puzzle the dev laid out for me. I didn’t feel smart, I felt I was following the designer’s battle plan and not my own.

        The level design was also very unvaried and uniform(within levels, between levels there was a good amount of variety).

        In short, I found the combat and the game in general boring and generic. The tactical decisions felt less like decisions and more following an obvious script written by the dev. Alltogether, I don’t think it’s a bad game per se, but I will say that it’s a very Meh game.

        • StashAugustine says:

          It wasn’t a great tactical shooter, but it was a great mid-2000s console shooter with a gimmick.

          • Felblood says:

            This.

            Really, the fact is that advanced players rarely found the difficulty they were looking for in Star Wars games, in those days. They were generally made for people who had never tried this genre before, but would take interest if it brought them more of a world they loved, or could be found in a discount bin.

            Each level of RC was themed around certain mechanics (which were reciprocally re-enforced by story or character points, with some excellent use of mechanics as metaphor), and gave you plenty of time to master them. If you had already mastered those particular aspects of play, the practice part of the level could start to feel like doing math ditto sheets in elementary school.

            Has anyone ever found a way to make game levels shorter when a player selects a higher difficulty? This game could be considered an argument in favor of that.

    • Irridium says:

      The reason people (well, the reason *I*) praise it has more to do with it’s friendly AI than the setting.

      It truly had some of the best squad-based shooting and the best friendly AI of its time. Hell, the squad AI is still better than most games these days. It also shows why the droid army is so dangerous. In the movies you see the Jedi mowing through all the droids like crazy. In the game, encountering a former cannon (or lightsaber) fodder-type enemy like the Super Battle Droid is a pretty tense experience. Because those things are hard as hell to take down.

    • Nick Lester Bell says:

      Since someone address all your other points, I will hit the “entire Escapist article on one page” point.

      Single page articles is a premium feature at The Escapist. If you buy into their yearly subscription service, it turns on that as an option. You also get no ads, better quality videos, and probably some other things I forgot. At like $30 a year, I think it’s a fine way to support a website I like. In theory, some of that money helps Shamus get paid for his articles (I have no idea how the background business of The Escapist actually works).

      • krellen says:

        Last I heard, it is a revenue-sharing model. Authors (and video producers) get a share of any revenue generated by their page hits. Or something like that.

        It’s no longer a “we pay you for your work and then try to profit from that” model, at any rate. Not since Extra Credits.

        • Zagzag says:

          That’s interesting. I didn’t know that the Extra Credits fiasco had changed the way the site actually did business.

          • Raygereio says:

            The problem wasn’t solely with ExtraCredits.
            By the time that particular batch of dirty laundry was hung outside, other Escapist-contributors already left or put their shows on hold due to what was in some cases officially called “production issues” and in others just outright stated to be paycheck-problems.

            The ExtraCredits-case got the most attention, but the problem at the Escapist was a bit bigger.

    • Jace911 says:

      “AND now for something relevant! Can somebody who liked Republic Commando tell me how it is more than just a shooter set in Star Wars? There’s nothing wrong with that, but why bother? In other words, what makes it “Star Wars,” since it backed out of the easy way of being a Jedi?”

      For me part of its appeal wasn’t just that it was a shooter set in Star Wars (We already had Dark Forces for that) but that it showed us the same universe from a different perspective. It was a lot darker in tone than the previous games, which more or less maintained that sort of adventurous swashbuckling feel of ANH, and felt a little more grounded and down to earth. You never see any Jedi or Sith, magna droids are a huge threat because you aren’t a superhero with a laser sword, Geonosians are downright Alien-esque, etc etc.

      • Felblood says:

        The characters also really set Republic Commando apart.

        Each of your squad members has a distinctive voice and quirks, and they also share a set of quirks that give them character and identity, on a multiple of levels. You know the brothers on your commando team as individuals, but they also show common traits that bind them to their nation, their heritage and most crucially to their squadmates.

        Tying many their throwaway barks to numbered rules from their training manuals helped emphasize the common past they shared. Indicating that these guys had all read the same book and pledged to follow it’s strictures gave them a shared past, and made them more sympathetic.

        Seriously, there are a lot of seeming obvious writing tricks that RC uses that many other FPS games drop the ball on.

        Plus, they can bail you out when you screw up, and are actually pretty good at their jobs, if you give them good orders.

        It’s one of the few squad based FPS games where your squadmates are both likeable characters and useful assets, which gives them a warm glow of nostalgia in a very short amount of time.

        Also, using that spring-loaded, punch-dagger gauntlet, to drop a dangerous target, while your clip is empty instantly makes you feel 20% more bad—.

    • Adam says:

      As someone who thoroughly enjoyed Republic Commando, I’d like to defend the idea that it’s worth a sequel.

      1. It’s good. It’s really, really good. It’s a lightly-tactical squad-based shooter, and damned good at it. Your squad AI is solid (tons better than either Rainbow Six Vegas, both of which came out years later) and easy to command (and on a console controller, that’s saying something) and you have a nice variety of weapons (better than endless arrays of indistinguishable assault rifles, anyway)

      2. Despite the grit, it feels like a SW game much more than TFU, which despite the higher budget never really evokes the setting. No, I don’t know why.

      3. The characters. Sev, Scorch, Fixer, and Boss are more entertaining and better-written than anyone in the entire prequel trilogy. They’re CLONE SOLDIERS, and they’re still the most interesting thing to come out of that entire era! (And without spoiling too much, the cliffhanger ending packs a wallop because it involves someone you -as Boss- have been close to for the whole game. Writers in the game development industry are still learning how to pull off moments like that, as evidenced by ME3.

      tl;dr: It’s worth another look not because it was a good SW shooter, but because it was a legitimately excellent game that got a lot of stuff right that companies today haven’t nailed down. (In that way, it’s a lot like Half-Life 2. An excellent game, that it seems absolutely no one making games studied or learned anything from.)

  3. Sean Riley says:

    Shamus, I’d love to see you do a self-reflection on what makes a story work for you.

    I’ve noticed again and again we’re opposed on sequels; you liked New Vegas, whereas I found it unclear and unfocused by comparison to the by no means brilliant but serviceable plot of Fallout 3. And now you’ve expressed support for KOTOR2, a game I found borderline incoherent, as opposed to the wonderfully taut KOTOR1.

    I _suspect_ the difference between us here is the weight afforded to solid worldbuilding and thought-out world/non-player character details, vs. clear act to act construction and main character motivations. But it’s purely a guess based on my own responses to those games. (I had NO IDEA why I was doing anything in New Vegas, for example, whereas I completely got the ‘find your dad and complete his work’ motivation of Fallout 3.)

    Still, I’d love to see you blather on the topic for a thousand words or so. :)

    • Shamus says:

      While I’m not opposed to such a thing, I should probably make it clear that I’m actually not a huge fan of KOTOR 2. I found it infuriating and tedious at times. But it has its (avid) supporters, and I’m willing to believe that a lot of what I hated about it was due to the development constraints.

      I liked KOTOR 1 much more. Yes, it was a bit simple and storybook, but that was one of the things I liked about Star Wars: Basically “Farmboy rescues the princess from the castle and defeat the evil lord, only… IN SPACE!” A lot of the KOTOR 2 support comes from people who got sick of the black & white moralizing and simplicity of the setting, and liked what KOTOR had to say about the Jedi and the Force. I dunno. I never read any of the expanded universe stuff, so I never got sick of the storybook simplicity. I suppose if I’d read two dozen novels that were just heavy-handed repetitions of the themes in the movies (I’m going by hearsay) then I might have been excited by KOTOR 2’s ideas too.

      Either way, the ending was a complete failure on every possible level: Story, theme, gameplay, art… ugh.

      • lurkey says:

        My SW experience outside the games is movies only, and I was openly rooting for the Empire by the end of “Return of the Jedi”, because from two monochromatic stupids I’d rather have cool win over naive. Then prequels 1 and 2 came, we got Anakin as he was, evil became uncool but good didn’t improve and I lost interest in SW until KOTOR2. Which made me see the remaining movie, play the first game and left me craving for “More Star Wars, but like in KOTOR2″.

        But yeah, the ending. Held the crown of my “Worst ending in any entertainment ever” until “Lost”.

        • StashAugustine says:

          May I recommend anything by Timothy Zahn? (His non-SW stuff is pretty good, too.) He portrays the Imperials as misguided law-and-order types who you feel sympathy for, and does a pretty good job of political intrigue among the Rebellion. Both sides are presented as reasonable people with a mix of idealists and self-serving people. It’s a lot more about the political struggles and military campaigns, while still retaining that space-opera feel at heart. (Now that I think about it, it’s very Mass Effect 1 in its atmosphere, just with more realistic villains.)

      • kenup says:

        Well, personally, I was tired of the black & white morality of most of the SW universe, but I didn’t find any greyness(for the most part) in KotoR2. I didn’t really enjoy it either.

        SPOILERS BELOW!

        Most of the game is mix of:
        a)Light/dark dialogue choices, only so that Kreia can lecture you because “You’re doing it wrong.”
        b)Really forced narrative. Where Obsidian have shown before that they can give better reasons for a plot and motivation for the protagonist, most of the plot points here felt hamfisted. Lots of times I found my self asking where the logical or the third option is. This shows mostly where the council members are concerned.
        c)Forced companions. You are forced to spare a sith assassin sent to kill you and your crew, even after “interrogating” them. There are more, almost the entire party is like that, but I think this was stretching the recruitment choices far enough and is a crystal clear example.
        d)Only being strongly in the light or dark side give bonuses and access to prestige classes. Being a GREY Jedi sucks here. I can see the greyness in that from a mile away :sarcasm

        And there are probably a lot more that I am forgetting. The whole game feels like it’s on rails. At least the first KotoR gave you the option to change sides at the end.

        • Keeshhound says:

          All that aside, I have a major counterpoint for you to consider. Who would you rather spend an extended period of time with? Carth, or Atton?

          More seriously, I loved KotoR II, but I’ve always wondered why Obsidian was brought in to do it in the first place; did Bioware just refuse, or did Lucas Arts want a developer they could exert more control over (I’m assuming that Bioware would have had enough clout to just flat out refuse the “in time for Christmas” deadline that got put in place)?

          • Lame Duck says:

            According to Wikipedia, it was Bioware who suggested Obsidian because they were too busy with other projects, namely Jade Empire.

          • kenup says:

            Atton, no doubt about it. Though Atton is one of the exceptions anyway, both for reasons to recruit and as a character.

            The others are “*annoying/hostile action* I’m coming with you because *the plot says so*”, I’m all like “No, you’re getting off the ship or I’m blasting you off.”, then they go “No, I’m coming with you cause I’m moral compass/morality pet/villain in disguise(no, I’m not talking about Kreia) #4564898761 *mind control*”, and the only choice left is “Welcome aboard friend! If you ever want to share a bed give me a call!”. :/ Well screw that! There is no role-playing here. The funny thing is, you can tell them later you don’t want them on-board and treat them like worms at every chance you get, and they still stay on board(when they had just fine lives before joining).

            And trust me, I really wanted to like this game(and some parts of it, I do). But even with the restoration patch, which I barely care for outside the awesome HK Droids quest line, I can’t help but cringe and be frustrated at these things.

            • Keeshhound says:

              Obviously people have different tolerances for different problematic aspects of a story, but I liked every character you get, so being forced to accept them didn’t bother me as much. I think it’s just that I was so put off by the standard Bioware roster that having characters that were different was such a huge breath of fresh air I was willing to let plot contrivances slide that I otherwise wouldn’t have.

              • StashAugustine says:

                Out of curiosity, when did you play KOTOR? Cause Bioware had only made two party-based games at that point (the Baldur’s Gates) and they had a fair amount of overlap in characters, so I’m not sure how there was even such a thing as the “standard Bioware roster.”

                • Keeshhound says:

                  I played KotoR and Jade Empire before KotoR II. They’re both fine games, but Jade Empire’s party is pretty much just KotoR’s party dressed up as Wulin characters and playing them back-to-back like I did pretty well soured me on them.

                  • StashAugustine says:

                    That did happen to me with Mass Effect, although that did have slightly more distinct characters (the similarities are mostly plot).

        • Zukhramm says:

          At least the first KotoR gave you the option to change sides at the end.

          Does it? Because I clearly remember waiting for an option to do so, but it never showed up.

          I have to say I had the exact opposite experience. In the first game I was forced to run around looking for map because I was told to, in the second I searched for the Jedi masters because I wanted to.

          • kenup says:

            I’m not saying the first one is better*, just that it has a more clear-cut choice at the end(at the top of the temple you can go back to being a sith). KotoR is just an illusion of choice for the most part, but the 2nd fails at that even, IMO. I mostly brought it up as a counter to the “YOU HAVE TO DO THAT/FAIL AT DOING THAT for stupid/heavy-handed and/or not well-defined reasons” constant style of the 2nd. And as I said, many times I can see the more grey, logical, intelligent or neutral(or any combination of these) option in my mind, or from NPCs speaking it(before or after the fact), but the game doesn’t let me have it.

            *In fact I think the second is better because: better gameplay + robes + no Tattooine + the whole tomb mission on Dxun + really good dialogue at some points.

            • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

              On several replays, I decided that the fatalism of some aspects of the game was actually (if not necessarily intentionally) a plot point. Kreia’s great anger at the Force is that it controls your actions. She loved the Exile because he was a hole in the Force, and yet even then the Force could control the Exile by affecting the world around him.

              The Exile can claim to bursting that his decisions were always his choice. Kreia doesn’t believe it.

              And at the end of the game, the question the player has to ask is: “did the exile ever make a decision?”

          • ehlijen says:

            The choice to switch sides in the end is tied to the choice to join Bastila. The only way to end up on the dark side (though you’ll still have to fight the boss) is to actually join with her. Refusing will obviously leave you light, but for some reason so will deciding to execute her for her betrayal.

            Basically, there’s two options: she ends up in your party again (dark) or escapes (light), no matter whether an evil or good dialogue choice led to either result.

            • Aldowyn says:

              Well you can convince her to turn away from the dark side again if you’re awesome enough. Actually, it MIGHT be tied to the romance, now that I think about it… which obviously has it’s own problems.

      • Lame Duck says:

        For me, the exasperation with the black and white morality wasn’t due to over-exposure to the setting (other than the movies, the only Star Wars products I’ve been exposed to are a few of the games), but the presentation of the Jedi in KotOR 1 made me really dislike them, so I was very glad to be able to play a character who didn’t agree with the Jedi but also wasn’t a pointlessly psychopathic Sith. Honestly, I think most of my issues with KotOR 1 (and consequent like of KotOR 2) stem from the protagonist; s/he is neither a role-playable avatar for the player nor a character written by the developers with a coherent arc, so s/he just ends up being a completely uninteresting non-character. It’s like Commander Shepherd but even worse. This also made a lot of the interactions with other characters feel hollow and it meant that the big twist kind of fell flat; it didn’t seem to be important to any of the characters, so why should it be important to me as the player?

        I also might have liked the characters a lot more if Bioware hadn’t been reusing them over and over again for the last decade.

      • Wedge says:

        Part of KotOR II’s incoherence was the sheer amount of cut lines there were. I didn’t really appreciate what was going on in KotOR II until I played the restored content mod.

        At any rate, the issue with KotOR II wasn’t budget, it was time. Obsidian were basically given 18 months to make the game. Then, midway through development, LucasArts went “haha, just kidding! We need it out 6 months earlier so we can sell it for Christmas” That’s why the game is a buggy piece of crap with no ending, it was literally unfinished. The restored content mod fixed a lot of that (you know, eight years later.)

      • Vitez Kolya says:

        I enjoyed both of them quite well. The only things that bothered me in both games was that parts of the interior in the ship would turn pink once in a while.

  4. Humanoid says:

    Can’t read the article from work, but the response to the question is “anything not prefixed by Star Wars”. Now I’m not saying all the Star Wars games were bad or anything that absurd, but I would say that personally I enjoyed the ones I did *in spite* of them being Star Wars games. Sorry Star Wars fans, but I don’t even slightly enjoy any aspect of the Star Wars setting – I’ve never watched any of the movies in full.

    To wit: I would play another Obsidian KoTOR, indeed I would play the hell out of it. But I’d also rather Obsidian work on games without wearing the Star Wars straitjacket. Eternity is a good start, but I want to see them expand their portfolio over the next few year that it’s not their only unencumbered property. I am aware that the head honchos there might not agree, since there’s the news that Feargus Urquhart has been pitching a new SW game at Disney, but my hope is that in the longer future, they no longer need to shop around ideas to publishers to create games with bigger-than-Kickstarter budgets.

    Apologies for the digression, back to the former LucasArts. While there’s a lot to admire in their adventure game portfolio, I’m comfortable with most of them remaining one-off games. I mean, what more could you do with say, the Grim Fandango licence without retreading your steps? Same with Full Throttle or indeed LOOM. I could see another Maniac Mansion, sure, but there’s nothing specific about it that couldn’t be done without the licence. Sam and Max and Monkey Island are already in competent-enough hands.

    I suppose the only solid non-SW property is Indiana Jones, but I suspect given current trends that any future Indy game will be Tomb Raider-esque action game. Which is a shame because I will say straight out that Fate of Atlantis is the best Indiana Jones product of them all, including all of the movies.

    As for other random properties, uh, Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe? Afterlife maybe?

    P.S. They need to hurry up and sign a deal with GOG for their catalogue, dammit.

    • I’d also rather Obsidian work on games without wearing the Star Wars straitjacket.

      True, but something akin to KoTOR3 would also be solid work.
      It means a solid budget, PR, investor confidence, and as long as it’s not rushed as KoTOR2 was it will probably be a “RPG of the year critic game”.

      If Obsidian manages to get a nice deal like if Disney funds it, then Disney gets back the budget from the profits, and then when the budget it payed back Obsidian could get say 5% of the profits on further sales of the game (in perpetuity it is called I believe).

      A small percentage may not seem like much, but it will help fill the coffers. If the sales and long tail are really good it is nice money indeed. Maybe they could negotiate a higher percentage even as the investor would be guaranteed back their investment first before any profit sharing.

      When it comes to KoTOR2 I have no idea who get the profits on current sales on that, I kind of doubt that Obsidian see a single cent form any profits on that now. (please correct me if I’m wrong, I’d love to hear Obsidian get cash on current KoTOR2 sales.)

  5. Malimar says:

    Before I started reading, I said to myself, “Jedi Knight and X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter better be on this list.” And then they were. So… we are in agreement.

    One thing about the Dark Forces/Jedi Knight series: as the gameplay improved, the story degenerated: Jedi Knight (or possibly Jedi Outcast — or it could be Dark Forces, but I haven’t played Dark Forces, so I can’t really speak to that) had the best story (which… not really saying all that much by the standards of modern games), but Jedi Academy had the best gameplay. It would be great if they took Jedi Academy’s gameplay, apply what they’ve learned from Force Unleashed, and hired some decent writers to tell a good Star Wars story (rather than the good Star Wars fanfiction told by Force Unleashed).

    Also, Jedi Knight had live-action cutscenes, starring the excellently hammy Christopher Neame as the bad guy. (I think it would be pretty neat if games started doing that more often in general. I can’t imagine it would be much more expensive than (pre)rendered cutscenes.) I recently rewatched all the cutscenes on Youtube, shortly after having marathoned all the movies and I was struck by something: Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II FEELS more like Star Wars than any other Star Wars game I’ve played; it feels even more like Star Wars than the prequel movies do. (I actually like the prequels, but even I admit they have a very different feel from the original trilogy.)

    • Aldowyn says:

      Random factoid of the day: The protagonist of Jedi Academy, should you choose to play as a female, is voiced by Jennifer Hale. :D

      I always liked the melee combat in Jedi Academy. I’m not very good at it, but it’s still the closest any game has come to actually making me feel like I’m using a lightsaber, with decent control over the type of attack, saber locks, and lots of 1-hit kills.

  6. Factoid says:

    You hit my major on…the Xwing / TIE fighter series. Although what kind of heathen played those games with a mouse? Joystick only, please! I actually have a draft in my head for a perfect control scheme for a modern console. Yes, it loses some of the complexity in the targetting system, but you can retain a lot of the depth via pause menus for things like map screens, objectives, damage reports, etc…

    And several games have proven that voice commands can be effective. Especially with Kinect’s voice interface. Imagine barking commands to your astromech droid to do things like balance shields, transfer energy to lasers, or target the nearest friendly. It wouldn’t be perfect, but it doesn’t need to be. Those commands are rarely twitch commands…so if you have to repeat yourself you’re not dead in space. Except maybe for shield balancing, but we can probably put that on the dpad somewhere.

    Republic Commando is an incredibly competent shooter. It has great environments, interesting protagonists, varied environments…decent play time…all the stuff you look for in a shooter. Nothing terribly innovative, but it was a great use of the property. Besides, when was the last truly innovative concept introduced into a shooter? Maybe Max Payne’s bullettime? 10 years ago?

    • krellen says:

      I bought a joystick because I got X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter and there was no other proper way to play that game.

      • Hydralysk says:

        Amen, that was the second game I ever played with a joystick after Descent 2. It’s a shame that I only really get use out of my joystick from FreeSpace Open and it’s total conversions these days. If there was one genre that I’d love to see make a comeback it’s that type of space combat sim.

        • Humanoid says:

          I bought a new joystick in *2011* for Privateer – the original one. And it was the same joystick I owned in the 90s, a CH F-16 Combatstick, except this time with a USB connector instead of the old 15-pin gameport/MIDI port.

          Screw Microsoft for obsoleting my entire stable of joysticks, it was fortunate that I could replace my CH, which was my go-to stick for space sims, but there’s no real replacing of my Thrustmaster FCS-style sticks which were preferred for conventional flight sims. I’d take the F-4 shape sticks for comfort over the F-16 sticks anyday. (For context, gameports are no longer supported in Vista/7)

          • Ronixis says:

            There are actually game port-to-USB adapters (I have one).

            • Humanoid says:

              Yeah, had a quick look at some, but locally it wasn’t really price competitive given the mixed reviews I’ve seen, low sampling rate, limited inputs recognised, not getting the full movement range and such. For $10, maaaaybe up to $20 I might have given one a try. But a new USB CH Flightstick is somewhere around $60 so going new seemed the better bet.

      • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter was the reason I got a good enough internet connection to play online.

        Got creamed routinely, but that’s not the point.

        Cooperative and Competitive, free-for-all and team -it was a great game. And I agree that voice would be a nice addition.

        And Republic Commando was the best shooter I’ve played from a story and immersion standpoint. While not the best mechanics, the 4-person squad with unique personalities, and the emphasis on coordinated squad combat (breaching doors never gets old) made me feel like I was fighting a war. Not playing Rambo.

        It was like a more fun version of Hidden and Dangerous. (And H&D was a fun game, too.)

        Oh, and that cliff-hanger ending… so dirty pool with no sequel ever delivered.

      • harborpirate says:

        I bought a flight stick specifically for the purpose of playing X-Wing that had an 8-way programmable hat switch and base mounted throttle. It made you feel like a fighter pilot the minute you picked it up. I miss that.

        • Bryan says:

          I bet this was later than yours, but I still *have* my Sidewinder Force Feedback Pro. The one that shows up as a MIDI device for the force feedback stuff, because this was *long* before USB existed, and the joystick port couldn’t actually do force feedback (because it was input-only), but the two MIDI pins let the host computer actually talk back out to the joystick.

          Still works as an input device, too — it’s been a long time since I tried to fire up the only force-feedback-supporting game I ever had. And the flightsim that I bought that joystick for deadlocks itself under wine shortly after takeoff. :-( And yes, I *do* still have a MIDI/joystick port, although the next motherboard I get probably won’t.

          Still is a heck of a joystick though. Four axes, eleventy buttons (…well, OK, four for the right hand plus an 8-way hat, plus four more for the left hand, plus one programmable shift button thingy that really only worked with the windows driver now that I think about it), and force feedback. Sigh.

          Almost makes me want to put some time into the USB adapter for this thing (has a microcontroller on it to talk USB HID to the host, and both joystick-port and MIDI out the DB15 connector to the device), to make sure it keeps working when I do end up having to replace this motherboard…

          Also: Hey you kids! Get off my lawn! :-P

          • Wedge says:

            You know what sucks? NOBODY makes force-feedback joysticks anymore. I still play a lot of flight sims and it is just impossible to find FF joysticks. So sad.

            • Humanoid says:

              Unfortunate that we don’t have the option, but Force Feedback is something that’s never sat right with me for flight sticks in terms of personal use. Steering wheels maybe, but that’s just a guess since I don’t play realistic driving sims.

              Any pilots out there able to comment? I’m aware that unlike the replicas we get, real F-16 sticks don’t actually move around on their base, but are there any other aspects of its operation that don’t translate to gaming?

              • ehlijen says:

                In fly-by-wire aircraft, such as the F16, I believe, you are correct, the stick specifically does not move on its own. In older analog stick aircraft, they might.

                But what force feedback is meant to simulate isn’t the stick moving, but the whole airplane moving around you. If an F16 fires its gun, the pilot would feel some of that.

                But since force feedback chairs are a little impractical, games tried to add that to joysticks instead.

                • Wedge says:

                  Only large or advanced aircraft are fly-by-wire. Smaller aircraft still have mechanical linkages and you DEFINITELY get direct feedback on the yoke/stick when flying them.

            • Felblood says:

              For bonus sadness:

              The derth of FF joysticks (and hence FF support in games) is due to patent trolls.

  7. harborpirate says:

    The fact that there hasn’t been a game in the X-Wing series in well over a decade is practically a crime.

    I agree that there is no reason at all why such a game wouldn’t be perfectly playable on a dual analog setup; the genre probably needs a control scheme shakeup anyway. Memorizing dozens of control keys sucked. That would be one of the few parts of that series that I wouldn’t miss if it was gone.

    With the upcoming rip-snorting console power we’ve got coming to us (and PCs that pack that punch or more), these games would look phenomenal, but since they use the same models repeatedly, costs would be relatively low. So there’s no issue there.

    It just makes me think, maybe it was time for Lucasarts to close up shop, if they were just going to sit on a potential gold mine like X-Wing and ignore it.

    • Humanoid says:

      Given the state of the genre, I imagine they think of it as more of an asbestos mine as opposed to a gold mine – i.e. something that used to be big but now is only minimally useful.

      Hopefully Squadron 42 proves them wrong.

      • harborpirate says:

        Ok, maybe its only a copper mine. I’m definitely excited about some of these kickstarter attempts at the genre, hopefully they will meet with success.

    • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      Fun fact – I got Wing Commander of GoG. And then I got the Kilrathi Saga version for the better sound.

      It has been at least a decade since I played through the X-Wing series (from X-Wing all the way through Alliance).

      I still keep hitting “y” to scroll backwards through the targets, “]” to go to 2/3 throttle, and “enter” to match speed. That last one is particularly annoying when you have a dumbfire or IFF missile armed…

      • Humanoid says:

        I haven’t checked lately, but copies of the Kilrathi Saga compilation, which had such a short run, were worth a $200-300 at one point. I’m guessing easy availability of the series from GOG makes them less desirable to acquire for actual use, but still sort of a collector’s item. I have a couple copies, one bought on release and abused the heck out of, and the other a questionable condition second hand one from a tat shop.

        • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

          The saga is down around $80 now. Which given that it has the expansions and the CD quality sound was worth it to me. But oddly enough, with GoG and DosBox, the Dos versions actually run better.

          But the sound effects for the afterburners made my ears bleed.

          So, buggy game with good sound or solid platform with nails-on-the-chalkboard.

          This is actually a difficult question for me.

  8. burningdragoon says:

    Obviously Pod Race needs a reboot. >.>

    I was looking over LucasArts games and I really have only played a handful of them and barely any of the non-Star Wars ones. The, admittedly, very little I played of one of the Battlefront games didn’t leave too much of an impression on me.

  9. Hitchmeister says:

    Hey! I liked Ballblazer and The Eidolon and Rescue on Fractalus. Don’t make me beat you with my cane.

  10. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

    It was one of the adventure games, but Full Throttle remains my favorite of the LucasArts games, and I’d like to see TellTale take a crack at it.

    I’d also like to see a version of Empire at War which had the scale and resource/strategy elements of Rebellion and the ground combat of Force Commander. I appreciate that Empire at War has much cooler looking space battles than Rebellion -but you know what: I like fighting the Battle of Corscant with 40 cruisers and more than 200 smaller ships plus fighter squadrons (I used to have 40 gunships and 40 corvettes running escort alone, plus another 20 frigates… yeah, I never really got that “beat the game in a 100 days” goal. I build big fleets, and was always rather sad the computer didn’t match them).

    • StashAugustine says:

      How is Rebellion? I would love a Star Wars 4X to death but I hear that it’s really, really obtuse even by 4X standards. I mean, I’m basically looking for the game version of Thrawn’s campaign in The Last Command.

      • Daimbert says:

        Diplomacy and thus characters are very, very important, because popular support can be a great defense — your opponent can invade the planet, but it will be useless to them and in uprising until you can bring up popular support or stick enough troops there — which makes it less of a pure military campaign. That being said, it’s one of my favourite Star Wars games, and a game that does have that addictive “Well, let me wait until my fleet’s built … and then see if it wins … and then see how that campaign on Kothlis is turning out … and …” quality to it. And while I tend to be a bit lackluster at these sorts of games, even on Easy with a big galaxy the computer has enough resources to be annoying and even cripple you if you make the sorts of mistakes I typically make [grin].

        • StashAugustine says:

          That’s actually pretty awesome, I kept wishing Empire At War had more diplomacy options.

          • Well, the only options are to send one of your characters on a mission to the planet to improve it, which might succeed or fail, so it isn’t deep. But from what I understood about Empire at War it’s a lot more important in Rebellion.

            • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

              I have always heard the knock on Rebellion as the game being complicated and hard to play, with ugly and simplistic space battles and lousy graphics. I never got this complaint. Sure, it wasn’t Homeworld, but Homeworld didn’t let you build massive fleets and engage in six simultaneous assaults on the Empire.

              At heart, the game isn’t really a 4x. There is one victory condition: take the enemy capital, capture the enemy leaders. Doing that will require a fleet and an army. All the diplomacy, all the invasions, all the economic development is in the service of that goal.

              But you do have options. You get about 30 characters per side, and the proper use of them is a big part of the game for me. Do you send them all in a group to improve the odds of success, or split them up to run more operations?

              You can use diplomacy to win over neutral planets. You can use other characters to incite rebellions. And you can use other characters to sabotage the defenses of the planet to let the rebellion succeed.

              I once played a game where I refused to attack any planet that wasn’t already in open rebellion. It was hard, but it was also rewarding to shuttle in a few squads of instigators and saboteurs, undermine the Empire on that planet, drop their defenses, and then swoop in with the fleet to liberate the planet.

              There was also R&D to develop your fleet and economy, and exploration and colonization.

              Look, the game could definitely have used a layer of glam -but it was a lot of fun to play.

              • StashAugustine says:

                Yeah, from what I’ve seen the big complaints are UI and the space battles. I might get it if I can find it somewhere.

                • ehlijen says:

                  It is fun if you’re into what it’s trying to be, but it can be quite dreary.

                  Most of the time you sit there and wait for the clock to tick away while ignoring messages like ‘We finished X-wing 16 out of 24 from your order! Rejoice and arto tweetle!’

                  The gui and the space battles are bad, but not bad enough to deter fans of the genre. It’s just that MoO2 is still miles better.

              • The characters make the game, and solve something that many licensed games fail at: making it so that you take advantage of the characters and story behind the IP to make you feel like you’re actually in that universe. I think more games should take advantage of that by adding special events and powers for characters in the game, and think that Rebellion should have actually done that more than it did.

                That’s one reason I’d like to see a sequel; with all of the EU to draw on, you could add a lot of character abilities and events to make it more of a game that’s the movies working out differently which would be, in my humble opinion, utterly awesome.

                • ehlijen says:

                  Sadly, rebellion went a little too far. Most of the time characters simply sat around with military ranks or doing diplomacy missions.

                  The rest of the missions were great, but making characters just perform the vital but boring mission of making nice with conquerees half the time didn’t really feel that special.

                  • Daimbert says:

                    I didn’t mind it, because it was better than toggling your “number of diplomats” numbers up or training a generic diplomat to send. Sending Vader to appease a just conquered system was kinda cool, and I really liked, say, sending Thrawn out to the Outer Rim with a big fleet to find the Rebel base.

    • cassander says:

      I still play rebellion! It is an astonishingly well made game, surprisingly well balanced in multiplayer. The only downsides are its limited to two players and needs some finagling to work on modern machines.

  11. Big Steve says:

    RE: X-wing series and user interface

    The mouse wasn’t really the right controller for the X-wing series games. I can certainly see making it work with a gamepad, since a lot of the user interface can be streamlined, and it’s easy to automate or omit a bunch of features. I don’t think the ability to angle deflector shields was used much, and setting it to automatically dump gun energy to shields as a toggle rather than having to manually transfer it all the time would probably be pretty popular. A smart target selector that can pick out opponents based on how much of a danger they are to the overall mission would be pretty handy too.

    The right right controller isn’t a gamepad, though, but rather a joystick. For about half the price of a Dualshock (going by Amazon prices) you can get a stick with a dozen buttons, a throttle lever, and a hat switch, usually all fully programmable (the hat switch can become even more buttons if you want).

    The reason I bring this up is that, rather than making a softer sim for the console crowd, I’d like to put in a vote for making a harder sim for the guys who don’t mind a little complexity as long as it actually adds something to the game. Atmospheric flight, so changing your s-foil configuration actually matters! A real hyperspace system that lets you jump around at will rather than “press H to end the mission” or being married to pre-scripted waypoints (this would be easy to turn into Star Wars: Privateer)! Dare I dream, TrackIR support!

    Maybe that’s not where the money is, but there’s no rule that says you can’t have both at the same time, where the simplified controls are the only ones that are truly necessary to play the game, or possibly a setting that changes the game between “arcade” mode and “sim” mode. Still, Eagle Dynamics seems to be making enough money to stay afloat with their Digital Combat Simulator series, and while I’m not advocating making an X-wing game as complex as DCS: A-10C or Falcon 4.0, maybe a little additional depth to a Star Wars sim could still appeal to guys like me without scaring away the pick-up-and-play crowd.

    • houser2112 says:

      True, the S-foils control was useless, since there was no in-game reason that I remember to use it other than “ooh, neat”, but introducing atmospheric flight still wouldn’t make it useful. All of the craft in the X-Wing series are as aerodynamic as a rock, and would not generate lift in the absence of their repulsorlift system. The only way I could see making it a useful feature is introducing a block on the auto-landing procedure (“Red 5, we cannot initiate landing protocol while your S-foils are deployed, please comply.”), since the craft that had them could not land with them deployed.

      • microwaviblerabbit says:

        I think lot of the work in terms of designing controls for a new X-wing game has been done. The Rogue Squadron games for the N64 and Gamecube managed to build a competent scheme. While less in depth or advanced, the important flight controls were hashed out.

        Thinking about it, Rogue Squadron itself should be brought back to life. The games were all well reviewed and the second one sold over a million copies. Since the series was killed by a stupid decision to try to make it a third person ground based shooter as well, a focus on solely flying combat would be the best way to revive the series.

        X-wing is great, but it also has been inactive for a long time. Rogue squadron was more recent, and was designed to work on consoles. If someone could get Disney to re-release Rogue Squadron II, that would be a good first step to a new X-wing game by proving the concept sells. If it fails, X-wing won’t be tainted by a failed reboot. It’s a win-win solution for everyone.

      • Hieronymus says:

        In the first Rogue Squadron game (the only one I recommend, actually), changing your S-foil configuration would disable weapons and increase speed.

        While it wasn’t quite accurate, it affected the gameplay in an interesting way.

    • Hieronymus says:

      “The reason I bring this up is that, rather than making a softer sim for the console crowd, I’d like to put in a vote for making a harder sim for the guys who don’t mind a little complexity as long as it actually adds something to the game.”

      Yes, a thousand times.

      Also, you might be interested in Diaspora

  12. Dev Null says:

    “Shamus Young thinks that hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side.”

    I honestly read that as “hoTkey religions”, and was all set to lambaste you for the pun. Now I’m kind of sad you didn’t.

  13. Neko says:

    Typo alert: Every time you used Pit Droids in italics, you’ve got Pit Driods instead.

  14. Infinitron says:

    It’s not true that the Lucasarts adventure games “never sold that well”. Adventure games were a top genre back in the early 90s.

  15. Thomas says:

    It’s kinda weird to hear Shamus talk about the Force Unleashed. I’d never imagine you playing that sort of game

  16. Wulfgar says:

    Grim Fandango
    Full Throttle

    my favorites

  17. arron says:

    I think that Shamus drew the net too tightly around some of the wrong products. Games like “Rescue on Fraculus” and “Koronis Rift” are non-Star Wars licences but they had a very interesting mechanic which hasn’t been replicated elsewhere.

    Fraculus has you rescuing pilots from downed space craft under fire, and on the old 8-bit machines this was obviously a very simplistic mechanic even with the innovative fractal landscape. This could easily be dressed up for a more modern outing – perhaps by having decoy pilots having much more subtle flaws in their uniform that give away their true identity..or laying other types of booby traps on the downed craft you have to keep a lookout for.

    Koronis Rift also has a mechanic that is not widely seen in modern games – looting derelicts to get technology to research or sell. And then finally finding the right equipment to allow you to destroy the saucer base. There’s a lot of places that they could go with this – adding back story to the crashed ships through logs and computer archives..have wrecks in both orbit and on the planet that you have to use different techniques to explore..and having automated bases on Koronis itself that you have to overcome. I think that this game has a lot more development opportunity than a lot of the Star Wars IP that might be on offer to be honest.

    Another game that was missing from the list was the Original Tie Fighter game. This was a game with both spaceship based conflict in a tiny fragile golf-ball with wings, complex multi-stage missions and a back-story of treachery and revenge that added another layer onto what could just be a series of combat missions.

    I rate this game over the X Wing vs Tie Fighter game as the later game was just a multiplayer game without much depth to it. The original Tie Fighter game was the zenith of the series, and if you’re going to update some Star Wars IP for modern platforms, then that’s where I’d start to be honest. It’s got a lot of potential for story and exploring new combat situations.

  18. Thomas says:

    By the way, are you the Escapists longest running columnist now? You’ve been around much longer than Critical Intel and then I think that only leaves Experienced Points and MovieBobs columns, which have been more consistent but I think you started yours first?

  19. Mephane says:

    I would totally play a new Jedi Knight game. Really, this series got better with each sequel, and I still have fond memories of Jedi Knight III as my personal pinnacle of lightsaber/force powers combat.

  20. Abnaxis says:

    Alright, I know I am absolutely the only person who gives a crap about this game, but my favorite LucasArts games is Gladius. It was a turn-based tactical game on the console (gasp!) that actually allowed hot seat cooperative play (shock and awe!). It was great, because my wife and I could cook supper, kick back, and play while we ate, taking turns between bites.

    I’m still not all that disappointed that LucasArts is dissolved now though–regardless of whether the company was still around today, we would never get another game like Gladius. Even if you look beyond the fact that it was turn based, the general attitude towards multiplayer these days is “random strangers on the internet who both own a copy are the only ones who get to play together,” even when it makes no sense to have that restriction (looking at you, Civilization). And if you completely ignore all reality and imagine a world with hot-seat turn based tactical multplayer, no way in a million years would it be cooperative.

  21. wererogue says:

    I loved and still love XWing Vs. Tie Fighter et al (I still sometimes load up XWing: Alliance) but I also loved the Rogue Squadron games. Much more arcade-y, but a complete blast, and dripping with Star Wars milieu.

    • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      It was Rogue Squadron that got me to read the X-Wing comics. I’m rather sad that they didn’t release the later games for the PC.

  22. Paul Spooner says:

    How about “The Dig”? I have many fond memories of that game. It was probably the best “adventure game” I’ve played, though I haven’t played all that many. I seem to recall the ending wasn’t very satisfying, and the game was fairly short once you know the solutions to all the puzzles.
    But what hooked me was the sense of wonder and exploration. Every new location reached, every tiny bit of lore and dialog, every ride on the nexus tram, it all felt exciting and wonderous. And that without (nearly) any action scenes!
    Of course, it could be nostalgia on my part. The last time I played it was years and years ago.

    • Nick Lester Bell says:

      It’s not just nostalgia. I have played The Dig in the past year, and it is still really awesome.

      • Matt K says:

        Bought the game when it came out, but it didn’t work on my PC so I returned it (remember when you could return games).

        I have to check that one out at some point. The novelization was pretty neat though.

  23. Bloodsquirrel says:

    I still maintain that KOTOR II was poorly conceived from the start, and having more time would have at best taken the edges off of the badness.

    The real problem with the ending wasn’t just that it was rushed, it was that it was the inevitable result of a plot with no focus, a main villain with no logical motivation, a main character who is never given any coherent motivations for a player to latch onto, and too many half-developed ideas that didn’t fit together as part of a whole.

    An important part of being the kind of deconstruction that KOTOR 2 thought it was is that your game/story stands on its own as a coherent work. Otherwise, your ideas come off as weaker than the conventions that they’re trying to comment on. KOTOR 2’s story is missing a lot of things at its very core, and was pretty much doomed by leaving pre-production without a re-write of the basic plot first.

    • Thomas says:

      You’re being chased by two powerful beings who are trying to kill you, find them and stop them seems like good motivation for most people.

      And the main villains motivation can be summed up as ‘they hate everyone and are really bitter’. There’s lots and lots of subtleties to those generalisations but thats how it should work if somethings been written competently

      • Bloodsquirrel says:

        The two Sith Lords after you don’t even make it to the end of the story. There’s a lot of “plot” in the game that isn’t being driven by them.

        And “they hate everyone and are really bitter” is absurdly inadequate for a villain like Darth Traya, who is really, really trying to be a complex character with heavily deconstructionalist philosophies. She’s supposed to be a deconstruction of “RAWR BAD GUY” sith lords, not just a really weak example of one. She spends most of the game bitching about that very kind of motivation. The final confrontation with her is entirely forced, laking a reason why either the main character or Traya should bother.

        • Syal says:

          It’s a metaphorical story more than anything; the bad guys aren’t supposed to be the threat that drives the plot, they’re just representations of the threats; zombie guy being Anger, mask guy being Personal Power, the Jedi being Tradition, and Kreia being Cynicism.

          The plot is about the Exile choosing who he is.

          • Bloodsquirrel says:

            “The plot is about the Exile choosing who he is.”

            That’s more like what the first game was about.

            The Exile doesn’t get to choose much, really. The game is much more about Kreia than it is about him. Even in the end, you don’t have a choice. You have to follow the path that Kreia has set out for you. You don’t get the choice to reject her stupid philosophies and leave her to rot. Kreia is the mouthpiece for the author, and The Exile is just the ear piece for the audience.

            Her motivation is entirely meta. She’s there to let you know what Chris Avellone things about the force and the Jedi, and whether that leads to her making any sense as an actual character is not bothered with.

            Why is the Exile’s test a straight-up fight? What dos that have to do with any of the “lessons” that she’s been teaching him? Why does a character who is supposed to represent manipulation letting everything come down to brute force in the end?

            How does pissing around with the Exile as she does help lead to “The death of destiny and everything?” Why not just let Nihilus destroy everything? He was doing a pretty good job.

            You can have a lot of fun describing the various Informed Attributes of per personality, but when you actually start trying to map them onto her behavior in the game or put them together into a cohesive whole they fall apart.

            • Syal says:

              You think Kreia’s the main character because you aren’t in the mindset to become the Exile.

              You don’t get the choice to reject her stupid philosophies and leave her to rot.

              Because the story’s not about rejecting philosophies offhand, it’s about exploring them, weighing them against each other, and finding where they fail.

              Like I said, Kreia doesn’t represent Manipulation, she represents Cynicism, which leads to manipulation and cold dealings with people. Cynicism drives her to betray the Exile. (And following cynicism creates Revan, but it also creates zombie guy and possibly mask guy, it’s been a while since I played it.)

              I would say the end fight is her wanting to lose because she wants her philosophy to be proven wrong.

              • Bloodsquirrel says:

                “You think Kreia’s the main character because you aren’t in the mindset to become the Exile.”

                I’m not in the mindset to become the Exile because he’s an incredibly weak protagonist. He’s a blank slate and we aren’t given anything to draw with.

                “Because the story’s not about rejecting philosophies offhand, it’s about exploring them, weighing them against each other, and finding where they fail.”

                That’s the last thing that the story’s about. You never get to actually challenge Kreia’s philosophy. You never get to weight her prattling against anything. You never get to point out where they fail, and you never get to really explore anything she says. Other viewpoints are never given any kind of weight. You get to sit there and listen as she drifts between trite observations and blatant nonsense.

                You don’t get to disagree in the end. You don’t ever get to be smarter than her, no matter how dumb she’s being. When you kill her, you kill her because she wanted you to. It’s her show, and you’re just along for the ride.

                • Syal says:

                  When you kill her, you kill her because she wanted you to.

                  And now she’s gone, and it’s up to the Exile whether her philosophy survives.

                  That’s the key thing; you don’t want to disagree, you want to express disagreement. There’s not a lot of that; it’s mostly letting philosophies destroy themselves.

                  (You say the game doesn’t let you be smarter than Kreia, I say you’re the one that’s still alive at the end.)

        • Thomas says:

          I was avoiding spoilers when I said two Sith Lords, they’re all part of the same threat and the main character motivation is seeking out that threat and destroying it (or helping the Jedi or grubbing power. That’s basically up to the player). Darth Traya’s game actually only takes her up to the council scene. And whilst there are a _lot_ of complexities to Traya’s character (even in the meta universe because she’s a ‘branch’ of Ravel from Planescape:Torment) her central motivation really can be boiled down to hating everything and everyone Except the PC who she loves. She had the normal story arc and then was betrayed and was so sullen from her betrayal that her overwhelming desire was to see the death of destiny and everything, including herself.

          The last fight is part of that, it’s a test because everything else before then is a lesson. She never intended to live, she hated everything included the acquisition of power and she was giving herself up to achieve her final goals. If she dies then she succeeds (maybe, unless PC is lightside in which case she needs to try and provoke PC anyway) and if she doesn’t die then she chose the wrong tool and it doesn’t matter.

          EDIT: Although there are a ton of levels that KotoR 2 can be read on, there’s a lot of symbolicness in the confrontation, or practical issues and you can drift to the one that suits your mindest.

          As Syal said ‘The plot is about the Exile choosing who he is’ is probably the best description of everything that happens in the game and as he says equally brilliantly and succinctly further upstream everyone in the game is giving you a different way to look at the universe and the events going on in it and it’s up to you to settle on what you think is right.

          You can look at Traya as being another straight up Sith and all her words and ideas are just masks that she deludes herself with as the darkside leads her down the destructive path which is why she must betray and kill all or she’s right or the world isn’t lightside/darkside and she’s just got another person with another world view …etc

          (Incidentally TSLRCM now has Traya turning Atris in the end game, which fits her perfectly and is so fitting for her role and that stage of the game. Well worth playing)

          • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

            I must have missed Atris being turned when I played TSLRCM. Is that a special trigger or something?

            Especially post restoration, I thought Traya made a great villain for a game whose theme is some variant of War Never Ends or War Makes Monsters of us All. The Exile is, in some ways, the Star Wars equivalent of Shane. Necessary, but his very existence is an invitation to war.

            Kreia decides the only way to end the War in the Force is to kill the Force. It is the Exile who, Shane-like, has to stop her. But even then, while killing the Force wouldn’t have ended the war, the Exile still cannot stay in civilization, and so has to leave.

      • Felblood says:

        I must disagree. Actually having an ending to the game that differed based on your choices would go a long way to making the Exile’s actions actually mean something.

        You go through the game with all these random people telling you how to live your life, to set up the final choice, but then when you make that choice, the game ends with no denouement or catharsis.

        The Exile’s character can have no arc because his story ends right before he get’s the change to actually effect the other characters in a meaningful way.

        [Embrace Dark Side/Embrace Light Side/destroy both aspects of Force] is a huge decision, and which one you take will reflect on what you took way from each character who offered their opinion on the force and how it ought to be used.

        Each of your companions can sense the Force, and has his take on it, but we as the player must pass judgement on the Force from their disparate descriptions.

        Let me tell you a story for an example of why this ruins everything:

        The King of India summoned several blind men to his court. For his amusement, all but one of the blind men would feel an elephant, and try to describe the animal. Each man felt a different part of the beast, and announced wildly different conclusions regarding it’s size, shape and nature. Then the king commanded the last blind man to decide what to do with the elephant, based on their descriptions. The end.

        It’s not really the last blind man’s fault that the story ends before he actually gets to do anything, is it?

  24. Jace911 says:

    “I’m sure you’ll tell me what I missed in the comments.”

    Mother.

    Fucking.

    Bounty Hunter.

    Although props for including Republic Commando.

    • Felblood says:

      Eh…

      Good concept sold me the game.

      Crappy camera and dodgy jetpack mechanics kept me from playing it much.

      Good use of color though. We could use more of that.

  25. Adamantyr says:

    No love for Koronis Rift and Rescue on Fractalus?

  26. Peter H. Coffin says:

    Aww… No love for Rescue on Fractalus! I played that for hours straight in high school. And I’m dating myself badly.

    It’s a remarkably elaborate and sophisticated game for the time, and it would have been BRILLIANT as a mini-game in something like Mass Effect 2, like something to do with the Hammerhead in the REST of the game.

  27. Duffy says:

    I loved Rebellion. Empire at War tried to catch the same essence, but I personally think it only did 1 or 2 things well and dropped the ball on the rest. Take the turn based and hero/mission approach of Rebellion with a tweaked/boosted version of the combat engine from Empire at War, add in a meaningful tech system and declare 4X victory.

    Something else I would love to see is a sandbox game somewhat like Freelancer or X series. To this day I have not had the honor and glory of commanding my own personal Star Destroyer and that makes me sad. I always figured it was a logical extension of the X-Wing/TIE Series.

  28. Jabrwock says:

    Star Wars Battlefront.

    Yeah it was “Battlefront with Star Wars”, but it was a decent idea, and the simplicity of the fact that it was pretty much Battlefront modded, means it would be an easy redo.

    • Thomas says:

      I loved that game so much. It all felt so right and if you unlocked the prestige assault rifle you could become a complete headshoting monster. 2 even had a pretty decent story mode. I played that game so much (against AI because my PS2 wasn’t internet connected) that I ending up learning the exact points on every map you need to take for your AI side to take control of the battle flow

  29. Shamus is showing his PC elitism here and not mentioning the games that need to be revived from the golden age of the console.

    That’s right, I’m talking “Jedi Arena,” “The Empire Strikes Back,” and “Star Wars: Death Star Battle.” C’mon team Atari 2600! Make your 2 channel 1-bit monaural voices heard!

  30. Hieronymus says:

    “These games loom large in the […]”

    I see what you did there.

    Also, am I the only on that thinks that Loom wasn’t a very good game?

    • krellen says:

      Probably not, but you’ve won no friend points with me.

      Loom was a nice break for the auditory learners in the audience. And the “literally cannot lose” thing was pretty radical for its time, and awesome.

      • Hieronymus says:

        My reason for not liking it was that there was little in the way of logic behind when and where to use something.

        I found myself getting stuck quite often and it quickly (in my experience) turned the game into an ‘okay, go to the last room you have available to you. okay, use everything. okay, go to the previous room.’ type of playstyle. I actually got annoyed every time I got something new, because that meant having to redo the entire process.

        Contrast this to TSoMI, where most of what you did made sense and / or had some pretext behind it.

  31. DTor says:

    Wrath Unleashed deserves another shot. The game is not without its flaws, but it’s not generic either. The fighting part of the game rewards clever tactics over memorizing complex movesets, which is great for a player who likes fighting games but sucks at them (like me). If some licensee could produce a sequel with the same art direction, setting, and mix of strategy/fighting elements, but without the absurd fanservice outfits and the gods-forsaken loading screens, I would be thrilled. I’m not holding my breath, though.

  32. I just realized we all missed something, another Star Wars game that should really be listed as well “1313”.

    “1313” just need to be completed, darnit.

  33. Ravenred says:

    “Actually, I think the whole genre deserves another shot, and it might as well happen with X-Wing.

    FWIW, the vapourware that was Frontier Development’s Elite 4 has finally coalesced into Elite: Dangerous which got Kickstartered into active development. Is looking quite good, actually.

  34. Mike says:

    One not apparently listed here is my favorite western themed first person shooter, Outlaws. Would love to see a second one of those.

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