A trio of Star Wars blasts from the past that you should revisit!
So, in celebration of Star Wars Day coming this Sunday, and of course in light of news finally appearing on the new addition to the series, this week’s Flashback Friday Feature is going to be about three of my top classic Star Wars titles! Some people may disagree with the choice of games I have chosen to point towards here, but these games certainly stand out from the crowd as the extended universe goes. They are not necessarily my favourites, and are in no particular order here, but they have been chosen instead because of how different they are to other games on the market, and how much they vary to one another. What’s more, they are all currently on sale on Steam for the weekend, and each of them can be grabbed for under £3 each, so have a look and see if you might be able to grab yourself a bit of classic gaming from a galaxy far, far away at a bargain price!
Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy
Not the first Jedi Knight game in the series, but by far my favourite, Jedi Academy sends you on a force-fuelled, lightsaber-swinging journey as a Jedi Apprentice under the guidance of the post-empire Jedi Knight; Kyle Katarn. In this game you create your own character, deciding everything from their gender, to their species, to their lightsaber colour and even the hilt they use. You can even pick whether you want to fight with a double-bladed sabre, duel wield or simply go all out with your single sword in hand to play with. Whichever you choose, you can change your style up with different stances and manipulate the force to make every fresh character you follow the story with a whole different experience to play through.
The game has a fantastic storyline which adds a great bit of knowledge into the mental collection of those fans who enjoy the extended universe surrounding the Star Wars franchise. For those who are not such big fans, it is still exciting and just as interesting, and the gameplay alone is something worth grabbing this title for. Other than perhaps some slightly off graphics and less-than-smooth movement given the fact that the game is over a decade old, the combat and general playability in the game are very innovative and open to you to control however you want. You can choose a focus on the force or on your lightsaber, but ultimately a mastery of both will be required for your success.
Out of the three titles in this feature, this is the game that you want to play if you ever had that dream of being a Jedi! Arguably a much greater game and experience of this phenomenon than any other Star Wars game has really offered, with far more freedom to enjoy than titles such as The Force Unleashed or indeed the Jedi Heroes in Star Wars Battlefront II. The game is perfect, but back in the day it was one of my favourites, and even now it would easily be at least a happy 4/5 to me!
Star Wars Republic Commando
This is not one of the most popular Star Wars games out there in terms of following, and in terms of age it is the youngest in this feature, having been released in 2005. It is still, however, almost a decade old now, and yet it offers an entirely different style of playing to any other Star Wars game you are likely to pick up. Republic Commando is set in the period between Star Wars Episode II and Episode III, following an elite Clone Commando squad on a series of missions which shed light on the events of the Clone Wars between these two key titles. The game is a squad-based shooter, and if you ask me it is one which is far more innovative than titles such as Rainbow Six, which it might be compared to. You control one member of the squad, but have the ultimate role of giving out orders to your three squad mates as you aim to complete your missions. Each member of the team has different key skills, and it is up to you to utilise these best in order to complete each task in hand.
At the time of its release, the game was very exciting, taking players to new worlds and introducing new elements to the Star Wars universe ahead of their appearance in Episode III. More interestingly, and still pretty unique to the game now, it was a very dark storyline in places. Some missions see you taking down Trandoshan Wookie-Slavers on the Wookie home world of Kashyyk; a side of the universe and indeed the game which certainly employs darker elements such as racism and immorality between species. Sides of Star Wars which make sense to exist are touched upon for rather the first time here from a direct perspective, and it creates quite a different atmosphere to this universe compared to what fans will be used to.
Republic Commando is a unique game in the Star Wars extended universe, providing fans and gamers alike with a unique perspective on the stories and ideas of the universe which they think they know. In terms of gameplay, things are just as strong, but there is far more which could be mentioned than this short feature can provide you with the knowledge for. In short an simple terms, this is more than just a shooter; it has a story, genuine tactical gameplay and plenty of strategic thinking involved. As a game today, I would place Republic Commando at around 4/5, with no major elements wrong with the game, but with some of our now more expected new-generational features and gaming perks missing from this older build.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
You would be hard pressed to find any gamer who is a Star Wars fan who would not put this on their list of top titles surrounding the saga. Many would hail it as the greatest title of the Star Wars gaming universe’s offerings, but whatever people would call it, it is certainly a goody and a true classic. Truth be told, if you have not played KOTOR before, you are not just missing a piece of Star Wars, you are missing a core piece of your gaming history, and you need to get this in your library!
Knights of the Old Republic is set, you guessed it, during the Old Republic era of Star Wars. More specifically, the galaxy at this point is under the control of the Sith Empire, headed by the Sith Lord; Darth Malak. The game is a role-playing experience like no other. You play as a force-sensitive character of your own design, with not only the prospect of building you lightsaber as in Jedi Academy, but the power to create a personality, hone your every ability as you see fit, and determine your overall balance between good and evil. It is almost like the Fable of the Star Wars world, if gamers who are less familiar with Star Wars are looking for a point of reference. The play style is different, but the level of determination of your own character and their very being is about the same.
The gameplay in KOTOR is very vast, and involves everything from trading , to combat, to gambling to general chit chat with other characters in the game. What you say and do however will affect the world around you, and while every game these days may say that, in KOTOR it really, really matters! Not only can the way you word your views influence your path in the directions of either good or evil, it can change the way in which you must complete tasks, cost you valuable time, money or goods, and indeed eliminate other characters from the game who may well have had other uses. If you want to fully experience KOTOR, you will have to play it more than once, but in truth once you get started with it you will probably want to do that anyway!
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is, even by modern standards over ten years after its release, a phenomenal game. It has an incredible amount to offer gamers and is one of the games you should absolutely play before you die. Personally, and arguably pointlessly, I own KOTOR on two different systems; this is just how good it is. Even the turn-based combat integrated into a role-playing game, a questionable decision I know, is nothing less than fantastic. There is no element of the game which might be questioned more than that decision, and given that even this works well it is fair to say that Knights of the Old Republic is easily a 5/5 game, even today!
Realistically speaking, although bear in mind that as a Star Wars fan I am potentially slightly biased, there is not really a bad Star Wars game which instantly comes to mind. Some are, naturally, worse than others, but whatever you decide to pick up for Star Wars Day this weekend you are probably going to have some fun. These are but three of tens of options I could have suggested, but my tired little fingers could go no further and I to have to go away and get my fix now. If any of the titles I have mentioned take your fancy however, just follow the links below. Until next week’s feature then, I bid you farewell, and may the force be with you!
P.S. In case you were wondering, my favourite is actually Star Wars Battlefront II!
Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy – http://store.steampowered.com/app/6020/
Star Wars Republic Commando – http://store.steampowered.com/app/6000/
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic – http://store.steampowered.com/app/32370/