Star Wars is a fantastic franchise. Not only has it made six films (and counting), but its merchandise gets everywhere. Most of George Lucas’ creations were built upon selling action figures (who doesn’t want a toy of a robot with a heart disease?!) Yet, there is one area that Star Wars is severely lacking in and that is video games.
In the old days of Playstation 1, I was content. The Phantom Menace game was quite good, letting you live out the movies. Sure, it is simple, but at a young age, I was happy with simply that. Then there was Jedi Power Battles, which basically the same game with different characters. On top of that, there were several mini Star Wars games that were simple premises, built upon the success of the Star Wars universe. My personal favourite was Demolition, which was basically a fighting game, where you play members of Jabba’s palace and their vehicle of choice (including a guy riding a Rancor)!
Now, video games have outgrown this simple time and our needs are a little more complicated. I am constantly on the look out for the next Star Wars game that could bring a little more depth to the universe. That looked like it was going to be Star Wars: Force Unleashed. I read a review and the game looked fantastic. The premise was fantastic. You played Darth Vader’s new apprentice, a few years after the fall of the Jedi in ‘Revenge of the Sith’. Your character is given the option of either becoming a Sith Lord or a Jedi Master, beginning somewhere in the middle. It sounded fantastic. I was expecting something a little like Skyrim: you have to choose which side to fight for, but you can just mess around as a rogue agent for the first few acts of the game.
When I played it I was so disappointed. The game is pretty much a platformer/beat-em-up. The kind of game, where you have to get from A to B and kill everything in your path. The enemies are always the same and fairly repetitive. And that choice that was promised to us: at the end of the game, we are given a choice of two endings. Oh, yeah, but when the sequel came out, the writers just went with the most popular chosen ending, so if you picked wrong, you would just start the second game, confused at what was happening. I hated it.
Why do Star Wars games insist on being simple games like Force Unleashed? My friends that like the game say that the fun comes from being an almighty master of the Force and killing tiny enemies in your path. True, it’s kind of fun, but the same kind of amusement I get out of Angry Birds; not really something I want from a Xbox game. Also, your health only ever gets chipped away, meaning you are usually killed by a stray shot from a lucky Stormtrooper. Although it is quite amusing, as your character dies and that Stormtrooper just stands there, gormless, like: ‘Holy shit! Did I just kill that guy?!’
There is a new Star Wars game on the horizon: 1313. It sees you, playing a bounty hunter, making his way through the gritty underworld of Coruscant, trying to take down a criminal empire. That sounds like a good plot: it isn’t focusing on the main thread of storyline (Jedi vs Sith), but treating us to another side of the Star Wars universe. However, part of me is aware that it does sound like another ‘shoot your way through a level’ game. At the very least it isn’t pretending to be something else, like Force Unleashed, but there still is that underlying problem of Star Wars being fairly unimaginative in the game department. I just want to get my hands on a creative game from that universe.
So rather than simply sitting here and complaining, I thought it was only fair that I gave my own ideas for a Star Wars game. I know that I said I wanted creativity, but there is no shame in borrowing ideas from a formula that already works so well. Let’s take Mass Effect: the game puts so much detail into building up a great Sci-Fi universe. It shows us several different planets, creates great alien species to interact with and gives us a great storyline. Then why not apply that to a Star Wars game?
Imagine it. You play (like in Force Unleashed), a master of the Force who is undecided to what to use his powers for: Sith or Jedi. That is the choice you must make throughout the game. There is a fairly linear storyline, until the end, although you can approach each mission from a different angle (see Fallout or Skyrim). Like Mass Effect, it is fairly open world, but we are only given a tiny part of each planet, much like the actual movies. The main story thread can take us from Tattooine to Coruscant to a rarer planet like Hoth or Mustafar. Maybe even a planet we haven’t seen yet in the films.
The real charm would come from the minor details however. Let’s assume that the game will be based in between the trilogies. That way when we visit each planet, the writers could add the background characters, so the fans have something to get excited over as they are playing (the same way minor Batman villains get a bit of the spotlight in the Arkham series). On Tatooine, we could bump into a teenage Boba Fett, starting his journey towards becoming the bad-ass bounty hunter everyone loves. We could see a young Luke Skywalker on an isolated farm somewhere. We could find an ageing Jar Jar Binks… and brutally kill him, as a side objective.
There is so much potential in a Star Wars game, yet the writers always seem to take the easy option. It’s that George Lucas merchandise thing again. He wants several games hastily thrown together and thrown out there, where hopeful fans will buy it. I am hoping some game designer reads this article and uses some of these ideas. Just credit me as a cool character in the background somewhere.