1997-1998 - 1999 - 2000 - 2001 - 2002+
The State of Star Wars Gaming
In the 1970s George Lucas set out on a project to deliver something to the movie industry that hasn?t been delivered before. He set out to do something revolutionary, something that will change the way movies were viewed and created. It was Star Wars that did it for him. Star Wars: A New Hope became one of the highest grossing films ever created. A New Hope was then followed by two sequels, Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Years later GL got back on the Star Wars scene as he completes the Star Wars Special Edition series and begins work on the Star Wars prequels. It?s true that Star Wars HAS had an impact on the movie industry in many areas. That is LucasFilm however; now stepping in is the baby of the enterprise: LucasArts.
LucasArts, the videogame company that makes Star Wars titles along with other games (LucasArts is mainly known for their SW games). When LucasArts first came out with the batch of SW titles, they were liked by a few fans, but they weren?t what you call a system seller, a game that a person would lay money down for a certain console just so that they can play that one game. You couldn?t rank a SW title back then with a Donkey Kong Country or a Doom game. Star Wars games then were mainly made for the simple Star Wars fan. You wouldn?t expect a SW game then to set sales records and sell out the first day of its release. It just wasn?t in the nature of a SW game to do such a thing. Come on, look at all of the PlayStation SW games like Episode I: The Phantom Menace and Power Battle, they are all laughing stocks. Episode I: Racer just didn?t get it down. The only SW title then to actually do something was Rogue Squadron and Shadows of the Empire for the N64. However later on, all of that changed.
Fast forward a few years, lets say:3 months before the launch of the Nintendo Gamecube. While people were excited over the launch games for the GCN, one particular title really stood out. It was said that this title is the best looking game graphic wise on the GCN. Surprisingly that game was a Star Wars game called Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader. While Rogue Leader wasn?t the highest selling GCN game out, it did send a message to the gaming community that Star Wars is no longer the laughing stock of the gaming industry and that a SW title can serve as some power.
In the year of 2003 it was the year of Star Wars when it came to gaming. There were two particular titles that came out that went in directions that no other SW title has ever gone. One being a MMORPG for and the over being a RPG. If you guessed right you?ll figure out that it was Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided the MMORPG for the PC and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic a much needed RPG for the Xbox (And later on the PC).
First lets star with Galaxies. Ever since it?s confirmation, it has become one of the most anticipated PC titles ever. Delay after delay after delay fans of the upcoming title grew impatient as each day passed because they really wanted to get their hands on this title. Well when it was finally released many fans were upset because of the tremendous amount of bugs and glitches in the game. However as time passed LucasArts placed out many patches to fix up the game they also even added more features to the game. Gamers were then satisfied and Galaxies as of today is one of LucasArts major successes. But it wasn?t alone.
Ever since OXM had a mysterious figure on the cover of their magazine with a glowing red lightsaber with the words Star Wars RPG all over the front cover, Xbox fans (even fans without an Xbox) became interested in this particular game and wanted to learn more. First off it was a Star Wars RPG, something that hasn?t been done before with any SW title (Except for Galaxies which is a MMORPG). Second since it was a RPG, it was looked at with even more interest cause at the time the Xbox was lacking in the RPG department with only Morrowind holding it down in that field. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic was its official name and indeed a famous name it became in the gaming industry setting sales records and winning awards right after another. Very unheard of in a SW title. I mean come on, how many SW titles before KOTOR do you know that won Overall Game of the Year or a particular console Game of the Year? KOTOR not only became one of the top selling Star Wars games ever made, but one of the top selling Xbox games ever made. Remember how I said back then there weren?t any SW titles that you would call a system seller? Well KOTOR was truly a system seller. Many knew that KOTOR would soon come out on the PC but many of them couldn?t wait and they knew it wasn?t coming out on the PS2/GCN so they got a Xbox just to play Knights of the Old Republic.
The Star Wars videogame phenomenon doesn?t end with KOTOR though. Later on this year two highly anticipated titles comes out. Star Wars: Republic Commando and Star Wars: Battlefront. Again these titles like Galaxies and KOTOR are taking SW gaming into a realm that no other SW game has explored. Republic Commando will be the first ever squad based tactical game ever made and Battlefront will be the first MMOFPS game ever made. These two games are months from launching and already a huge buzz in the gaming world has stirred up about these two titles. The day of SW games only appealing to the hardcore SW fans has ended. Today Star Wars games are liked by many and is really setting the stage for future SW titles. I have heard many gamers say ?I?m not a SW fan but KOTOR is one of my favorite games I?ve ever played!? or ?I?m not much into SW but I love Online RPGs and Galaxies is up there as one of my favorites?. Star Wars videogames as of late HAS taken the industry by shock just like the movies did in the movie industry 20+ years ago and isn?t holding back either. The Rainbow Six franchise is the king of squad-based tactical games but who knows, Republic Commando can just come through and revolutionize that particular genre of games. Electronic Arts created a whole new gaming genre with the Battlefield franchise but who is there to say that Battlegrounds can?t come and just claim king and take what EA did with Battlefield and bring it to new heights. The force is strong in today?s Star Wars games and it should never be under estimated. The future is bright for Star Wars games, and this brightness isn?t going away just yet.
Guest Editorial by Tyrell (Lord-Draco) Jackson
April 2nd, 2004