Top 5 Star Wars Games, part 3
Ok, first off, here is the original article on Bits N Bytes that got me thinking about the Top 5 Star Wars games. And ironically, www.thespeedgamers.com are doing a Star Wars marathon of games all this week for charity. I looked over the game schedule they are doing, and it seems to be fairly lacking…no Super Star Wars games besides my old favorite Return of the Jedi on GameBoy, and no PC/PS1 games. Probably just playing what they have available, but still…
So far my list of the Top 5 Star Wars video games includes Knights of the Old Republic and Rogue Squadron. The next two Star Wars games are fairly easy to decide on, but I’m already stressing over the last one. If I could do a three or four way tie, it would be a great pun but not fair to the idea of a Top 5.
Jedi Outcast (Jedi Knight II) (PC, Xbox, GameCube, 2002) The image below these paragraphs was the first image I ever saw for Jedi Outcast; it was the back cover advertisment in an episode of PC Gamer which I still think I have in a box somewhere. That image alone excited me more than anything. The idea that in a video game, your lightsaber would leave marks in walls and objects, as it properly should, blew me away. Plus, the game was developed by Raven Software, who had made the amazing Star Trek: Voyager – Elite Force games, the first games that had compelled me to actually buy a new piece of hardware for my families aging computer. Even more so, Jedi Outcast was being made using the Quake 3 Arena engine, which at the time was one of the best gaming engines. Basically, every aspect of this game excited me, and while I knew my family PC was not powerful enough to run the game, I knew I had to play this game eventually.
Jedi Outcast has the distinctive of being the first game I beat on GameCube. Sure, the ideal version of the game is on PC, and I do own a PC copy of it somewhere, but GameCube is where I beat it. I remember buying my GameCube, a few games, and then bringing it on a high school basketball trip, and while all the guys were more interested in whatever shooter I rented and brought along at the time (Medal of Honor? maybe?), I was most drawn in to Jedi Outcast. The game was and still is, in my mind, absolutely beautiful and engaging. The first few levels are fun, but make the acquiring of your lightsaber that much more meaningful. The storyline is classic Original Trilogy level Star Wars, makes good use of the remnants of the Empire, evil dark Jedi, and cameo appearances by characters from the original movies. It plays beautifully, the guns are powerful, the lightsaber moves appropriately dancelike, and there is nothing more fun than amping all of your points in Jump and then soaring through the levels, coming down on some stormtroopers head with your lightsaber from four stories up.
Not to say this game is perfect. Lightsaber duals are difficult, and there are a ton of signature moves that are incredibly difficult to pull off. Additionally, this game contains one of the hardest levels in a Star Wars game, a rooftop excursion on Nar Shaddaa filled with snipers that can instantly disintegrate you. The level sucks, as by now you have your lightsaber and Force powers, and you basically have to creep along, not knowing precisely where to go, doing weird aerial acrobatics and platforming, while getting sniped by insta-kill Rodians. Sucks, sucks, sucks. I started to play through this game on PC once and gave up after being stuck on this level for an hour. Yet, somehow, on GameCube I beat it.
Jedi Outcast is also notable for being the first Star Wars game to feature decapitations and dismemberments. Although you had to input a code for it work, it added that nice touch of lightsaber realism. I should also point out that Jedi Outcast is technically the third game in the Dark Forces series, which goes Dark Forces, Jedi Knight: Dark Forces 2, Jedi Outcast: Jedi Knight 2, and Jedi Academy. I had great memories of each of these games except Jedi Academy (never really got around to playing it…), but Jedi Outcast is easily the best of the bunch. I got stuck in Dark Forces shortly before meeting Boba Fett, Jedi Knight was difficult and hard to run on my old PC, and Mysteries of the Sith (Jedi Knight’s expansion) never really loaded properly.
Of all the Star Wars games I’ve played…arguably, this one may be my absolute favorite. It had everything I loved about Star Wars, while still being placed within the Original Trilogy timeline. You could use blasters, lightsabers, Force Powers, etc. If I were to make a holy trifecta of Star Wars games, that touched upon every element of the saga, I’d probably choose Jedi Outcast, one of the X-Wing games, and Knights of the Old Republic.
I really want to replay Jedi Outcast now. Maybe I’ll hunt down a GameCube version or find a working PC to play it on…Call me old, but I don’t think they make games as good as Jedi Outcast anymore.
X-Wing Alliance (PC, 1999). It’s tough to pick any one of the X-Wing/TIE Fighter games for inclusion on this list. Technically, X-Wing and TIE Fighter are better games, with better controls and better stories. But in this case, I’m going to be a graphics snob, so that automatically leaves me with X-Wing VS TIE Fighter and X-Wing Alliance to choose from. And between those two…X-Wing Alliance has a far better story. Which, sadly, I’ve never beaten…X-Wing Alliance is another one of those games that I played extensively, got to within maybe three levels of the ending, and could never get past the level. But I watched a friend beat his copy, so I guess that was good enough for me.
Of all the various Star Wars series, my favorite has always been the X-Wing series. That applies to both the books as well as the video games. And I know this series has had a high impact on my brother as well; I attribute his interest in the Civil Air Patrol and the Air Force, and really all things military, to the X-Wing series of games and books as well as the Republic Commando books and game. The idea of a group of men dedicated to fighting evil and war and having that tight family type bond is very powerful. And that’s one of the best things about the X-Wing series; it feels like Band of Brothers in space, where everyone has their back, everyone is a character, everyone a unique personality with a story to tell and a skill to contribute to battle. Plus, dogfighting is just cool.
Believe it or not, but back in the PC gaming days (since PC gaming is dead; long live PC gaming), we actually use to use joysticks to play these flight simulation games. And the X-Wing series was the best. Hopping behind the controls of the X-Wings, A-Wings, TIE Fighters, TIE Interceptors, whatever, piloting around through space, escorting vast capitol ships, and dogfighting hordes of enemy starfighters was the best thing ever. Couple that with an engaging storyline about a young rebel (or imperial) growing up in the ranks, earning medals, visiting distant galaxies, etc…it was magical. I truly do feel that if I was ever put in the cockpit of a real life X-Wing I could fly with some of the best (for maybe a few minutes).
Joysticks taught me to how to fly, and more importantly, taught me that ALL VIDEO GAME CONTROLS MUST BE INVERTED BECAUSE THAT IS THE PROPER WAY TO PLAY. Seriously. You pull back on the joystick, your nose goes up. The same goes with holding a gun in a first person shooter. You pull back, the gun barrel goes up. It’s intuitive and is right. Anyways, I learned valuable things from the X-Wing games, such as how to throttle back to quick turn so you can line up your sights, the importance of power management between shields and weapons, when to call in for backups, how to line up your sights quickly and acurately, etc. All valuable skills that I list on my resume.
X-Wing Alliance is a great game, and represents the end of an era. They just don’t make joystick games anymore. Which is a shame, because a new X-Wing game, in HD, set in the Original Trilogy period, with extensive online multiplayer support…would be a game of the year for me. We got hints of it in other games, and heck, I wouldn’t even mind if it was a console game with more arcadey type controls…just give me a new Star Wars flight simulation game.