What games Lucasarts should be making


posted 8/26/2008 by Sean Colleli
other articles by Sean Colleli
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It’s somewhat popular to blame Lucasarts for milking the Star Wars license like a lactating Bantha. I admit that to a degree, it’s an accurate accusation. But when you think about it, as the only company legally allowed to publish Star Wars software, they’ve held up their side of the bargain and given us some great games over the years, even if there have been some real stinkers along the way. Then when you think about it some more, you wonder why they haven’t made any awesome Star Wars games recently. The recent massive layoff at Lucasarts has me worried—if so many employees have been dumped down the trash compactor, and from multiple levels of production, who is left to make great Star Wars games?

Lucasarts usually hands off development to very talented third party houses, houses that they haven’t exactly been close to recently. With so much downsizing going on you’d think that Lucasarts would be outsourcing even more development, but aside from a few ports that isn’t the case. The biggest third party Star Wars games in the last couple of years have been of the Lego variety, and meaning no offense to Traveler’s Tales and their casual games, they never felt like “real” Star Wars to me.

Lucasarts announced their huge secret project, The Force Unleashed, in mid 2007, after teasing us with tech demos for several months. Fans are starting to get really excited about the bombastic project, but the whole “FORCE XTREME” aspect strikes me as more than a little pretentious and immature. Where did the Rogue Squadron sequels go? The Tie Fighters and X Wings? The epic third KOTOR we’ve been asking for?

In a bout of nostalgia, I went on a Star Wars binge recently and replayed some of my old favorites. I think it’s time for Lucasarts to dust off its little black book and call up some of its old flames. Most Star Wars fans hate to admit it, but we could play games in that galaxy far away until the Taun-Tauns come home—the games just have to be good. Below is a list of Star Wars games Lucasarts and their third party friends should be making, be they sequels, remakes or original ideas.

Star Wars Bounty Hunter 2: Boba Fett
Developed by: Lucasarts, in-house
Platforms: Xbox 360, Wii
Back when Episode II Attack of the Clones was all the rage, Lucasarts made an accompanying game to cash in on the fleeting popularity. Despite being glitchy and rushed, Bounty Hunter was a decent run and gun title with an uncommon amount of character. The story was good and had some genuine dark humor, a hard thing to come by in the Star Wars universe ever since Jar Jar Binks showed up. Bounty Hunter had good mechanics but its lack of polish kept it from reaching its full potential.

For starters, the game starred Jango Fett, not his clone son (and fan favorite) Boba. It kind of sucked playing as a guy you knew died at the end of Episode II, and longtime fans had always wanted to play as Boba Fett in the first place. Second, the game was a level-based action platformer, not the free roaming, galaxy hopping Star Wars sandbox we all wanted. Catching bounties was an awkward process and didn’t even give you money; all it did was unlock concept art. In the end it felt like Lucasarts had the right idea but cut corners everywhere they could, resulting in a somewhat mediocre game that wasn’t quite at home in its own Mandalorian armor.

The sequel should be an open world game that encompasses multiple planets. It should put us in the worn boots of Boba Fett, right after he crawls his way out of the Sarlacc pit in Return of the Jedi. That way, we skip the crappy prequels but get in before the depressing, uninspired Yuzhaan Vong war—a perfect sweet spot in the Star Wars canon. Backstabbing crime lords, vicious criminals on the loose, and a universe of corruption make the perfect backdrop for a Boba Fett sandbox game.

Lucasarts got the combat engine right with the first game, and that would mix well with some light spaceflight sections—just enough to let us fly between galactic hot spots in the Slave 1. With the galaxy at our fingertips, we could chase bounties from Tatooine to Kashyyk to Corellia and all the way to Coruscant. Imagine Assassin’s Creed in the Star Wars universe, with more interesting cities to explore, an arsenal of high tech weaponry (including stolen lightsabers) less talking and a lot more assassinating. That’s how you do a Boba Fett game up right. The Fett man deserves no less.

Knights of the Old Republic 3: Revan Comes Back and Kicks Ass
Developed by: Bioware, with help from Lucasarts
Platforms: Xbox 360, PC
Okay, so maybe the subtitle is a bit much but that basically sums up the game. Lucasarts has one hell of an RPG franchise on their hands and they shouldn’t let it wither and die the way they did with the Jedi Knight series. Rumors of a KOTOR MMO have been brewing for years, and now it looks like they might come true. If so, it’ll be a great replacement for the troubled Star Wars Galaxies, but if you ask me, it’s not the proper way to end the series. The previous two KOTORs deserve a third installment in their character-driven, plot-centric epic.

KOTOR 1 blended Bioware’s top notch RPG skills with the best Star Wars story since the Empire Strikes Back, practically topping “Luke I am your father” in the stunning revelations department. KOTOR 2 made the gameplay a lot deeper and more intuitive, but it was so rushed that the whole last act of the game was chopped out. What we got was a great sequel by gameplay standards, but with a crippled ending that couldn’t hold a candle to KOTOR 1’s plot.

KOTOR 2 began with Revan’s disappearance into the depths of space, and ended with the Jedi Exile going in search of him. A triumphant return of both characters seems in order, with a crisis/war tearing apart the galaxy as a worthy motivation. As for the story of KOTOR 3, that’s hard to nail down because prequel canon is cluttered with spinoffs and obscure characters. Suffice it to say that Bioware can come up with something suitably epic, fresh off their work on Mass Effect. KOTOR 3’s combat should also be like Mass Effect, but less buggy and with flashier lightsaber moves. The pseudo-turn based gameplay from the first two KOTORs worked, but taking turns with a lightsaber kind of defeats the purpose in my opinion.
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