Star Wars Day is upon us and all anyone wants to talk about is the new movies. Personally though, I’m a cynical bastard who’ll believe the hype when Episode VII descends in a golden X-Wing and hands over a signed letter of apology from George Lucas, but until then I figured it might be fun to list off some Star Wars games you could let your Wookiee friends win. Admittedly, most of the septillion Star Wars games in existence tend to be almost as wretch-inducing as Anakin’s attempts at smalltalk, but there are also a good few genuinely worth your time. As a bonus, you could probably buy them all for a tenth of the cost of the average Star Wars Lego set.
Po-faced military shooters are saturated to the point of cliché these days, but Republic Commando holds up because of its frantic “get-over-here-and-heal-me-now-you-bastard” action that gets a remarkable amount of mileage out of idiot-proof squad mechanics. If you’re downed in the middle of a battle, say, you have to decide whether to immediately ask for help or let the troopers stay at their posts and focus on the horde. Each squad member may lack much to define them beyond the colour of the stripes on their helmet, but they end up feeling genuinely valuable because losing one of them at a critical moment can mean disaster. Republic Commando is a shamelessly one-trick bantha which does that one trick very very well and doesn’t outstay its welcome.
The original Battlefronts are similar to the point that the original is basically made redundant by the existence of the sequel, but you can’t go far wrong with either. Getting down and dirty in most of the movies’ biggest conflicts is made even more nerdgasmic by the four different factions, each with unique units whose gimmicks make them fun to experiment with. From the fall of Hoth to delirious space combat with the added mischief of sabotaging the enemy’s mothership, Battlefront 2 is mandatory for anyone who can get over the fact that AT-ATs are just about the stupidest design for a siege weapon ever conceived. Here’s hoping the upcoming third instalment will be more worth waiting for than The Phantom Menace turned out to be.
Knights of the Old Republic
Get ready for a controversy on-par with Han Solo’s trigger finger: I hated great swathes of KotOR. I hated the combat, I hated the level design, I hated pretty much everything about BioWare’s approach to making games. The one thing I didn’t hate, though, was so Tusken good I ended up thinking back on my time with the game as pleasant. KotOR takes a straightforward story and fills it with memorable characters and fascinating locations just begging to be explored despite the infuriating sluggishness with which the protagonists shuffle from place to place. It’s a testament to what a game with good writing can get away with, but also a reminder that mechanics make the difference between a good game and a good movie.
A jolly romp through some of the universe’s grimiest locales, Bounty Hunter is a straightforward but very polished shooter that does a better job making Boba’s dad feel like a worthwhile character than the movie he debuted in. Levels often have a platforming element to them that puts the jetpack to good use and stops everything feeling like a long corridor, and the twin pistols that can track two targets simultaneously are fun enough that the rest of your jumbo-sized utility belt feels a bit lame in comparison. It’s also just nice to see a movie tie-in game that actually adds something to the world rather than just try to tell crappier version of the film’s story. [Insert joke about Episode II’s story here.] Probably the worst thing I can say about Bounty Hunter is that it drags on a while and front-loads most of the best bits, but give it a go if you’re nursing a Fettish.
Image rights: LucasArts