A Royal Flush of Nostalgia
Star Wars as an IP has become a bit of a game of poker over the past few years. Sometimes, we the fans are up on the high stakes table cleaning up. Other times were are losing all of our chips, causing us to panic out in the parking lot about how we are going to buy groceries this month. From having to suffer through the dross that was Jar-Jar Binks, to the meme-worth "NOOO!" in Episode 3; fans of this saga have put up with quite a bit. Yet, throughout all of the losses and gains we have remained faithful (if not a bit more salty) to this series that we love. Therefor, being that this has been a slow news week in the Old Republic universe; I'd like to use this week's article to take a look back at the Star Wars game franchise over the years. With the 30th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back and the announcement of Hoth being in The Old Republic, let's dust off those old titles and look at how these games could influence this fledgling MMO project.
Star Wars - The Jedi Knight Series
Anyone familiar to this series can see how The Old Republic may have taken some of its combat cues from these games. A solid first to third person, hack-n-slash / FPS, combat system gave players a huge range of motion in these platform style adventures. From what we've seen in the combat videos so far, I wouldn't be surprised if The Old Republic feels similar to this style. Granted, I highly doubt we will see any FPS scenarios, but I foresee fast paced combat with lots of movement similar to Jedi Knight's. The game's story line focused on Kyle Katarn, a Jedi eventually turned outcast after a series of unfortunate events. In the Old Republic, given that every dev screams story story story, it's pretty obvious that players will be able to insert themselves into the role of a Kyle Katarn if they so choose and play through an ongoing epic adventure. This is a double edged sword however, MMOs today are walking that fine line of "You are the savior of the universe/planet! ... along with that guy... and that guy... and those guys over there." In some situations I'd rather just be a humble smuggler, carving out my small place in existence and just trying to make a living.
Star Wars - Shadows of the Empire
One of my all time favorite games, Shadows of the Empire's story centralized around the mercenary Dash Rendar. This platformer was one of the Nintendo 64's crown jewels, focusing on third person shooter game play. Taking place between Episodes five and six, the story begins when Dash lands on Hoth to deliver supplies to Han Solo. The moment I think of the smuggler class in The Old Republic, Dash instantly comes to mind. Force wielders need to take a backseat at times to allow other archetypes to shine, smugglers and infiltrators are perfects examples of this. Toting complex and often hidden emotions, sorted pasts with endless side stories, these brooding anti-heroes and pseudo-villains fit right into any time-line in the Star Wars universe.
Star Wars - X-Wing and TIE Fighter
Constantly called some of the best space combat games of all time; this game series still remains one of the most talked about sub-franchises in the Star Wars game-sphere. Fans that I've talked to about the possible space combat in The Old Republic have almost unanimously stated that they hoped it would play like those space simulation titles. Some fans still enjoy Star Wars Galaxies space combat, but diehard fans of X-Wing/TIE Fighter will almost come to blows if you try to reason that another way is better. Right now we can only speculate on how Bioware/Lucas Arts will pull off this area of the game. Hopefully they won't take the easy way out and simply cut and paste a design doc, but that doesn't seem like their style. I would expect something innovative (or at least re-worked and fun) from the savvy gents down in Austin, many players are banking on a fun space system to fully sell them on this game.
It looks like Bioware is holding their cards to their chest for E3 this year, so don't expect them to lay out a Royal Flush of information until then. For now I'd like to leave you with some food for thought; how has Star Wars affected you over the last thirty (or however many) years? What other Star Wars games do you think might have influenced The Old Republic devs? What other planets would you like to see added and why?