As one of the most beloved and popular franchises in history, Star Wars has had countless forays into every medium possible, including films, books, TV shows, and, of course, video games. The issue has been that of quality vs. quantity, however. Certain Star Wars games are often seen on many top 10 best games of all-time lists, and yet the same can be said for the top 10 worst games lists. Now that the ball rests in the corners of EA and Disney, the former of which will be handling most of the big name console and PC releases, there are a number of directions where the series can go.
First and foremost, do away with direct movie tie-ins. Star Wars is known for the depth of its universe and there is absolutely no need to waste time with showing us a story that has already been told. I remember playing Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith back on the original Xbox. Mechanically, it wasn’t the worst video game ever made, but by telling the exact same story as the film and featuring dull force and combat mechanics, it did nothing to better the franchise. And that was one of the better tie-in games.
That being said, I want to qualify that not all movie tie-ins are inherently bad. For instance, the Lego: Star Wars franchise is very enjoyable and follows the story of the six main films. The difference between Lego: Star Wars and the direct tie-in games is that Lego did something different. They used the environments and set pieces to create unique experiences; ones that are not necessarily based directly off of the events of the films. In addition, by removing any actual dialogue, all of the cutscenes are charming and cute to watch and aren’t diluted by SD cut-ins of film scenes. If Star Wars Episode VII is to get a movie tie-in, they would be best to not rehash the film onto a controller.
Personally, I couldn’t think of a better company to hold the Star Wars license than EA. While they aren’t the perfect company and I can agree that a lot of their flak is deserved, we as gamers would be remiss to overlook their accomplishments. I’m not here to tout EA so I will stop there. But two major companies, DICE and BioWare, are both owned by EA and their pedigrees make them the perfect candidates to make Star Wars games.
What EA needs to do is look at what made Star Wars games successful in the past. Which games won over the most hearts, sold the best, and that are still played to this day. The two biggest that I can think of are Star Wars: Battlefront and Knights of the Old Republic. To be fair, it has already been confirmed that DICE is working on a Battlefront game which is set to be released concurrently with Episode VII. Their work on the Battlefield series gives them enough credibility to expect an excellent Battlefront game. I feel in that sense, EA is moving in the right direction with Star Wars games.
But that is only the first step. In addition to being known for extravagant and epic battles, Star Wars is also known for the incredible scale of its universe and the sheer number of potential stories that are able to be told. The races, character archetypes, politics, and size of the galaxy leave for unmatched depth. While the stories of the six main films are excellent, they only tap the surface of how great Star Wars stories can be. For example, one of the best RPGs ever made and my personal favorite game of all-time, Knights of the Old Republic (KotOR), takes place thousands of years before the original saga and features, without question, the same caliber of storytelling. The original KotOR was developed by BioWare and is often considered a sort of spiritual predecessor to the excellent Mass Effect series. A sequel was developed by Obsidian which left the series with a cliffhanger. Though BioWare also created The Old Republic, an MMO which supposedly continues KotOR’s story, I think a full-fledged story-focused RPG is long overdue for the Star Wars universe. KotOR already has well-established characters, planets, and story elements and I think that it makes for the perfect setting for a good Star Wars RPG.
There are, of course, a few other places that Star Wars still needs work on. For example, we have yet to receive a quality game that gives players the full powers of a Jedi. Force Unleashed came awful close, in fact I am an apologist for that series, but those games have quite a few problems on their own. Give us a game that captures what makes the Jedi so appealing: namely creative force powers and intense lightsaber battles. In addition, a third person Uncharted-style bounty hunter game that shows the gritty side of the Star Wars universe, previously shown as the now-cancelled 1313, would also be welcome. Maybe even a top-down RTS game à la Civilization would fit nicely as well.
Simply put, the scope of the Star Wars universe is massive enough that any variety of amazing games can come out of the franchise. The way I see it, the focus needs to be less on putting out as many games as possible and more on fewer, albeit greater, games. What do you guys want to see from Star Wars in the coming years?