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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 October, 2003, 07:21 GMT 08:21 UK
Knights rescue old Star Wars story
The success of the latest Star Wars game could save the bruised ego of the Empire after dissatisfaction with some of the films, says Daniel Etherington of BBCi Collective in his weekly games column.

Screenshot of Knights of the Old Republic
Knights has been a hit with gamers

There have been Star Wars games pretty much as long as video gaming itself has been a popular medium.

LucasArts was formed in 1982, the year that saw the release of the classic The Empire Strikes Back game.

Despite how much some fans of the movies may feel let down by Lucas, he is perennially savvy, having trail-blazed modern franchising culture in the wake of the first film's release.

The resultant diversification into other media means that, despite how appalling The Phantom Menace may be, fans can find something elsewhere in the franchise universe to satisfy their cravings.

Ewok no-no

The history of the Star Wars movies has a broadly accepted thesis.

Screenshot of Knights of the Old Republic
The game gives players a sense of involvment

The first trilogy was a marvel, with The Empire Strikes Back being a high point and the Ewoks a low.

The Phantom Menace was a disappointment, its soullessness only mildly compensated for by the spectacular battles of Attack Of The Clones.

However, the history of the games is not quite so clear cut.

For many, 1983's arcade game Star Wars provides the fondest memories and it certainly has significant iconic value.

Since then, over 50 other games have appeared on everything from Sega CD, where you could have a go at galactic chess, to Nintendo GC.

The GameCube title Rogue Leader, which came out in 2001, is a good-quality shooter, and highlights the diversity of genres that can be covered by using elements from the films.

Another example is Episode I Racer, which recreated the Phantom Menace's pod race sequence, but made it much more interesting by actually giving you a role.

Better story?

But for many, especially those of us who first saw Star Wars as wide-eyed kids, the biggest factor in the whole franchise was the sense of involvement in the adventures of Luke, Han and others in the original films.

Despite how good a Star Wars racing or shooting game may be, they can feel shallow, lacking that sense of involvement with a wider universe.

This may partly explain the success of the Xbox title Knights Of The Old Republic, a game that has achieved kudos among fans, and which arguably provides a deeper story experience than that offered by the recent films.

It eschews simple fighting, shooting or racing in favour of a narrative-driven, role-playing game approach, where the sense of being in a deep adventure is overt.

Most importantly of all, however, the game has a vibe that arguably feels closer to that of the pre-Phantom Menace films.

More games like this and the Star Wars cultural universe may recover some of its credibility.

Star Wars Knights game shines
03 Oct 03  |  Technology
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01 Jul 03  |  Technology


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