A look back at the 2006 release, Sonic Riders. A very polarizing things, we look at what the game excelled at, while noting how some of the flaws may have led the game to be overlooked.
The Best and Worst of Star Wars
With branches of lore leaking into every singe form of entertainment media from books to television, it’s not surprising that Star Wars has received more than its fair share of video game treatment. Ever since the early days of gaming, we’ve seen movie adaptations and off-shoots hitting consoles all the way up to the most recent announcement of Star Wars: 1313.
Like all franchises, there are some fantastic games released under the Star Wars banner,and then there are some that just don’t quite measure up to the hefty pedigree of games that have come before. As longtime fans of the franchise, we rank our personal top three favorites…and the top three we wish we’d never played.
3) Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy
The first game to let us construct our own
Lightsaber. I have a lot of fond memories of this game, even though I wasn’t
playing as Kyle Katarn. I remember unlocking the double-bladed Lightsaber
hilt style and killing my first enemy with it. I was so giddy. The story in
this game is really fun. I wouldn’t give it the five-star treatment but it
was enjoyable and fun to watch. Jaden isn’t the most amazing character in
Star Wars, either. However, the game’s combat and decision that allowed you
to change the rest of the game were great. Very fun game to play.
2) Republic Commandos
This is the best non-Jedi/Sith game. I really felt
like they captured the essence of the Clone Wars with this game. The hectic
nature of the missions. The near impossible tasks given to the Clones. A
feeling of expendability. The squad mates were fun characters and I enjoyed
the diverse personalities that each Clone had. The weapons and tech were
great. It really is a great FPS game and an excellent Star Wars one.
1) Knights of the Old Republic 2
What?! KOTOR…2!? Yes! I enjoyed the
second game so much more than the first. Why? I really enjoy the story of
the Exile and her situation. I’m a big Revan fan but what he basically did
to her only to her defend him and follow him to the ends of the universe is
amazing. Plus, I found the party members to be cooler (sorry Canderous) and
the story to hit more interesting points. The enemies were better. Sion,
Nihilus, Treya. All three were extremely badass and fun to watch unfold. I
still love how most of Nihilus’ backstory is mystery. He’s such a shallow
yet awesome character. Absolutely amazing game.
3) The Force Unleashed 2
The coolest thing about The Force Unleashed was
that it was the official canon story on how the Rebellion came to be. That
and Starkiller was an interesting addition to the mythos. People complained
that he was too powerful but if they actually read outside of the
movieverse, they’d find out about characters like Naga Sadow, Ulec
Qel-Droma, Revan, and Darth Krayt. However, as soon as Lucasarts saw how
well TFU sold, they announced a sequel. A non-canon, soulless sequel that
just relied on flashy attacks and force abilities to sell it. It didn’t
work. People were interested in the canon story and being able to unleash
the force. Not be a god with no story to back it up.
2) Master of Teras Kasi
This could have been a cool game. The concept was
interesting and the roster of playable fighters featured some awesome
Expanded Universe characters like Mara Jade. The gameplay didn’t live up to
the concept, though. The fighting was terrible and the story was pretty
stupid. I though Ehrgeiz had a bad story, this took the cake.
1) Star Wars: Galaxies
I loved Galaxies. Then SOE destroyed it. They took a
lightsaber, stuck it in its heart, took the rest of the heart out with their
bare hands, threw it on the ground, stomped on it, spit on it, relieved
themselves on it, stuck it back in the game, and said “there, it’s better.”
That’s all I really have to say about that.
3) Star Wars: Bounty Hunter
While I’m all about the Jedi and the force, I still can’t help but feel like bounty hunters are the true badasses of the universe. They don’t have any superhuman powers to fall back on, just their wits and gadgets. They’re eternally walking the boundary line between morality, forsaking their personal beliefs just to get the job done.
Bounty Hunter delivered on all counts. With the ability to travel the universe and pick up targets (both lethally and non-lethally), use a wide variety of weaponry, and the chance to travel by jet pack, Bounty Hunter was a game I sunk a lot of hours into simply because I absolutely fell in love with the gameplay and the feeling of being a bounty hunter stalking targets instead of a Jedi taking out Sith. Instead of feeling all-powerful and heroic, you got the sense that you were more a part of the general galactic underworld, with all its seedy and shady dealings and characters. With the recent announcement of Star Wars 1313, I can’t help but feel a little bit excited for it, especially if they steal a page out of Bounty Hunter’s book and bring back some of the awesome conventions that worked so well before.
2) The Force Unleashed
While it’s admittedly not the greatest Star Wars game ever made, it’s by far one of my favorites. I loved everything about The Force Unleashed; the story, the gameplay, the levels…it all just fit “right” for me. This game is one of the few games that I’ve ever completed 100%, gaining all of the collectibles and unlockables. Plus, that ending…so, so awesome.
While I was excited for it at first, the Force Unleashed 2 was a massive letdown for me. It looked cool on the surface, but once I got into it, it reeked of a money-grabbing sequel that was made strictly for gaining revenue and was not intended to add anything to an already robust story. But I can overlook that and still accept the original Force Unleashed as one of my all-time favorite Star Wars titles.
1) Shadows of the Empire
It’s not the best Star Wars game ever made. It’s probably not even one a lot of people remember. But the mere fact that my brothers and I sunk hours and hours into this game on the Nintendo 64 when I was a kid makes it my all-time favorite Star Wars game.
It was one of the very first true 3D shooters I played on consoles in the N64 era. Again, starring non-Jedi Dash Rendar, a good friend of Han Solo’s who’s been charged with helping the Rebel cause. Players traversed several different worlds, from Hoth to Mos Eisley, bouncing between vehicle combat, on-rails sequences, and straight up shooting. I battled AT-STs, got mauled by Wompaas, fought IG-88, and took out TIE fighters, all in the same game. While it was considered mediocre by critics, it was the exciting prospect of exploring the Star Wars universe from another perspective and being able to live those moments in a game that makes it so near and dear to me.
Honorable mentions: Star Wars: Battlefront II, KOTOR, Jedi Outcast
3)Star Wars: Episode 1 Racer
Wonky mechanics and unimaginitive visuals aside, Racer begged the question: With such an expansive and unique universe full of more lore than we could ever possibly cover, is a podracer-based racing game really necessary? Is there really a massive community calling out for this game to be made? Sure, it was passable, but it just felt…shallow.
2) The Force Unleashed 2
I’ve already hit on this previously: I was excited for this game. I loved, loved, loved the first one, and I couldn’t wait to have more story about Starkiller. But there was no more story for Starkiller. Just easy money for the publisher, because it was a soulless, unnecessary sequel.
1) Star Wars Kinect
What’s wrong with it? It has Dance Central elements. It has no depth. It’s on the Kinect. You don’t need much more than that in my book.
Kind of makes me wonder what it got out of this bargain with the devil…