If Darth Vader were here, he would say that the circle is now complete. Except that LucasArts isn’t the master of anything these days, unless you count mediocrity as a skill. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed almost had me believing things would be different this time, but the first reviews are coming in, and so far they’ve been, to put it kindly, mixed.
Sort of reminds me of that other multimedia project that was meant to bridge the gap between the films.
Yet another reasonably cool idea that was ultimately flawed in its execution.
Sure, LucasArts was in a very different place when Shadows of the Empire came around, but it also gave us a bit of a glimpse into the future of the company and the franchise. At that time, every LucasArts Star Wars games was seen as a can’t-miss classic, and even dreck like Rebel Assault got accolades from the industry.
But Dash Rendar was the first ding to LucasArt’s previously sterling reputation; twelve years later, we have Bounty Hunter, Empires at War, Obi-Wan, Force Commander and pretty much every one of the prequel film tie-in games vying for a spot atop the totem pole of terrible (or mediocre). Not Rebellion though! Don’t ever disrespect Rebellion. And Republic Commando was pretty good too. The rest, though….
Now, to some extent, we’re back to where we’ve been with Force Unleashed, and we’re further than ever from years like 1995 — the year that LucasArts released The Dig, Full Throttle, Dark Forces and TIE Fighter: Collector’s CD-Rom (and Rebel Assault 2, but let’s forget about that one, shall we?). These days, the Star Wars games are afforded about as much respect as Star Trek games (read: not a lot), and now LucasArts seems primed to give up internal development entirely.
But, if I may co-opt another Star Wars quote, it might not be over yet. There is another. Help us, Bioware. You are our only hope.