Star Wars Game Universe Expands
...and with their
usual quality, too!
By Steven Bilodeau
One of the challenges
facing a game developer is getting the player familiar with the game's
setting. Until that comfort level is reached, the gamer will not feel
immersed in the experience. That's why you see so many games based on
successful movies or television shows; the developer has a head start
because the player already has a grasp on the background of the character
or, at least, a vague idea as to the game's setting and plot.
Since it has such
a well-developed story and is immensely popular, "Star Wars"
is the perfect franchise for computer games. LucasArts, George Lucas's
software arm, guards this property fiercely. Quality is the standard,
even if that means long delays in getting the title onto the store shelf.
is the sequel to their hit, Dark Forces. But where the earlier
game was "Star Wars DOOM", Jedi Knight is "Star
Wars QUAKE" with a whole lot of important extras.
You play Kyle Katarn,
the character from "Dark Forces." The events of this game occur
at the same time as those in the movies, but are not otherwise related.
What this means is that the stories are completely original, but characters
and story elements from the movies will make an occasional appearance.
The story is very
well developed. Jerec, the evil Dark Jedi, has killed Kyle's father, a
Jedi Master. Good vs. Evil always works well. Jerec also wants to find
the Jedi Valley, a source of great power. So Kyle progresses through the
game, mission by mission, pursuing Jerec. As this occurs, Kyle gets more
weapons and learns to use the Force. The Force gives him powers like super-speed,
persuasion, evil grip and so on. Whether you stay with the "Light"
or the "Dark" side determines which Force powers you can get.
As Kyle's character develops these powers, you'll find the game takes
on different dimensions. It won't replay exactly the same. You can switch
between first and third person perspectives with the press of a button.
The levels are extremely
well done in that they are varied and detailed. Whether you're in the
middle of an Imperial city with towering buildings or at your father's
farm, the scenery is richly drawn. There is so much detail and logic in
the layout that you can start to find your way around very quickly. With
a 3D accelerator, the images are even more impressive.
The sounds are just
as well done with all the Star Wars sounds and music to set the mood.
You finally get to use a light sabre in Jedi Knight, and the sound
of it activating is truly inspiring.
In between missions
you'll see live action cutscenes with actors moving you to the next task.
They establish the story and characters. So instead of just coming to
the game for something to do, you come back because you want to see what
happens next. It makes it more fun to get through each mission.
Jedi Knight lets
you play against other human opponents - a much requested feature. You
can connect via network or on the Internet through the Internet Gaming
you're happy to sacrifice story for action and graphics, then you might
prefer Shadows of the Empire. This was originally released as a
Nintendo 64 title with lots of fanfare and hype. Now it's been converted
to a Windows 95 title. In order to get comparable graphics to the Nintendo
version, it's been written so that a 3D accelerator is required.
of the Empire is a lot like the Rebel Assault games: it's meant
for action. As Dash Rendar, you move from blasting Imperial TIE fighters
to battling Stormtroopers in laser gunfights, and even flying snow speeders
around the ice planet Hoth. Remember how they used the harpoons in the
movie to trip those huge Imperial walkers? Now you can do that yourself!
can't walk around wherever you'd like, as in Jedi Knight, nor can
you fly your ship off a pre-determined path as in TIE Fighter.
It's a more limited experience, but the millions of people who bought
the Nintendo 64 version sure didn't mind. It looks, and plays, as good
or better on the PC.
the ultimate in familiarity, how about combining Star Wars with Monopoly?
Yes, the classic board game has been converted into a multimedia computer
game from Hasbro Interactive. You're greeted by C3P0 himself just before
you choose the player that will move around the board. Instead of a car
or a hat, you choose characters from the movie: Han Solo, a Stormtrooper,
Leia, Darth Vader and so on.
can play against other human opponents or just by yourself against as
many computer opponents as you want. This game definitely shines in multiplayer
mode. You can simply share the keyboard with someone, or you can connect
computers via modem, network or Internet.
you roll the dice, your character will move from one property to the next.
The whole board has been redone, so the properties are all from Star Wars.
The community chest and chance cards have been replaced with Empire and
Rebel cards. The only holdouts are the four corners, including the dreaded
"Go To Jail" and the free money at "Go."
Wars Monopoly is fun, but time consuming. Each move is accompanied
with a short clip from one of the three movies. While it's fun at first,
the pause in loading the movie can get annoying after awhile, and there's
no way to stop it.
is a columnist for the Edmonton Journal. You can find more of his columns
can be reached via e-mail at StevenB@msn.com.
And for more computer news, visit JournalExtra, the World Wide Web site
of The Edmonton Journal, at http://www.edmontonjournal.com.
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