This article is focused around the mountain of Star Wars games available on the original Xbox. That will attempt to explain why the Xbox was, and still is, the best console for the gaming Star Wars fan. There are countless Star Wars games out there; and every major gaming console has tried their hand at producing a successful line of games within this franchise. Star Wars, in a lot of ways, is almost a licence to print money. The PC has been, and will always more than likely be, the best format for all of your Star Wars gaming needs. Check out the impact of Star Wars Galaxies and Dark Forces to testify to that.
Sadly, most console ports of PC games are terrible, and most console specify games are even worse. Google Playstation’s Star Wars: Masters of Teras Kasi and you’ll see what I mean. Two consoles have deified this trend in the past. They are the Gamecube and the original X-Box. While I loved the Gamecube, I must quickly shoot it down now for no other reason than the limited number of great Star Wars titles it produced. It did give us Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II in 2001, and that easily tops most peoples’ list of the best Star Wars games with the its incredible level environments and attention to detail. And all the Rogue Squadron titles are still a treat to play. Although they are nothing compared to the sheer amount of quality games that the X-Box gifted us. Their importance to the Star Wars canon is still felt today. The Gamecube produced fun games, but not game-changers like the original Xox.
The Xbox presented us with both the realm of the Old Republic and the era of Kyle Katarn’s struggle against the New Empire. Two huge periods of time within the Expanded Universe that were opened up and explored by the games of this console. The Dark Forces games on the PC are some of the best, well thought-out and bloody hard games that the Star Wars brand can offer. The Xbox ports of the latter games are a nice addition to this lovely series of games.
Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast is the ultimate Star Wars game. You run around the galaxy fighting the new Empire and you can actually cut limbs off with your lightsaber. The force powers are tasteful and makes you feel like a Jedi. There are no superfluous additions to this game. There is no point where you feel jaded or bored, like most after a play through of Force Unleashed II. Jedi Outcast has an engaging plot and the action-packed gameplay is still outstanding 11 years later. The control of the force must be stressed again, you really feel like you have full control of the Force. While in The Force Unleashed series you have too much power, and feel more like a Roman god than a warrior monk. Then add to that poor camera issues. It is simple, less is more. Jedi Knight II didn’t have any of these issues, it is the best action-based Star Wars game ever made. STILL! It is on the original Xbox, and if you’re a fan, you must own this game! The sequel Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy is set again in the sprawling worlds of the Expanded Universe where players can walk the path of the Jedi and learn the ways of the force or choose to play as mercenaries and use more conventional weapons such as blasters. Fans of I, Jedi can gleefully experience many elements of that book in this game.
The next major contribution of the Xbox to SWEU lore was The Old Republic. For those, like me, who grew up with consoles over a quality PC, The Old Republic was for birthed on the Xboxx with Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic in 2003. KOTOR is a masterpiece. Everything about this game is perfect, the characters, the dialogue interaction, the game’s design and gameplay are all stellar. KOTOR game set the standard for every Star Wars game since, and it was the reason I bought an X-Box. Its impact is still felt today with ever-growing library of Old Republic novels and the free-to-play Old Republic RGPMMO.
Both Jedi Knight and KOTOR have achieved so much as gaming series’ on this home console. It is hard to explain in one article. The current landscape of the SWEU was shaped, and perhaps to upcoming films will be in some way be influenced by the legacy of this console.
That was not all, in addition to the heavy SWEU hitters. The X-Box also had two games that engage with the film source material in a different yet, equally important manner. Star Wars: Republic Commando is a FPS squad-based combat game where you play as a highly trained clone trooper and assist in multiple small operations missions such as sabotage and ambush attacks based during the Clone Wars. This is an interesting interpretation of the Clone War Conflicts, that are hinted and shown a little in the prequels. The look of this game is taken from a gritty and “realistic” take on the world shown in Attack of the Clones. Yes. This would be technically dipping into the SWEU, but the look and feel of the game give this one a pass. The influence of this game can be seen in the Clone Wars TV show, and continued in the Republic Commando novels by Karen Traviss.
The next film based game is Star Wars: Battlefront II. If you haven’t played this game, stop reading and go buy this game. While not a movie tie-in. This game lets you play in the world of the movies; it puts you in the action. This is the Star Wars Universe told from battle-to- battle, and not just focused on the hero’s journey. You really feel that every man matters. This sequel to Star Wars: Battlefront added playable heroes such as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader, Boba Fett and a huge number of vehicles and maps. It still has a crazy amount of replayability. I have been playing this game since 2005, and it hasn’t aged a day.
To be fair there were a bunch of bad games released on this console with the Star Wars name tagged to it: Jedi Starfighter, Clone Wars, Obi-Wan, and of course the movie tie-in games. However the positives of the big four KOTOR, Jedi Knight II, Battlefront II and the epic Republic Commando make this the best console for Star Wars fans. It is waiting to be rediscovered. There is no console that pleases a hardcore Star Wars fan as much as the original X-Box. Hence why I have plugged mine back in.
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This article was first posted on February 20, 2013