Gaming

Rest in Bits: LucasArts

X-Wing

This was the big one; LucasArts finally making the Star Wars game everyone wanted. Getting to battle against the Empire in X-Wings was what everyone wanted to see once Origin’s Wing Commander showed the world what was possible. Having the final missions involve the Death Star assault may have been predictable but it was sure exciting.

Dark Forces

After conquering flight sims, next up was a Star Wars first person shooter. With tech that was heavily influenced by Doom, the game played in a very familiar manner but provided additional degrees of movement and aiming which was necessary for the more complex levels.

The sound design was the biggest winner here as the weapons were easily recognisable and made you want to turn up the speakers on your PC. Shooting stormtroopers was a past time that could forever be enjoyed.

TIE Fighter

Still regarded as one of the greatest PC games ever, the sequel to X-Wing showed what LucasArts could do what pushing the boundaries of their big franchise. Not only did it toy with the machinations of the Empire, something that really only saw coverage in the expanded universe novels, but the game provided greater mission variety, more ships and the chance to be the bad guys for a change. How could it fail?

Rebel Assault

One of those early games that was to show the strengths of the CD-ROM format. From the moment you take control and the Star Wars theme comes blasting out of your speakers in full force you knew you were in for something special.

The technology has not held its age as well as the sequel (higher resolution helps) but it was a good indication of what to expect of future games in the franchise.

Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight

Finally, a chance to play a real game with a lightsaber. Where the first game in the series introduce the world and its weapons, the sequel gives players the power of the Force. Levels are epic in scope and creativity; the crashing Star Destroyer was a level so good it was borrowed not only the third game but also in the movie Revenge of the Sith.

Shadows of the Empire

A comic and book tie-in whose opening Hoth level spawned another game franchise in the process. The PC version (also on the N64) was also one of the early titles that supported 3D acceleration (I had a 3Dfx Voodoo) and showed how much of a difference the new technology made to graphics.

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6 replies »

  1. Wow all of those memories. X-Wing and Tie Fighter were amazing games but two of my favourites weren’t on your list – Full Throttle and Outlaws. Those games were just fantastic and I will sorely miss LucasArts.

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    • Have to admit I forgot about Full Throttle! Really loved the opening section of the game and it had some killer animation too. That was a great game that also was the first of many to combine technology from their adventure games with (believe it or not) Rebel Assault. 🙂

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  2. Day of the Tentacle is, to me, the epic masterpiece of LucasArts’ heyday. Tim Schafer’s name belongs in the Game Designer Hall of Fame for that game alone (along with Dave Grossman’s). I always give Ron Gilbert credit for starting that ball rolling, though. Without his SCUMM engine and carefully worked out design ethic (which you can find his description of if you google “Why Adventure Games Suck”), I don’t think LucasArts would have risen to the heights they did. Yet somehow they could never compete, in terms of sales, with the inexplicably popular Sierra (inexplicable pre-Jane Jensen, at least).

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