Where have all the good Star Wars games been as of late?
The golden age of Lucasarts was no doubt in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Classics upon classics were artfully crafted and put out for ravenous Star Wars fans to eat up. Games such as the Rogue Squadron, the Old Republic series, Republic Commando, the original Battlefront, and more whisked away hours of people's lives to the awe inspiring worlds created by the films. Among these games, each one had their own strong suits. The Old Republic series, for example, was known for having excellent story and choice mechanics while Republic Commando was known for its characters and FPS immersion. Among those games out of the golden age, The Jedi Knight series was especially unique.
When it comes to Star Wars games, it is rare that you won't see a lightsaber in it (unless it's something that doesn't focus on the Jedi/Sith aspect of the franchise). However, no other game has held a candle to the combat that Jedi Knight: Jedi Outcast and Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy had. When it comes to discussing which game has the best lightsaber combat, you will find little to no disagreement among fans that this is certainly the best one.
The series found its origins in the Dark Forces games where you play as a character named Kyle Katarn. The stories take place after the events of Star Wars: Episode 6 and the game format was modeled of other shooters such as Doom. Eventually, development was handed off to Raven Software who would take the character of Kyle Katarn and focus more on the lightsaber combat rather than the classic shooter mechanics. The combat system in the Jedi Knight series, unlike other games, felt like you were really wielding the fabled weapon. When you hit an enemy, it felt like you were really dealing some damage. One of the best and most immersive parts was the fact that the game actually sliced off enemy limbs just like in the movies. Controls were smooth, skillful, and allowed the player to chain together flurries of attacks and jumps once they got the hang of it. It was fun, immersive, and took skill.
So why am I talking about this game today? Well for years people have been asking for another game like those in the Jedi Knight series. Sure we have had one or two Star Wars games that try to glorify the lightsaber, but none of them have managed to capture the spirit of the Jedi Knight games. An excellent example of this failure is the The Force Unleashed II. While this game added dismemberment mechanics and allowed for customization of weapon color etc., it still felt like you were wielding two clubs and hitting Stormtroopers with them. There was now skill or finesse to it. Granted, The Force Unleashed games were meant to focus on how cool the force could be and not lightsabers. But that's the point, there has not been a game that has tried in earnest to capture the fun in wielding a lightsaber since the release of Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy in 2003.
Many might complain that since EA has the Star Wars license, that now is not the time to bring this up. On the contrary, their license could be finished in a few years. If fans are lucky, Disney will not sign with EA again. The idea of talking about this now is to get the word out and hope that it catches. It's time to bring back another golden age in Star Wars video games.