Breaking from their recent trend of flight-oriented titles, LucasArts releases
Star Wars: Obi-Wan, an adventure title set in the Episode I universe. With
some glaring flaws but plenty of promise, the quest for the perfect Star Wars
To be blunt, there
are a number of problems with Star Wars: Obi-Wan: the level design is repetitious,
the enemies are mindless and mind-boggling numerous, the story doesnt flow
well, there are constant scripting problems, and there is little interaction with
the world aside from using objects to attack enemies or activating a switch to
open a door or move an elevator. However, with all of that said, the game still
shows plenty of promise with regards to the Force powers and the use of the light
saber. It also doesnt hurt that the story is interesting: leading up to
the events in Episode I, some underground hooligans are developing Force-resistant
weapons and armor. Being the young padawan that you are, you and your master go
to investigate the happenings at the request of the council, and in so doing,
manage to stumble into surroundings of the Episode I movie. Its a very nice
touch when, only a few seconds into a new level, you realize that youre
playing through the very beginning of the movie.
incredible how many flaws can be overlooked when one is having so much fun Force-throwing
droids into walls and doing somersaults off of balconies just to land swiftly
enough to take off an enemys head. In all fairness, the game isnt
as bad as I might have initially made it seem, though its far from perfect.
In a strange way, Star Wars: Obi-Wan shows just as much progress as much
as it does a regression in the quality of Star Wars games. Sure, the droids are
stupid and there is little interaction with the world around the young padawan,
but using the Force view a slow-motion mode that makes handling multiple
opponents easier to roll under enemy fire, pop up and Force throw them
into another droid and then make a huge vase fly through the air and smash the
robot to pieces upon impact
well, there is just something special about that.
On the flip side of the coin, the levels are bland
and devoid of anything that might give them a life of their own, and worse, many
of them are just downright confusing. For instance, you might stumble a room that
features three locked doors and three buttons, none of which seem to do anything.
After spending an eternity trying to figure out what to do, you eventually discover
that you needed to hit a button outside this new room, then re-enter, and through
sheer luck, stumble down a particular spot of the floor that you need to escape.
Now, there was no indication that this floor moved or even hinted at the fact
that this is where the gamer needed to go, instead of through the three huge doors.
There are so many instances of rooms devoid of any apparent action that completing
the game requires a rather large amount of guessing. One time, I was stuck inside
of a chimney without any obvious means of escape; after about twenty minutes I
got aggravated and just started jumping. Well lo and behold, there was a ledge!
A shame it was impossible to see.
aside from the predictable enemies, are the horrible scripted events, which very
rarely introduce any sort of life into the environments. For instance, Naboo soldiers
make a show of fighting off the invading Federation, but they will often shoot
Obi-Wan or even toss a grenade right at his feet. Other times, they will need
to open a door and simply wont. That certain triggered events would simply
not occur was one of the games biggest faults. The only way to bypass this
was to wander around aimlessly in the hopes that you happen to stumble upon something
thatll show you what to do, or else youd have to restart the level
while praying to the gaming gods that this isnt really happening because
the last spawn point was a long way back.
that cropped up in the later levels was the notorious console-style save points.
Instead of letting the gamer save anywhere they wish, Star Wars: Obi-Wan
gives about four lives per level with respawn points in fixed locations. This
really isnt a bad thing at first; in fact, the good number of lives is very
much a welcome thing. It is towards the end when things become even more vague
as respawn points are distanced fairly far apart, forcing you to constantly repeat
fifteen-minute-long sections over and over, until you run out of lives and must
restart the level from the very beginning. The fact that the controls were spotty
also didnt help, as navigating tight spots was extremely tricky and led
to quite a few needless deaths.
Now to the good
stuff. There are a great deal of Force powers to play with, which include Force
pull, Force view, Force jump, Force push, light saber throw, and Force throw.
There is also a nice little lock-on effect that will focus the combat on a single
enemy, and with a simple system which uses the right analog to control the swings,
some serious swashbuckling can take place. There is also a much-appreciated auto-blocking
feature; whenever a laser blast is incoming, Obi-Wan will let his light saber
take the blast, though this deflection requires some good timing, as well as some
of the Force which, like his health, is gauged by a meter. This little
addition went a long way, as it felt especially good to take out small squads
of droids with their own laser blasts. There were also some later levels, Naboo
for instance, that were more detailed and were a welcome change of pace from the
various underground and outdoor environments. Sadly, even the better levels lacked
the atmosphere of a city under siege or of a people in dire emergency. Additionally,
there were also some very un-Jedi weapons like flame and stun grenades, as well
as a sniper rifle. While they were fun, I didnt feel nearly close to the
intergalactic Jedi-in-training, Force-wielding badass as I should have when I
needed to use a sniper rifle for a few pesky grenadier droids.
In all, Star Wars: Obi-Wan provides an extremely solid foundation for an
incredible sequel, but, as it stands right now, this game is more of a rental
than anything. There is a VS. Jedi mode for two players which unlocks more characters
as the game progresses, but even with this and the small awards and other tidbits
that can be found, the game wont last longer than twelve hours. Also, the
scripting issues were very damaging to the gameplay and overall story, and should
have been addressed before shipping: following Qui-Gon Jinn as he ran in circles,
screaming for me to follow didnt exactly scream ready to ship
to me. Still, despite the huge faults, there is also a good deal of charm, which
can really be enjoyed with enough tolerance and patience.
Help me, Im st-st-st-st-stuttering. You guessed
it: there was some pretty noticeable slowdown -- especially when things got hectic
-- and polygon clipping, not to mention that clipping would often occur when it
really shouldnt have. Slipping off a ledge would get me stuck halfway into
a wall, causing me to die, whereas backing into a wall would zoom the camera to
the back of Obi-Wans head, causing half of his head to turn white. While
the environments were fairly large in scope, they were devoid of anything that
would make them seem truly alive. Also, a few animals had the same model of an
animal or person here and there, but nothing to make a planet seem like an actual
planet. Beyond that, the colors were extremely drab, and everything looked very
bland, aside from the light saber and a few of the enemies.
were also times when the screen would pause whenever the light saber was drawn
or put away. This might not sound overly bad, but imagine using your binoculars
to notice an assassin droid rushing your position, but instead of immediately
taking out the saber of doom, the screen stops for a second with both characters
in mid-pose before proceeding; its very distracting. The models look good
from afar, but up close, they are pretty scary; also, its odd to see a person
talk without their lips moving, with their arms and heads sliding about in a very
rigid fashion. While the expanded environments and various other small tidbits,
like Naboo and the Raider Chief, help to make the game look nice, it is still
far behind the curve and was a lackluster use of the Xboxs power.
Some of the voice-overs were adequate, while some flat-out sucked, and
sometimes they didnt even talk! There were a few moments when Qui-Gon Jinn
was supposed to give me an order, but instead just hopped into battle, thus losing
the mission for me. The sound is the typical grade-A Lucasarts material and the
sound effects were superb, but the repeated sayings of the enemies and the characters
with poor voice-overs sadly, Obi-Wan is the worst offender -- sound close
to the original, but only close enough to sound obnoxious over time.
Moving is easy in wide-open areas, but very tricky in tight spots.
Light saber controls rely on the right analog stick, with the right shoulder button
locking on and activating the Force to do even more damaging combos. The Force
powers require almost every button the controller, and its difficult at
first with the far-off button placement on the controller, but in due time it
can come together. There were some instances when the controls simply wouldnt
respond, which was extremely aggravating. Again, the more intricate aspects like
the Force and light saber combat work fantastically, but the implementation in
general was poor.
If this had been any other game without the benefits of the Force and
light saber parrying combat, it would have been panned to high hell. Its
a testament to how well those facets were implemented that Star Wars: Obi-Wans
score remains above a 3. By smoothing out the rough edges, a sequel could be all
that a Star Wars fan could ever hope for, but as of now, the game isnt going
to keep anyone happy except, of course, for the diehard serious fans.