Some people say “Those movies sucked,” like they had all along. Those people may even believe that now, even if they didn’t before. We’re at a point where it’s virtually impossible to see any Star Wars product as if it is not the Star Wars Christmas Special. It makes things hard.
I mean, I know Empire was a great movie. I don’t need things like this to convince me. But, in the wake of Lucas’s misguided quest to purge the Earth of unedited versions of his original trilogy, many fans (me included) found ourselves no longer being fans. Not to mention how epic his failures were with the prequels. (I dare not attempt to enumerate them all.)
There was one diamond in the rough. One thing that endured. One thing that was somehow still fun. Knights of the Old Republic. The reason for this, I feel, is beautiful in its simplicity. KOTOR wasn’t about flashy lights, pretend technology, or how cool light sabers were. Those were elements, sure, but they were not the focus. The focus was the story. The characters. The big reveal. The fact that you – as the player – were fundamental to the story. Your decisions would decide how (and even if) this well-out-of-hand set of scenarios would resolve. The story was very good, the characters were memorable, and flashy lights, pretend tech, and light sabers were all used as they should be used: as a back drop to what’s really going on.
The reason I stalked that booth at PAX for every QA session is the same reason I find myself insatiably curious over the gear modding and crafting system that this game is going to give us. This is Bioware. I’ve only played a handful of Bioware titles (Baldur’s Gate, ME 1&2, Dragon Age, KOTOR) but each of those titles really stuck with me. The story was always the focus, and the player was always a pivotal force. Here they are telling me that TOR is “KOTOR 3 through 14”. I find myself wondering if they can actually do it.
Can they breathe life back into Star Wars?
Spoiler alert: no, they cannot. Probably not what you expected me to say, but hear me out. TOR is going to be awesome, make no mistake. It will properly and respectfully leverage the IP that Lucas trashed and misunderstood. It will be fun and there will undoubtedly be a good story in there somewhere. Lucas will get his 35% (well, LucasArts, to be fair) and he’ll turn that into Pod Racer 3 and another CGI freak show that will probably not net him a profit. It’s his IP and he can abuse it however he pleases. I’m not playing TOR for Star Wars. I’m playing it for Knights of the Old Republic. Credit for that goes to Bioware.
If you see the difference there, then I submit to you that you are still.
When Daniel Erickson was asked at PAX “Who shot first?” his response was immediate and even forceful.
“Han! Han! A thousand times, Han!”
If you see the value there, then I submit to you that you – like Erickson – are still a fan.
And I’m okay with it.