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We <3 Star Wars: nine of the best victims of the Expanded Universe cull

Friday, 2 May 2014 09:09 GMT By Brenna Hillier

The Star Wars Expanded Universe has been given the chop, so it’s time to wave farewell to, well, a universe of beloved characters and storylines. We look back on some of our favourite video game entries in the sprawling LucasArts canon.

star_wars_the_old_republic_swtor

Disney, the new owner of LucasFilm and its games subsidiary LucasArts, has decided to wipe much of the Star Wars Expanded Universe slate. The six films to date remain, but almost everything else – the books, the comics, the toys and the games – are all officially non-canon.

This is heartbreaking news for fans, who will tell you that some of the best storytelling and world building took place outside George Lucas’s remit. However, the House of Mouse has spoken, and hopefully will draw on its own experience in protecting intellectual property – as well as that of its other major acquisition, Marvel – to build a new and beautiful extended canon.

In the meantime, let’s celebrate and reminisce over some of our favourite gaming entries in the now-collapsed universe.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2 (KOTOR)

For many gamers, this is the quintessential Star Wars experience – or was, before the march of time took its inevitable toll on the ageing RPG series. The first Knights of the Old Republic was many Xbox gamers introduction to BioWare, and was so fondly loved both by developer and fans that it eventually inspired Mass Effect, one of the great franchise successes of the current era. Obsidian Entertainment’s sequel wasn’t as well-received, mainly because the team ran out of time and shipped it in the traditional “buggy as shit” stage, but KOTOR 2 was still an excellent game and devoted fan effort has returned some of its lost glory.

Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR)

Positioned as a continuation of KOTOR, and a KOTOR that never had to end, Star Wars: The Old Republic turned out to be, well, about as MMO-y as you can get. Nevertheless, it’s packed with interesting ideas and good content, as well as hefty slices of the old BioWare charm, and there’s definitely something to be said about joining the Jedi-Sith war, or whatever it’s called. It’s not to everybody’s tastes, of course, but those who love SWTOR? Man, they really love SWTOR. Definitely a success story, even if EA’s not rolling in as much phat loot as it expected. It looks like this one just might escape the canon cull; cross your fingers.

A friend of mine made this video for me from Star Wars Galaxies. This sort of randomness was entirely typical of its broad and broadminded community.

Star Wars Galaxies

Before there was SWTOR, there was Star Wars Galaxies, an MMO from Sony Online Entertainment that closed down to much sorrow in late 2011. It was a strange beast indeed, to the modern eye; an EverQuest-inspired MMO from the time before World of Warcraft set an apparently unbreakable paradigm. Players devoted whole in-game lifetimes to dancing, for example, and the social aspect of the game was filled to the brim with oddities – and more importantly, treasures. One of its more interesting features was its refusal to let you become a Jedi; you first had to master a certain number of other roles, and not only were these randomly selected for each character, the game wouldn’t tell you what they were till you had one under your belt. Amazing.

Star Wars: Jedi Knight

A third-person action series from Raven Software (now swallowed into Activision’s Call of Duty mill, alas), the Jedi Knight series spans five games and nine years. It also spans both sides of the war, as players take the role of Kyle Katarn, an Imperial soldier who eventually ends up as a Jedi instructor. Before Force Unleashed came along this was the benchmark for Star Wars action games, and remains a rare example of decent Star Wars multiplayer.

star_wars_the_force_unleashed_2

The Force Unleashed was a bit grimdark, but in the nicest possible way.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2

This one is a shining example of transmedia done right. Rather than blobbing a game down in the middle of the Expanded Universe and calling it a day, LucasArts launched a multimedia project spanning books, comics, reference materials and even a role-playing source, with a pair of video games at the heart of it. Significantly less modest than Jedi Knight, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed tells an important story occurring between Episodes Three and Four, starring an apprentice to none other than Darth Vader himself. It’s exactly as bombastic as you’d expect, but also a really solid set of games which arrived at a time when everything licensed was absolute shite.

Star Wars Battlefront

The reason I didn’t mention Star Wars Battlefront when discussing the excellent action stylings of Jedi Knight and The Force Unleashed is that in my mind Battlefront is an extension of the Battlefield series – which means it’s kind of come home now that DICE is in charge of the next one. Developed by a gaggle of studios but kicked off by the late, great Pandemic, Battlefront spawned two core entries and two portable spin-offs. Although both core games were playable in single-player, multiplayer was really where it was at, and despite being third-person – a genre many multiplayer fans tend to disdain – Battlefront is the touchstone for Star Wars with mates. End of story.

Star Wars Battlefront didn’t always look like a dog’s breakfast, I swear.

Lego Star Wars

I tell a lie. Battlefront is the final word in Star Wars with mates where you shoot them in the face; Lego Star Wars is the best Star Wars with mates for sitting on the couch. Some of the best of TT Games’ lauded Lego games, the five or so Lego Star Wars games are the epitome of good, clean, co-op fun – family-friendly games you can settle down to with the kids, but which will bring a smile or a belly laugh when you’re powering through with your drinking buddies. They probably didn’t bring a hell of a lot of new content to the Expanded Universe, as I’m pretty sure nobody ever pretended Lego was canon, but by god are we loathe to leave them off any list with “Star Wars” and “best” in the title, you know?

Star Wars: X-Wing

There’s been a heck of a lot of third-person action adventure so far, but the Star Wars: X-Wing series puts paid to all that. Four games over six years brought us as close as we thought we’d ever get to doing the trench run with Luke and R2-D2, and it’s because of games like X-Wing and its contemporaries that the space genre is exploding again today. EVE: Valkyrie in particular owes a nod to this series, as very few games had ever done dogfighting as well as X-Wing did. Star Citizen’s audience grew up here.

Meanwhile, Star Wars: X-Wing did kind of always look awful – but hasn’t it held up better?

Star Wars: Rogue Squadron

A few years later, we got Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, a more arcade-style take on Star Wars dogfighting for Nintendo consoles. The fanbase of this one tends to be slightly (a console generation or so) younger, and less interested in the old Wing Commander style intricacies – but put aside your snobbery for a moment and you’ll discover a hell of a lot of fun to be head.

Star Wars: Empire at War

Every time Petroglyph Games comes up in video games news we all go “who? Oh, yeah! The Star Wars: Empire at War guys”, and pay keen attention to whatever it does. I feel fairly confident saying this is the only decent strategy game in the Star Wars catalogue, and its setting – during the construction of the Death Star – makes it particularly interesting. As is practically the law whenever Star Wars gives you a choice in the matter, the Dark Side is well more interesting, with a campaign starring Darth Vader on the hunt for Princess Leia.

Star Wars: Rebel Assault and Star Wars: Rebel Assault 2: The Hidden Empire

No, look, I know: FMV games are dreadful and atrocious and you have no idea what this is doing here. But ask gamers over a certain age about old Star Wars games and this pair always comes up, normally accompanied by a pained expression and welling nostalgia. They’re dreadful, yes, but they’re dreadful in a way that inspires a kind of fondness.

There are so many Star Wars games that it’s not even funny. We’ve no doubt missed your favourites, so let us know what and why in the comments. If you have memories of any truly dire Star Wars games, we’d love to hear about those, too.

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10 Comments

  1. locus2k1

    #10 Shadow of the empire :) an N64 game based on the novel of the same name set between episodes V and VI. Wasn’t the best Star Wars game but I loved that it opened with you harpooning AT-ATs :D

    #1 12 months ago
  2. The_Red

    Story wise and among gaming, I think the only things that will be missed are KOTOR 1 and 2.
    There are some excellent extended universe tales in SW world but outside KOTOR games, the SW titles have had bad to terrible writing. Hell, even KOTOR games have seriously flaws.

    KOTOR1 had a killer ending but general writing was standard BioWare (Sometimes decent, sometimes terrible) while KOTOR2′s excellent writing and characterizations were ruined by an absolutely abysmal ending. Of course both of them had better story than all prequel movies combined…

    #2 12 months ago
  3. Fin

    I would purchase a high-spec PC and Occulus rift if it meant I could play a new version of TIE Fighter/X-Wing.

    #3 12 months ago
  4. Lutz

    Whoever is playing that X-Wing game is bloody crap at it!

    TIE Fighter was truly amazing. Lost hours and hours to that. Like Fin, I could easily see me buying a new PC for a remake of that.

    #4 12 months ago
  5. GrimRita

    SWTOR will probably escape the cull due to contractual issues and the amount of cash EA sank into this white elephant.

    Glad you mentioned Empire at War – awesome game for space battles. dumbed down by LucasArts though(removed diplomacy and micro management stuff) but for me, my very first PC game, will probably be the best Star Wars experience that should survive – Star Wars:Rebellion/Supremacy(UK).

    A UI nightmare but underneath the windowed layers, was a true RTS. Full of sabotage and espionage and other dirty tricks. It remains one of the best RTS games of all time imo. Building a secret Death Star, launching a secret assault on the Rebel HQ or sending Han, Chewie and Lando on a sabotage mission to destroy the Death Star shield BEFORE your fleet arrived.

    You were left wondering if your opponent knew about your assault, or would you have complete surprise? I am yet to see this kind of true tactics deployed in any RTS today.

    I would love to see a new game based on this but I think going forward, the next gen of Star Wars will probably be more character driven and follow a not too similar path to the prequels in it’s build up.

    #5 12 months ago
  6. Darkfield

    This is bullshit, Star Wars for me personally was consistent of KOTOR, KOTOR 2 and SWTOR’s storyline, the main reason I even started liking the franchise. I never liked the 6 movies. In my opinion they were all mediocre at best. Great showcases of technology and special effects, story-wise they did nothing for me. Expanded universe however were brilliant, Lost Tribe of the Sith, and the 3 books that sets the story of SWTOR and SWTOR’s storylines they were remarkable specially on the Sith side.

    #6 12 months ago
  7. GrimRita

    @6 – You just haven’t a clue. Star Wars – the original, changed cinema as we know it today. Had it not been for LucasFilm there probably wouldn’t be digital technology.

    And if you think SWTORs story lines are remarkable, you need your head checked. They are average at best but the way they are told is better than average. The Star Wars story is actually a very sad one, if you bothered to look deeper in to it.

    A good man, turned bad, a friendship destroyed followed by redemption. Sure the acting is shaky but hell, the adventure that is Star Wars will out last any shit made today

    #7 12 months ago
  8. Darkfield

    @GrimRita are you for real? I acknowledged that in my post. I was talking with emphasis on storytelling not how sw’s technological breakthroughs changed special effects landscape in cinematography! clearly you are not acquainted with any of the novels. And what you described is practically the summary of almost every story ever written.

    #8 12 months ago
  9. Mr Sparkle

    Expanded Universe > Episode I-VI

    #9 12 months ago
  10. Inspectre

    I never read any Expanded Universe that felt canon anyway, just some good books pretending to be Star Wars related.
    /shrug

    #10 12 months ago

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    A Nintendo Direct devoted entirely to Xenoblade Chronicles X will air this Friday, April 24. The video showcase will start at 11am PDT/2pm EDT/7pm UK. After the showcase, a new Nintendo Treehouse: Live presentation featuring the game will air. This is the second Xenoblace Chronicles X Nintendo Direct, but the first in English. The first […]

  • Blizzard will have 500 game stations set up at gamescom 2015

    Blizzard is heading to gamescom 2015 in August and it will have 500 game stations set up for attendees to get their hands on five of its titles. The developer will be set up in Hall 7 and those who stop by will be able to get hands-on with the latest content for Heroes of […]

  • PS4 price cut to £299 in UK

    Sony has dropped the price of the PS4 in the UK. For a limited time only, you can grab the console for £299.99 from Argos, Game, Tesco and Very. Go to Amazon.co.uk and you’ll get it for £289. You’ve only got until April 28, then it goes back up to £349. Go, go, go. For […]

  • Mad Max: first ever gameplay footage revealed

    Today, we get to finally take our first look at gameplay from Mad Max. Avalanche and Warner Bros. have shown off the first gameplay trailer for Mad Max today. The trailer below offers a look at melee combat, car combat, customisation and much more. Give it a watch below: There are a few new screenshots […]

  • Overlord: Fellowship of Evil has four-player co-op like we figured

    Codemasters has pulled the veil back on the next Overlord game, and its a four-player co-op game called Overlord: Fellowship of Evil. Rhianna Pratchett is back to write the story. The game may be co-op at its core, but it can still be played single-player. Each of the four playable character have strengths and weaknesses, […]

  • Update now available for Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, Pokemon X and Y

    Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire along with Pokemon X and Y are being updated by Nintendo to fix a few bugs and in-game text. There’s also the possibility of a few hacks and exploits being fixed. Per Nintendo Life (via Serebii), both patches are 250-270 blocks in size, and it’s a mandatory update which […]

  • Side-scrolling cover shooter Not a Hero gets a demo

    Not a Hero, the upcoming game from OlliOlli developer Roll7, has received a demo. The demo for Not a Hero was made available today on Steam. In the game, you play as Steve, the campaign manager for BunnyLord. A time-travelling rabbit who’s running for mayor of London. Think this is an absurd premise? This trailer […]

  • You have until April 30 to export your Green Day: Rock Band tracks to Rock Band 3

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  • Batman: Arkham Knight minimum, recommended, and ultra PC specs revealed

    Batman: Arkham Knight is looking like it’s going to be quite a taxing game. Nvidia has released a list of the minimum, recommended, and ultra PC requirements for Batman: Arkham Knight. Here’s the full thing: Minimum OS: Win 7 SP1, Win 8.1 (64-bit Operating System Required) Processor: Intel Core i5-750, 2.67 GHz | AMD Phenom […]

  • Bloodborne patch 1.03 is live, reduces loading times, fixes suspend/resume bugs, more

    Patch 1.03 is now live for Bloodborne. The patch reduces loading times, adds item descriptions to loading screens, and fixes other various bugs. From Software has pushed update 1.03 live to all Bloodborne owners. As promised, it reduces loading times by approximately 5 to 15 seconds. Another new addition is showing item descriptions instead of […]

  • Battlefield 4: first look at Community Map in action

    Get your first look at the map designed by the community of Battlefield 4. Battlefield 4′s community-designed map is a reality. DICE has recently updated CTE to include an early version of the map. It’s not fully textured as Westie is about to show you, but the layout is nearly finalised. Westie goes over the […]

  • Microsoft apologises for uploading misleading Witcher 3: Wild Hunt footage

    Xbox’s YouTube channel uploaded a video of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt yesterday that was captured from the PC build. The most recent gameplay video for the The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt appeared on the Xbox YouTube channel and showed a quest from the game’s opening section. A few minutes after it had gone live, […]

  • Assassin’s Creed creator’s new game is Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey

    Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey is the game Assassin’s Creed creator Patrice Desilets has been working on. Patrice Desilets has just announced that the next game his indie studio Panache Digital Games is making is called Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey. The announcement comes from Desilets’s keynote at the Reboot Develop event in Croatia. The trailer started […]

  • Bloodborne: Cathedral Ward closed door mystery solved

    The mystery of the locked door at the bottom of the Cathedral Ward in Bloodborne has been solved. Bloodborne, like earlier From Software games, is filled with doors that don’t open the first time you try them. Some will give you “locked” messages, others “does not open from this side”. Some of these will open […]

  • Assassin’s Creed creator Patrice Desilets is revealing his next game now [UPDATE: ended]

    Patrice Desilets, one of the original creators of Assassin’s Creed is hosting a presentation where he’s expected to talk about his next project. Patrice Desilets has emerged once again. This time he’s attending development conference in Croatia. Desilets is giving a live keynote and there’s a good chance we’re going to hear about his next […]

  • Destiny House of Wolves: everything you need to know about gear upgrades & The Reef

    Bungie revealed plenty of important details in last night’s Destiny stream. Let’s go over everything. Alex wants to make sure you don’t miss any of the information revealed yesterday. Most of it affects all Destiny players too, even those who don’t intend on buying House of Wolves. During the first stream, Bungie explained the armour […]

  • Mod-friendly Galactic Civilizations 3 will leave Steam Early Access in May

    Galactic Civilizations 3 will leave Steam Early Access next month for a full release, Stardok has announced. The developer called the game the “largest and most diverse strategy sandbox to date,” as players have a variety of tools such as diplomatic treaties to resource exchanges, and United Planets resolutions to hundreds of research directions for […]

  • Ys 6: The Ark of Napishtim is out next week on PC – here’s the pre-order trailer

    Ys 6: The Ark of Napishtim will be released next week on PC, and today, we have a pre-order trailer for you. The game will be made available on April 28 for $19.99/€17.99/£13.99 on GOG, the Humble Store and Steam. Along with improvements over the original PSP version, it will contain less backtracking, controller support […]

  • Destiny: House of Wolves – full gear set up to level 34 in PvP and PvE, upgrades, more

    The Destiny: House of Wolves livestream this afternoon was chock full of information. Read onward for our full report. According to Bungie, Petra Venj, who serves the Queen, is the main story agent who leads the player through the main series of quests. Players who complete bounties will be able to level up in her […]

  • Destiny: House of Wolves – watch the livestream right here

    Bungie will host a Destiny: House of Wolves livestream at 2pm EDT today, and you can watch it right here. Watch live video from Bungie on www.twitch.tv The stream will introduce the new social space, The Reef, as well as gear upgrade paths. House of Wolves contains new Strike missions, The Prison of Elders three-player […]

  • FIFA Ultimate Team: week of April 22 team includes Barcelona, Chelsea players

    This week’s FIFA 15 Team of the Week is now available for FIFA Ultimate Team players. Each team member, as with previous weeks, is selected base on the previous weekend’s matches. Here’s the list of players now available: Starting GK: Claudio Bravo – FC Barcelona (Spain) CB: Leonardo Bonucci – Juventus (Italy) CB: Ömer Toprak […]

  • Sony’s Spring Fever Sale winds down with Shovel Knight and Call of Duty discounts

    It’s the final week of Sony’s Spring Fever Sale which means more games have been added to the mix. Shovel Knight, which launches today is one offer, and the rest are all Cal of Duty titles. The Taken movie series is on sale as well. With Shovel Knight available today on PlayStation 3, PS4 and […]

  • Drivers for Xbox controllers, voice messages, more features available in Xbox One preview

    Microsoft has announced new features coming to Xbox One and the Xbox App on Windows 10 through the preview program this month. Some of the new features have been requested by the community for both Xbox One and Xbox One SmartGlass. Here’s what to expect, straight from the horse’s mouth: Xbox on Windows 10 Game […]

  • Total War: Warhammer has been announced for PC, Mac, SteamOS

    Total War: Warhammer has been announced after previous teases from The Creative Assembly touched upon it. The game will contain “gigantic monsters, flying creatures, legendary heroes and storms of magical power.” It is also the first in a trilogy which includes two additional standalone titles and extra content packs. It will feature thousands of warriors […]

  • This video for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt features a quest from the prologue

    A new video for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has been released, showing off the Precious Cargo quest contained in the game’s prologue. The quest tasks Geralt with helping a merchant retrieve a mysterious box from the swamps. The scene looks familiar, but we’ve seen so many videos for the game it’s hard to tell […]

  • Limited public beta for The Elder Scrolls Online kicks off tomorrow on consoles

    The limited public beta for The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited will launch on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One tomorrow, and Sony has provided details on the tester for those who’ve been invited to participate. The beta test contains the full version of the game and will run from April 23-27, and will start and […]

  • Dying Light debuts in second place on Media Create charts

    Techland’s Dying Light made its debut in Japan lats week, coming in a respectable second place behind Nintendo’s Girls Mode 3: Kirakira Code. The zombie shooter sold 25,530 units on PlayStation 4, while the top earner for the week moved a little over 55,000 units on 3DS. Another western release when landed on the chart, […]

  • Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven will release in the west this June

    Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven has been given a release date by XSEED Games, which announced the localization back in February. The title will launch for 3DS in North America on June 2 digitally and through retail. It will be an eShop only title in Europe and Australia when it releases on June 4. A […]

  • This Overlord video teases four new faces of evil

    A new Overlord game is in the works, going by the previous teasing and this video – which teases the possibility of four-payer co-op. Or just four characters to choose from. We don’t know just yet – all we know is the team is asking you to “join the fellowship.” A new entry in the […]

  • GTA movie will star Daniel Radcliffe as Rockstar’s Sam Houser, the BBC confirms

    The GTA movie Game Changer will star Daniel Radcliffe as Rockstar co-founder and president Sam Houser, theBBC has confirmed. The BBC also confirmed Bill Paxton will play Jack Thompson, a role Paxton already confirmed last week when speaking with Deadline. Here’s the synopsis per the BBC: “Conceived for an adult audience, this special 90-minute drama […]

  • Take a look at Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold’s Classic Mode

    Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold’s Classic Mode has received a trailer today. Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold will come with two modes, Classic and Story. Classic Mode was trailered today and in it, you’ll get to make your party by choosing from 13 classes. You’ll be able to customise them too using the character creation tool. Revamped […]

  • Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows to come with new challenge mode

    Shovel Knight’s upcoming expansion Plague of Shadows will bring with it a new challenge mode. Shovel Knight developer Yacht Club Games has revealed the challenge mode, one of the new additions coming to the game with the free Plague of Shadows expansion. “Are you more into digging than distillation? Already have your Feats book long […]

  • Nvidia releases complete graphical guide for GTA 5

    Those with GeForce cards will be happy to know that Nvidia has released a comprehensive graphical tweaks guide for GTA 5. Nvidia usually produces graphical guides for the big AAA games, and GTA 5 is no different. Their guides offer in-depth coverage of each in-game setting, how much they affect framerate, if they can be […]

  • Cthulhu voodoo: why Bloodborne is the best Lovecraftian game

    Sherif Said tackles Bloodborne’s links to Lovecraftian horror, explaining why you should face the madness and immerse yourself in its lore. Spoilers inside. No other game could commit to its themes so religiously without feeling the need to compromise its vision and veer towards accessibility. Bloodborne stands tall above any game that dares attach itself […]

  • WWE 2K15 is coming to PC this year

    WWE 2K15 will make its way to PC this spring. WWE announced that WWE 2K15 will make its debut on PC in the spring. The game will be based on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions, both of which came out in November. MyCareer and 2K Showaces modes are included, as well as all […]

  • GTA 5 PC: new mod adds snow to GTA Online

    If you’re looking to get some snow in your GTA Online, someone figured out a way. Modder ECB2 created a mod that works with GTA Online on PC. The mod is called “Snow in GTA Online” and it does what it says on the tin. YouTube channel imperfectplayers captured a video showing it in action. […]

  • Deals with Gold: Call of Duty edition

    Xbox Live Deals with Gold for the week of April 20 are now live with mostly Call of Duty games. Various Call of Duty games are on sale on Xbox One and Xbox 360 through Xbox Live this week. Indie games Never Alone and We Are Doomed managed to sneak in as well. With the […]

  • Mortal Kombat X: PSN sign in problems fixed in new patch

    Patch 1.03 is now live for Mortal Kombat X and it brings an end to the aggravating sing in issue encountered by some users on PS4. Mortal Kombat X 1.03 patch has been released. The patch fixes bug CE-34878-0, which affected the PlayStation 4 version. The bug caused users to have to log in and […]

  • GTA 5 PC: new patch fixes Windows Media Player issue, getting stuck in the clouds

    GTA 5 has received a new patch on PC to fix issues caused by the lack of Windows Media Player and getting stuck between online matches. Patch 335.1 is now available to all owners of GTA 5 on PC. The strange issue that affected those who didn’t have Windows Media Player installed, has been fixed. […]