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Star Wars Computer Games
Star Wars is truly a multimedia franchise. While the movies are awesome, fans are thankfully not constrained to that single method for exploring the Star Wars universe. In fact, some of the greatest Star Wars ever told have been through video games.
PC gamers have access to many of the best Star Wars games ever created, some exclusively so. Let's check out the best currently available Star Wars computer games. Star Wars is truly a multimedia franchise. While the movies are awesome, fans are thankfully not constrained to that single method for exploring the Star Wars universe. In fact, some of the greatest Star Wars ever told have been through video games.
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Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Both KOTOR games are fantastic RPG masterpieces. While the second installment had a few advantages over the original, I'm putting the original KOTOR first because it has one of the most memorable twists in video game history.
I won't spoil it by mentioning it here, but if you haven't experienced it, you owe it to yourself to run out right now and get a copy of this great game.
Fantastic story aside, KOTOR also featured multiple player classes, branching dialogue trees, some incredibly-memorable companions, and other cool features like lightsaber customization. It's a lengthy game, with many worlds to explore and new companions to acquire. Definitely one of the best Star Wars games ever made.
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Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II
The sequel to KOTOR was not developed by Bioware. Obsidian was instead handed the reigns and they did a fantastic job building off of what the first game established. KOTOR II takes place several years after the original and while a few characters carry over, for the most part it's a wholly separate adventure.
All the great features of the first game are back, but the story in KOTOR II failed to hook gamers in the same way that the original did. Cuts were made to the plot in order to get the game finished and out on time, and what was left is something of a confusing mess that wrapped up a bit too quickly.
Eager gamers have found unused voice overs and scenes buried in the game's code, and have succeeded in restoring much of the original plot. You'll be required to mod your game, but it is possible to experience all that KOTOR II was originally supposed to be.
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Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy
The third installment in the Jedi Knight series, Jedi Academy is still regarded as one of the best Star Wars games of all time. This third and first-person shooter allows players to take on the role of Jaden Korr, a student of Kyle Katarn's at the Jedi Academy. Players must complete various tasks while upgrading their force powers and customizing their lightsaber as they progress through the story.
Jedi Academy is a blast from beginning to end. You face various types of foes throughout, but with an array of force powers on your side, not to mention a trusty lightsaber, there is really nothing you can't tackle, including a giant Rancor. Some of my fondest memories of this game involve using force push to redirect jumping enemies into a bottomless chasm. Somehow, that never gets old.
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Star Wars: Empire at War
For those who have ever wondered what it would be like to command Rebel or Imperial ground or space forces in a massive battle, Star Wars: Empire at War is the game that allows you to indulge your strategic fantasies. This Star Wars RTS features a plethora of familiar units from both sides of the galactic rebellion.
Two things set Empire at War apart from typical RTS fare: First, there is no resource gathering in the game. Players earn credits by controlling planets and they use these credits to build new units which can be placed in orbit around a planet. Only units in orbit can be called down to the planet, so a bit of pre-planning is required for the larger battles.
Second, Empire at War's strategic battles don't take place just on the ground. Players are also asked to take control of space forces as they clash in orbit. Not many game experiences are quite as cool as ordering a pair of Star Destroyers to close and destroy a lone Rebel Corvette.
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Lego Star Wars
For the gamer who is interested in family-friendly fare, or any fan of Star Wars and goofy slapstick humor, the Lego Star Wars games are fantastic. These action games utilize Lego re-creations of your favorite Star Wars locations, characters, and vehicles and use them to reenact the plot of both the original and prequel trilogies.
These games are great for beginning players because there is no real penalty for dying. You lose all the "bits" you've collected, making unlocking new items and characters more difficult, but lives are pretty much unlimited, giving you plenty of chances to figure out that tough puzzle or make that tricky jump successfully.
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Star Wars MMORPGs
Of course no list of Star Wars computer games would be complete without mentioning Star Wars: Galaxies. This MMORPG had the potential to be the greatest thing ever imagined in the MMO world. A completely player-driven economy, customizable characters through skill trees rather than classes, a dedicated, ongoing PvP battle between Empire and Rebellion, and a host of familiar characters and locations from the original Star Wars trilogy. It should have been the greatest game of all time.
Unfortunately, the reality didn't live up to the promise, and Star Wars: Galaxies has since become a ghost town. A host of unnecessary gameplay tweaks, some that completely erased months and years of progress for players, were the final nail in the coffin for this squandered opportunity. The game still exists, but it really isn't worth playing.
Hope for an awesome Star Wars MMO has not disappeared, however. Star Wars: The Old Republic is the new MMO currently under development by Bioware, the company behind the original Knights of the Old Republic. With a completely new setting, branching dialogue trees (fully voiced), and a host of awesome-looking character classes, The Old Republic may finally be the game that emerges as a legitimate challenger to World of Warcraft.
We can hope, anyway. Bioware's reputation is stellar, so we can at least count on it being better than Galaxies. I'm trying not to get my hopes up too high, though. Just in case.