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Star Wars Obi-Wan

Review By:  Jared Black

Developer:   LucasArts
Publisher:   LucasArts
# of Players:   1-2
Genre:   Adventure
ESRB:   Teen
Online:   No
Accessories:   Memory Card
Date Posted:  

2-4-02

Becoming a Jedi has long been the dream of many Star Wars fans. The fact that a religion has actually been formed based on Jedi teachings (look it up) shows just how fanatical (and stupid) extreme members of this group of fans can be. Hoping to capitalize on the innate coolness becoming a Jedi entails, LucasArts has developed Star Wars Obi-Wan Ė their first serious effort to put the gamer in the role of Jedi master.

As youíd expect from the title, you control young Obi-Wan Kenobi through an original Episode I related storyline. Several weeks before the Trade Federationís invasion of Naboo (shown at the beginning of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace), Obi-Wan stumbles upon a mysterious new enemy known as the Jiníha (which I believe is a brand new race in the Star Wars universe). I donít want to give too much of the storyline away, but eventually this storyline will merge into and overlap with TPMís storyline.

Obviously, one of the most important aspects of this game is how well it lets you become a Jedi, and Obi-Wan does a great job of putting the player in that role. As Obi-Wan, the player is able to use several different Jedi powers such as the Force push (hurtle objects at enemies, or the enemies themselves), Force pull (disarm an enemy), and Force jumps (much higher than normal jumps. These are activated by holding down the left trigger button, then using the various buttons assigned to each Force power. Additionally, Obi-Wan also employs excellent lightsaber controls by assigning it to the right analog stick. Moving the stick swings the lightsaber in the appropriate direction on-screen, and as a result the control scheme is very intuitive.

Unfortunately, almost everything else about the game conspires to take away the fun that becoming a Jedi can be. For example, the level design is simply horrendous. While there are a few areas that are done remarkably well, the rest of the game is comprised of levels that break down into one long boring mess. Environments are sparse, with only a few objects to interact with here and there. What few objects there are to be found are used repeatedly, so by the end of a level youíve seen the same box a thousand times. During the level found on the Trade Federationís ship (paralleling the beginning of Episode I), youíll be both amazed and confused by the level design. At the beginning it does a great job of accurately recreating that scene (awful graphics aside, which weíll get into in a bit), but then youíre forced to spend 30 minutes running through bland hallway after bland hallway killing the same three enemies (droids, bombers and some big walking things) over and over again. When a level takes place outdoors (for example, on Obredaan), the environments feel as unorganic as they could possibly be. Rather than be sly about the outdoor level design, level boundaries are usually defined by big stone walls that seemingly pop out of nowhere. Terrain changes are jagged and erratic, and lack continuity. It never gets boring being a Jedi, but LucasArts sure did all they could to try and make it that way.

As if the long levels of nothingness werenít bad enough, the graphics are as dull as can possibly be. While there are some good shadowing and light sourcing techniques employed, everything is covered with dull and blurry textures. When I'm being forced to run through very long levels with minimal objects in them, at the very least I expect the walls to look good. A very minor amount of fogging and pop-up is apparent as well, but the real problem lies with the character models. Whether it is Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon, Yoda, or any of the generic enemies, all character models are low polygon messes that are no better than what was done on the N64 (really). If it werenít for the complex shadowing and light sourcing, Iíd swear Obi-Wan was developed with the Nintendo 64 + Expansion Pak in mind.

Aurally, well, itís what you would expect in a Star Wars title. The sound effects are made up of lots of samples straight from the movies, and the result is that everything sounds exactly as it should. The music is both original and new Star Wars stuff, so you know itís great as well.

Highs:

  • Does a wonderful job of recreating the feel of being a Jedi, from using the Force to a lightsaber.
  • As you would expect from a Star Wars title, the music is awesome and the sound effects are authentic.

Lows:

  • Level design is boring and sparse, with mile after mile of empty corridor and outdoor environments with artificial-looking features.
  • For the most part, the game looks like a high-resolution N64 title. Thatís not a good thing.
  • Even with the low-res and blurry graphics, there are still tremendous framerate drops.

Final Verdict: 

Despite the gameís numerous problems, Star Wars Obi-Wan remains an enjoyable title almost solely due to the excellent job LucasArts did of putting the player in the shoes of a Jedi. Itís certainly a rent-first title, but one any Star Wars fan should experience regardless.

Overall Score: 5.8

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