At its core, Star Wars may be a fairly straightforward tale of good vs. evil – but rarely has an entertainment franchise made both sides seem so damn appealing. Luckily, some of the most impressive and memorable video games based on the series have used this strength to allow players some level of volition, whether it's narrative or progression options that lead the character down a certain path, choosing sides in battle, or even playing opposing campaign missions.
Let's take a look back at some of the Star Wars games that let you choose your allegiance in ways large and small:
Knights of the Old Republic finally did the wider Star Wars universe justice with a sprawling role-playing experience, wherein your myriad choices – be they physical actions or dialogue selections – influenced your leaning towards the light or dark side of the Force. And those changed the way your character acted and how the narrative progressed. The morality system might seem limited today compared to BioWare's own Mass Effect, but KOTOR remains an important part of both Star Wars and general gaming history. Obsidian's Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords (2004) kept the approach for another stellar, albeit not-quite-as-classic quest.
First-person shooter sequel Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II actually did the morality system approach several years before KOTOR, albeit on a much simpler scale. With light, dark, and neutral Force powers available in the game, players could trigger the good ending by opting for light Force abilities and leaving friendly NPCs alive and well. Conversely, choosing to amass the powers of the dark side of the Force and indiscriminately icing any and all living beings brought about the negative ending. It's good reason to play this classic shooter twice!
BioWare returned to the franchise recently for its first MMORPG experience, with a game that merged common genre elements with others like those seen in KOTOR and Mass Effect. While your decisions still affect your morality placement between the light and dark side, you'll choose between the Galactic Republic and Sith Empire factions – these decisions are not mutually exclusive in nature. As such, you can really play how you want to play, and there's a massive amount to enjoy within the excellent MMO, which now offers a free-to-play component.
Capturing the scale and intensity expected from the films' larger battles, Star Wars: Battlefront (and especially sequel Battlefront II) delivered sharp competitive multiplayer skirmishes where players could select between Rebel Alliance and Galactic Empire forces from the original trilogy, or Galactic Republic or Confederacy of Independent Systems soldiers from the prequel era. Online shootouts were the true highlight of the package, with the conquest-style team battles spanning a wide array of familiar locales. Pick your side, fight to the death, and do it again and again.
Shut down just days before The Old Republic went live in 2011, Sony Online Entertainment's Star Wars Galaxies was the first franchise MMORPG, and it successfully ran for more than eight years. Players who chose the Jedi profession in the game could opt to unlock skills on the dark side of the upgrade chart, which led to abilities like Remorseless Nature, Wracking Energy, and Force Choke. These more aggressive options helped define your presence in the world and the way you interacted with others.
Predecessor Jedi Knight: Jedi Outcast ditched the multiple-ending approach, much to the chagrin of many series fans, so Jedi Academy aimed to inject some choice back into its campaign. However, with players able to wield both light and dark Force powers simultaneously in their arsenal, basing the outcome on upgrade selection simply wasn't possible. Instead, Jedi Academy built its narrative to a climactic moment in which your hero has the choice to kill a villain. Do so and you'll wind up on the dark side of the Force, but spare him and you'll stay on the righteous path. Your ending varies accordingly.
While not as fondly remembered as many of the games on this list, Star Wars: Rebellion offered up a large, 4X-style strategy experience in which you could take the reins of either the Empire or Rebel faction. It's a massive tactical experience, and one in which your choice of playable side really shaped the content within. Looping in events from both the original trilogy and the expanded universe, Rebellion was open-ended in design and allowed you to trigger events outside of canon, adding an interesting twist that made commanding the forces of either side all the more exciting.
The initial X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter release accomplished some impressive feats, with eight-player co-op action offered within the multiplayer-centric package. But series fans still wanted story alongside their intergalactic shootouts, and that followed in the Balance of Power expansion pack, which added separate Rebel and Imperial campaigns. The 15 missions on each side covered a lot of the same ground, but gave players the option to experience the action from either side's perspective.
Andrew Hayward is a freelance contributor to IGN and many other publications, and is based out of Chicago. Follow him on Twitter (@ahaywa) if you'd like.
Source : ign[dot]com