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In Memory
Sean Pettibone

 

 

 


     

 






LucasArts has recently released another Episode I title Ė this time the action focuses on the adventures of the young Padowan Obi-wan Kenobi. In this Xbox third-person action-adventure game, players must go through a series of levels that closely follow the events in the first prequel. There are also head-to-head combat missions and a two-player mode where you can wield your Light-Saber and battle against one of the other characters head to head. This should thrill Star Wars fans, but what about everyone else?

While Episode I Ė The Phantom Menace received mixed reviews from fans, there were still a few bright spots that made the movie worthwhile. One of the major positive elements of TPM was Ewan MacGregorís outstanding portrayal of a younger Obi-Wan Kenobi. Even though the movie came out nearly three years ago, LucasArts has released a new Xbox adventure title that focuses on this popular characterís adventures in this initial series installment. The cool thing is, that while it hews closely to the movieís storyline, there are some side quests that allow for a more fleshed out adventure. Star Wars Obi Wan allows players to relive the events of Episode I in the shoes of this character. Whatís cool about the game, is that itís intelligently designed and fits in well with the SW mythology. As such, it seems entirely appropriate that this is a third-person action-adventure thatís faithful and stays faithful to the films. You control the character in a variety of missions and the object is to find out exactly what the Trade Federation is up to.

Along the way, youíll face many of the federation forces including the famous Battle Droids. The Battle Droids come in several different types including Scouts, Troopers and Scouts plus the standard models. In addition to these enemies, there are also Assassin and Destroyer Droids which are much more difficult to defeat. Most of the missions are long and complex, requiring the player to complete several different tasks such as unlocking doors, finding hidden objects while defeating hoards enemies. Itís similar in structure to the movie, and the levels in Obi-Wan unfold in a similar fashion, though there are some detours into other areas. You are accompanied by your master Qui-Gon Jinn through several levels who helps lead you along the quest. Qui-Gon helps you to battle druids and gives Obi-Wan advice on using his powers to defeat the evil Sith Lords. Along the way, youíll also receive help from the Naboo resistance fighters and Mace Windu. As a sidelight to the main quest, at several points during the quest, where you can face off against one of the members of the Jedi Council. These are all rigorous opponents and are quite difficult to beat. However, these battles male good practice for the main confrontation at the end of the game against Darth Maul himself. In addition to the main quest, Obi-Won also features a two-player battle mode where players can battle it out with each other, and light-saber duels using characters from the game. This adds some replay value to Obi-Wan, and this extra mode can be loads of fun.

As a member of the Jedi order, Obi-wan has the mysterious elemental power of the Force on his side. The most important tool he has is his trusty light-saber, which is a devastatingly effective weapon in his mighty hands. The interesting thing here is that in addition to using this to slash and cut enemies, Obi-wan can also throw the light-saber and use it like a boomerang and can also perform devastating special moves such as double-slashes. The coolest thing about the Lightsaber is that you can also use it to deflect enemy shots back at the enemies, which can destroy a lot of the less-intelligent Droids. In addition, you can call on the force by pressing the shift buttons. When this is used, Obi-Wan can gain several extra moves and powers. For example, he can use the force to push weapons out of enemiesí hands and knock them down or can knock out all the Droids in the immediate area using a concussion grenade. Using this technique is especially effective when you come across a group of droids. Obi-Wan is quite athletic and can jump, crawl and climb walls with ease. All this complexity means that the controls are complicated because each button has a different function that changes when you use the force or not, which can be annoying even once youíve gone through the training levels. Remembering all these variations gets confusing during battle and leaves you frequently fumbling around trying to find the right button combination.

It takes awhile to get the hang of the controls, but once you get proficient with the awkward interface, the game is somewhat enjoyable, if frustrating because of the many missed opportunities it presents. As you get accustomed to the controls and figure out when to use certain techniques, youíll find that the missions arenít overly difficult. Obi-Wanís level design lets the game flows nicely from one level to the next in a coherent fashion, though some of the missions vary in terms of complexity and difficulty. One pleasant surprise is that youíll rarely find yourself fighting with the environments, because the camera is good, and unlike titles such as Tomb Raider, Obi-Wan is somewhat forgiving when platform jumping is concerned. This makes the game accessible, approachable and fun. While some of the action can get intense later on, Itís level designs are logical and fair allowing you to immerse yourself into the Star Wars universe.

The graphics are decent with excellent character models resembling the actors used to add to the immersion and authenticity of the game. Obi-Wan has good environmental effects as well, with the levels accurately recreating many of the familiar locations from the films. The Xbox consoleís power is used to smooth out the rough edges giving Obi-Wan a smooth appearance throughout. The production values are enhanced with crystal-clear textures, brilliant light-sourcing, fluid animation and the typical production polish LucasArtsí Star Wars titles are known for. Unfortunately, the voices used arenít the same as in the movie, but they are passable, if disappointing approximations of the actors. Luckily, the classic John Williams score from the movie is also present, enhancing the mood immensely and helps to further add to the Star Wars vibe.

Despite these minor and major problems, Obi-Wan a decent action-adventure game that accurately brings the player into the Star Wars Universe. While itís not nearly as good as Starfighter or Rogue Squadron, this is a solid title for the Xbox console. Players should enjoy the titleís smoothness with the solid production values making this have the same high-quality visuals the Xbox is known for. Unfortunately, the gameplay itself isnít perfect. While thereís some solid action in the title, the most enjoyable parts are when things are simple and you only have to worry about basic moves. In the later levels, more complex moves are required and itís here where the excessively elaborate controls become a major problem and detract from the experience. Obi-Wan is a close-call but misses the mark, with too many flaws that detract from the overall experience so it missed the opportunity it had to be a great game. Instead itís merely good, when it should have been so much more. Itís a decent game, and die-hard Star Wars fans will definitely enjoy it but others may want to rent it first.


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