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LucasArts
LucasArts
Action
1-2
12.20.01

Star Wars Obi Wan


It could be argued that one of the biggest drawing points of the Star Wars universe is the idea of the Force. However, Force powers have rarely been a notable part of Star Wars video games, with the exception of the 90s PC game Jedi Knight. Only now has LucasArts stepped up to the plate and released a console game that focuses on Force powers. That game is the exclusive XBOX title Obi Wan; but is the Force strong with this one?

Graphics

I'll be frank with you - models and textures look pretty bad up close in Obi Wan. Imagine a game with models that have the poly count and texture quality of a Dreamcast game, coupled with the special effects of an XBOX game. That's pretty much where the graphics stand. Odds are you will probably laugh at or be scared by the terrible facial features of characters in this game (Yoda is especially dreadful). To add to the ugliness, the far off backgrounds are often static 2Dish pictures, sometimes with a bar of tiny moving 2D blobs that are supposed to look like ships moving in the background; this "trick" doesn't look so hot on TVs bigger than 36". To top it off, the game's framerate drops below 30fps very often. It's not enough slowdown to affect gameplay, but it just looks bad, especially with the already poor looking graphics. Lighting and shadows on Obiwan look strange and unnatural as well. Not to mention that enemies don't cast a shadow, but you do. Expect some clipping here and there as well. On the bright side, There are some nice lighting effects produced by Obi's light saber. Plus, when you slice up droids, they will break apart based on how you hit them.

Sound

Sound is great, with a very active Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. The only downside is that voices could use some work. I was also a bit miffed that the sound breaks up a bit at the end of the Star Wars scroller the first time you play due to the game dumping so much data onto the hard drive.

Gameplay

If you haven't been scared off yet, this is where Obi Wan shines. The game is very simply fun as hell to play. Having all sorts of Force powers at your disposal, along with a great lightsaber battle system, lends this game to be one of the best game playing experiences for Star Wars fans. For those who want juicy details, Obi Wan is a 3rd-person style game that looks similar to Tomb Raider. The force powers in Obi Wan include the following: Force Jump, Force Pull, Force Push, Force Throw, Force View, Force Lightsaber Throw, and Force Lightsaber Attacks. Force Jump allows you to jump much higher. Force Pull allows you to disarm enemies with guns, though most enemies have a backup melee weapon. Force Push allows you to knock enemies back or push them off cliffs, Force Throw catapults nearby objects, such as rocks, onto enemies, Force View slows down time ala Matrix (which can be helpful when you get swarmed), Force Lightsaber Throw allows you to throw you lightsaber clear across the room and back (all the while spinning around like a deadly boomerang), while Force Lightsaber Attacks greatly increase the damage your Lightsaber inflicts. While all these powers may seem impossible to execute with just a controller, it is actually done quite well with the Left Trigger functioning as a Force Power toggle. To pull off any of the Force moves you simply hold down the left trigger and push the corresponding face button on the controller. Lightsaber combat in Obi Wan is accomplished by moving around the right thumbstick; the way Obi Wan swings his Lightsaber corresponds to the way you move the right thumbstick. You can also pull off entertaining cartwheels and forward rolls by hitting one of the face buttons, which is always fun if you get tired of killing and just want to dance around a bit. Moving on, Obi Wan sports a 2-player splitscreen Lightsaber battle mode, which is actually quite good if you have a friend who also enjoys Star Wars. Load times for Obi Wan are pretty dismal, with a brisk minute-plus loadtime every time Obi Wan needs to dump to the hard drive; this usually happens the first time you play, and will often happen if you played a lot of other hard-drive intensive games (i.e. Halo, Dead or Alive 3) in between sessions of Obi wan. During this huge load time you are forced to watch a pixelated Star Wars scroller. If you play Obi Wan frequently, you will likely only get this scroller once. However, every time you play there is still a good 10 second load time in between levels despite the large amount of data copied to the hard drive. All in all though, it's worth the wait.

Bottom Line:

If you can get over the poor visuals, Obi Wan could be your new all-time favorite Star Wars game, due to its fantastic gameplay.

-Pete Calderwood




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