Star Wars: Clone Wars – Making the Best of the Worst of Star Wars

“Like fire across the Galaxy, the Clone Wars spread…”

In the wake of the announcement that Star Wars: The Clone Wars will be getting another season before the decade is out, it seems only fitting to look back at the progenitor of all ‘Clone Wars’ TV media – the original Star Wars: Clone Wars show which aired on Cartoon Network in 2003 and was directed, produced and co-written by Genndy Tartakovsky. This series is well-known among the fanbase for famously bridging the gap between Episodes II and III before Episode III itself had even been released. It’s distinctive style and impressive scope makes this series a must-watch for any Star Wars fan, particularly those interested in the prequel era.

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The Battles

Firstly and most obviously, this series is renowned for its depiction of some of the most epic and large-scale battles of the Clone Wars. The battles on Muunilinst, Dantooine, Hypori, Yavin, Mon Calamari and numerous others were brilliantly depicted in this series, with some battles taking up entire episodes and others spanning several episodes in a sequence of mini-arcs spanning the first series. Each of these depicts a totally unique Star Wars battle in enviroments that were not explored in the main films, such as the mass-fighter space battle above Muunilinst in the first few episodes or the uniquely fought battle of the dust fields featuring Mace ‘Keyhole’ Windu and his impressive jumping and punching techniques.

A particular highlight of the series is the Battle of Mon Calamari, a plot thread that takes up only one episode yet depicts several unique scenarios in Star Wars lore – notably, the appearance of a lightsaber working underwater, how factions in Star Wars battle underwater in the first place, and more insight into how the Mon Calamari and Quarren races fight in their native habitat. The inclusion of Kit Fisto as the star of his own individual episode was a nice touch too, seeing as how he is brutally murdered in the next movie.

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The Clones

Oddly enough, one of this series’ major strengths is how it uses dialogue-less sequences with the Clones to depict plot development. A perfect example of this is the entire ARC troopers sequence, which spans several episodes, many of which are totally dialogue-free as the ARC troopers wordlessly delegate commands to each other through the visual hierarchy of the Red Sergeant and his Blue and White subordinates, all of whom work together to form a deadly and efficient squad who recur throughout the series, taking on a threats ranging from a giant cannon to General Grievous himself. Aside from the ARC troopers, the depiction of regular Clones in the Republic Army is effective in demonstrating both their tactical importance and their disposibility.

Whilst the series emphasises the true nature of the Clone Wars, the lack of respect for its Clone characters compared to its successor, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, is a major disadvantage to the series. However, whilst the Clones are not used for emotional impact, they are effective in their role as the show’s cannon fodder – in fact, the Clone death toll in this series is probably higher than any other piece of Star Wars TV media.

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The Characters

Star Wars: Clone Wars introduced several interesting characters to the Star Wars on-screen canon, particularly fan-favourites like Durge and Asajj Ventress. Both of these new characters get special focus throughout the show, but what is perhaps more important is how Star Wars: Clone Wars depicts its returning characters – and the answer is, it is spot-on. Characters like Anakin, Obi-Wan, Yoda, Palpatine, Amidala and Mace Windu seem by all accounts to be accurate depictions of their appearances in the movies, and although this show focuses primarily on combat and less on dialogue, there are still some great character moments, particularly the scenes involving Anakin and Obi-Wan.

Like the later Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the 2003 series does a great job of showing the friendship that existed between Anakin and Obi-Wan before the tragic events of Revenge of the Sith – but unlike its successor, Star Wars: Clone Wars actually shows the evolution of the rivalry between Master and Apprentice that was apparent in Attack of the Clones to a genuine friendship over the course of the series.

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The Villains

Of course, it wouldn’t be Star Wars without the villains, and Star Wars: Clone Wars features the return of many iconic villains from the prequels as well as the debut of even more fan-favourite villains from the prequel era like Asajj Ventress, Durge and General Grievous. An interesting trend in the Star Wars prequel-era TV shows is that they use their villains a lot better than the prequel movies themselves did, and the same is definitely true of this show. A perfect example of this is General Grievous – he makes his debut in this series in one of the most epic lightsaber duels in the show, makes mincemeat of half a dozen Jedi, and then comes back for more later in the series leading up to its cliffhanger – yet his appearance in Episode III makes him seem as though in the meantime he had half of his brain removed. The show even acknowledges this by having Mace Windu crush Grievous’ chest in the finale, causing his signature cough. The character of Durge, a fascinating antagonist to Obi-Wan’s first story arc, is another example of a really interesting villain idea – without giving too much away, he finds some interesting ways to fight toe-to-toe with a Jedi despite not owning a lightsaber, and his terrifying physiology makes him a memorable character in the series.

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The Duels

Needless to say, there are some epic duels in this series. From the more literal interpretation of a Star Wars ‘duel’ involving lightsabers, such as Grievous vs Ki-Adi Mundi or Ventress vs Anakin, to the less conventional such as Durge vs Obi-Wan or Ventress vs Dooku, each and every duel in this series is truly fantastic. This is particularly evident thanks to the wide variety of locations in this series, and the duel between Anakin and Asajj Ventress that involves a lot of jumping between trees in the jungles of Yavin, for example, become immediately memorable. The previously mentioned duel between Grievous and the Jedi on Hypori is a rare example of a Star Wars duel that involves multiple combatants fighting one immensely powerful duelist, and Grievous doesn’t even make use of his four arms and yet he is still able to wipe the floor with many of the Jedi in various brutal ways. Of all the factors that contribute to what makes this series so good, the quality of the lightsaber duels is definitely one of the stand outs.

Overall, even after all this time, Star Wars: Clone Wars is still a thoroughly enjoyable piece of Star Wars media and, whilst it is certainly no Empire Strikes Back, it works wonders to redeem many of the elements of the first two prequels and paved the way for the fantastic pseudo-sequel Star Wars: The Clone Wars years later.

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Star Wars – Top 5 Best Rebel Starfighters

The Rebel Alliance was able to scrounge together a ragtag fleet of starfighters that would later evolve into a diverse and highly adaptable fighting force that proved more than a match for the capital-ship focused Galactic Empire. Almost every Rebel starfighter is better or at the very least technically superior to its Imperial counterpart, and although the Empire mass-produced thousands of variants of the TIE class of starfighter, the numerically outnumbered but well put-together Rebel ships eventually prevailed. However, how do these ships rank against each other? There are several factors to take into account here, not least the fact that many Rebel ships are specialised to fulfil particular roles, as well as the speed, weaponry and defensive capability of each fighter. With that in mind, we begin with:

#5 – Z-95 Headhunter

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As snub fighters go, the Z-95 Headhunter was already considered outdated by the time of the Galactic Civil War, even by the Rebels who were renowned for making good use of otherwise outdated ships like the Y-Wing. However, facing a shortage of effective starfighters in its early years, the Rebellion did turn to Z-95s for fleet defence and occasionally as a mainline starfighter, but as the war went on and the Rebels became better equipped they would later mostly rely on the X-Wing as a mainline fighter. Nonetheless, the Z-95 is a good ship in its own right, and its light weaponry and shields coupled with its nimble manoeuvrability made it a favourite for force-sensitives in the New Republic, particularly Jedi.

#4 – Y-Wing

Y-wing.pngAs previously mentioned, the Y-Wing was considered an outdated bomber by the time of the Galactic Civil War, although it did see extensive use by the Galactic Republic during the Clone Wars. The Y-Wing was perhaps best known as the bomber that was used by the Republic to take down the Malevolence, and its practicality led to leftover craft being taken up by the Rebel Alliance to use as a mainline bomber for much of its existence, with Y-Wings taking part in many of the most critical battles of the era, including the Battle of Yavin and the Battle of Endor. The Y-Wing was capable of carrying a heavy payload of ion and proton torpedoes, and some models even featured a manned turret position, but its role as a bomber means that it is not the most nimble of craft. By the end of the Galactic Civil War, many Rebel pilots preferred other ships over the ageing Y-Wings, and their use in later battles was largely due to necessity and the shortage of prototype replacement bombers like the B-Wing. Talking of which…

#3 – B-Wing

BwingThe B-Wing was designed to fill the niche of heavy bomber for the Rebel Alliance during the Galactic Civil War, and became infamous in the Empire due to the fact that B-Wings proved to be capable of taking down Imperial Star Destroyers, and their effectiveness at that task led to many such Imperial craft meeting their demise at the Battle of Endor. Known to be fiendishly difficult to fly, the B-Wing was not common for Rebel fleets during the Galactic Civil War but when it did come into play later in the conflict it proved a valuable asset for the Rebellion that helped to solidify them as a very real threat to the Empire and not a simple ragtag band of dissidents as had previously been believed. Capable of carrying a sizeable amount of ordnance yet still retaining its agility, the B-Wing is definitely a formidable addition to the Rebel fleet.

#2 – A-Wing

A-WingHowever, as nimble goes, nothing beats an A-Wing. Known to be among the Rebel Alliance’s fastest fighters, the A-Wings filled the niche of interceptor and proved far more effective than its Imperial counterpart, the aptly named TIE Interceptor. Like the B-Wing, these fighters proved invaluable during the Battle of Endor and one was even instrumental in the destruction of the Darth Vader’s flagship, the Executor, as the pilot used the fighter’s wedge-shaped design to plow his damaged fighter into the bridge of the Super Star Destroyer, damaging enough key systems to send the ship plunging towards the Second Death Star. As far as durability goes, the A-Wing is lightly armoured and many models featured a shield generator, and its weapons are focused mainly on ship-to-ship dogfights between starfighters. Still, when coupled with other Rebel ship models, the A-Wing forms a crucial part of the Rebel fleet.

Honourable Mention – U-Wing

U-wing_SWB.pngBoth a starfighter and a gunship, the U-Wing is used primarily as a troop transport by the Alliance and proved pivotal in the ground portion of the Battle of Scarif. Though it is the slowest starfighter on this list, it does feature some heavy armaments including side-mounted weapons for in-atmosphere troop deployment and can hold a small but well-armed Rebel taskforce. Working best with other starfighters as escort in space, the U-Wing is usually sent straight to the ground to offload its troops and provide covering fire, a task which it excels in. However, the U-Wing is only an honourable mention as its use in space combat is limited, as space combat gunships were usually much larger fleet vessels.

#1 – X-Wing

RedFive_X-wing_SWB.pngRealistically, only one Rebel ship was going to take the top spot. The X-Wing was a critical addition to the Rebel Alliance’s starfighter force that became their go-to starfighter for most situations, from dogfights to fleet defence. The X-Wing is the favoured starfighter of prominent pilots like Luke Skywalker, Wedge Antilles and Poe Dameron and has seen use through the Galactic Civil War and well into the post-Galactic Civil War conflicts with minimal changes. Incorporating elements from successful Clone Wars era starfighters like the ARC-170, the X-Wing draws on the best elements previously seen designs and is perhaps best known for its role in the destruction of Imperial powerhouses like the First Death Star, the Second Death Star and Starkiller Base.

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Sacred Icon – What’s New for 2019

Here’s a few hints of what to expect from this site in 2019:

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Big Finish Reviews

With more and more Big Finish audios being announced every week, it can be hard to keep up – and reviewers try their best to cover as much as possible on a regular basis without bankrupting themselves in the process. Nonetheless, Big Finish’s extensive back-catalogue of Doctor Who audios that were released monthly from late 1999, there’s plenty that can be picked up cheap on the Big Finish website.

This means plenty to review, and the Best of Big Finish series will continue in 2019 with more audio reviews, some branching out into the spinoff series like I, Davros and New Series sets like Classic Doctors, New Monsters.

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Doctor Who Reviews

Starting with a review of the New Year’s Special, for now titled Resolution (hopefully short for Resolution of the Daleks) we will be delving back into reviews of Series 11, starting with an overview of the series discussing what it did right and how the production team could build on it to make Series 12 even better.

We will be ranking the episodes in Series 11 and also ruminating on what changes we could see in Series 12 and the future of Doctor Who in general. Although there will be no Doctor Who series in 2019, expect a variety of Doctor Who content surrounding the show, including a review of the newly animated The Macra Terror, a Second Doctor story that has been missing for decades.

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Asylum of the Daleks Diorama

In celebration of the 55th Anniversary of the second serial of Doctor Who and the first episode of the show to feature the Daleks, a serial aptly titled The Daleks, Sacred Icon will be showcasing a diorama of custom-made Dalek Asylum inmates. As a melting pot of all different Daleks throughout their history, the Asylum brings together Dalek designs from all different eras of Doctor Who and is a perfect celebration of the iconic monsters.

The first episode of The Daleks, titled ‘The Dead Planet’, involves the Doctor, his granddaughter Susan, and her teachers Ian and Barbara landing on Skaro and encountering the show’s first alien menace – the Daleks. The first episode ends with the infamous cliffhanger involving and unknown threat menacing Barbara and she wanders around the empty city, and ends with her chilling scream and the thing reaches out to her. As such, the actual Daleks themselves are not shown until the next episode, ‘The Survivors’, which aired on the 28th of December 1963.

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More Halo Content

Although we do not yet know the release date for Halo: Infinite, it seems certain that the game will release in late 2019 or early 2020. 343 Industries will be releasing teaser material soon and so expect discussion posts about these, as well as reviews of any trailers or preview material.

Also coming in 2019 on Sacred Icon will be more pieces to do with the Master Chief Collection, including reviews of the new updates and how the multiplayer has changed by 2019.

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Review

As a follow up to Star Trek – First Impressions of Deep Space 9, we will be reviewing the highlights of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine up until and including Season 5, as well as more Star Trek related content. Expect reviews relating to Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager, as well as a possible review of a ‘classic’ Star Trek game called Star Trek: Shattered Universe.

And finally…

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The Picard TV Show?

Another potential release for 2019 is the Picard TV show, set to star Patrick Stewart and continue the story of Jean-Luc Picard in the Prime Star Trek timeline, following the events of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Nemesis. Star Trek fans hope that the iconic captain will be back on our screens in 2019.

If the show does release next year, then expect an episode-by-episode review from Sacred Icon. For more content, check out more from Sacred Icon:

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Star Wars: Jedi Knight II and Jedi Academy

As Star Wars games evolved and adapted throughout the late 20th century it was inevitable that eventually the games would take on a life of their own and become almost totally independent of the film series, and nothing is more telling of this than the success of the Jedi Knight series that focused almost entirely on characters that were never even mentioned in the original trilogy. Yet characters like Kyle Katarn, Jan Ors and Tavion have become just as synonymous with Star Wars for many fans as the likes of Han Solo, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker are for fans of the movies.

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The Story

Both Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast and Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy have fantastic storylines set deep within the now ‘Legends’ canon – both games follow the story of Rebel Agent-turned-Jedi Kyle Katarn and his fight against the Reborn faction, led by Desann and later Tavion. The development of Katarn’s character is one of ‘Legends’ canon’s greatest achievements, and makes these games all the more interesting as we follow the adventures of one of the Galaxy’s most legendary heroes. The main antagonists of both games are the various Dark Jedi associated with the Reborn faction, notably Desann, Tavion and Alora, and games are also filled with various minor antagonists, obstacles and puzzles to overcome as the player explores the world of Star Wars post-Return of the Jedi. An interesting feature in Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy allows the player to create their own Jedi, who trains under Kyle Katarn in Luke’s new Jedi Temple on Yavin IV. Whilst Outcast‘s story is more linear, Academy allows players to choose their own missions whilst unravelling the game’s story and decide whether Kyle’s apprentice should stay on the path of the light or embrace the dark side, which gives Academy’s story two very different endings.

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The Multiplayer

By far one of the most memorable aspects of these games was the multiplayer, with maps like Death Star, Nar Shaddaa Streets, Vjun Sentinel, Taspir, Yavin Hilltops, and Coruscant Streets being among the more enduring and iconic maps in the series. Players have been able to use the game’s well-designed lightsaber combat system to create some quite interesting moves and strategies, which was further enhanced by Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy’s improved engine that allowed for double-bladed lightsabers and more advanced gymnastic Force abilities. Every map has a vertical element that can be used in conjunction with the almost limitless freedom that the hilariously overpowered Force Jump provides to take unsuspecting players completely by surprise, which is particularly rewarding in open maps with lots of ledges and platforms. As for the multiplayer setup, there are many different game modes to try, from Free for All to Capture the Flag, as well as modes designed around Star Wars battles in the movies like Power Duel and Siege. Even when playing solo, the game’s bots are challenging enough that it is still great fun.

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The Characters

A notable aspect of the campaign and multiplayer of the Jedi Knight series is the vast array of characters – particularly in Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, in which an entire team can be made up of the various types of Stormtrooper in the game – and there are a fair few familiar faces from the Original Trilogy like Luke Skywalker, Lando Calrissian, Chewbacca and Mon Mothma. Like all good contributions to the Star Wars lore, however, the Jedi Knight series also has its own large cast of recognisable characters and this, coupled with Jedi Academy‘s character customisation option, means that players are never short of choice in multiplayer when it comes to characters. The voice acting in this game ranges from genuinely good to downright hilarious, particularly in Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast that has some funny dialogue but even funnier combat dialogue for the enemies.

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The Combat

It has to be said that one of the greatest assets of the Jedi Knight series is its combat mechanics, and even later Star Wars games like The Force Unleashed were never able to capture the simple-yet-effective approach that the Jedi Knight series took with its combat system. Lightsaber battles flow well and feel authentic – rather than having the player and the AI simply bashing sticks at each other until one of them drops dead, the combatants will lock blades and scoring direct body hits requires skill and precision. This means that each combat encounter feels like a mini-duel in itself, making the Jedi Knight games one of the quintessential Star Wars experiences for lightsaber combat.

There are other forms of combat present in the game too, however, and in some levels weapons other than the lightsaber are useful or even necessary. Jedi Outcast and Jedi Academy feature a diverse sandbox of weapons and each has a specific function – a Star Wars equivalent of a shotgun, sniper rifle and rocket launcher are all present to make the games accessible to fans of the first-person shooter genre. Like all good FPS games, gunfights in the Jedi Knight series are dependant on movement and good aim, but many of the guns are useless against lightsaber wielders. The game’s weapon sandbox truly shines in the campaign mode, particularly since players can either mince through legions of Stormtroopers with their lightsaber, use the various Force powers to easily sweep through encounters, or choose to play more fairly and switch to gunplay for a more challenging (but ultimately more rewarding) combat experience.

Many who played the Jedi Knight games regard them as among the best of the Star Wars video games, and for good reason. Whilst it may no longer be part of the Star Wars canon, Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy remains an essential Star Wars experience.

 

Star Wars: Obi-Wan – Original Xbox Game Review

Star Wars games are like Star Trek movies – they’re either really good or monumentally bad. Occasionally, though, you get something like Star Trek: First Contact, an exception among the norm of polarising quality that is good in some ways and terrible in others. For Star Wars, undoubtedly that distinction goes to Star Wars: Obi-Wan. Released in 2001, this game has been brushed under the rug for the most part in the wake of the release of later Star Wars games like Knights of the Old Republic, Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, Star Wars: Battlefront and Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy that far outstripped it in terms of quality and fan reception. Nonetheless, there are still aspects of this game that are unique and it is perhaps not entirely deserved of its status as a really bad Star Wars game. But before elaborating on the aspects of this game that are good, the elephant in the room must first be addressed.

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The Controls and Mechanics

This game suffers from terrible controls and mechanics that, if corrected, would increase this game’s fun factor and replay-ability immensely. Some of the major issues include the fact that Obi-Wan himself injures far too easily, health is often hard to come by, many encounters leave the player overwhelmed and out of options, the lightsaber controls are awful (and were thankfully never repeated in any other Star Wars game on consoles), and the camera controls were prehistoric. Of these, one of the most important is the lightsaber controls – the idea of using a thumbstick to swing a lightsaber is interesting, and given more time and better execution the idea could have made the game something truly special. Unfortunately, the mechanic is implemented into this game without any real thought or care, and it often makes encounters far harder as that extra layer of precision needed to effectively block and swing often cause unnecessary damage to the player. Speaking of which, the health system in the game required the implementation of a ‘Force Heal’ ability – many levels are made far too difficult with the lack of flexibility and overly harsh punishment of bad strategy.

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The Level Design

Moving on from the obvious Achilles Heel that this game suffers from, the level design throughout is actually quite good. Aside from a few clunkers around the Naboo sections in which it can be difficult to easily see which is the correct path, often the levels are large and expansive enough that exploration is rewarded, something that is often valued in action-adventure games. The is also some great variation in the location and style of the various levels – one is set on a skyscraper and involves a lot of vertical gameplay, another is an expansive exploration of a sinister swamp, and of course the iconic locations of Naboo, Tatooine and Coruscant make an appearance. There are several instances of the level design showing considerable neglect, however, such as the the missions in the Trade Federation Control Ship that essentially amount to repeating corridors and the dozens of times you are catapulted back to Coruscant to face several functionally identical Jedi Masters in the same bland arena.

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The Story

Interestingly, Star Wars: Obi-Wan tries to expand on the story of The Phantom Menace, to the extent that it is several levels in before we reach the opening of the first Star Wars prequel. The game adds in a few interesting plot developments, such as how the Black Heth and the Jin’ha are in secret cohorts with both each other and the Trade Federation, how Queen Amidala was briefly kidnapped by Tusken Raiders whilst Qui-Gon first encountered Anakin, and how Obi-Wan and the others managed to sneak back into the Naboo city so easily. The game also adds other tantalising mouthfuls of pre-prequel lore in the form of Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon’s conflict with the Black Heth and later the Jin’ha. An odd quirk with this game is the voice acting – Obi-Wan has a Scottish accent and talks like he has a blocked nose for some reason, and many of the game’s NPCs sound as thought they are delivering their lines at gunpoint. Then again, it is that easy to accidentally kill NPCs that maybe they are right to be scared of this poorly-rendered Obi-Wan imposter.

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The Enemies

Star Wars: Obi-Wan has a vast variety of enemies spread across its various levels, from Battle Droids to Tusken Raiders. If this game does anything well, it’s keeping the encounters varied and interesting. The earlier levels see Obi-Wan go up against simple thugs, which later evolves into a conflict with the more advanced Jin’ha soldiers. By the time the player encounters the Trade Federation, they will already be veterans with the game’s unique combat system, and even after the game intersects with the story of The Phantom Menace it finds ways of introducing new enemy varieties – the Tatooine section that pits Obi-Wan against Tusken Raiders is a notable example of the game throwing a curve-ball at the player with its unique variety.

To Conclude

Maybe Star Wars: Obi-Wan isn’t as bad as everyone remembers. Whilst it does definitely suffer from poor mechanics, the game is enjoyable if it’s flaws can be overlooked. Although it is not among the best of the Star Wars games, it is still among the more interesting side of the Star Wars game pantheon.

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Star Wars – 5 Best and 5 Worst Changes to the Original Trilogy

An interesting quirk that Star Wars fans have to deal with in the re-releases of the Original Star Wars Trilogy is that, since the original film was released on VHS for the first time in 1985, George Lucas has been tweaking his creations by implementing changes to all aspects of the film – effects, dialogue, sometimes entire characters and scenes have been removed, added or altered in all three original films and even some of the prequels. The topic of the re-release changes has created some debate in the fandom, with some arguing that the changes improve the films and others preferring the original releases. It wouldn’t be as bad if there was a version of the original Star Wars film out there, but since the changes began with the original release, it is now impossible to watch the film in its original state, regardless of whether you like the changes or not. With that in mind, here is my list of the 5 Best and 5 Worst changes to the beloved series.

Best Changes:

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5 – Improved Effects

This is an obvious choice, but the re-releases do improve most of the effects in the film, with just a few exceptions. One might argue that the film’s original effects were part of what made it so good – after all, at the time of release the visuals were one of the major selling points of Star Wars. But most fans agree that there’s nothing wrong with bringing the original films up-to-date with modern special effects, and that certainly shows when you compare scenes like the Battle of Yavin where the older effects do somewhat break immersion, particularly if you are used to the newer releases. The improved laser blasts and lightsaber effects make the action scenes appear less scratchy, and improve continuity between this trilogy and the ones that come before and after it in the timeline. It would certainly be

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4 – Oola

It’s strange to consider when you watch it now, but in the original cut of Return of the Jedi Oola’s death scene was much more brief – she simply falls down the trap door into the Rancor pit in Jabba’s Palace, and the Rancor reveal is saved for later. Amazingly, the actress who played Oola filmed the extended death scene over a decade after first appearing in Jedi, with no difference to the visuals whatsoever. The Rancor isn’t revealed completely, meaning that the impact of its later appearance isn’t spoiled, but it does create a menacing scene showing more of the mercilessness of Jabba’s henchmen. Interestingly, Oola was allegedly supposed to have a much larger role in the film, but due to changes in the script her role was drastically reduced, so if anything this change simply provides a bit more screen-time for a fan-favourite character.

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3 – Victory Celebration

This one might be controversial, but the change to the music at the end of Return of the Jedi is, in my opinion, one of the best decisions George Lucas ever made. The original song that played during the celebrations on Endor was ‘Yub Nub’, a nonsensical and comically puerile ditty that doesn’t do the finale justice, but the replacement, John Williams’ aptly-titled ‘Victory Celebration’, seems a much more fitting tune to end the original trilogy. For comparison, one needs only to look at the ending of A New Hope – the tune used there fits the tone and gravitas of the scene, and ‘Yub Nub’ simply does not. Whilst it is a fan-favourite, that doesn’t necessarily make it the best choice for what is to some the conclusion of the Skywalker saga. But, then again, the dancing doesn’t sync up with the new tune as well.

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2 – The Real Palpatine

As important as  it is to remember Marjorie Eaton, the original actress who portrayed the Emperor – and yes, I said ‘actress’, as Clive Revill was merely dubbed over her performance – for the sake of continuity her original scenes as the Emperor no longer work. In heavy makeup with digitally inserted chimpanzee eyes, the 78 year old effectively filled in for the Emperor in the original 1980 release of The Empire Strikes Back but, after Ian McDiarmid was cast as Palpatine for Return of the Jedi and then again in the prequels, it only makes sense to retroactively insert him into Empire as well. Admittedly, as many have stated before, the original Emperor does appear more visually intimidating, with some criticizing the newer editions for making the Emperor look outright bored as he calmly drops the bombshell onto Vader that Luke is Anakin’s son, and sort of ruins the idea that Vader came to that conclusion himself. Nonetheless, A+ for effort.

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1 – Young Anakin

Okay, before I even explain the details of this change, I would like to get one thing out of the way first: I understand why people hate this change. In fact, for many years I too cringed in resentment at the awkward, out-of-place looking Hayden Christensen who had been clumsily imposed over the charming, warm smile of Sebastian Shaw that was in the original cut of Return of the Jedi. Upon reflection, however, I have also conceded that I understand why this change was made, and in many ways it is one of the most important changes to the Star Wars films because it establishes something interesting about the Force and about the character of Darth Vader that was only hinted at in the original films. By showing Anakin’s ghost as he looked in his youth, it firmly establishes the idea that the dark side corrupted and twisted Anakin to such an extent that by the time he had been burned alive on Mustafar he wasn’t even the same man anymore. Anakin being burned and chopped up and turned into a Cyberman is just a formality, Vader consumed him during the events of Revenge of the Sith meaning that, in returning to his former self in death, Anakin lives on through the Force in the way that he was before his turn. This brings a whole weight of validation onto the character of Obi-Wan Kenobi who, when you consider how he goes about relating the events of the prequels to Luke, comes across as a manipulative and downright inconsiderate arse-hole who attempts to warp Luke’s perception of reality to fit his worldview. If, however, we accept that the redeemed Anakin Skywalker appears to Luke in the form of his younger self, it not only metaphorically shows that the corruption of Vader has fallen away to reveal the man he once was, but it also shows that the nature of the Force itself backs Obi-Wan’s claim that Vader and Anakin are separate entities, and that is arguably far more important to the story than just seeing Vader as he would have looked if he hadn’t turned evil. From a technical standpoint, the change itself needs work (mostly to make Hayden look less creepy for no reason) but ultimately I believe it adds to the depth of the lore of the Force and I will gladly agree to disagree with anyone who says otherwise.

But now, let’s take a look at some of the really bad changes to the Star Wars films…

Worst Changes:

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5 – Jabba the Hutt in A New Hope

Although some like the inclusion of the unused ‘Jabba’ scene from A New Hope that digitally replaces the man who was originally going to be ‘Jabba’ with the slimy slug-like Hutt that we all know him as today, this change is fundamentally awful for a number of reasons. For one, when it was originally included in the 1997 re-release of A New Hope, the CGI Jabba looked absolutely horrendous – it would be hard to distinguish between it and the Globgogabgalab if the latter didn’t periodically break into song. In fact, if my previous list of terrible CGI characters had included a section on the original trilogy, this Jabba would have topped the list. Thankfully the 2004 re-release of A New Hope changed Jabba into something that looked a little bit more like what we remember from Return of the Jedi but that still doesn’t answer the question of why this scene is even necessary in the first place – for one, it spoils the reveal of Jabba from Jedi, and it doesn’t establish anything that we didn’t know from the previous Cantina scene. To add insult to injury, Han steps on Jabba’s tail, something he would probably have been killed for if this was the real Jabba instead of a CGI imposter.

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4 – Vader’s ‘Nooooo’

This change is a perfect example of how altering the tiniest detail can have a whole lot of impact. Adding in Vader screaming ‘No’ Revenge of the Sith-style into the climax of Return of the Jedi essentially threw any hope of subtlety in the scene out of the window, with the Emperor cackling maniacally like the pantomime villain that he is in Jedi. After all, wouldn’t the Emperor hear him say it and blast him with lightning instead? The point of his betrayal originally was that it was totally unexpected – the Emperor never had a chance to stop Vader by the time he had been lifted into the air and hurled over the balcony to plummet to his death, but now it just makes Palpatine look like an idiot. Speaking of treating people like idiots, surely the audience can basically figure out by his body language and actions that Vader is saving Luke without a clear statement from him? But according to Lucas, everything needs to be spelled out for us, it’s not like we’ve had over 30 years to figure out what Vader must have been thinking during the final scene.

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3 – CGI creatures everywhere

It’s almost comical when watching it back, but the iconic ‘These aren’t the droids you’re looking for’ scene in A New Hope now begins with a really close up shot of a reptilian creature lumbering in the way of the camera, totally blocking the shot and obscuring all of the main characters for seemingly no reason whatsoever. But that’s not the only creature that was added in to the original trilogy, there are plenty – a Dug (one of Sebulba’s species, for anyone who wanted a grim reminder of The Phantom Menace) can now be seen in Jabba’s palace, the Wampa now gets a full reveal (spoiling the ambiguity of the creature) and that dance number in Return of the Jedi makes me want to burn everything in my house that links me to Star Wars. Seriously, it’s that bad. Heck, they may as well go and retroactively add Porgs into the films, scurrying around on the Millennium Falcon or screeching over the dialogue in Empire. In fact, it’s not just the addition of creatures that make this so bad – Lucas couldn’t even digitally insert a rock in front of R2-D2 whilst he hides from the Tusken Raiders without having it disappear between shots, and the gap when it is there be too small for R2-D2 to even fit through. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

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2 – Greedo Shooting First

It may surprise some that this isn’t number one, because it has become the most infamous change to the Star Wars films with, the motto ‘Han Shot First’ seemingly encompassing the Star Wars fandom’s rejection of the majority of George Lucas’ changes to the films. After all, Greedo shooting first not only detracts from the firm establishment of Han Solo as a no-nonsense, quick-triggered badass, but it also devalues him as a character – what kind of bounty hunter can fire at that close a range whilst sitting down and having a totally clear shot and yet still miss? Is this another attempt by Lucas to add out-of-place slapstick humour to Star Wars that absolutely fails at every level? Ignoring the neck-breaking head motion that Han has been edited to perform in newer releases with this edit, the change just doesn’t look right. Everything happens so fast that it’s impossible to tell why Lucas felt this was necessary, aside from a vague excuse that ‘good guys don’t shoot people’. Well George, tell that to the dozens of Stormtroopers who are dispatched by Han throughout the movies, they’re people too.

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1 – Boba Fett’s voice

This is the change that I take most issue with, regardless of the whole ‘who shot first’ fiasco. In fairness, this change was obviously made with continuity in mind, rather than just a random desire to pollute the frame with more random CGI creations like the Stormtroopers on the Death Star or the Max Reebo band – for those not aware, Boba Fett is revealed to be a clone of Jango Fett who features in Attack of the Clones. Obviously by replacing James Wingreen’s voice from the original cut of Empire with the voice of Temura Morrison, who played Jango, Lucas was bridging the gap between Clones and Empire and admittedly, this change could have been done well under different circumstances. But the fact of the matter is that Wingreen’s performance was just so much better than Morrison’s, and even if you apply the logic that Boba is a clone, that wouldn’t necessarily mean that he had the exact same voice – after all, environmental factors have much more of an impact on accent than genetics, making this change ultimately pointless.

So that was my list of the Top 5 Best and Worst Changes to the Star Wars movies, I hope you enjoyed, if you did then you can always leave a like either here or on Facebook, and be sure to follow us if you want to read more content like this!

 

 

 

 

How to Fix – Attack of the Clones

Welcome to the first article in a series called ‘How to Fix’, in which I will be offering my opinion on how to improve on stories from various entries in different franchises. It must be noted that not all of the films, games or episodes that I will be talking about in this series have to necessarily be ‘broken’ in order to fix them, simply that these articles will offer alternate means of telling the same stories.

To introduce my new series, I will be focusing on Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, a film that is considered by many to be among the worst of the Star Wars franchise alongside The Phantom Menace and (dare I say it?) The Last Jedi. This film is probably the Star Wars Prequel film that I have seen the most, and I adored it as a child, but it is not without its flaws. Some of the fixes here will also involve small alterations to The Phantom Menace, which I have purposely skipped as to attempt to correct the huge amount of plot holes in that film would require an entire rewrite of the script. So without further ado, lets start with the most obvious fix to Attack of the Clones:

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Change the Backstory of the film so that it is easier to Understand

A major criticism levied against the Prequels is the excessive use of political dialogue, particularly considering the film is supposed to be for children. This could work if it was done well, and in a way that was simple enough for children to at least grasp the basics whilst also not boring adults who don’t have a clue what the characters are talking about half of the time. Attack of the Clones commits the cardinal sin of having a tonne of political dialogue that not only has no preliminary explanation whatsoever, but also crosses in the realms of the ridiculous even from a political standpoint.

For a start, the film should make it clear who the main villain is from the beginning. Rather than hiding the reveal of Dooku until the very end, the film should demonstrate who Dooku is and why he is a threat as soon as possible in more than just dialogue between the Jedi and Senator Amidala. Realistically, Dooku should have been in The Phantom Menace as a member of the Jedi Council, that way we’d at least have a face to put to the name when we’re watching Attack of the Clones, and would also serve to demonstrate that not even the wisest and most powerful of the Jedi can resist the lure of the Dark Side entirely.

From the similar vein, the mysterious ‘Sifo Dyas’ should have at least made an appearance. Obi-Wan Kenobi talks about Dyas as if we, the audience, are already aware of his existence – we are never given any explanation as to who Dyas was, when and how he died, why he would want to order the Clone army, and how he paid for it. We must assume that he was somehow a puppet for Sidious, and apparently in an earlier draft of the film ‘Sifo Dyas’ was a disguise that Sidious used to order the clones himself. Ultimately, the Jedi Council in The Phantom Menace should have had both Dooku and Sifo Dyas as members in order for the backstory of Attack of the Clones to make sense, and the political dialogue should have been reduced or altered. On that point:

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Expand the role of  Padmé Amidala

For the prequel trilogy’s leading lady, Padmé Amidala is woefully underused and blatantly one-dimensional. To her credit, Natalie Portman does her best with the material, but she was essentially wasted on this character. The next step in fixing Attack of the Clones should therefore be to expand Padmé’s role and make her more important to the story outside of being the future mother of Anakin’s children. After her  monochromatic persona of Queen Amidala fell away in the final act of The Phantom Menace, Padmé proved herself to be quite an interesting character, capable of maintaining her deception to the extent that she fools the Jedi and still finding the time to befriend young Anakin, making her the most engaging character in The Phantom Menace, although that’s not saying much. In Attack of the Clones, however, her motives are less clear, and therein lies the problem.

In The Phantom Menace Padmé‘s role boiled down to essentially saving her planet – her motives were always clear, and even when she takes the time to dress up as a maid and follow Qui-Gon Jinn into a junk shop it definitely gives the impression that she is curious and wants to learn more about the world that they have found themselves stranded on, whilst also keeping an eye on the clearly drunk Jedi Master. In Attack of the Clones, however, Padmé bounces between roles and seemingly allows all of the major decisions regarding where she goes and what she does to be decided by other characters, be it the Jedi, Anakin, her Security Chief, and even Palpatine. Padmé should certainly have taken the reigns more, perhaps in the sense that she is the one who decides to leave Coruscant and visit other planets, perhaps with Anakin in tow. As far as the politics is concerned, it gets even more dire.

We know from the text in the opening crawl of the film that Padmé is opposed to the creation of a Republic Army, but this position is never once challenged even as the Clone War erupts around her. In the opening scene of the film, Padmé should witness a Separatist attack on an innocent planet that leads to the destruction of her ship, having kills her bodyguards die in a clear Separatist raid rather than a political assassination. This would challenge Padmé‘s view of the idea of an Army and might create some conflict down the line that was woefully absent, and might explain why she ends up falling for Anakin – after seeing all of her capable guards slaughtered, perhaps spending time with Anakin on missions and learning more about how the Jedi benevolently resolve disputes would appeal to her. But this brings us to the next major point:

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Completely change Anakin’s character

We all know that the guy who was destined to become Darth Vader was essentially portrayed in the Prequel Trilogy as a whiny, stroppy brat who hated not getting his own way, moaned incessantly about every tiny problem in his life and switched between any degree of cringey or creepy when chatting up his future wife. But it didn’t have to be this way, if you think about it. After all, Obi-Wan Kenobi talks about Anakin in A New Hope as if he was a great and noble Jedi, as well as a ‘good friend’, and wouldn’t it be far more tragic if a level-headed and by-the-books Jedi Knight fell to the dark side as opposed to a stroppy teen with anger issues?

This would also greatly improve the on-screen romance between Anakin and Padmé. After all, nobody on planet Earth has ever been fooled by the pathetic excuse for a romance that we see in Attack of the Clones, mostly because Anakin is such a monumental arse that it seems totally impossible that Padmé would ever fall for him, even if her mind was being manipulated by the Dark Side or whatever the expanded universe material has conjured up to explain away this point.

Whilst it may seem that at this point the film would be completely different after these changes, it would still be possible to implement these changes whilst keeping the ideas that we see in the finished film. Ultimately, even if the actual story of the film was exactly the same, it would still be a monumental improvement to expand Padmé‘s role and change Anakin’s character to fit the story better, and it would also lend more credibility to Old Ben Kenobi in A New Hope. The other scenes in Attack of the Clones are actually quite good, especially the parts with Obi-Wan as he attempts to unravel the thinly-veiled mysteries of the Clone troopers. The final and most pressing issue with Attack of the Clones can be fixed with one final amendment, and that is:

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Show why the Separatists are doing what they are doing

One of the main reasons why the politics in Attack of the Clones falls flat is that we are only given one side of the story, namely, the Republic side. There are moments in the film in which we hear Separatists talking, like the scene in which Obi-Wan eavesdrops on Dooku’s council discussing tactics, but we are never given tangible explanations as to why the Republic is splintering – surely if the Separatists leaving the Republic is central to the political dialogue in the film, we should at least have an idea as to why this is the case? Are we expected to believe that the vague ‘trade disputes’ mentioned in The Phantom Menace, a film set ten years before this one, are to blame? I don’t think so.

By effectively conveying to the audience the motives of the main villains, the film opens the door for possible fan debate over the morality of each faction – after all, the Republic stands for democracy and peace but is also equatable to modern-day ‘mega-states’, the epitome of centralised government, an idea that does not appeal to everyone in this day and age. Likewise, we could learn more about the methods of each faction – the Separatists use droids in combat rather than living people, so could this be twisted to imply that they want to reduce loss of Separatist life? Star Wars is certainly a franchise of clear-cut heroes and villains, but for a trilogy that leans more heavily on political dialogue and storytelling, perhaps this would have been a better direction to take things.

So they were my thoughts on how to ‘fix’ Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, if you enjoyed then be sure to leave a like either here on on Facebook, and if you have any points to add on how Attack of the Clones could be improved, be sure to leave them down in the comments. Thanks for reading!