Farewell LucasArts

April 4th, 2013 -

With the recent news of LucasArts closing down, I’ve done some thinking on what they’ve made in the past couple decades. And while it sucks to see a company close and people put out of work (ILM also lost people because of it), it’s being done for a reason. Disney is a business, and despite practically everyone hating them for doing this, they have their reasons. They’ve seen how the recent games from LA have done. But Jason, 1313 looks AMAZING! Well, what you saw at E3 looked pretty neat, and concept art does show that it was indeed a Boba Fett game, but what if the game actually sucked? What if people from Disney saw what they were doing and it wasn’t up to par? What if 1313 was actually turning into Kinect Star Wars? Consider for a moment Aliens: Colonial Marines. Just imagine that’s what was happening with this. Obviously anything can happen with the “what if” game, but I’m sure they have their reasons. It’s not like this would be Disney’s first M rated game, so that isn’t the issue.

The last LucasArts games I actually enjoyed all the way through were point-and-click adventures from the mind of Tim Schafer (and Ron Gilbert). Seriously. None of the Star Wars games could come close to my enjoyment of the Monkey Island series (1-3 at least), Full Throttle, Grim Fandango, and Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle. Oh, and Steve Purcell’s Sam and Max. Those games had a certain charm that games still have trouble capturing today. Sure, Double Fine (Schafer’s present company) does a pretty decent job of bringing unique gameplay and humor to an otherwise dudebro shooter world, but those LucasArts games from the 90’s were magic. The stories were enthralling, the music was fun, and the writing was some of the best that has ever graced video games. Unfortunately, LucasArts didn’t do too well in reviving that back catalog – I know they would’ve made a decent amount of money off of Full Throttle or Grim Fandango again if they were brought to Steam.

Recently Schafer and Gilbert teamed up again to make The Cave, which isn’t a point-and-click, but an adventure game nonetheless. Sadly, it doesn’t hold up to their previous work. Not to say it isn’t a good game, it’s definitely worth playing through at least once if you enjoy the duo’s work. It just doesn’t hold the charm from the LucasArts days. So going back to LucasArts, why haven’t I liked their recent stuff? Well… Okay, think about Zombies Ate My Neighbors. The game is genius, right? The music, the style of it – it’s just original (or was at the time). Now think of Fracture. Do you remember it? Or did you have to use Google? I remember thinking this was a cool concept for a game, but it was executed rather poorly. Okay, sure, but what else? Um… well, they’re LucasArts. So Star Wars, or Indiana Jones. Unfortunately, it seems they relied too much on the fact that they’re making a game that people will buy regardless of the quality because of the brand.

For example, look at The Force Unleashed. Yes, I’m aware people liked it. My friends like it. Chris from this blog likes the series. However, it’s average at best. Take the game out of the Star Wars universe, and what do you have? inFamous and The Force Unleashed were compared a lot when they came out, but inFamous felt much more alive. I wanted to play inFamous whenever I wasn’t, I cared more about the characters, and the story was engulfing for me. The Force Unleashed had me wanting it to be over, looking at the clock, and struggling to play through. I beat both Unleahsed games, and while they’re okay, the reason people love them is the name Star Wars. This isn’t the only company to do this – look at SquareEnix. They KNOW people will buy stuff that has to do with Final Fantasy, no matter how awful it may be. I mean… they sell Final Fantasy cologne. People spend money to smell like a character from a game that they can’t smell. If you’re making a JRPG, don’t expect Chris’ money unless it has the words Final and Fantasy in the title. If it does have those two words, you can release that game several times over the rest of your life and he’ll buy it again and again. It’s just how people are with a franchise they love.

The teams behind LucasArts (while talented and experienced) were making mediocre material in a universe loved by many. Disney wants to make money creating stuff that people will love, because, you know… stuff that’s worth a damn makes more money than stuff that’s shite. People were saying that 1313 looked like an Uncharted type of game in the Star Wars universe. Can you imagine if a game the caliber of Uncharted was done in the Star Wars universe? Now THAT would be worth playing. Unlike Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Republic Heroes. I can’t believe that game was even made. Best of luck to the former team of LucasArts; I hope you guys are able to find work soon at another developer, or maybe create a new company that can come up with original IPs. Those that are desperate come up with the most intuitive of solutions.

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