On Wednesday the 3rd, 2013 the publisher and developer best known for it’s superb games released from the early 90’s all the way up to the mid 2000’s shut down. It’s a great loss for the industry, and comes not even half a year after they were acquired by Disney. It’s a greater loss for the people though, those that grew up playing KOTOR and Grim Fandango, Monkey Island and Battlefront and it is hard to admit that this finally is the end for LucasArts.
Nobody can replicate the charm in their games. Monkey Island was so strange and intriguing it made me look at the point and click genre again, Day of the Tentacle is without a doubt the funniest game ever created (a little thanks goes to Tim Schafer for that), Battlefront will always stick close to my heart as something I dub “my GoldenEye”, it’s that game that I played split-screen with friends whilst eating pizza and enjoying myself even more so from the atmosphere that the game created when there were multiple people in the room. KOTOR was the first time I got taken on an adventure and didn’t want to leave in a video game. Even if the combat was lacking it was it’s own game and set the stage for the RPG epics that proceeded it, drawing you into the world and then giving you choices like no game before.
The list goes on and on, but the game that makes the shutdown more painful that the rest of them is Republic Commando. It brought in squad functionality like never before, allowing you to control the situation with just one key: F. The idea was something the Battlefield franchise really should have take use of. The gunplay was excellent, Quake like in gun choice yet still so diverse; every gun battle felt hectic and death was always a genuine concern. Your squadmates eventually became brothers to you, the player forming a strong emotional bond even from the slightly lacking dialogue. You don’t just dive to revive them when your whole squad is down because it’s practical and you need them, you dive because you don’t want them to die even if they take a thousand enemies down with them – the loss feels too great. Yes there were some flaws, the engine was unusable at first ensuring that modders initially had a hard time but the community worked around it and having being involved in a mod finally released last to become one of the top 300 mods on ModDB out of 19,000 total released despite it being for a 7 year old game at the time I can say that there is no better community for any game at all. The feeling of an amateur 12 man team working over 3 years to do a complete overhaul of the game, unpaid with school and work still going on beside for all of us is unmatched by anything I’ve done so far.
Republic Commando, a game that affected me so much my internet handle is a reference to it and I shed a tear at the traumatising ending is overshadowed by the darkness that LucasArts brought with some of their later games. As a friend of mine called urluckyday on the LucasArts forums put it:
“It sucks to see people lose jobs, and it blows to keep a promising game like 1313 up in the air like it is right now…but based on the quality of the games they have been releasing for the past 5-7 years, they were given plenty of chances to turn things around. Piss poor leadership is what ultimately doomed this company and Disney made the smart choice.
As a video from Rev3Games said, “It’s sad to see them go, but it’s kind of sad in a nostalgic way.” In other words, I think I’m more sad because Lucasarts made some of the best games of my childhood, and I have very, very fond memories of those experiences. It’s not all that sad when looking at the games that they just ended up publishing (e.g. KOTOR) compared to the ones they actually made recently (e.g. Force Unleashed).
Here’s hoping that Disney chooses some good companies to license the Star Wars (and adventure) properties to.”
So here’s a toast, to LucasArts, hoping developers continue with their successful franchises and learn from the mistakes made by some. I know I didn’t list some games on this list, I don’t intend on skipping over Grim Fandango but I barely recollect any time playing it, and Jedi Knights II was superb and a better action title with lightsabers than ever before or after, with gameplay that feels slick and fast paced, even when it wasn’t 24/7 action.
Here’s to the lesser known games that were still magnificent, like Star Wars: Bounty Hunter, Gladius, Star Wars: Starfighter and others. Even if some of the lesser known games were lesser known for a reason, they still hold a place in my heart. Goodbye LucasArts. I wish the 150 employees now searching for a job the best of luck and hope that they find a new employer as they have bundles of talent. To say goodbye here’s a paragraph from Zero1Gaming writer Jake Elsasser.
While I did not play many LucasArts games in the past, there was one game that I would spend hours on every day. That was Star Wars: Battlefront. I didn’t have much money growing up, so when the second game came out, I started playing the first. I found the controls frustrating as I had never used dual analog sticks for shooting before this. After time though I grew accustomed to the controls and would spend most of my free time in hour long matches on cloud city trying to see how many kills I could get. Little did I know, that game taught me one of the techniques I use most when gaming. How to aim with dual analog sticks. If not for that game, I’m certain I would have eventually learned, but thanks to it’s addictive gameplay and custom matches I picked it up quickly. There will always be a special place in my heart for the original Battlefront.