Tag Archives: Star Wars

Star Wars: The Last Micro-Transaction?

So this is just a little follow up on my previous Micro-transactions/DLC article from a week ago. In particular the backlash EA had been receiving from the micro-transactions they included in Star Wars Battlefront II. Just hours before the official release of the game – EA made the following statement on Twitter

EA statement

So there you so, the general manager of Dice who developed the game making the decision to remove the micro-transactions… except they haven’t – not really.

I’ve been reading up on this whole debacle and many sites are ‘celebrating a win’ for gamers due to EA/Dice removing the much hated micro-transactions. The bigger picture reveals there is nothing to celebrate at all, we gamers have ‘won’ nothing. But before I get to that, lets look at why EA feel the need to make gamers happy.

There have been boycotts over the game resulting in Star Wars Battlefront II selling around 60% less than the previous game in the franchise from 2015. There has been so much bad press in relation to this game with its micro-transactions that its seriously affecting sales. So its good that EA removed them right?

The thing is Dice nor EA made the decision to remove them. That call came from much higher up. Reports are saying that it was Bob Iger, Disney’s chief executive who made the call and ordered EA to remove the micro-transactions from the game… but why? It has nothing to do with keeping gamers happy. If you pay attention to the previous statement, they have only removed the micro-transactions temporarily...

“The ability to purchase crystals in-game will become available at a later date.”

The micro-transactions will be back, only after more games have been sold making it possible for more people to buy the micro-transactions after Christmas when more units are likely to be sold. The reason Disney made EA pull them is for damage control and nothing more. There is a new Star Wars film due out very soon and the release of Star Wars Battlefront II was meant to be part of the film’s publicity – there is even some DLC for the game coming out that ties in directly to the movie. For those not in the know, Disney own the Star Wars franchise and the bad press the game is getting, the low sales are not the sort of thing they want to have promote their new film.

The Last Jedi.jpg

So gamers have not ‘won’ anything, all we have done is force a major film studio to put some damage control in place. This is nothing to do with making gamers happy and all to do with making the Star Wars brand look good.

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Its never going to get any better than this (A brief history of video games).

I grew up in the late 70s and through the 80s, growing up playing games as long as I have. You get to see many, many changes over the years. There have been several times when I’ve played a game and thought to myself that ‘its never going to get any better than this’ only to be proven wrong further down the line.

Evolution

So here, I’d like to round up those games that, for as long as I have been playing games, for one reason or another. Whether it be graphics, gameplay, story or some other reason, have impressed me.
In no particular order and I’ll be jumping around the years as I go and yes, I would have mentioned several of these games elsewhere on this site already too. Here are my ‘its never going to get any better than this’ (A brief history of video games).

SpaceInvaders cover

Space Invaders – Atari 2600 (1980): Holds the distinction of being the first ever licensed arcade to home machine port. This was always a simple game and one of the all time classics in gaming. But what amazed me about it was the simple fact we could now play arcade games at home, of which Space Invaders was the very first and opened the floodgates to other arcade/home ports like Asteroids, Defender, Donkey Kong, Pac-Man and so on.

SpaceInvaders screen

While this version was not an arcade perfect port by any means, just the simple fact we were playing this on our own console at home was a dream come true. Plus the Atari 2600 version came with 112 variations on the classic game offering hours upon hours of replay value.

PoP cover

Prince Of Persia – Amiga 500 (1989): This game just had to be seen to be believed back then. The super smooth, rotoscoped animation was unreal and unlike anything we had seen then. A platforming game like no other at the time and would go on to not only be the inspiration for other many hugely popular IPs later, but also become its own successful franchise in itself. Prince of Persia didn’t just offer amazing animation but also managed to blend into the mix platforming action, sword fights and puzzle solving. The game was simple but tough and relied on the old ‘trial and error’ style, so the more you played, the more you learned and progressed.

PoP Screen

It gave birth to the sub genre of (what I call); ‘The cinematic platform games’, as this offered an almost movie like story experience that unfolded as you played. With other games like; Another World (AKA; Out of this World), Flashback, Nosferatu, Blackthorne (AKA; Blackhawk) and numerous others that borrowed form the Prince of Persia formula. Would we ever had gotten; Lara Croft and the entire Tomb Raider series without this game? Plus the fact that Assassin’s Creed began as a spin off to Prince of Persia called; Prince of Persia: Assassin. Prince of Persia was/is certainly influential.

Half-Life Cover

Half-Life – PC (1998): Okay, I have to be honest here, I’m not a big fan of Half-Life. People are always going on about Valve finally releasing a Half-Life 3 and to be honest, I couldn’t care less. But I am more than willing to admit that I was impressed with the original when I first saw and played it… but not for its core gameplay.

Half-Life Screen

While I didn’t think much of the gameplay of Half-Life, what did impress me was the introduction. Just that whole opening of going to work felt epic and unique at the time as introductions were just something you watched (and occasionally skipped) before the game began. But the introduction to Half-Life allowed you to play and interact as the story was slowly set up. It all helped to make introductions to games important and a great way to set in place the style and tone for what was to come later.

Midwinter Cover

Midwinter – Amiga 500 (1989): One of the very first true open world/sandbox games that are everywhere these days. While not the first of this sub genre (that one is coming up later), Midwinter (and its sequel; Midwinter II) paved the way for games like GTA, Saint’s Row, etc that we have today.

Midwinter screen

Played from a first person view point, the map was big (for the time) and the dazzling amount of ways you could get around was unmatched. You could ski, use hand-gliders, skidoos, cable cars, snowcats, etc. Then the missions themselves could be approached and handled in various ways. Yeah there was a story to follow and objectives to complete, but you didn’t have to do them and could explore the map, find new locales and meet new people. Just the freedom the game allowed you to have was stunning at the time.

Gauntlet cover

Gauntlet – Arcade (1985): The cabinet itself with its 4 player set up was an amazing sight to see, allowing you to team up with friends and play together. One of the very first drop in/out, co-op multiplayer games. The way each character was unique and had their own strengths and weaknesses was also quite new at the time and offered a character to suit your play style.

Gauntlet Screen

The memorable (and quotable) speech during gameplay, the endless levels urging you to keep on playing to see how far you could get. One of the most perfect arcade games ever created and an arcade game that shaped and moulded co-op gameplay decades before it became popular. I just never could resist popping in a few 10p coins into this monster of a game whenever I saw it.

SMW Cover

Super Mario World – SNES (1990): In my personal opinion, this is the greatest platform game ever created. I really can not think of another platforming game that was as well designed and as much fun to play as this. The closest game that comes to mind it its own prequel; Super Mario Bros. 3. It was beautiful to look at back then and offered a dazzling variety of gameplay and fun with a huge world full of taxing levels to play in and explore trying to find all those little secrets and hidden levels.

SMW Screen

The bright and cartoony styled graphics were jaw dropping at the time, but this was not just a game that looked pretty, it was a game that played even better. Each level seemed to be so well crafted and felt genuinely fun to play. The massive over-world map that held its own fun secrets to find. The multiple endings and secret areas you could hunt for in the levels that would open up short cuts, hidden areas and even a whole ‘new’ world… everything about this game is just so well designed and implemented, for me (as I said) the greatest platforming game ever made.

Skool Daze Cover

Skool Daze – ZX Spectrum (1984): Another early game that had that open world/sandbox style. A game that was very unique at the time with it being set in a school. But the things you could do, the mischief you could get into and the freedom the game offered was a thing to behold back then.

Skool Daze Screen

This game allowed you to bend and break all the rules you couldn’t get away with at school. Want to punch that annoying ‘know it all’ kid, stand up to the bully, hit your geography teacher with a slingshot, write rude words on the blackboard? Well you could do all of that and more in this game. And like many open world/sandbox style games, yes there was a story/plot to follow and a main goal to achieve… but you didn’t have to. You could just play around with all the little things the game had to offer and find new and interesting ways to cause havoc in school without the risk of getting into real trouble.

Populous Cover

Populous – Amiga 500 (1989): You got to play as a God, which in itself was pretty unique at the time. This Peter Molyneux classic (from when he was a great game designer and not a purveyor of lies and empty promises) spawned an entirely new sub-genre of gaming; The God Game.

Populous Screen

The power you had was unmatched in any other game, you could sculpt the land to help you people build ever increasing homes, build your power and army to unleash God-like attacks on your enemy such as earthquakes, typhoons, blight the land with swamps and so on. Until you destroyed your puny rival and took over the land. Each map was different and offered a fresh new challenge, with changing scenery and obstacles to work around. A refreshing and interesting first for its time and was the game that opened my eyes to the strategy led games of that era.

Star Wars Cover

Star Wars – Arcade (1983): The 3D vector graphics were stunning back then, coupled with the voice samples taken directly from the film as we took down Tie Fighters in our X-Wing with the Death Star looming in the background. Then once all those pesky Ties were dealt with, onto to Death Star the take out the towers before reliving the climatic trench run from the film. All of this was just awesome and really made us feel like we were X-Wing pilots.

Star Wars Screen

This game was the first I remember that felt like we were playing a movie. The action was nonstop, the graphics were (at the time) impressive and the digitised sound and music taken directly from the film just added to the overall experience, I’m pretty sure the impressive art work on the cabinet helped a lot too. If there was ever a gaming experience that made me think ‘its never going to get any better than this’, then Star Wars was it.

Elite Cover

Elite – BBC Micro (1984): This, this is the game that is (arguably) the grandfather of the open world/sandbox sub genre of gaming. What this game managed to archive in terms of game design in 1984 was just though of as being simply impossible back then. Developers; David Braben and Ian Bell were quite simply pure geniuses.

Elite Screens

To be honest, to do this game justice, I really need to do its own in-depth article (and may do so one day). What this game offered was just unheard of then, a true revolution in gaming. It was game of unparalleled design, depth and one that offered such amazing freedom of gameplay that it is still held up in such high regard today. With you playing as Commander Jameson (though the name could be changed) and starting off with a meagre 100 credits and a lightly armed trading ship. You are free to do whatever you want within the game’s impressively large universe… and it is a universe. You can become a Han Solo style space smuggler/trader. Dabble in perfectly legal goods, or maybe you want to earn more money going a more illegal route? Mine asteroids for materials. Become a well respected space trader or a nefarious space pirate. Take part in dogfights, go from planet to planet, galaxy to galaxy over an entire explorable universe via hyperspace travel. Earn more money and upgrade your ship, its weapons or even buy an all new ship with even more upgrades available. As I said before, I could do a more in-depth look at this game as it rightly deserves as what I’m writing here doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. Elite changed gaming for decades and really showed what could be done with a little imagination and impressive development skills. What was in Elite was just not thought possible in 1984… but there it was. The game went on to become its own successful franchise with; Frontier: Elite II, Frontier: First Encounters and more recently a reboot for the current generation with; Elite: Dangerous (which I highly recommend if you want a great space exploration game) as well as opening the doors for games like Wing Commander (series), Privateer, Star Wars: X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter and the countless other space combat/exploration games that followed it. David Braben and Ian Bell changed the face of gaming forever with Elite and the ripples it caused are still being felt today.

So there you go, just a handful of games that made me feel ‘its never going to get any better than this’. To be honest, there are literally hundreds of others I could include and may very well do just that in a follow up article or seven later. While all of these were games from the 80s and 90s, there are still games being made in recent years that manage to impress me for one reason or another. I have just learned over the years that ‘it will always get better then this’ with the advancement of technology and ever increasing game designers with fresh and exciting ideas.

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“Jaws was never my scene and I don’t like Star Wars. “

…once sang the great Freddie Mercury.

Freddie

Actually I think Jaws is great, but I don’t like Star Wars.

Yes I know, “heresy” will be the cries from many a people. How can someone not like Star Wars?

Well before I get into why, allow me to just paint a picture first.
I used to love Star Wars, as a kid growing up I had loads of original Star Wars figures, vehicles and plays sets.
I recall owning Tie Fighters, X-Wings, that Jabba The Hutt play set and countless other figures from the films. I was once Star Wars mad.

I was even planning a huge Star Wars article for this very site to be posted when the new film is relased at Christmas. I was going to cover the main films and the infamous spin-offs as well as various games based on the whole Star Wars Saga.
Seriously, this thing was going to be big and I had it all planned out months in advance. Seeing as the new film is not released until Christmas this year and and I was already planning and writing this Star Wars special from when I first started this site in April, in fact this site started out as a gaming only site and I added movies so I could do a huge Star Wars celebration. That should give you some idea into how big this was going to be.

Cantina

But I’ve decided to scrap the whole Star Wars special thing…but why?
Well mainly as I really have no passion or interest for Star Wars anymore. This is something I realised when I first saw the trailer for the new Star Wars film. As I wrote in my Quentin Tarrantino retrospective earlier, I couldn’t care less about Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
This is also why I’m writing this right now as I’ve had a few comments asking how I can not be interested in the new Star Wars film. So I thought I’d answer those queries.

It was while researching for the (now) abandoned Star Wars article that it really hit home how much I don’t care.

It decided to re-watch all the films starting out with the original trilogy as any self-respecting Star Wars fan would.
I watched Star Wars and found it almost unbearable, still I forced (no pun) myself through the film to its conclusion and then onto what many consider a great sequel and best of the original trilogy…
So I watched The Empire Strikes Back…well that should read I tried to watch The Empire Strikes Back. As I only got about 40 odd minutes into it before I just had to switch it off.
I just didn’t bother with Return Of The Jedi at all.

I couldn’t do it, I could not push myself into carrying on with the research for the article. Watching one and a half bad films was enough to get me to quit.

I honestly found the films just so dull and lacking any real meat with annoying characters, uninspired/cliche writing and paper thin plots.
They were great films as a kid, but now they are horrible, vapid and just so unbearable.

So why am I not looking forward to the new film either, the trailers look amazing right?
Well yes, I can happily admit that the trailers look great and very “authentic”. But I can’t be the only person on this planet that is not suffering from short term memory loss.
Does no one else remember when the first trailers for Episode I showed and everyone was saying the exact same things then as they are about this new Star Wars film?

Point being, we’ve been stung in the exact same way already. Which is partly why I couldn’t care less about The Force Awakens.
I say “partly” as the main reason is not the trailer or the simple fact we’ve been through this once before already only to have been met with mediocrity. The main reason is as I’ve already stated, I just do not like Star Wars any more. Prequel trilogy or original trilogy, I just don’t not find anything worth getting interested in or to write a worthy article about.
I know the prequel trilogy gets some serious criticism and most of it is deserving as they are not great films. But in all honesty, the prequel trilogy are on par with the original trilogy.

Jules

Now I do not “hate” Star Wars, in fact there is a lot to like about the franchise, but I find a lot of my like comes more from the expanded universe of Star Wars and not the core of the Star Wars universe itself.

I hear they are planning spin off films in the future, possibly one telling the adventures of a young Han Solo. Sounds great as he is about the only bearable character in the original trilogy.
I also really enjoyed those Knights Of The Old Republic games. I have the first one on my iPad despite finishing the game several times previously.
Plus those LEGO Star Wars games are great fun too.

So I do still enjoy Star Wars to a certain degree, but the films and “heart” of Star Wars holds zero interest to me any more.

I may still do something Star Wars related for the release of The Force Awakens later this year. As I said I had been planning something and I do have a few things already written down. But it’s not going to be the huge celebration with loads of content I had previously planned.

No SW

If you were 12 years old when you first saw Star Wars and didn’t like it, then there was something wrong with you.
If you are over 30 and still think Star Wars is great, then there is definitely something wrong with you.

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