View Full Version : Single player review, and then some

09-25-2003, 01:55 PM
As much as I like Raven, and think that they do a great job on FPS's. Especially since I know a guy over there. (I worked on Elite Force 2 with him before he moved). I think it might be time to give the JK series over to another developer. Hold on a sec now. The only real reason I say this is not b/c Raven screwed up. Its b/c JO and JA lack that true Star Wars feel, that JK1 and KOTOR somehow captured. Hell, KOTOR did it without any true reference material!

On the other hand though, I also think that JO and JA really lacked the polish of other games. Even still they both got very good reviews. In the eyes of a developer anything 80% or higher is a success. Maybe Activision didn't give them enough time on either title. Who knows. The games rely way too heavily on the Quake III with lighsabers appeal. On that alone they got great reviews. Think what would have happend if they really took the time to make this game more Star Wars-like, and more alive.

You can tell just be playing the game that the level designers are really good at makeing Quake III maps for good shoot-em-ups. But there has always been something rather dead, and dreary to JO, and JA levels. Its a very subtle thing that's hard to describe. The easiest way to look at it, is to look at other games that have the living-world feeling to their levels.

One of my biggest problems with the two games is the lack of NPCs populating the levels. Raven always seems to want to place the player in the enemy's base which is devoid of any life except for the badguys. I think this maybe the reason that JO, and JA dont' really feel like StarWars (at least as much as JK1 and KOTOR do) You don't feel like you're in a galaxyFFA, you feel like you're in a video game. You never get that desire to suspend your disbelief. That's the mark of a great game. You lose yourself in the world you're playing. JO, and JA feel like a nice, fun romp around with the wicked lightsaber.

As far as the levels go, Take a look at the Coruscant level. I hate to say it but the look and feel of that level is god-aweful. It looked nothing like Couscant. It's supposed to be a big city, not a Quake III battle arena. Take a look at Episode 1 Obi-Wan for the Xbox. As much as that game sucked (although I still had fun with it), their Coruscant level actually looked like Coruscant. It had city streets!!! JA was a bunch of rectangle models with
mis-scaled glowing windows in there. The addition of those 2D ships scrolling across the darkness below was a nice effort. Why not put them in the sky above too? Plus most of Raven claims to be die-hard SW fans. Well I've only read the Heir to the Empire series and a few of the Xwing series, but I can tell you that a local crime lord would probably be living down quite a ways in Corscant and not at the rooftops. The ideal Coruscant level should have been laid out like you can see in AOTC, and E1 Obi-Wan , with city streets in there. There should have been as many NPCs as the engine would allow w/o slow down, populating the streets. And when weapons go off, they should scatter GTA or State of Emergency-style. There should have also been areas where it was just you and the bad-guys. Like near the end of the level as you get closer to the crime lord's terf. If that guy had set up shop on the roof tops in Coruscant the New Republic, or the Empire (if it had been in an earlier time period), would have mopped that guy up immediately.

I won't go into a critique of the other levels, but the Coruscant one is the most agrivating of them all. The Nar Shadda in JO similarly needed improvment. I'll say this though. The problem is that Raven just drops you at the front door of the enemy's house and with a welcome sign that says "Go This Way!" I am, by no means, suggesting you make the levels hard to navigate like in JO, just make them more alive. Look at JK1. Barons Hed, and exterior to the palace. Those levels had so many avenues to explore. The palace exterior was huge, but at the same time you were always back tracking to find your way in. -Some how that worked. -You were so close the whole time to reaching your goal, but you still had a lot of area to explore. The only goal in JO, and JA is kill, kill, kill. I'm not suggesing you add RPG elements, or deep character interactions. But some how make it feel more alive.

As for saber combat. Hmm. I think in SP its fine for the most part.

-I was always an advocate of more blocking and less of those moves when you strike and block, and your saber bounces off the other guy's so wildly that you have to run away while the animation finishes, then re-engage. My idea was to have a blocking meter similar to your force meter. You either hold a button down, or stand still and just about everything that comes your way would be blocked. The stronger the stance the more block energy would come down per hit. There would also be a few moves that would break it altogether like DFA, or mabye the lunge, or pull-impale. This would let you really get that cool sense of sword fighting like we see in EP1 right when the shield comes down and Obi-Wan and D.Maul go at it. Same thing at the end of AOTC with Dooku. This was just my idea. I'm not saying it's the way to go, but I like it when I'm duelig and there's all this blocking right off the bat, and then a good strike gets thru. Take a look at the duels in KOTOR, they look more like what I'm talking about. I know it's an RPG and can't be the same, I'm just trying to give you all a visual of what I'm talking about.

The saber combat as it is now is fun, and for most part can remain the same. Just keep adding cool moves. MP is a completely different story and I'm not touching it!

Having worked on EF2 with the same engine and similar liscence I can say that EF2 seemed to pull off the feel of the liscence and bit more than JO, or JA. Not by much though. EF2 really does feel like a Star Trek NG episode, or a movie. It's probably all the cut scenes and character dialogue. This is from a players stand point, not that I worked on it. I just know what goes into these types of games. Publisher and marketing constraints can be a bitch.

Maybe part of it has to do with useing other peoples tech. If Raven (or Ritual), had built their own engine then maybe those titles would feel more like their own. There might have been more care put into each facet of the game b/c everything about the game belongs to them. This would also be true if there were little to no publisher contraints, or that they let the developer completely run with the project. That's just a speculation though.

Hopefull they won't retire this series like they did with Xwing. Bring it back damnit! They have so much EU to run away with, and now that KOTOR is out, they have 4000years of Jedi history to work with!

Thats just my opinion. Well, maybe just a small portion of it :p
I would like to hear others too. -That's the hard part about getting into the video game industry. Everyone has great ideas. Even the casual gamer has good ideas that should be looked at.
And of course we all have that passion that developers always talk about.