Instead of grinding through another 17 hour Star Wars marathon for this year's May the 4th celebration, how about playing some games? Here is some help with sorting out what and why to play, because Star Wars is Star Wars - movie or game.
Aside from servicing a movie franchise closely resembling a licence to print money, the Star Wars universe has played host to some quality games over the decades. Here are a few AltChar tips for a wholesome Star Wars gaming experience in case you feel like organising a Star Wars LAN party is preferable to another Star Wars movie marathon.
Star Wars: The Gungan Frontier
Ignoring the questionable decision of centring a game around the likes of Jar-Jar, The Gungan Frontier is interesting in that it breaks with genres traditionally associated with Star Wars. The game has you managing an ecosystem, not quite on par with some of its predecessors, like SimLife, but engaging enough if you can look past its often Gungan focused tone.
The Gungan Frontier asks you to balance flora and fauna, herbivores and carnivores by creating stable food chains in various environments. This is done in order to support an ecosystem that has to provide necessary resources for the establishment of a Gungan colony. The air of an educational title hangs heavily over most aspects of the game, but if you find that annoying, you can sooth your frustration in the knowledge that every mistake you make while balancing your ecosystem, leaves thousands of Gungans starving and homeless.
Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast
More than any other Star Wars game, Jedi Outcast gets lightsabers right. The series switching to idTech3 provided the game with the necessary visuals, and unlike Jedi Academy, Jedi Outcast gives you a sense of how powerful the weapon and its wielder truly are.
The games protagonist, Kyle Katarn, is forced to use blasters and grenades for a while before getting back his lightsaber licence. This creates a contrast in combat gameplay that illustrates exactly what separates a lasersword equipped force user, from anyone unlucky enough to threaten him with a blaster. On top of that, Jedi Outcast features some old-school maze like level design that lends itself great to exploration.
Star Wars: Empire at War
Empire ar War unites three different strategy games in a single title with varying degrees of coherency between them. The ground/planet missions leave a lot to be desired, and strategic play on the galaxy map is serviceable enough while not being anything innovative. Where it really shines are the spaceship battles.
Imperial Star Destroyers, X-wings and everything space worthy in the Star Wars universe will blast away at one another in orbit around various planets and other scenery. The best part is a cinematic camera mode which lets you recreate some of the more recognisable space battles featured in the franchise, or you can go ahead and create scenarios of your own. Bring your fleet in from hyperspace, issue some orders, hit the cinematic button, and watch the large scale battles unfold.
Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords
Sometimes overlooked next to its more tightly focused predecesor, KOTOR II disregards most of the light side - dark side tug war and focuses instead on all the grey areas in between. This departure from the norm allows for some great characters and storytelling.
The game is not without its problems. It was released buggy and in a very unfinished state. Thankfully there is still an active modding community gathered around the game. The Restored Content mod is worth considering, as it puts two entire planets worth of content back into the game, that didn't make it into the game on release, but were still on the game discs when it shipped.
Star Wars: Battlefront (2004)
Battlefield meets Star Wars for the first time. A relationship that spawned a franchise with its first reboot already behind it. The original Battlefront had a charming simplicity to it when compared to its modern counterpart. A lot less clutter on the screen and a very different gameplay pace.
The singleplayer campaign is basically just a string of AI matches with cut-scenes between them, and you might have to dig around for an active community for multiplayer. Either way, the setpieces and vehicles are more than enough to keep you engaged for a few hours of pew-pew. Who could resist a chance to mow down Gungans with a tank?