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T (Teen)



December 2001



- Being a Jedi is cool
- “Organic” feel of using the lightsaber
- Force powers used to good effect
- Take down hundreds of “butter”-droids



- Massively huge levels with little to do
- Easy to get caught up in tight places
- Camera sometimes leaves you high and dry
- Obi-Wan himself doesn’t look that good
- Honest-to-goodness bugs
- Story starts then stops about half-way through



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Star Wars Episode I: Obi-Wan

Score: 7.2 / 10


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In terms of professions, there aren’t too many that would rank higher than being a Jedi. Think about your basic Jedi “office” equipment: light saber, range of Force attacks, flips and jumps, and an interesting haircut.

Obi-Wan (OW) puts you in control of the venerable padawan, Obi-Wan Kenobi, on his journey to Jedi Knighthood. Obi-Wan faces off against a new foe that is manufacturing a Force-resistant metal… for the evil Trade Federation! As Obi-Wan, you’ll journey from the depths of Coruscant across the Tusken infested Tatooine, to the inevitable Nabooian confrontation with Darth Maul, who incidentally does not appreciate receiving hats on his birthday.

As the “spiritual successor to Jedi Knight” OW had a lot to live up to. It succeeds in a number of areas but falls apart in other, glaring, areas.

As a Jedi simulation, OW is great game. The mechanics of the ever-present light saber are easy to learn and stringing multiple swing types takes only a little bit of




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practice. Obi-Wan can also deflect lasers back at his foes and fling the saber like a helicopter blade made out of fluorescent light tubes. You also have access to Force assisted swings that really come in handy when there are lots of enemies swarming you. All of the saber moves are easy to pick up – and it’s a good thing too because, aside from the sniper rifle, it’s your only weapon. (I’m not


counting the grenades.)

Of course, a Jedi can’t simply rely on his light saber. Obi-Wan has a few Force moves in his arsenal: push, pull, jump, and “fling.” (And Force Sight that slows things down for a brief time, a la Max Payne, that I used three times.) Force Pull can yank weapons free of the grasp of your enemies. Force Push is very useful in dispatching Battle Droids close to walls. And Force “Fling” allows you to fling nearby objects at enemies. (You know, the way Darth Vader hit Luke with all that flying debris in The Empire Strikes Back.) Nothing feels as good as walking into a room, being surrounded by enemies and using a combination of all your moves to emerge practically unscathed. This is what being a Jedi’s all about – defending yourself while pushing enemies off platforms and flinging explosive barrels across the room creating general havoc. In this respect OW (arguably) has no equal.

However, these tense moments don’t happen often enough. Mostly you face off against two or three bad guys (6 – 8 Battle Droids) at a time that are easily dispatched. There aren’t many ambush situations – making much of the game, not exactly boring, but not as interesting as it could be. Part of the reason for this lack of tension is that the levels are not set up to allow ambushes.

The levels are gigantic – huge, wide-open affairs where you can see enemies coming from a mile away. It's almost as if the developers thought, "Let's see how far we can go!" When I try to think of close quarters fighting in OW, the closest it gets is in the capital of Naboo (during the invasion in Episode I) where you’re faced with restricted areas, funnel points, and multiple paths to take. Or the truly enjoyable hanger bay battle before the fight with Darth Maul. But the typical levels, while accurate to the wide-open aspects of Star Wars – everything is really, really big – don’t have enough variety. Perfect example is the droid ship, where you run around after Qui-Gonn in hallway after hallway that all look the same and cross the huge landing bay that makes you feel like you’re running slower than you actually are. That’s not to say the scenery is boring. Most times it feels like you’re directing Obi-Wan through a movie set. It’s simply the variety of areas you fight through is lacking – expect lots of long hallways and canyons. And expect to see them a few times as the mission objectives are often set up so many levels require quite a bit of backtracking.


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I also stumbled onto some weird bugs. (So much for console games being bug free.) Every time I downed one particular enemy type the game would stutter for a second or two – like the game was looking for the right sound effect. A few doors I encountered behaved oddly. One in particular had me baffled – one side of the door was open and showed the vista of Naboo, as if the door opened to a drop off. But I could walk up to it without falling. Hitting the “use” button got the door open to another area. (This is not a one-time bug either, as it happened every time I came to it.) While not a fatal bug it certainly made me scratch my head, almost as much as when I got stuck in a window frame. Then there's the whole matter of soldiers without guns but still pretend to be holding one and "flung" objects occasionally hanging in mid air then disappearing.

Something that annoyed me was the thread bare story. The setup is good for the first couple of chapters, but then the Episode 1 story kicks in and if you haven't seen the movie it's a little mystifying (despite the short description before each level) of why you're at your current location. More detailed cutscenes should have been included to drive the story and the action. Although considering the cutscenes use the in-game engine, where a close up of Qui-Gonn makes him look like an ancient Egyptian diety, the decision is understandable.

Audiophiles will love John William’s score and possibly scoff at Obi-Wan’s voice. It’s not that far off Ewan McGreggor’s voice, but it’s decidedly more nasally Hearing the light saber slash over and over never gets tired, but the constant “Surround the Jedi” emoted by the battle droids and the one line catch phrase the Jedi Masters repeat during two player Jedi battles do.

The single player game should be enough to keep you busy. It spans five chapters, each with a few missions. There is a two-player duel option, with very few Jedis available at first. (You have to unlock these through the single player mode.) While it won’t rewrite the fighting genre it can offer a few hours of entertainment. But if you hate split screen you'll be pulling your hair out. (The camera angle is very limiting.)

Obi-Wan should be on your "To Rent" list. It is fun to cartwheel into a room and lay waste to a column of “butter” druids or use your Force powers to lay the smack down on members of the Jedi Council as part of your training or face off with Darth Maul, but the “magic” moments don’t happen nearly enough owed to the huge levels where monotony is a greater enemy than bounty hunter types or destroyer druids. Obi-Wan’s a mixed bag best sorted out first hand. (I have real hopes for a sequel.)

- Omni
(January 1, 2002)


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