Disney Shuts Down LucasArts!

I never dreamed I would be writing this article, at least not for the foreseeable future. Lucas Arts, a game studio renowned for many a Star Wars inspired title, has been closed down by Disney with at least 150 staff losing their jobs as a result. I reported in an earlier article the current future of Star Wars 1313, which had recently been delayed and was shaping up to be a very nice Star Wars game indeed. It now appears, as a result of Lucas Arts being shut down, that the game has a cancellation status attached to it, however just because the studio is not developing the game any more does not mean an interested company would not be able to continue development where Lucas Arts left off.

Bobba

1313 concept art with a much loved character of the series.

The news of the studios closure comes as being both unexpected and somewhat irrational on Disney’s behalf, despite Disney wanting to change their business model. One can’t help but think this idea may not win any awards especially form the 150 currently unemployed development staff.

Delving into the history of the studio Lucas Arts, it was formed back in 1982, acting as the main game development studio for LucasFilm. Expanding from the movie studio Lucasfilm into other areas turned out to be a great move, not only for fans of Star Wars related games, but also for fans of action adventure games. The studio has had some great success with other games that they originally started creating before the never-ending stream of Star Wars games came to light. The first games developed by the studio were for the Atari gaming system. Interestingly the first Star Wars title didn’t manifest itself until much later after the studios creation; not until 1990 to be exact. The first action adventure game to be created by Lucas Arts was labyrinth in 1986, which is based on the film version that LucasFilm also produced starring David Bowie.

One criticism of the many Star Wars titles appearing was that the overall quality dropped and appeared to be simply cashing in on the name, without putting any substantial amount of resources or effort into it. However, the result of throwing so many games at the wall meant that some of them had to stick, and as a result there were some instant classics. Some games kept to the standard story-lines and characters while other company’s expanded on it and made the games their own, so that they were different in terms of game-play, style and story.

The most recently released Kinect Star Wars: not a great critical success for Lucas Arts and was symbolic of its difficulties. The problem is that when such a game is announced, having the ability to control a character using move based gestures, with the expectation in a player’s mind is already at a high level to begin with, leads to a disappointing experience.

One of the quirks of playing a Lucas Arts Star Wars title was the constant logo animation which changed in it’s games, often the character in the logo would come to life and hurl a lightsabre about like a boomerang before ducking. Other games such as the Force Unleashed had the character in the logo jump and use force lightning. Even if a game failed to live up to expectations this amusing little quirk it always put you in a good mood when loading the game.

lucasarts-lightning-logo

There are way too many Star Wars games to make reference to as much as I’d like to however I believe that there are a few games which deserve a mention or at least an affectionate nod as being among the finest that Lucas Arts helped to shape.

Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II (1997) Is a First Person Shooter which added some great puzzles, good fps game-play large explorable levels and story-line.

Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) was a PS1 game based on the movie version, receiving mixed to good reception the game was a best seller in the UK.

Star Wars: Demolition (2000) A firm classic because it was just pure simple fun to play, allowing the player to take control of some of the iconic vehicles from the movies weather that be on the PS1 or Dreamcast  playing with friend or alone it worked well.

Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds (2001) This is by far one of my favourite RTS games, the game allowed you to take control of armies of all of the main film factions and characters it was also a nice break from the usual lightsabre action.

Star Wars Battlefront which arrived in (2004) for xbox, PC and PS2 was a classic third person action experience which allowed the player to act out his fantasy of being in a Star Wars battle on various planets, it went on to create a sequel and also have a lot of interest in a 3rd game being made.

Star Wars Empire At War was yet another RTS game in (2006)  which was hoped to be close to the battlegrounds game which came before it, however it offered a completely rethought design with a new style of game-play which in itself was great even if a few of us were hoping for battlegrounds 3.

Star Wars The Force Unleashed: Ultimate Sith Edition (2009) was a very appealing concept as you were able to take on the role of the Sith and be utterly evil with your Jedi powers, even turning on loyal stormtroopers. One of the last two major titles form the studio the other being Star Wars Kinect both of which received very mixed views and disappointing sales figures, both of these games offered a great game-play concept  but it seems it just wasn’t enough.

Both 1313 and First Assault are now under the officially cancelled status, however this does not mean the games are nothing more than a hopeful dream; they may yet see the light of day, although the chances are now far less. While we haven’t seen the last of Star Wars with all new titles being developed exclusively by other studios, somehow it just won’t be the same without the official branding off Lucas Arts stamped on it.

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Categories: News, Opinion

Author:Jonathan Cullen

Very technologically minded Techie, avid gamer right from the old Commodore 64 up to the next gen consoles, complicated, understanding person, there for my friends.

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One Comment on “Disney Shuts Down LucasArts!”

  1. May 28, 2013 at 10:02 pm #

    Is it a traditional shooter like Call of Duty or is it still a hunting game.
    These puzzle games could include different stories. The
    internet is a great place to find these free turkey hunting
    games.

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