Star Wars, the EU, and the New Movie

I recently got back into playing Star Wars: The Old Republic. I don't remember what made me go back to see what was going on with the game, but I'm having a pretty good time now—better than when the game first launched a few years ago.

SW TOR Choose Your Path Trailer- Courtesy YouTube

They've added some new features (a starfighter PVP which is just awesome, for one), and the graphics are looking pretty amazing (but I think that was the case before). Now you can buy your own "living space" to hole up, or invite guests for an in-game or in-character hang out as well. One of the cooler features about the new "Strongholds" as they call them, is that you can put vendors inside as well so you don't have to go running across the galaxy to mod or buy new equipment. All of these things are pretty good, but even taken together I'm not sure they account for my improved enjoyment of the game.

So maybe it's not the changes to the game that account for my new-found fun, at least not them alone. Perhaps it's my views on Star Wars that have changed just enough to allow me to enjoy the game more.

If that's the case, it's probably a similar phenomena to what I experienced after watching George Lucas' prequels. At first I thought they were pretty awesome (with the exception of Jar Jar Binks), but after Revenge of the Sith I found my enthusiasm for Star Wars diminished. I thought maybe it was because, as Darth Vader would say, "the circle is now complete," but I think it was more than that.

The prequels were very pretty, but they weren't very good. Hayden Christiansen's performance was a bit wooden, and Natalie Portman, who is a good actress, was either not right for the role or just horribly directed (probably). The story wasn't as gripping as it should have been. If you don't believe me compare The Empire Strikes Back to any of the prequels. My heartbeat still picks up when I think about what happened on Cloud City; I can still hear Luke's scream in my ears. I just don't get any of that from the prequels.

But that's not to say there aren't still things about Star Wars I think are being done well (aside from the game). For example, there's the EU (Expanded Universe).

The books, largely popular on account of Timothy Zahn's trilogy launched in the '90's (Thrawn Trilogy), as well as the books by many other authors that followed, are hit and miss with me but many of them are quite good. (I recommend reading anything Timothy Zahn or Drew Karpyshyn wrote. Also, I, Jedi is fantastic). For television, you can't beat the Clone Wars animated series (both the ones that fit in between the movies, and the longer running series that came after), and I admit I'm addicted to Star Wars Rebels.

SWR in particular has really rebooted my enthusiasm for the Star Wars Universe. The characters and they way they interact pull me in week after week, and the villains are truly menacing. SWR captures the thrills and tension that made The Empire Strikes back so good. I put SWR in the same category as many other CG animated films like Big Hero 6 and Despicable Me, they may be geared towards kids, but they're enjoyable for older folks like me too.

And now I have to bring up Episode VII.

I'm worried. I'm very worried. The more I think about the trailer the more I think JJ Abrahms probably shouldn't be directing this, or maybe that the script isn't what it should be. It's hard to tell from such a short clip, but the sight of that idiotically designed lightsaber (the one with the cross-guard) sends chills of disgust down my back (for those that aren't aware, a cross-guard directs the incoming blade inward towards the hilt, which is great for steel weapons as this means it stops and "catches" an attack pretty well, but lightsabers cut through most materials, and a cross-guard on a lightsaber pretty much ensures the opponent's blade will be directed right into the physical part of your own, cutting it in half, and probably you right after). It also reminds me that JJ Abrams has already screwed up one of my favorite characters (KHAAAAAAAN!), which I speculate was a result of being both overly ambitious and not having respect for the source material. If he applies that same philosophy to Star Wars, Ep VII is going to be very painful. I think, for the first time in my life, I'm might take a miss on a Star Wars opening night and wait for my friends to let me know if I should run out and see the movie or not.

So, to wrap up, I think it's really the EU that's got me so excited about Star Wars, and hence the game, again. My trepidation about the upcoming film aside, coming back to Star Wars has been like reconnecting with that old friend you didn't really mean to lose touch with, but life just made it happen. If you've been straying for a while like me, check out the EU (and Star Wars Rebels in particular if you can), and maybe you too will say "hey what's up, been a while" to Star Wars.


  1. My experience with the Star Wars movies mirrors your own. My favourite will always be The Empire Strikes Back. Good of you to mention that idiotic light sabre. You'd be in danger of stabbing yourself with those idiotic cross guard bits. But I'll still be there to watch the movie when it appears.

    BTW, I must mention the full-length animated Clone Wars. The short stories were great, but I found the movie, frankly, awful. Fortunately the SW Rebels are much better done.

    1. I must have blocked the Clone Wars movie out. I totally forgot about it. Yes, it was horrid. Turned me off to the series for a long time. I wound up watching it start to finish on Netflix though, and then grew to like it. Yeah, ignore the movie. It's for the best.


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