“I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.” If LucasArts shutting down was the capturing of Princess Leia, EA gaining the rights to make future Star Wars games must feel like the destruction of Alderaan. And giving the recent fiasco with how SimCity was handled, it’s easy to jump onto the hate EA bandwagon over this announcement. However, what if I told you that this outcome isn’t as bad as you might make it out to be?
When people hate on EA, they usually think of the big bad publisher that swallows smaller studios only to tear them apart once the integration is complete. While that may be true in some cases, there still are a few studios left that continue to turn out great games, which happen to be the three studios that EA is using to create the Star Wars games. Enter DICE, Visceral, and Bioware. Each of these studios are still going strong in terms of making quality games. DICE just finished with its last Battlefield 3 DLC and is getting geared to release 4 this holiday. While not as scary as its predecessors, Dead Space 3 was still a quality game made by Visceral. Finally, Bioware both has experience working with the Star Wars IP and is also quite excellent in the RPG department. I don’t care if you hated Mass Effect 3’s ending and think that Bioware killed your dog. The series as a whole is still undoubtedly one of the best sci-fi experiences I have ever had. So, what can these three studios bring to the Star Wars table?
First up is DICE. They’ve only done shooters, so it’s easy to see where this could head- Battlefront 3. That game was already Battlefield scale encounters, so it would be the perfect fit. Considering Pandemic is no longer around, DICE would be the next logical step for a big scale shooter. Honestly, I cannot think of any other developer still around that has the experience to create massive Star Wars battles that fans loved in Battlefront 1 & 2. Better to have a veteran studio try to resurrect this than to have a less seasoned one take a crack at it. If worst comes to worst, we get Battlefield with a Star Wars skin on it. I know I would play that in a heartbeat.
Next up is Visceral, known for the Dead Space series. What started as a niche horror game turned into a full fledged action title by its third iteration, Dead Space covers a lot of video game territory. While many people, including myself, were ticked that the third game lacked much of the horror that gave it the popularity in the first place, it nonetheless was a well put together game. While horror and Star Wars aren’t even remotely on the same plane, Visceral should be able to step up based on one little game that might not see the light of day otherwise. I’m talking about Star Wars 1313. A gritty Star Wars game would be right up Visceral’s ally. Imagine going through the bowels of Coruscant hunting down your target. Now imagine that place festering with “exotic” creatures that citizens quickly realized were too dangerous to keep in their homes. Without being a horror game, things can still become tense given the right sound and lighting. The trash compactor scene in A New Hope already illustrates that dangerous creatures were in fact kept as pets until it became unsafe to do so. Now imagine one of those creatures has grown even bigger. As you watch past a dark ventilation shaft, a giant tentacle snatches your body and tries to drag you away. Sound familiar? It should if you’ve played any of the Dead Space games.
Now this leaves me with the last, and most obvious of developers suited for a Star Wars game- Bioware. They already have plenty of experience not only in the sci-fi genre, but also in Star Wars itself. People have been clamoring for a proper third Knights of the Old Republic game. While there is The Old Republic MMO, which still has great character stories, almost everyone wants a proper sequel to their beloved series. This is the perfect opportunity for that. In fact, it doesn’t have to be set in the Old Republic era. Given how much Bioware has grown in telling an emotional story, any setting with the character development shown in Mass Effect would be one hell of a Star Wars game to play.
So, before you grab your torches and pitchforks, remember that there still are good studios within EA that already have been given the reins to handle the IP. All I’m saying is that at least give them a chance at proving themselves before you burn them all at the stake for ruining Star Wars. I mean, it can’t get any worse than Episode one, right?