Sunday Morning Clone Wars: Rising Malevolence (S01:E02)

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Good morning, readers!  Welcome to our second installment of Sunday Morning Clone Wars Review, in which we will take a detailed look at each of the episodes of the recently ended Star Wars: Clone Wars 3D animated series.  This morning we find ourselves traveling with Master Plo Koon to the orbit of the Abregado system, on a mission to investigate the recent disappearance of numerous Republic battle cruisers.  It doesn’t take long for the mystery to be solved, as Grievous and Dooku’s jointly-commanded Malevolence releases that secret weapon upon the fleet, a joint ion cannon that essentially casts a disabling net across an immense area, completely wiping out the defense and weapons systems of its targets.  Soon, the Republic fleet is a mass of floating debris, and the Jedi and three fortunate clones are out amongst it in a life pod.

Meanwhile, Anakin and Ahsoka (who has a special connection to Plo Koon, which will prove useful many times throughout the series) meet with Palpatine, Mace Windu, and Yoda to discuss their findings, which lead all to believe that the CIS has decimated another fleet and left no survivors.  Rebeling against her master, Ahsoka speaks up to voice her concern that they should attempt a rescue mission, an action that is swiftly blunted by Skywalker.  However, Anakin’s common sense catches up with him, and the two launch a successful rescue of Plo Koon and his troopers, and barely escape capture from Grievous and Dooku, thanks to some help from perennial hero R2-D2 and the hyperdrive.

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There are a few themes in this episode that are worthy of examination.  First, the overarching theme of how the clones view themselves- one remarks to Plo Koon when things are looking grim that “We’re just clones, sir.  We’re made to be expendable.”  Plo Koon responds, “Not to me.”  Later, we will see that this view is not shared by all Jedi, most notably the crass Pong Krell.  However, it is this lack of self-worth that clones seem to be programmed to feel that is interesting.  Surely, they are taught to sacrifice themselves, that their one and only duty is the protection of the Republic.  My question is this-  when you can completely manipulate the mental patterns of these clones (as it is believed that the Kaminoans can) why program professional warriors that they are cannon fodder, as opposed to- well, warriors?  Was this a  specific request of Sifo-Dyas to ensure that these clones would fall in line behind Jedi leadership, was it a change in their programming that Sidious added, or is it simply a byproduct of the realization that one is a clone?  Surely, it is not a quality shared by Jango Fett.  This is a principle that I have never understood, and one that rears its head multiple times in this series.

Secondly, we have a good example of Anakin trying to put on his Obi-Wan mask to scold his young padawan for speaking out of place, but then reverting back to his own principles, which include diving headfirst into the most difficult scenario he can find.  Although he later tells Ahsoka that she will “share some blame,” for what Yoda labels a “reckless decision,” and even defies a direct message to his ship from Palpatine to turn around, Anakin’s actions are proven just, and the rigid, overcautious Jedi leadership are once again shown to be completely in the dark, and pawns of Sidious.

Rising Malevolence, the first in a three-story arc, receives an 85/100.  It is our series introduction to General Grievous and many other characters who were featured in the film, but not in Yoda’s introductory story on Toydaria.  While Ventress proves to be the “assistant” to Dooku with a much deeper and interesting story throughout the course of the series, it is rather cool to see the joint command of Dooku and Grievous, especially with the red, evil lighting that their command center provides.  Excellent voice acting as always, and neat inclusion of a minor character in Plo Koon, who will become a large part of this series.  An enjoyable start to the arc.

Our scores to date are:

Rising Malevolence (85/100), Ambush (75/100).

Saturday Morning Comics: Obsession #1

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Not many cooler covers out there than this. But does the story live up to it?

Happy Saturday morning, readers!  Today we have the second installment of our weekly Saturday Morning Comics series, in which we been a five-part look at the comic series that leads up to ROTS, entitled “Obsession.”  Throughout the series, we’ll come into contact with a who’s who of Clone Wars villains, ranging from Durge to Grievous, but this first issue serves primarily as a lead-in to establish what drives the series.

After a year on the front lines, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker (now a Knight) have been given some respite, a bit of vacation, as ordered by the Jedi Council.  Anakin beelines straight for Naboo, where his wife awaits him.  Obi-Wan journeys to the world of Trigalis, on his own personal mission, an investigation/vendetta against the believed-dead Asajj Ventress.  The story opens with Obi-Wan on a swoop bike, decked out in Republic Commando armor, bossing a few Black Sun thugs on his way to what appears to be a palace of sorts.  Once there, he meets Aayla Secura, who is on an official mission of her own, one that Yoda has told Obi-Wan to stay away from.  After giving Kenobi some grief about not taking his leave, Obi-Wan gets some intel on the Black Sun leader, Xist (who resembles Xizor), who is masquerading as a common criminal boss, but actually feeding weapons to the CIS and Dooku.

Xist has quite the reputation as a dueler, to the point that Aayla actually warns Obi-Wan against engaging him.  Of course, that’s never our protagonist, now has it?  After Xist’s security detail is taken down, the two warriors engage, with Xist wielding what can be assumed to be a vibrowhip (although the art makes it rather unclear).

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Although getting roughed up a bit, Kenobi reveals his true intentions- finding Asajj Ventress- and overwhelms the Black Sun Commander, who relents and retreats to his palace for negotiations. Xist acknowledges that his loyalty to Dooku has a price, but Obi-Wan brushes this aside and continues to press for information on Ventress, who was believed to be killed on Coruscant by Anakin.  Meanwhile, Anakin, on Naboo, seems disturbed by the fact that Obi-Wan won’t accept the Sith assassin’s death, and tells Padme as much.

Xist informs Obi-Wan that Ventress has been contracted to take out a wealthy Corellian, Drama Korr, and is set to ambush him in the skies above Maramere in the coming days.  Kenobi contacts the Jedi Council to plead for their approval to engage, telling them that Ventress could “destroy entire armies” and “wipe out entire worlds.”

Wait, what?

Sure, she gave Anakin a nice love tap across the eye, and she’s captured Kenobi once or twice.  Other than that, Ventress is the personification of Charlie Brown with the football when it comes to accomplishing tasks for the CIS, and Sidious knows as much, when he orders Dooku to cast her aside after repeated failures.  Sure, she took down Scout and Whie’s generic masters on Vjun, and has been known to hold her own, but a destroyer of worlds?  I don’t see it.  Are we to assume that the author is overevaluating Ventress, or is it intended to show an intensity and obsession (ding!) in the notoriously even-tempered Kenobi with Ventress?  Seems a bit out of character.

Aayla offers her assistance and her starfighter, and although Kenobi asks her to stay, he does take the starfighter and assures the Twi’lek Jedi that he will call Anakin for help, before engaging Ventress out of hyperspace, and the story wraps.  I’m sure Anakin will take that well.

Next week, we head into the second episode of this series, in which we will watch our heroes face off with Durge, perhaps the strangest of the Clone Wars villains, but a fearsome one, nonetheless .

Tomorrow morning, we’ll take a look Rising Malevolence in our weekly Clone Wars review, and, as mentioned by Lazy Storm Trooper, we will release the first episode of Republic Sports Radio,

Enjoy your Saturday.  -Drew

The Canceled Games

Hello again everyone, it’s me LazyStormTrooper again. Today, as a sequel to my article on the State of Star Wars games, I will be talking about the games that were canceled this past April upon the closure of LucasArts. I will only be talking about 1313, First Assault and the social game Outpost as they are the only games we knew anything about.To start I will talk about the only officially announced game which is 1313.

Back in June of 2012 at E3 LucasArts announced their first in-house developed title since The Force Unleashed 2. It was called 1313.The game was going to run on the Unreal 3 engine. From the trailers, we saw that the game’s story was based on a bounty hunter going to Level 1313 in the deep Coruscanti underworld. We saw little gameplay but from what we did see it almost looked like an Uncharted game in the Star Wars universe. But like all the other games I will be detailing today it stopped its development in October of 2012 and later to be canceled in April of 2013.

Now unto Star Wars: First Assault. This game was only truly leaked around March 2013 but we had known that a Star Wars title named First Assault was at least on the drawling boards since early 2012 when LucasArts registered it copyright. Out of these three games I am writing about today, this was the one I was most looking forward to. The bad part was that when it was canceled it was 99% done. The only thing that they had to really had to do left was to release it (this is of course just leaked info). But if it is really done,
JUST RELEASE IT ALREADY!!!

But now let’s talk about the details of the game. The game was a (about) twenty dollar XBLA/PSN first-person shooter multiplayer based game taking place in the time of the Galactic Civil War. Also if the game did well LucasArts would have consider making a Battlefront III (which we are getting anyways now or at least a new installment in the franchise).The game had amazing graphics that looked on par with most games today. It also looked fun to play and even may have had a campaign (We got a cutscene which may or may not have been for multiplayer). And to say again in case you guys up up at Disney did not hear me the first time, RELEASE THE DARN GAME NOW!!!

Lastly the game we know the least about, Outpost. This game was suppose to be Star Wars’ response to games likes of Farmville and FarmTown which have become popular to the casual gaming audience. We have no idea of its price point and while doing research for this post I could not even find anything about it (I originally heard about the game on the ForceCast podcast).

Well that was a quick rundown of the canceled games that we know at least something about.

I would also like to tell everyone that the Republic Sports Radio podcast while be premiering two day from now on Sunday with host Heels and MandaloreYak.

Star Wars as literature? It can be done! (and also, hello)

In the words of the immortal pirate Don Karnage, greetings and salivations! I’m Rachel, perhaps better known to fellow TF.Ners as Thrawn1786, and I will be contributing to this wonderful world of words about all things Star Wars. This should be quite the adventure for all concerned parties, and I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you.

Here’s what you can look forward to from me in future posts/articles: on a personal note, I have two college degrees, both in English with a Creative Writing concentration (aren’t I fancy). What does that have to do with Star Wars, you ask? Well, it means from time to time I might put an academic perspective on things. I did spend eight years of my life analyzing everything under the sun, and not to toot my own horn, but I figure I can put some of that knowledge to good use. This might mean I’ll revisit some of my favorite EU stories and discuss them from literary and writer perspectives and how they hold up several years removed from the hype- expect to see a future post about Shadows of the Empire, my all-time favorite Star Wars EU stand-alone novel, for example. I also plan to look at some of the basic themes in the EU and the movies. Heck, I might even talk about the music! Point is, with me variety is the spice of life, and I love looking at and discussing all aspects of Star Wars.

Letsee, I suppose I should share my obligatory “how I discovered Star Wars and fell in love with it and my life has never been the same” story now. In two words: Girl Scouts. No I have not lost my mind.

To make a very long story short, my older sister was a member of a local Brownie scout troop. Our mother was the troop leader, and thus meetings were often held at my house. I was too little to participate and so my dad was stuck with the job of keeping me out of the way so I wouldn’t screw things up for the Brownies. One day dear old Dad turned on the Disney Channel (does anyone remember the GOOD Disney Channel besides me?), and Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope was playing. It was the trash compactor scene, and I remember a feeling of fascination and awe coming over me. What the heck was this? It was awesome! It was fantastic! Wait, is that a big slimy worm in the water? Ewwwwwww! And that was the beginning of the end. Or the end of the beginning. However you want to look at it, I was hooked. I loved watching Return of the Jedi for the Jabba’s Palace scenes, collecting the Micro Machines playsets, and reading the EU way before I was old enough to truly appreciate the plots and nuances on each page.

Over the years, my love of Star Wars has grown by leaps and bounds. Growing up, checking out the newest EU book from my local library was an unofficial tradition, and it didn’t matter how many times I saw it, I still got upset when the Executor crashed into Death Star II in Return of the Jedi. Did I mention I’m a loyal Imperialist? Anyhow. Even the prequels and Star Wars: The Clone Wars (the movie) did not sway my affection. Now that I’m done with school, I plan to embrace Star Wars all over again, and find much more to love and learn about.

Getting back to the literary themes, I’d venture to say Star Wars is the best traditional non-literary cinematic film series of all time, though one can definitely point out literary roots/aspects throughout the movies, books, and other forms of the saga. When I started writing this post, I asked myself, “what is it about Star Wars that keeps me coming back? Yeah, the costumes are pretty, and Ewan McGregor’s nice eye candy for the prequels, but there have been a lot of disappointments. Why do I still love Star Wars?”

The answer came to me pretty quickly, and it was pretty simple: the storytelling. Star Wars is a continuation of the myths and faerie tales we grew up reading/listening to as children, and everyone has a favorite faerie tale or story that they still love to read/hear and pass on, whether it’s to friends or children of our own. So it is with Star Wars. Star Wars has its own canon and is even taught in universities and colleges, and not just in film criticism classes. It has its own mythos and has been celebrated in every form of storytelling possible. We know the stories by heart and will continue to study and share the adventures of the Skywalkers, the Jedi, and the Sith and always will, no matter how many interpretations there might be, or how many times George Lucas might re-do the movies. Granted, there are parts of the Star Wars story/stories that could have been written better, but what works works well enough that I can forgive those lesser sections.

To return to the whole eight years of college that I mentioned earlier, having studied quite a bit of literature, from the Native American Trickster tales to Margaret Atwood’s novel Oryx and Crake, you’d think I’d have taken the academic point of view and dismissed Star Wars as trivial. Nope! Without really delving into the matter (I’ll save that for a future post), I’d say I enjoy Star Wars all the more now because I have learned the literary traditions that Star Wars draws from, and I can enjoy, appreciate, and identify those patterns more than ever. My experience and love for Star Wars has been enriched by academia and literature, which is amazing in itself (and just goes to show you that college classes are never as boring as people tell you they are). As author Philip Pullman once said, “stories are the thing we need most in the world;” I know I will always need Star Wars.

-Rachel

My Top Ten Best Star Wars Games

Hello again! It’s me Lazy and as I promised I am counting down my top ten best Star Wars games of all time (I also said worst but had a troubling time trying to pick the game for that). But before I start I would like to point out that these are games I played or heard about from friends. So you may or may not agree with this list but I encourage you to tell me your choices in the comments below.

Now time for the list:

10 – Lego Star Wars III

The Lego video game series is known for it fun and innovative gameplay. The Star Wars games in the series have been some of the best. The reason LSW III is so high on the list is because that even with its new and improved space battles and it levels following the many episodes of The Clone Wars TV show, it felt to different. The LSW and LSW II were both straight forward games. You had the three movies in each games respective trilogy with six levels for each. But at least for me Lego Star Wars III was just to big.

9 – The Force Unleashed

While this game does get a bad rap is fun to play and has a good story. Getting to be Darth Vader’s secret apprentice and going a slicing up both Imperials and Rebels was extremely fun. Plus with a PT feel set in the OT time period I think that really does help the two movie trilogies fit together.

8 – Angry Birds Star Wars 

Last year right before my thanksgiving vacation I brought this game on my iPod to play in the car. While I had only had played the first Angry Birds game a little bit this game easily got me back into the loop. Also it was very handy at the hotel when my hotel’s wi-fi went out.

7 – Starfighter

While I never finished this this game I did play enough so that I knew it was a good game. Its was challenge and tough and possibly the best Star Wars space flight simulator game since the X-Wing series.

6 – Battlefront II

While this game is number one on a lot of top ten Star Wars games lists I decided to put  here for a few reasons. Firstly, while I love the Battlefront series but I felt this game was really only a DLC for the first. I mean that while their were new levels to play on but still it did not feel too different from the original game. Also for me the HUD was to gimmicky compared to the original’s.

5 – The Old Republic

Man this game is fun. I have not played a lot but when I do I really like. Not much else to say…

4 – Knights of the Old Republic

What is there really to say for this game. You pretty much go though a epic quest with your own character. Possibly one of the best Star Wars stories ever told in a video game.

3 – Republic Commando

Want a version of Halo in the Star Wars universe? Yeah! Want to play as a awesome clone commando? Yeah! Well what is not to love about Republic Commando?

2 – Lego Star Wars II

Lego Star Wars II was the first game I played on my 360 and when I said I played I played hundreds hours of the game. I pretty much grew up playing it and when my first Xbox got red ring this was the game that I was most sad at losing my save file for.

1 – Battlefront (2004)

While I did not put as many hours into this game as Lego Star Wars II I have even more fond memories based around the game. I played it first-person so when I went running though Ren Var (my favorite maps) I felt like a real clone trooper. Let’s just say that this game was awesome.

Now that I am done with my top ten games I would love for you guys to post you own countdowns in the comments below. Either way this is LazyStormTrooper signing out.

My Journey Into Fandom, And Some Favorite Shots of the Saga

As a recommendation from a few of our writers, and following the excellent post from Nick yesterday evening, we are going to roll out some introductions for each of the staff members here at SWR, hopefully to lend some perspective into where we come from, and provide some entertainment as well.

My journey began in the summer of 1999, the summer following my 8th grade year, when I went to go see The Phantom Menace with a friend in theaters.   To be completely honest, I don’t remember much of the film sticking out to me for the first hour and a half – but then, this happened:

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Yeah, I know it’s predictable.  I wasn’t much for television as a child, so I had not seen any previews, etc. for the film.  I had a vague concept of what Star Wars was, even though I had never seen the original trilogy – I knew what a lightsaber was, and who Darth Vader and Yoda were, but that’s about it.  As this furious battle between two Jedi and this demonic, acrobatic bad guy erupted across the screen, with the epic “Duel of the Fates” score to back it, I did not know at the time, but I’d never be the same.  It took a little while, though.  A few years later, I picked up Attack of the Clones on VHS, and loved it (I still do, to this day).  Then I picked up the OT, and finally became immersed.

I am a very odd Star Wars fan, in that I am a shameless defender of the prequels, and unabashedly prefer them to the Original Trilogy. I went to see Revenge of the Sith at midnight, my first experience out amongst the community, and if I were to point to one experience that really sent me “over the edge,” it would be that.  I had been participating on TFN’s Episode III board, but that began to transform into more interactive experiences, including fan audio.  In 2006, after listening to Nathan P. Butler’s Chronoradio, I ventured out on my own, and launched “Star Wars: In The Beginning,” a podcast aimed towards the PT and its EU, and debating its characters and themes.  The show lasted for about 15 episodes, after which a graduation and the sharp drop into the real world put it on hold.

But I always intended to come back.

And so we have, with Star Wars: Rise. Throughout my time in the world of fandom, I can say that the group that we have put together on this team are some of the most knowledgeable and skilled writers I’ve come into contact with, and their passion for the SW Universe matches my own- and that’s quite a bit of passion.  It is a privilege to write alongside them, and interact with them across the net. Our collective aim is that this blog, and our upcoming podcast, will reach fans in the leadup to Episode 7 and perhaps impacts them in the way I was impacted in the leadup to Revenge of the Sith, and brings them into this magnificent world, which has played a huge part in my life.  I thank you for reading, and hope that you are able to find the joy that I have in reading, viewing, and analyzing this great Saga.

And now, as the second half of this post, I would like to take a look at my five favorite visual “shots” of the saga.  The only qualifier here is that the scene was portrayed on a screen, at one time- any and all TV series, any and all films.  Let us begin.

5) The Battle of Mandalore, Star Wars Clone Wars (S05-E16) (G.Lucas)

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While this episode may be remembered for the epic duel that breaks out between Sidious, Maul, and Savage, it is the alliance struck between Bo Katan and Obi-Wan in an effort to get him off planet that provided my favorite storyline.

4) Obi-Wan Taps the Dark Side, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (G. Lucas)

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While his duel with Anakin in ROTS would match this one-on-one in terms of speed and ferocity, the emotion shown by young Kenobi dueling the mysterious Sith just feet from his mortally wounded master is my favorite duel of the Saga.

3) The Return of Anakin Skywalker,  Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (R. Marquand/director, G. Lucas)

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A very divisive image, this is. I’m on the side of progress, I guess you could call it. As devastating as the end of ROTS, it’s nice to know that Anakin will re-appear- that he’s not gone forever.

2) The Goodbye, Clone Wars Microseries (S01-E01) (G. Tartakovsky)

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I remember seeing this episode for the first time, and in among the over-the-top style was this scene. With a particularly different version of “Across The Stars” playing, we see something that we really never see again on screen- the strain of war in this young marriage.

1) The Ruminations Scene.  Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith (G. Lucas)

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Nothing I can write can do this scene justice. It is the most powerful scene I've ever seen on screen, I recall the packed capacity theater (full of children, teens, and college students) falling completely silent, while the loud whaling track accompanied this brutally difficult scene, because even the "spoiler-free" knew what was coming. George Lucas' finest cinematographical accomplishment in the six films, as far as I am concerned.

Nothing I can write can do this scene justice. It is the most powerful scene I’ve ever seen on screen, I recall the packed capacity theater (full of children, teens, and college students) falling completely silent, while the loud whaling track accompanied this brutally difficult scene, because even the “spoiler-free” knew what was coming. George Lucas’ finest cinematographical accomplishment in the six films, as far as I am concerned.

Introduction to a Jaded Cynic, Plus Some EU Discussion!

While perhaps unnecessary, I feel quite strongly that introductions are always necessary when entering into new circles. Seeing as I only know one of the other authors around these parts—never mind what they know of me—and we shant even consider how little I know those who might read this post, I don’t think this such a radical idea.

To be short, if such things are even possible for me, my name is Nick, though any readers hailing from the boards at TheForce.net may know me better as Chukles38. I’ll be, what, a guest author? Maybe a full author? Who knows, but I should shoot some things up here occasionally to enlighten, inform, or… actually, pretty much to entertain, I think. I would say that I am an author, but that implies that I have been able to complete something. Instead, we’ll tack an aspiring on there and leave it at that. I have picked up a few things, here and there, though about writing and the processes involved, so I’m available to answer any questions, comments, concerns, or criticisms you may have. Hopefully I’ll be able to focus on just one project here and keep at it to completion. I’m not entirely hopeful.

At any rate, I have been a fan of Star Wars since I was quite young, and in fact it’s difficult to recall a time that I didn’t love the series. I remember pretending to be Luke Skywalker, flipping out of Sarlacc pits and hacking up anything in my way with the lightsaber I didn’t have. I’ve always had an active imagination, however, so this was an insignificant detail. When my brothers and I were first introduced to toy lightsabers, well, we were in heaven. I can say, with confidence, that we broke many of them, mostly on each other. Some duct tape though and we were right back at it, fighting off villains and the like. My childhood is laced with viewings of the movies, rereleases, action figures, and Legos. It still is a slight disappointment to me that I am far too young to have experienced the original trilogy in the theatre.

I say this as a sort of counter point to the rest of this posting. In recent years, I find myself drifting away from Star Wars as a whole; the universe, the movies, the video games, the books. I think back on it, when it was such a magical world full of wonder and amazement for a young boy, and wonder where that feeling went. I could take the easy way out and say that the Prequel Trilogy got too wrapped up in CGI and special effects and lost the feeling that, to me, defined Star Wars. That’d certainly be true enough. Perhaps, though, it also has to do with the introduction and constant expansion of the Expanded Universe by multitudes of authors, all with their own ideas and agendas. That’s probably closer to the mark. What it boils down to, I think, is that the Star Wars universe has just gotten too damn big.

What did it for me in the end, I think, was the New Jedi Order. Until then, I devoured the books in the EU. I started into that series with reckless abandon, and even as I type this I look over and see the first eighteen books on my bookshelf. As I pushed on, however, it just got to be too much. At first, it was wonderful, but then it was over. Then another author picked it up, and suddenly we were plunged back in to a plot that we thought was over. The story jumps its focus, book to book, which wouldn’t be a problem were the storylines and characters consistent throughout, but they aren’t. It occurred to me that what I once loved about Star Wars was now my biggest hold up. I tried some books after that, but they just couldn’t recapture my interest.

It’s not just the multiple authors, though. As my dear friend Tristan covered in his rather nice post on the nature of the Force, that changes. Who’d have thought the Force would change, back when all we had were the Original Trilogy? Sure, some of this is authors and companies taking liberties, but even Lucasarts is guilty, to some degree. Not just for the changes to the Force, I’ve never been a big proponent of their animated works, and certain video games, while fun, drive me further from the universe. They all seem to just not fit, as of late. Granted, that is completely my personal opinion, and I’m fine with that. I begrudge no one the right to like the entertainment they wish.

Somehow, though, against my will, I became a slightly bitter and jaded fan. I’m sure none of this is news to most of you. I’m hardly the first one to have these issues. On the other hand, heaven knows I’m not a purist. I don’t have any issues with those who like the various mediums in which the EU reaches us. I even still like quite a few individual books or series. Despite my disillusionment, I can’t deny I still love Star Wars. I’m more excited for the new trilogy then I thought I could be, though granted I have my reservations. I suppose, what I’m trying to say, is to be warned. I probably won’t be all fuzzy and warm towards the universe in my posts, but that’s okay too, right? It takes all sorts, and a fresh, even if unoriginal, perspective is always nice.

To conclude, I’m still a fan, and probably will always be, though I can’t help but wonder if most of it is rooted in nostalgia. Some days I wonder if I would still love the franchise were I to be first exposed to it today. There is a part of me, perhaps the child from my memories, that says of course I would. The Original Trilogy  hasn’t changed—well, much, but that’s for another time. One would think that its appeal would persist. Still, with all the changes foisted upon it by the various EU contributions, all the ideas and perspectives clamoring for recognition, who can say for sure?

Regards,

Nick

An Adventure Begins… (Dawn of the Jedi)

Hai guys, Trimaj here again. I’ve recently embarked on something of a crazy, daunting task: a chronological read through of the entirety of the Star Wars saga (or as near as I can manage it) including the comics. I realize this is not going to be anywhere near a short project or anything like that, but I figured I’d bring you along for the ride as I go through things as interesting topics of discussion occur to me. For instance, I may do a chapter commentary on books as the fancy strikes me, but I can pretty much assure I’ll have something to say on pretty much anything I read as I go along. Hopefully it’ll provide some interesting topics and thoughts throughout the journey, and it will certainly provide a new perspective on the Star Wars universe as a whole (if for no other reason I’ll finally be familiar with almost all of it one way or another). If you’re wondering, yes, this will include the Marvel comics run, and quite possibly the Jedi Prince series of books as well, dubiously canon though they are. So without further ado, the purpose of this post today: Dawn of the Jedi.

I have to say that is probably one of the more interesting series of comics that I’ve read in quite some time, and it provides a distinctly intriguing look at the GFFA millennia before it forms into what we’re all familiar with. This is before the Republic is even a thought, before hyperspace travel is even remotely a safe thing to do, and is during the time of the Infinite Empire of the Rataka, and is overall a distinctly darker place than anything near what we’re used to. But none of that is really what I want to talk about right now, as what really grabbed my attention was the first issue, which takes place which takes place an additional 10,000 years earlier, 36,453 BBY to be precise. And it starts with a group called the Dai Bendu and objects called the Tho Yor. The Dai Bendu were apparently Force sensitives (at least the ones present at the momentous time that the Tho Yor finally spoke to them), and spent a millennium contemplating what this immense monolith could possibly be, and what secrets it could contain. They wondered this because it was obvious it did not belong on their world. They didn’t find out until everything about them was in balance, meaning all aspects of the Force, including the Dark Side. Then the Tho Yor invited them in, and took them on a journey. That journey culminated on Tython, the original home of the Jedi, a unique and bizarrely Force attuned world.

The Tho Yor as they take some Dai Bendu to Tython.

The Tho Yor as they take some Dai Bendu to Tython.

The Tho Yor did this with eight races in all, Wookiees, Dathomiri Humans, Selkath, Twi’lek, Sith (the species), Cathar and a few others that aren’t specifically mentioned (and sadly I didn’t recognize). Overall a rather diverse mix that I wasn’t expecting, the Sith in particular given their reputation later on in the GFFA. Apparently the Tho Yor could sense when a group had finally come into complete balance in the Force, and took those that were willing to a place they could learn more about the force. It turns out this was something that also happened to the Kwa (of Infinity Gate fame and another of those ancient races that we know so little about that randomly disappeared), and that they’re responsible for raising up the Rakata into the monsters they became, but that’s for another time most likely.

What makes Tython so interesting is that it VERY directly reacts to those Force sensitives around them, and whether they are in balance or not. Should someone be leaning too far towards the Light Side you have bad things happening and the planet rebels against this until balance is found again, the same thing happens with the Dark Side, with storms it would seem, and depending how far out of balance they can be pretty bad… but more on that later. What this resulted in was the Jedi being in perfect balance with the Force, and utilizing both sides of it perfectly without being corrupted. Not only this but they utilized alchemy, sorcery and manipulation of animals to create new ones (like a flying rancor), powers and abilities that are normally attributed only to the Dark Side and unattainable by those who would seek to do good. This shows that a few assumptions that are made by the latter day Force users is patently false, mainly those that the two aspects of the Force are mutually exclusive. To reference back to my previous post, this would also seem to be the kind of situation that the Father was in more control of than either of his two children, just a minor aside I found to be interesting.

So what does this mean overall? I honestly don’t know, but it certainly paints a very different picture of what the potential is relative to the Force, and how simplistic the views of both the Jedi and Sith actually are. Not to mention it’s a bit of a kick in the teeth to the Baneite Sith in that Gravid was right about what the best way to get the most out of the Force is, he just went about doing that a bit wrong. I’m sure going insane didn’t help matters, but what happened with during Dawn of the Jedi would certainly suggest that it is more than possible to utilize both sides of the Force in conjunction with each other, and even be more capable as a result of it. Go figure.

Take A Good Look

I scream, you scream, we all scream for lightsabers!

I scream, you scream, we all scream for lightsabers!

Happy Labor Day, readers!  Today, I wanted to look into one of the most fascinating short stories ever to be published in Insider, Karen Traviss’ “A Two Edged Sword,” (mistakenly published in Insider as just “Two Edged Sword”) the follow-up to another Traviss short story entitled “In His Image.”  Both stories were subsequently published as an addendum in Aaron Allston’s Betrayal.  “In His Image” is a story of Sa Cuis, one of Palpatine’s first “hands,” and a particularly loyal one.  Cuis was sent by Palpatine to murder Vader, and although he fails, Vader extracts some of his DNA for future cloning purposes- one of the earliest stories, continuity-wise, which documents an obsession of the new Empire – cloning force users.

Vader is assisted and defended in this story by his loyal lieutenant, Erv Lakeuf, whose DNA is also extracted in the hopes of strengthening Vader’s Fist, the 501st.  We open our story as Sidious and Lakeuf observe Vader training one of the clones of Cuis, which ends abruptly upon Vader’s choosing.  Vader then engages Sidious in conversation, and we get to see some terrific insight into his character, particularly the way in which he holds on to his past.  Vader is shown to be very wary of Sidious in this story, and it is very clear that he keeps the fact that he is being used and abused in the front of his mind, constantly.  However, he also references Padme and Obi-Wan multiple times in this story, most notably when coming to terms with the fact that Sidious had ordered his execution, and likely would again, tapping into the theme that defined Anakin Skywalker: betrayal.  Vader muses “And I trusted you too, Padme. I’m practiced at handling betrayal now.”  Are we then to also assume that Vader sees his actions against his wife as justified?  That he truly believes that she brought Obi-Wan there to kill her, even though her last words to him denied this fact?  Some food for thought.

While Vader clearly has much contempt in his heart for Sidious, this story presents us with an even more interesting relationship, the fatherly one that Vader feels for Lakeuf.  While Lakeuf’s clones are being bossed by Cuis’s in a practice session being viewed by Vader and Sidious, Vader remarks that he feels and understands Lakeuf’s fear, which is that his clones will displease Sidious, and Lakeuf will have to spend another six months away from his wife and family training them.  After considering this, Vader orders that Cuis’ clones holster their lightsabers when training against Lakeuf’s clones, in favor of (non-lethal) metal staffs.  Sidious notices Vader’s behavior, identifies the root of it, and tells Vader that creating this facade of a friendship with lieutenant can be used to his advantage.  Unbeknown to Sidious, Vader appears to have a genuine fondness for his subordinate, especially after Lakeuf tells Sidious (after being prompted) that the reason for his loyalty to the Dark Lord is grounded in their understanding that Vader does not ask the 501st to do anything he would not also do himself.  This has many real world implications, surely- an effective strategy taught to leaders in our own business world is to “get in the trenches” with subordinates, and respect will be earned.  As a result of this show of loyalty, Vader tells Lakeuf to notify his wife that he would be returning home for a visit.  Vader justifies this move to Sidious as “motivation,” but a sense of wanting to live vicariously through Lakeuf is also present, as Vader is aware that he will never be able to enjoy a return to those he loved.

The team of Sidious, Vader, Lakeuf and his men, the clones, and Sheyvan (another hand of the Emperor, and trainer of Cuis’ clones) board a shuttle for the Imperial Center, presumably on Coruscant.  After only a short time in the air, Vader immediately senses treachery, and this is confirmed by his lieutenant, who notifies him that Sheyvan and the clones of Cuis have mobilized, killed all of Lakeuf’s men, and are preparing to kill Sidious and take the ship.  Lakeuf and his colleague, Pepin (named after Dany Pepin, legend of the SW Fan Audio community and creator of Star Wars En Direct) obtain a flamethrower, and cut the power to the ship.  With the assistance of the flamethrower, Vader engages and wipes out the mutineers and their leaders quickly, but Lakeuf suffers serious burns in the fallout, another distinct connection that he would now share with his commander.  Before falling to Vader’s blade, Sheyvan warns the Dark Lord about Sidious: “He will betray you too,” to which Vader utters the line of the story, “Few men will not try to betray me.”

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After learning of his friend’s injuries, Vader cradles- let me repeat that- Vader cradles his lieutenant, and calls for bacta.  In this moment, Vader’s first thoughts go to Obi-Wan, who Vader describes as the “master he trusted,” but one who had abandoned him to die- a bit of a delusional moment, given the actuality of their battle on Mustafar, but one that goes a long way into Vader’s mindset.  He later tells a scarred but healing Lakeuf, “You are too loyal for your own good, Lieutenant” to which Lakeuf replies “That’s my job, my Lord.”  Vader then tells him, “You never disappoint me.” Refreshingly, this feels like it should be an exchange between Anakin and Rex, or Obi-Wan and Cody- there is still a semblance of humanity within the mangled metal that replaced Anakin Skywalker.

We then are taken to a final scene, Vader and Sidious watching troops gather on Coruscant, in a scene that harkens back to the end of Attack of the Clones.  In this instance, however, it is the dialogue that is more important than the imagery.  Vader tells Sidious he does not want Dark Jedi in the Imperial Army, and Sidious seemingly ignores him, instead justifying that they would need to be trained by Vader himself, not a less trustworthy hand.  And right on cue, as Palpatine tells Vader in the most patronizing of manners that “the solution to having to watch your back is to have the enemy watch theirs instead,” Vader delivers just one final thought to Sidious: “I will come for you one day.”  As difficult as it is to acknowledge, especially knowing what he will be capable of down the line, Padme’s dying words are vindicated yet again- Anakin is still there, deep down, in many ways- and as this story shows, he never loses sight of himself.  The tale of Vader is truly a tragedy of staggering proportion.

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The State of Star Wars Video Games

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Hello readers, my name is Lazy Stormtrooper and as a quick introduction to myself, I love to talk about Star Wars (why I am here) , editing videos is one of my favorite thing s to do in life and I love to play video games. So today as my first post I will be discussing the State of Star Wars video games since the Disney buyout in late 2012.

As we all know by now (unless you have been living under a rock), Disney has bought Lucasfilm (which came w/  the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises) and announced Star Wars: Episode VII. After that happened the internet exploded with rampart rumors and speculation and personally I started jumping off walls. But during this time LucasArts which was also brought in the acquisition was quietly put on standby.

When this happened six games stopped their development (along with an online service that was suppose to revolutionize the industry). These games included 1313, First Assault, Outpost, also a open-world RPG, another first-person shooter and a flight-sim.

In March 2013 the news of the of the pause hit fans and gamers alike and it was as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in sadness. Pretty much everyone one who was following any of those project were saddened by the news. If these games did well it would be the start of a new golden age for LucasArts. Even notable internet personalities such as some of the cast of the Youtube channel SmoshGames talked about how they were disappointed in the halting of these projects (for them they were mostly looking forward to 1313). But then it got worse.

On April 3rd, 2013, about one month after the news of the “pausing” of the aforementioned projects The Walt Disney Company closed LucasArt’s development division. 150 people lost their jobs and the company was reduced to only about ten workers who would run the licensing department for any new games to be developed from the the series LucasArts used to create/distribute. At this point in time the future of Star wars games were unknown. All of the games that were in development at the time were deemed by the public to be canceled till further notice (still waiting for that further notice). The only news we got in this time period was that a RPG-game set in the Dark Times era was in the concept phases but that was quickly debunked.

Then on May 6th, 2013, Disney made a conversational move and official declared that all Star Wars games in the near-future will be made by Electronic Arts and its subsidiaries. While personally I kinda liked the move as in some of my favorite game series are made under the EA name brand such as Need for Speed, Mass Effect, and Battlefield. But a large number of people did not like the polices EA had in place with online passes and their downloadable content (Note that since the announcement on May 6th EA has halted it Online Pass program for any new games). Then everyone forgot about all of that (for he most part) when EA developer, DICE, announced the reboot of the Battlefront franchise at EA’s E3 press conference.

Now, even though EA’s DLC polices are still debatable the future of Star Wars gaming looks amazing. With legendary developers like BioWare, DICE, and Visceral designing more parts of the Star Wars galaxy to play in it and rumors of a Jedi Knight 3 in development along with Battlefront it looks like we are going to have an awesomely fun next few years.

Come back soon for my top ten best and worst Star Wars games of all time.

Also if you have any constructive criticism or suggestion for what I should write for future posts please tell in the comments. Thank you.