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More Concept Art, Holographic Signs Emerge For Canceled Star Wars Darth Maul Game

Back in 2014, Game Informer unearthed the story of a canceled Darth Maul game from Red Fly Stuido (now Gaming Corp Austin), including early prototype footage, art, and concepts. The game was set to be a bloodier, darker approach on third-person action of the Force Unleashed series, but never came to be due to a number of practical and business issues.

Now, new artwork for the game has emerged on art community website ArtStation showing what the game could have looked liked, courtesy of Thomas Szakolczay, who worked on the game. Along with the usual concept art and character renders are a few videos of some of the neon signage from the game. You can find videos and art below, and find more on the ArtStation post.

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To see an early prototype of the game before it was cancelled, check out the video below.

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Test Chamber – Star Wars: Force Arena

Netmarble's new take on Star Wars has many of the classic characters from the epic universe, including Rogue One heroes and villians, and even things like Grand Admiral Thrawn. The mobile "microRTS" meshes elements of MOBAs and Clash Royale to form a lane-pushing battle royale packed with many iconic vehicles and units. With packs to crack and battles occurring in both 1v1 and 2v2, there's force flying everywhere.

Join Daniel Tack and Andrew Reiner as they Boba Fett and Princess Leia through a few matches in this fast-paced version of Star Wars.

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For more Test Chamber, click the banner below, or check out our hub.

 

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Science-Fiction Weekly – Star Wars: Episode VIII, Rebels, Thor: Ragnarok

This week's editorial is starting on a strange note, but I feel it's something we all need to discuss. I'm beginning to think movie director Zack Snyder has homed in on my childhood and wants to destroy everything that I loved. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is one of the worst movies I have ever watched. I'm not exaggerating here. I struggled to get through it, and wondered how a film could miss the mark by such a wide degree, especially given we're in the golden age of awesome superhero films. Warner Bros. recently released an image from Snyder's forthcoming Justice League film, and it looks great from this pulled-out angle.

Seeing all of these characters together in a big-budget film is
something I never thought would happen (anything with Aquaman is a long shot, after all). Now let's see what happens when we zoom in on The Flash…

WHAT. THE. F—… Seriously, what in the blazes is going on with this costume design? Are those wires all over his body? It looks like a pile of random parts I'd expect to see at Watto's junkyard. We often joke about video game characters being overly designed with trinkets and scars all over their bodies, but this is just madness. Stop, Zack. Please for the love of all that is nerdy, stop!

Why not update this costume? I still think it looks great.

Or better yet, bring this character (actor, costume, lore, and all) over to the cinematic universe. The CW is doing great things with the DC properties. Tying the two universes together would have been a great way to get the films back on track. Arrow and The Flash are both excellent shows (disclaimer: I haven't watched Supergirl or Legends of Tomorrow yet).

Now let's talk about something that is actually doing well. Star Wars Rebels continues to improve with each passing season, and the latest trailer makes the second part of season three look ridiculously awesome. I won't ruin the surprises for you, but I'm guessing an episode that shows what the Rebels characters were doing during the events of Rogue One and A New Hope isn't too far off. I hope the show goes there, and doesn't end right before either movie. Seeing the Ghost and Chopper in Rogue One makes me think the timelines will intersect. If not, revealing some of the characters are alive and well is a huge spoiler for the end of the series. Check out the trailer below, but avoid viewing it if you aren't caught up on the most recent episodes. Spoilers abound.

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And if you enjoyed that, Lucasfilm released a small clip from from the next episode titled Warhead. I always love seeing new droid types, and this episode looks like it focuses intently on introducing a new robotic being into the Star Wars universe.

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If you were one of the people who wasn't bothered by Rogue One not having an opening text crawl, how do you explain Episode VIII getting one? Lucasfilm hasn't said the movie will have it yet, but has said before that the opening crawl is for the numbered entries in the series. Episode VIII's director, Rian Johnson, confirmed with USA Today that Rey and Luke's confrontation at the end of The Force Awakens would be the beginning point of his film. "I don’t want to skip ahead two years. I want to see the very next moment of what happens," Johnson said. He also pointed out the obvious; the film will focus intently on Rey learning the ways of the Force. So that begs the question: Will the opening text be a recap of The Force Awakens? Will it shed light on different developments occurring at the same time? Or will it simply say "Luke stared intently at Rey…."

The final bit of news I have for you is for Thor: Rangarok, which opens in theaters on November 3. I know we're all eagerly anticipating the release of a trailer (likely attached to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2), but Marvel did give us something just as good: a plot synopsis to ponder. It confirms Hulk is in the film, but in a way you likely wouldn't expect. Here's the plot outline from Marvel:

"Thor is imprisoned on the other side of the universe without his
mighty hammer and finds himself in a race against time to get back to
Asgard to stop Ragnarok – the destruction of his homeworld and the end
of Asgardian civilization – at the hands of an all-powerful new threat,
the ruthless Hela. But first he must survive a deadly gladiatorial
contest that pits him against his former ally and fellow Avenger – the
Incredible Hulk!”

It sounds like Marvel is combining the comic series for Ragnarok and Planet Hulk into one film. That sounds like a bit of a mess, but a fun one that puts war and combat front and center.

Let me know what you think of the news from this week's column. I have an exclusive look at new content from Dreadnought in line for next week's editorial. I'm also hoping to see a few new science-fiction titles during Nintendo's Switch event on Thursday. See you in seven days.

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Top Of The Table – Star Wars: Destiny

As a fictional universe, Star Wars has a lot of fertile ground for exploration by any game creator. With multiple eras, hundreds of characters, and a wealth of storylines to draw on, the challenge becomes finding an angle on the series that feels fresh but still authentic to the source material. Fantasy Flight’s new card and dice game embraces the totality of the Star Wars canon, but more importantly, innovates within the crowded CCG market, offering an accessible and rewarding twist on expectation. 

Fantasy Flight Games led the charge a few years ago away from collectible card games when the company began its popular “Living Card Games” concept, a system that eliminated the blind-purchase element of card games in favor of standardized expansions with designated, non-randomized card sets. Fantasy Flight’s own Star Wars: Destiny eschews that new dynamic, returning to blind boosters as a structure, complete with both the excitement and frustration inherent to the formula. 

In my own tabletop hobby, I’ve rarely been willing to embrace the collectible card game scene for this very reason; blind purchases, and inconsistent decks from player to player, often rub me the wrong way. It’s fair to say that I approached Star Wars: Destiny with a healthy skepticism. 

I’m happy to report that my time with the game has done a lot to assuage my concerns, in part because Star Wars: Destiny is simply so much fun, and feels so different from many of its competitors. The addition of dice adds a new layer of strategy, the integration of the Star Wars theme is uniformly strong, the art is beautiful, and the game is easy to teach and learn.

On its top level, Star Wars: Destiny is a two-person dueling game. Each player brings a customized deck of 30 cards (and their respective dice) to the table. Each player also brings a single Battlefield card into the mix, and one of those cards is selected as the game begins to be the locale for the conflict. Control of the battlefield throughout the game becomes one of the elements of play. Play bounces back and forth between players in quick single-action turns, which constantly gives each player a chance to respond to what’s unfolding on the table. Players aim to defeat all the enemy characters to win, or alternately by completely depleting an opponent’s card supply. 

The aspect of gameplay that most concerned me ended up being the part of Star Wars: Destiny that I liked the most. The dice play is a particular highlight of how everything works, and they are used in a way that plays into the game’s strategic elements, rather than detracting from them. Important cards, like your main characters and weapons, often have a custom die attached to them. Each colored die has distinct pictures and stats, and those potential die results are also shown on the paired card, so you can continually strategize about the possible outcomes of the roll. By activating and exhausting a character/card, you roll all the dice connected to them, but the resulting rolls don’t usually trigger immediately. Instead, your opponent has a chance on their turn to respond to the results of your rolls, potentially altering or eliminating one or more of your die results. 

When your turn rolls back around, you can activate all the dice that share a symbol. For instance, you might be able to inflict two ranged damage on one of your opponent’s characters, or give three shields to your character. In a different situation, you might have a choice to either gain a resource (which lets you play more cards into play), or alternately trigger a special ability on one of your cards already in play. There’s even a die result that lets you turn other dice to a result of your choice. Since you can only activate one effect on each turn, there’s a constant give and take between what dice to trigger and how you counter your opponent.

That challenging choice extends beyond which symbols to activate on your dice, also encompassing the broader selection of which action to take each turn. Resolve some of your dice, or play a card from your hand? Activate a character to roll their dice, or discard a card to reroll all the dice already in your pool? Gameplay moves fast, but one small decision can turn the tide of the fight. Fail to counter a big roll from your opponent, and you can suddenly lose one of your major heroes to a devastating attack. But if you’re forced to constantly play defense, you never get your own cards into play, which can be just as dangerous. 

Beyond the brisk gameplay structure, I also love the way that designers Lukas Litzsinger and Corey Konieczka have layered Star Wars lore and concepts into card effects and die results. Kylo Ren’s “Mind Probe” card deals damage for each card in your opponent’s hand, reflecting the idea that the more knowledge they have, the more damage is done. “Let The Wookiee Win” demands that your opponent either take damage (get their arms torn off) or remove dice from their pool (letting Chewie get the upper hand in the game). When the event card “Disturbance In The Force” deploys, all dice get rerolled to reflect the strange movements of the Force. I often found myself smiling at the way individual cards reflected their place in the broader fiction. 

Rather than limit this initial release of the game (entitled Awakenings, to distinguish itself from subsequent expansions) to one era or movie, we see characters and situations drawn from across the existing canon. New personalities like Poe Dameron and Captain Phasma can show up alongside established heroes and villains like Han Solo or Count Dooku. The art across the Awakenings set of 174 cards (67 of which have dice) is evocative and original, and taps into nostalgic memories that reflect years of film viewing. There’s even nods to the animated properties, like a card for a Nightsister, or a bounty hunter-themed card that depicts Cad Bane.  

I don’t always talk about pricing when examining the games in this column, but given the collectible structure, it’s worth mentioning a bit about what you might be getting yourself into if you decide to give it a shot. The two starter sets (themed around Kylo Ren and Rey) each come with a solid set of 24 cards and 9 dice, and if bought together for the retail price of $ 14.95, is enough to run a great game, even if neither player necessarily has a completely full deck. Subsequent boosters include five cards and a single die related to one of the cards in the pack, and MSRP for those boosters is $ 2.99. 

I spoke with Fantasy Flight about what players can expect out of those boosters, and they shared details about how rarity works in the game. In each pack, three cards will be commons, one will be uncommon, and the last will be either rare or legendary; only rares and legendaries have dice. About one in six packs contains a legendary; big legendary cards like Darth Vader and the Millennium Falcon may take some hunting. 

After opening up a bunch of boosters to supplement my starter decks, I’ve been quite pleased with the flexibility of the customization system, which is easy to grasp and start experimenting with. I had a blast looking for combos of the right lightsaber to match with my General Grievous, or thinking about how I might leverage a TIE fighter to bring down the shields of an opponent who tends toward a strong defensive playstyle. The interdependency of various cards/dice welcomes clever thinking prior to when the match gets started – a must for any collectible game that hopes for longevity. 

Collectible games can be a scary proposition, but I’d encourage Star Wars fans to consider a shot at snagging a couple of Starter Packs, at the very least. The starter game stands strong on its own even without substantial additional investment, and if you do decide to fall down the rabbit hole of additional boosters, this initial Awakenings set offers some great variations and characters to discover. 

That dynamic (and investment) certainly isn’t for everyone. If you’re looking for a more standalone Star Wars game experience, I’d heartily recommend checking out the board game Star Wars: Rebellion, which was such a strong title that it was named as one of our best tabletop games of 2016. You can check out all my tabletop gaming recommendations and articles at the full Top of the Table hub by clicking on the banner below. And if you have any games you’d like to see me tackle in a future column, drop me a line via email or Twitter. 

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Opinion: Star Wars: The Old Republic, five years on

The Old Republic’s latest expansions–Knights of the Fallen Empire and Knights of the Eternal Throne–are vintage Bioware storytelling that are worthy of being given the much-coveted title of KotOR 3. …


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Thousands Of Players Pay Respect To Carrie Fisher In Star Wars: The Old Republic

Yesterday marked the tragic passing of Carrie Fisher, a brilliant writer, activist, and actress also known for playing the character of Princess Leia in the Star Wars franchise. In the short span of time since the news broke, celebrities, fans, and gamers have found ways to pay respect to Fisher.

In Bioware's MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic, countless players are making their way to Alderann's House Organa, which served as Leia's home during the long span of time between episodes III and IV in the series. PC Gamer reports that higher-level players have been battling the NPCs that roam around Alderann so that lower-level players can pay tribute.

Other users are creating video tributes to Fisher, like this one put together by Kerry-Aiden Nobbs:

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On the forums for The Old Republic, players have started a petition asking for a statue for a character resembling Fisher to be erected. Bioware has not yet responded to the petition.

[Source: PC Gamer]

 

Our Take
Fisher's passing made a dark year for celebrity deaths even darker. Still, it's a small comfort to see so many people gathering to pay respects in both the real world and virtual ones. 

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Star Citizen dev drops CryEngine in favor of Lumberyard

Cloud Imperium Games has announced that it will be developing both Star Citizen and Squadron 42 using Amazon’s Lumberyard game engine going forward. …


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Star Citizen Announces Amazon Lumberyard Tech Partnership

Cloud Imperium Games today shared details on the game engine it is using to power its sci-fi projects, Star Citizen and Squadron 42. Amazon Lumberyard is handling the heavy lifting of the games' computation and storage needs (through the Amazon Web Services Cloud).

““We’ve been working with Amazon for more than a year, as we have been looking for a technology leader to partner with for the long term future of Star Citizen and Squadron 42,” says Cloud Imperium CEO Chris Roberts in a press release. The developer praised Amazon Lumberyard for its back-end cloud integration and social capabilities. 

While this is the first public declaration of the partnership, it’s clear that the development studio has been hard at work integrating its games with Amazon Lumberyard, as the upcoming 2.6 alpha release of Star Citizen is said to be utilizing the technology.   

You can learn more about Star Citizen at the game’s official site

 

Our Take
Star Citizen is a massive project, and despite years of development, it’s nowhere near completion. Nonetheless, strong crowd-funded support have carried the game a long way, and concrete news on the game’s tech implementation can’t help but be considered good news for the long term viability of the project. 

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If You Like Rogue One, Try These Star Wars Stories

Star Wars fans flocked to theaters in recent days to see the latest film adventures in their favorite universe. And while Rogue One does a lot to try and enrich the other movies within the canon, it’s safe to say that its focus on espionage, morally gray characters, and covert military operations communicates a different tone than the other movies in Star Wars lore. 

If that different tone appeals to you, here are several games and stories within the Star Wars universe that you owe it to yourself to discover.  

Star Wars: Edge of the Empire and Age of Rebellion
Format: tabletop RPGs

Fantasy Flight Games could hardly have crafted a role-playing game that does a better job of capturing what works about Rogue One, even though both games have been out for a couple of years now. Part of a linked and cross-compatible series of RPGs, these books each present aspects of the Star Wars world that  lie along a different trajectory than many Star Wars releases. Edge of the Empire should be your choice if you really like the dark underbelly of the Star Wars universe, typified by smugglers, hidden families on the outer rim of the galaxy, and dark deals in darker corners. Meanwhile, Age of Rebellion focuses on the conflict between the Rebel Alliance and Empire, and the ongoing conflict between these two asymmetrically matched forces. In each case, smartly crafted rules and a great core dice mechanic maintain the flavor of Star Wars, but also provide hours of freeform storytelling for creative friends.

Star Wars: Dark Forces
Format: video game

Looking for a trip back in time for Star Wars video games? Consider checking out Dark Forces, an early and fondly remembered entry for Star Wars games that stepped away from the expected characters and situations. The 1995 games finds a mercenary named Kyle Katarn working for the Rebellion and uncovering a plot surrounding some powerful new Strormtroopers being created by the Empire. While the graphics and gameplay are primitive by today’s standards, the game is a showcase for the ways in which video games began exploring this bleaker corner of Star Wars storytelling decades before Rogue One’s release.  

Star Wars Rebels
Format: animated TV show

If you’re a Star Wars fan and you’re not already watching Star Wars Rebels, you’re missing out. The excellent CGI animated show may be ostensibly targeted to kids, but it’s also a rich repository of lore about the early days of the Rebel Alliance. Primarily focused on a specific ship crew of rebellious heroes, the story grows more nuanced and character-driven with each passing season. Like in Rogue One, we see the lead characters facing tough choices about how to exist in a world locked down by an authoritarian regime, and the ways that life can tempt anyone into darkness. 

Star Wars: Imperial Assault
Format: board game

This stellar tabletop board game pits a crack team of rebel operatives against the teeming hordes of Imperial Stormtroopers in the days after the fall of the first Death Star. One player controls the Empire, while the other players work together to survive one of several story-based encounter scenarios. The game plays out on a modular tile-based board with some gorgeous miniatures to help enliven the skirmish action. A forthcoming mobile app also aims to remove the need for an adversary player, letting all players enjoy the game as a fully cooperative adventure. 

Star Wars: Legacy Volume 2
Format: comic book

The recent retrofit of Star Wars canon means that many great stories have been relegated to “Legends” status, without any direct links to the accepted story being told in the movies. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some of the amazing expanded universe content that came before that shift. The Legacy comic books explored an interesting premise, leaping forward more than a hundred years after the end of Return of the Jedi. In the second volume, the resourceful Ania Solo takes the stages.  She’s a descendant of Han and Leia who starts the series running a junkyard on a backwater planet. While lightsabers and big galactic affairs do figure into the story, the focus on characters without powers trying to survive a rough hand they’ve been dealt echoes the vibe of Rogue One. 

Star Wars: X-Wing Series
Format: novel

The expanded universe of Star Wars novels is challenging to wade through. A few of the stories are standout successes, while others really fail to hit the mark. If Rogue One’s coordinated rebel squadron attacks got you excited, you might get a big kick out of the X-Wing novels, particularly the first four, written by Michael A. Stackpole (Rogue Squadron, Wedge’s Gamble, The Krytos Trap, and The Bacta War). The focus is squarely on mid-air/space dogfights, and the camaraderie between the members of a fighter squadron, and they provide a glimpse at the actions fought by the military arm of the Rebellion, even while other heroes are off fighting Darth Vader in lightsaber duels. 

 

What other grittier takes on the Star Wars universe are among your favorites? Share your picks in the comments below. 

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Science-Fiction Weekly – Ranking The Star Wars Films

My original plan for this week’s column was to review Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, but I decided to shift gears after a number of people on social media asked me where I thought this new prequel ranked among the other Star Wars movies. There are technically 12 Star Wars films to consider for this list, but if we throw out the garbage (the Holiday Special and Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure), stick to the live-action format (which knocks The Clone Wars off), and remove The Battle for Endor since it was only on television (but was decent), that leaves us with eight solid entries. Don’t roll your eyes – I said “solid” not “good.”

Before I dive into the ranking that you are about to tear to shreds, I want to point out that I appreciate elements of each of these films. They all strengthen the core Star Wars story in their own unique ways. The Phantom Menace is a movie most people mock for Jar Jar Binks, but without it we wouldn’t have gotten Darth Maul or that awesome scene where Qui-Gon Jinn melts a metal door with his lightsaber. Return of the Jedi delivers one of the coolest space battles in all of cinema, but also a fight in which the Empire is trounced (handily even) by tiny bears.

Additionally, film technology evolves at a rapid rate, and each Star Wars film embraces it for good and bad. Rogue One’s visual effects are top tier, with the exception of a couple of CGi characters who may look worse than anything in Attack of the Clones (let’s debate this in a future column).

All of these things come into play in my ranking, but I’m mostly weighing my picks on the impact they had on me, both when I originally viewed them and today. As always, I appreciate your feedback in the comments section below, but above all else, would love to see your ranking of the films. Without further delay, on to the list…

8. Episode II: Attack of the Clones

While establishing the foundation and tone of the excellent Clone Wars animated series, Attack of the Clones is a mess of a story, struggling mightily to tie a large-scale, green-screen war to a chemistry-free love story. George Lucas has a knack for strong beginnings, and Attack of the Clones is no different with its excellent (and clever) assassination attempt on Queen Amidala via space centipedes. The film quickly unravels from here, but does give us a great look at Coruscant in the process. The sequences that follow are shockingly bad: a bug army, Jedi looking foolish while battling the bug army, Amidala starring in a platforming game, C-3PO losing his head, "I don't like sand. It's coarse and rough and irritating and it gets
everywhere," and floating fruit. Oh god. Make it stop! The bombardment of awful is constant, but there is some good stuff amid the blasts. Jango Fett, Count Dooku (terrible name, great character), Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi's playful chemistry, senator Palpatine, every second on Kamino, and less Jar Jar Binks. Attack of the Clones is easily the worst Star Wars film, but there's still a wealth of great content for fans to appreciate.

7. Episode I: The Phantom Menace

I don't think there's much debating Star Wars' lowest point: Jar Jar Binks. This wacky abomination of CGi completely derails the story when he is introduced. Would the film have been better without him? Absolutely, but the narrative would still suffer from odd logic. Journeying through the center of the planet to reach Queen Amidala's palace makes little sense, and Lucas ended up putting too much emphasis on a kid being able to do amazing things. The podracing bit was cool character building for Anakin (which would be infinitely better without the announcers), but watching him win the space battle was cringe worthy. Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon Jinn were fantastic, as were Darth Maul and Palpatine. The Phantom Menace is a rocky ride through a fascinating (and beautiful) new era of the Star Wars universe. Lucas had the right idea; the story just got away from him.

6. Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

I went into this film expecting Darth Vader to be the best part, but he ended up being the worst. It was the "Nooooooo" heard around the world, and it was terrible. Outside of this one moment, and that often horrible prequel CGi, Revenge of the Sith is a respectable Star Wars film. I'll even get the hyperbole train rolling by saying Order 66 is one of Lucas' biggest successes as a director. That particular sequence is beautifully shot, and the story it tells is as dark as Star Wars gets. Palpatine's seduction of Anakin to the Dark Side is also disturbingly good. The big payoff of Anakin versus Obi-Wan is exciting and captured nicely in a few moments, but sadly suffers from a need to focus on the environment for goofy action. The film ended the way it needed to, with great, little moments showing the Skywalker twins and Anakin transforming into Vader. On a different day, I may say Revenge of the Sith should be in the five spot instead of Return of the Jedi, but not today. Gasp all you want, but these films are neck and neck, in my opinion. Here's why…

5. Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

The picture above brings back a flood of awesome memories from Return of the Jedi. Luke, Vader, and the Emperor are electrifying. I didn't want those scenes to end, but they did, and Lucas and company knocked them out of the park. I couldn't think of a better way to conclude this saga. The redemption of Vader is beautifully told, unlike the rest of the film. Yes, I love the visualization of Jabba's Palace and Endor as a battleground, but even as a little lad, I had issues with the events at hand. The Rebels send their top brass into Jabba's Palace one by one to save Han Solo…really? Why not send a trained assassin instead of Leia? As much as I love the idea of Ewoks eating humans for lunch, they took the punch out of the final battle. The Empire looked silly going against them. It was almost like two movies were playing at once; a dark story on the Death Star, and a goofy one on the moon. People say Lucas lost his touch of Star Wars with the prequels, but I think it started in Return.

4. Episode VII: The Force Awakens

I loved The Force Awakens. Loooooved it. Sure, we can criticize it for having a similar story arc to A New Hope. J. J. Abrams went too far with the love-letter approach. Most of the content that doesn't fall under that umbrella is new, exciting, and damn good. Rey, Finn, Poe…what an ensemble! Each brings something different to Star Wars. I'm also a huge fan of Kylo Ren and Snoke. They specialize in a different kind of evil, and I can't wait to see where it goes. The Force Awakens is a film I periodically reflect on, mostly because it brings mystery back to Star Wars. Who are Rey's parents? What is Snoke up to? Why did Luke leave? Even side characters like Maz Kanata are brimming with intrigue. Remove the Starkiller Base angle, and that feeling of "I've been here before" would largely be gone.

3. Episode ?: Rogue One

I know, I'm just as surprised as you are. When I first heard Lucasfilm was making a prequel movie about the Rebels who stole the Death Star plans, I thought it was a terrible idea. Although the story ends exactly how we all expected it would, director Gareth Edwards turns it into an enthralling and action-packed affair. The battle scenes are intense, dark, and exactly what I wanted to see as a huge Star Wars fan. Lose the camp. Make the battles have impact, just like the Battle of Hoth. Edwards nailed this tone. Rogue One is a fine story on its own, with a wonderful cast of characters, but its biggest success is how it makes me appreciate A New Hope more. I also view that film differently now. Rogue One doesn't shy away from painting the Rebels as terrorists capable of evil acts. The only thing I would change: Pull the camera back from the CG characters. They looked like they belonged in Shrek more than Star Wars.



2. Episode IV: A New Hope

Should A New Hope be number one? I debate this question all of the time. When it comes to stories that embrace good-versus-evil or David-versus-Goliath tones, A New Hope is a towering success. You can't help but root for Luke and the Rebel Alliance. Within the first act, Lucas did a phenomenal job of establishing evil, and making it seem like all was lost. Our only hope was a farm boy, an old man, a princess, and a scoundrel and his wookiee friend. Vader emerged as the ultimate bad guy, using a mystical art with precision to kill his enemies and even his own people. The journey that unfolded was exciting and unique, and filled with suspense and unexpected surprises. It's the perfect film that somehow was bested by a film that wasn't quite as good.

1. Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

That's right, The Empire Strikes Back is worse than A New Hope, but is still the best Star Wars film to date. How is this possible? The storytelling evolved. What began as a tale of hope turned into a story of no hope. Lucas flipped the script on his heroes, but still managed to grow them as characters. Luke went off on his own to explore a gift from his father. Leia and Han began falling in love. The biggest change of all, Lucas humanized Darth Vader with one line of dialogue: "I am your father." The Empires Strikes Back kicked off with an exciting battle on Hoth, but slowed significantly to develop its characters. It wasn't as high octane or as much of a spectacle as its predecessor, but the decision to change the tone payed off handsomely, making The Empire Strikes Back a masterpiece, the kind of which we rarely see.

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