Evolution of the lightsaber

From Atari to PS3, we examine the glowing Jedi poker - shameless knockoffs included

Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast (Xbox, GC, PC/2002)

Baffling title aside, the most curious thing in this sequel to a sequel is its dismemberment code (seen at 0:35). Ever since Obi-Wan sliced off Ponda Baba's arm we've wanted to run through stormtooper hordes with a saber, hacking and slashing them into bits so small even their clone-mothers couldn't identify them. Watch out when it's activated though - enemies are just as capable of taking your arms, legs and head off as you are. It's so sensitive that enemies will fall apart even if lightly brushed with a saber. This highly regarded cheat was left out of Jedi Academy, Outcast's 2003 sequel. Boo!

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (Xbox/2003)

A bit brighter, but overall not a lot's changed from 2001's Obi-Wan. KOTOR gets a nod anyway for cramming every known color and style of lightsaber into its many tactical battles. You want a double-bladed saber? Sure thing. Dual-wield violet sabers like Mace Windu? No problem. It's like a rainbow-colored slaughterhouse.

LEGO Star Wars (Everything/2005)

Kid-friendly slashing is all you get with LEGO sabers, but that's to be expected. Enemies do fall apart as if dismembered though, so that's something.

Republic Commando: Order 66 (Mobile/2005)

If you were dying to see lightsabers converted into a barely visible assemblage of pixel slop, then Order 66 and Grievous Getaway were a personal slice of heaven. Hm, Grievous Getaway sounds like a children's popup book.

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (Multi/2005)

Anakin and Obi-Wan use acrobatic techniques, twirling and spinning the saber like an ornamental dancer. We see a lot of this style in the prequel films, but games had mostly stuck to the slash-stab-slash pattern. Too bad it wasn't as exciting as the exaggerated animations.

Star Wars Battlefront II (Xbox, PS2, PSP, PC/2005)

The first game in this shooter MMO was all about blasters and vehicles. Part two introduced legendary Jedi and Sith characters capable of dishing out intense punishment to the opposing army. It's the best example of how one or two lightsabers can affect a 64-player showdown.

Battlefront II didn't improve on the appearance, but it is the first time you can (briefly) play as General Grievous, the multi-limbed Jedi slayer armed with four stolen lightsabers. Luke, Vader, Yoda, Maul and the ultra-hot Aayla Secura also star.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (Multi/2008)

A new generation of saber waggling begins in a few months. The next-gen versions probably won't stray too far from what we've already seen and played on XB/PS2/GC, but the Wii version does utilizemotion controls for rudimentary dueling. Still no 1:1 control, but your movements will dictate slashing, stabbing and throwing so that's small step above the arcade game from 10 years ago, right? We're not even sure how fun a 1:1 saber game would be; most gamers aren't adept swordsmen, so how can we be expected to engage in intense duels without direction and hours of practice? Anything less and we'd be fighting some really inept enemies.

While we're talking about Force Unleashed, what's with the secret apprentice's Raziel fetish?

Whatever the future holds for lightsaber tech, be it a true dueling simulator or a 50-on-50 online Jedi/Sith massacre, you can bet the knock-offs will keep on coming. To that end, our last page is dedicated to all the would-be lightsabers that litter the gamescape.

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