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Thursday, 26 November 2015

Editorial: The 5 Best Star Wars Characters.

Editorial: The 5 Best Star Wars

'Tis, apparently, Star Wars season, with Star Wars: Battlefront having just been released, The Force Awakens coming out in just a few weeks, and Star Wars: Rebels currently in the midst of airing its second series.

In celebration of that, here's a list of the five best Star Wars characters, in my opinion - which, as we all know, is the best opinion. Spoilers here for various Expanded Universe things. 

5. Myn Donos, Wraith Squadron books. 

I know, he looks like David Mitchell.

A character from the Wraith Squadron books, Myn is a former rising star of the New Republic military who is left traumatised after his entire squadron is killed, and ends up shunted into Wedge Antilles' and Wes Janson's titular squad of pilot-commandos who can't get an assignment anywhere else.

Myn's ongoing struggle with his PTSD is one of the principle story arcs of the Wraith Squadron books, and it's handled with a surprising amount of delicacy, with Myn being one of the most engaging characters in the ragtag group - certainly more engaging than viewpoint-character Kell, at least. 

Like most of the Wraith Squadron characters, Myn stopped being used almost at all after the series ended, but there were brief mentions of him and his love interest setting up a transport company in later stories, so that's nice.

4. Kreia, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II.

Kreia, an elderly blind woman who's a big fan of Ayn Rand audiobooks, is probably the oddest party companion to ever show up in a Western RPG. She's one of the earliest companions you get in Knights of the Old Republic II, and while nobody really likes her, everybody's interested in her.

For starters, Kreia is a nigh-unpleasable hardline objectivist who wastes no time in deciding to turn you, a poor beleaguered war criminal, into her own personal model of the perfect Jedi/Sith/weapon to murder the Force with. As the game goes on, you are treated to more and more of Kreia's antics, as she manipulates your companions into arguing with each other, guides your old friends down the path to the Dark Side, and plays the villains like a fiddle - all totally unbeknownst to your actual character, meaning that there isn't really anything you can do about it.

Much of Kreia's character, such as what on earth prompted her to try to kill the Force (she'll explain, at length, but without really saying anything), why she's search a massive racist, and most of the details about her backstory, would be left unclear by the end of the - admittedly horribly incomplete - game, but that only serves to make Kreia more fascinating. Who are you, Kreia? What did(n't) you see?

3. Scorch, Star Wars: Republic Commando.

Scorch is on the far right.

Republic Commando is a slightly bland squad-based FPS game that puts you in the shows of a clone special forces unit during that whole civil war thing that's going on in the prequels, along with your loyal squad, who are pretty much always providing background chatter on your shared communications channel.

One of those squadmates is Scorch, played by Raphael Sbarge (who shows up elsewhere in Star Wars videogamedom as Carth Onasi in Knights of the Old Republic) your wise-cracking, childish demolitions expert. While Scorch is just generally a fun character, bringing comedy into what could otherwise have been a very boring game indeed, it's his development over the course of the game that stands out.

You know what they say, if you have to break down one of your core cast and turn them into an angry, resentful ball of issues, it may as well be the most happy one of the lot - which is exactly what happens to Scorch, as he starts off as a happy-go-lucky scamp before the Republic's unfortunate attitudes towards clones, the horrors of war, and having to abandon his brother and squad-mate Sev all lead his character to take a much darker turn.

He eventually goes on to become an Imperial stormtrooper in the 501st Legion, which watchful players will recall is Darth Vader's personal legion, and which gets mostly wiped out at a later date.

2. Wes Janson, Rogue Squadron & Wraith Squadron books/comics.

Wes Janson does show up in the films for about three seconds, but he's probably best known for his appearances in the Rogue Squadron and Wraith Squadron stories, penned variously by Michael Stackpole and Aaron Allston. 

Wedge Antilles' right hand man, Wes is a clown who would rather tell terrible jokes than get into any kind of fight, with a hidden ruthless streak a mile wide - which is basically my favourite type of character. He's popular enough that, along with Wedge himself, he's been in nearly every Rogue and Wraith story.

While he's appeared in later books, as an old yet sprightly man in the Allston-penned Legacy novels, it seems he's mostly been retired as a character now - which given that the Star Wars expanded universe is slowly dying a death and probably all getting retconned anyway, may be no bad thing.

1. Darth Vader, Pretty Much Everything.

Of course Darth Vader was going to end up at the top of this list. The guy is the most iconic Star Wars character ever created, and probably about fifty percent of the reason the original films were even successful.

While the less said about Anakin Skywalker - who's so different to Vader that they really do come off like two entirely separate characters - the better, Vader is an ominous and intimidating villain, and a surprisingly layered one at that, with writers on the Expanded Universe taking what we're shown of him in the films and working with it, building on his internal conflict, his treatment of his men, and his views on Palpatine.

It's probably safe to say that, unlike most of the characters on this list, Darth Vader will never wane in popularity - which might be a problem, because it is definitely possible to have too much of a good thing.

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