On my E3 schedule for day 3, I was particularly looking forward to what was originally billed as LucasArts' "Secret Game". But sadly it seems that LucasArts aren't very good at keeping secrets as it was announced a week before E3 even started. However while I was disappointed I wouldn't be one of the first to know of its existence, but I was definitely not let down with what I saw with their up-coming Star Wars 1313.
Star Wars 1313 is being described by LucasArts as 'the first ever mature Star Wars game'. Many people might cringe at that reference and it even conjures up imagery of dodgy porno mini-games where you have to 'tend to your Wookie'. But there is no doubt that 1313 takes itself very seriously and will give fans a whole new, gritty and seedy look into the Star Wars Universe.
To show how seriously they're taking it, our presentation was divided into three parts. The first was a look into the massive team and pool of resources working together to create Star Wars 1313. The LucasArts umbrella comprises some of the leading talent in multimedia today, from LucasArts Film through to Skywalker Studios. All of the special effects and audio technology, as well as their enormous graphic and artist crew have been harnessed for the development of this game.
Dave Smith, one of the Lead Artists at LucasArts spoke about this challenge and reward of creating a video game as opposed to a film experience. He described real-time action as new territory when compared to film and that getting such a high level of detail and interactivity through-out required pooling together all of the different division's talent. Already, in early gameplay footage, it looks like this billion dollar team effort is paying off.
1313 is set in the criminal underworld of the Star Wars universe. The name refers to the seedy and dangerous city located thousands of levels below the planet of Coruscant. Here, miles below the surface, there are no Jedi and no signs of the Force. Instead the place is inhabited by the homeless, greedy criminals and just basic scum who have been removed from society of the upper levels.
While the lead character hasn't been revealed yet (instead the model was replaced with a stock character for demo purposes), you will live the life of a desperate, but complex bounty hunter in a ruthless galaxy. With no mention of the force, the expected weapons of lightsabers and force lightning have been replaced with gadgets and the iconic toolset of a bounty hunter along the lines of Boba Fett. Your blaster will be your main weapon and the third-person shooter will rely heavily on cover-shoot combat as well as brutal melee attacks and death-defying stunts.
We were shown a live PC demo and the game looks absolutely mouth-watering. The graphics are rich, deep with iconic Star Wars imagery and featured some of the best character modeling I've seen in a video game. Naturally LucasArts' motion-capture technology plays a huge part in the realistic animations and the voice acting is equally brilliant.
However despite all of the cinematic influence on the game, the developers were quick to point out that this game does not feature extensive cut-scenes. In fact they said that their motto was, 'if you would rather play it through, we won't make it a cut-scene'. I took this as meaning that the game will be extremely action heavy, with just story-telling aspects told via non-interactive CGI.
The short gameplay experience we saw at E3 was enough to get me excited about 1313. It felt brand new, but strangely reminiscent of old-school Star Wars, packed with no-frills blaster gun-fights and almost clumsy, skin of your teeth combat. There doesn't appear to be any fancy Jedi somersaulting or special moves. Instead the odds seem to be stacked against you. We saw the lead character go up against waves of rival bounty hunters in a fire-fight that culminated with our hero clinging to a burning wreckage of a rapidly descending ship for dear life.
Surprisingly, the live demo did show some noticeable signs of lag (as I assume they had it running on a NASA super computer), but it is early days and the graphics must have been cranked up to a maximum for demonstration purposes. There's no question that 1313 was one of the best looking games on the E3 show-floor. Overall I'm confident that Star Wars fans will want to check this out over the coming months; it's a promising take on a lucrative franchise that could deliver a whole new Star Wars experience in 2013.
NZGamer.com appears at E3 2012 thanks to Orcon Broadband.
The Good: A gritty and dark take on Star Wars
The Bad: No lightsaber action
The Ugly: Occasional lag during the demo