Saturday, June 9, 2012

E3: Star Wars 1313

This year's E3 was a bit light on triple-A game announcements. STAR WARS 1313 was a notable exception. That might seem odd, given the vast quantity of medicore-to-terrible STAR WARS products that have come out over the past 5 years. There have been a few notable gaming exceptions: the two KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC games, for one, and their MMORPG successor for another. But yeah, most STAR WARS products released since 1999 seem to exist only to soil the memory of the glorious original trilogy of films. So what about this one? As per IGN:
LucasArts isn't revealing much at this point, but we do know the basics on 1313's setting. It takes place between the trilogies, and is set on level 1313 of the Imperial capital, Coruscant. Coruscant has over 5,000 levels, and 1313 is a part of the planet's underworld, a seedy place full of criminals and lawlessness. The setting itself has never been delved into all that deeply in the girth of Star Wars novels, but LucasArts hopes that this will provide an appropriate stage to tell a mature Star Wars narrative.

While LucasArts wouldn't rule out a "Mature" rating for 1313, the team is definitely not trying to toss in gratuitous gore to make sure you're shocked into paying attention, either. No one was ever dismembered or disemboweled during the short demo, and the lead character never tossed out swear words as he reloaded or beat down an enemy. This isn't the black and white portrayal of Star Wars set up by the films or cartoons, but a complicated world where the "good" and "bad" people tend to be harder to discern. LucasArts wants 1313's maturity to come across in its themes, in the way it tackles heavy moments, and presents a darker side of the Star Wars universe -- expect more Mos Eisley cantina, less Ewok village.

That sounds good. That sounds really, really good. But, of course, you need more than a cool setting and shades-of-gray morality to make a really compelling game. One thing you won't have to worry about, it seeems, are the production values. According to Game Informer, the high production values on display stem from a collaboration between the developers and LucasArts' famous film and effects studios:
From a development perspective, 1313's most surprising feature is the group of people working on the project. Ostensibly a collaboration between LucasArts, LucasFilm, Industrial Light & Magic, and Skywalker Sound, there are tremendous resources at play in bringing the game to fruition. 1313 is described as a meeting point between tense action/shooting and harrowing platforming. It's a description that would fit well onto games like Uncharted, and we suspect this isn't the first or last time people will compare the two games.
How about gameplay in the E3 demo?
The firefight that ensues on board the ship is a familiar mix of cover based shooting and occasional melee exchanges. With the ship they're on about to crash, the elder bounty hunter evens the odds. Flinging an enemy combatant and a thermal detonator into an escape pod, he launches the pod into the enemy ship, resulting in an impressive conflagration.
See for yourself: