Attack of the Fanboy
E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo)

Star Wars 1313 Eyes on Preview

by William Schwartz


LucasArts’ presentation for Star Wars 1313 didn’t show much, but what it did was borderline jaw-dropping. In short, the gameplay demonstration (which, it should be noted is still very much in pre-production) pretty much encompasses what next generation games will look like. The lighting, physics, particle effects and rendering looked roughly on par with the CGI we see in many of the films developed by Industrial Light and Magic.

…much of the character interaction comes through expression, not dialogueSet in the planet Coruscant’s underground (level 1313 to be precise. There are evidently 5000 levels and 1313 is closer to the planet’s core) where the player takes on the role of a bounty hunter, the identity of which is currently unknown, who gets attacked by an unknown enemy that is out to recapture the protagonist’s latest bounty. The details on the narrative are still under wraps and are likely able to change between now and the game’s release.

The presentation itself began with a behind the scenes vidoc of the game and the developer where key members of the team shared their hopes and experiences with the game as well as the technology behind it all. The vidoc focused particularly on showcasing the game’s motion capture and animation. Done in the same style as James Cameron’s Avatar, the actors’ performances have been fully captured and recorded with excellent detail. As producer Peter Nicolai had explained, much of the character interaction comes through expression, not dialogue. And it shows; characters’ faces move quite realistically, down to the very wrinkles in their foreheads.

Being LucasArts’ first ever Mature-themed title, the team wanted to express that through the game’s art style. It’s not all flowers and sunshine; in fact, it’s quite dark, rusted and industrial. Actually, all you have to do is envision Coruscant from the Star Wars prequels and think “dirtier” and you’re pretty much there. Despite being a plethora of graphical amazement, it just flat out isn’t “pretty”. It makes you feel like this game is dark while still being somewhat varied and detailed. I personally loved it…

…this game is going to be for next generation systems…The demo ran on pc, using a graphics card made specifically for this presentation by NVIDIA. This is how we know this game is going to be for next generation systems, for sure. Not even the highest end pc hardware on the market today could pull this off in real time. At above 30 fps no less! The rendered human hair almost puts Epic’s Samaritan video to shame, the fire effects look pretty close what we’ve seen in virtually every ILM film since 2002 (at least), textures were at a very high resolution, and the cloth physics were impeccable. Not to bash Epic’s work though; this game actually looks to be running on either a very heavily modified version of Unreal Engine 3 or an early prototype version of Unreal Engine 4, according to a quick glimpse of a developer’s computer screen showing what looks like the Unreal Editor in the vidoc.

In terms of gameplay, it’s essentially what you would expect from your average third person shooter: elaborate cover system, some nice hand to hand combat mechanics, and even platforming that is more reminiscent of Uncharted. It didn’t seem to be a very good demonstration of the overall gameplay, but considering how the game is still in very early stages of development, it’s not surprising that this would be more of a tech demo than anything else. Still, it would have been nice to see some more “Star Wars bounty hunter-esque” combat instead of the basic – shoot. cover. shoot. melee take down. platform. shoot. cut scene.

…there will be NO Quick Time Events, at all.That being said, it should be noted that the producers wanted to make it VERY clear that 1.) this game will have NO Quick Time Events, at all. PERIOD. And 2.) that there will never be a moment where something happens in a cutscene that the player would rather play themselves. So in other words, you’ll never watch your character fight for you in a cut scene; anything that can be played, will be. That’s nice to hear, hopefully LucasArts sticks to it.

All in all, Star Wars 1313 looks to certainly more than ‘just a little interesting’. It’s shaping up to be one of our earliest glimpses into next generation gaming and it’s looking quite nice. Hopefully the final product will be able to live up to the initial presentation’s hype and that we will get to see some more gameplay that screams “This is a Star Wars game and nothing else!”. Platforms and a release date for the game have not been revealed, although it is safe to say that it will be no earlier than a very late 2013 and will likely appear on at least PC. Keep your eyes peeled…

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