Following the lackluster reaction to LucasArts' Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 (not to mention Kinect Star Wars), many fans of the "Galaxy Far Far Away" had begun to question when they'd get another shot at a mature action-adventure experience set in the beloved universe of Jedi's and Sith Lords. While the Star Wars faithful may have to wait awhile for another Jedi-centric title, as we reported days ago, LucasArts is readying one of their most ambitious projects to date - a rich cinematic third-person action game, Star Wars 1313, which will place gamers in the shoes of an up-and-coming bounty hunter (who, depending on who you ask, may or may not be the iconic Boba Fett).
We had a chance to meet-up with the Star Wars 1313 development team at E3 2012 for a closed-door sneak peek at the game in action - and, needless to say, the footage shown was extremely encouraging.
Not only does Star Wars 1313 look to once again put LucasArts front and center in the games industry, the studio is paving the way for an entirely new form of collaboration between developers and filmmakers - enlisting the assistance of Hollywood (and Star Wars franchise) staples: Skywalker Sound, Lucasfilm Animation, and ILM. The Lucasfilm subsidiaries aren't just consulting on the project either, they are each heavily involved in every stage of the game's development - resulting in one of the most ambitious collaborations in gaming history.
During the presentation, ILM representatives showcased some of the technology used to capture performances for the game's current character leads. The Star Wars 1313 mocap rig - which captures detailed facial expressions, full-scale body movement, and high-fidelity audio simultaneously - allows the animation team to create some of the most lifelike characters that players will, likely, have ever seen in-game. While the demoed characters are subject to change - the animations, coupled with the intriguing Coruscant backdrop, look to provide one of the most immersive Star Wars experiences in gaming history.
Much of our demo was featured in the recent Star Wars 1313 gameplay reveal but, in context, the moment-to-moment action, coupled with enjoyable character banter, was captivating and representative of the staple Star Wars brand entertainment at its best (i.e. crass Han Solo-like one-liners not goofy Jar Jar Binks-style physical comedy). Based on the footage that was shown, the gameplay itself is close to an Uncharted-like third-person cover-based shooter with climbing elements. In fact, anyone who enjoyed the "train ascension" set-piece in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves would be right at home with action-climbing scene that was shown. Gun work also takes cues from similar cover-based shooter titles - and includes melee attacks for close-quarter combat.
As mentioned before, while LucasArts promises a deep and immersive story - one that plumbs the depths of the infamous subterranean Coruscant levels - plot and character details are still tightly under wraps. However, while they're not ready to reveal the intricacies of the narrative and its subsequent players, the developers wanted gamers to be clear about their goals for the project:
- Provide an engrossing play experience as a lethal bounty hunter.
- Challenge gamers to survive in one of the most hostile and seedy locales in the Star Wars universe.
- Present the excitement of the Star Wars galaxy via a playable cinematic experience.
According to the team, Star Wars 1313 varies from prior games in the franchise by focusing on the shady underworld of bounty hunters instead of "Force"-powered Sith Lords and Jedi's. LucasArts is seeking to create a more mature experience - which means trading-in the buzz and whir of lightsaber battles for gritty gun and grenade play. The demo was limited in terms of weapon variety, with only brief exchanges of basic blaster fire, but LucasArts promises that players will get to utilize (and face-off against) a variety of bounty hunter gadgetry. That said, no matter which weapon a player is wielding - the result is expected to be somewhat bloody as Star Wars 1313 is set to be "Rated M."
It'll be interesting to see what reveals are on the horizon (we've been told more details will be unveiled "very soon") but, based on the E3 footage, should LucasArts be able to make-good on all the ambitious ideas in Star Wars 1313, fans could be in for one of the most rewarding action experiences in the franchise.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for further updates on Star Wars 1313 as well as other movie, TV, and gaming news.
Star Wars 1313 is in pre-production and does not yet have an official release date.