previews\ Jun 6, 2012 at 11:53 am

E3 2012: Star Wars 1313 preview

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When Star Wars 1313 was first announced I heard the groans around me.

“There has never been a good bounty hunter game for Star Wars,” they said to me.  While that may be true, I still had faith in LucasArts’ upcoming cinematic shooter.  There was just something about it, maybe the “mature” rating, a first for Star Wars games, which makes this game feel like a breath of fresh air for a franchise that seems to be milked dry of late. 

How many games are we going to have where you harness Jedi powers?  How many more times can we play games where Force Push is the big special move?  We’ve had game after game where you play as Jedi or Sith and perform nonstop acrobatic moves and engage in lightsaber duels.  How much longer can Star Wars games rely on that?  That’s just it, it can’t.  And Star Wars 1313 provides the perfect change this franchise needs so desperately.

Star Wars 1313 takes you deep below the planet of Coruscant to level 1313, an underworld filled with crime and deceit that makes it the perfect place for criminals and bounty hunters alike. The setting alone is a nice change of pace.  It’s an environment never before explored in a Star Wars game that allows for the mature tone.  It’s also an environment free of Jedi powers.  In Star Wars 1313 you have the gadgets and wits to take down the opposing forces.

During the tech demo at E3, LucasArts was very secretive about their new game.  They opted to keep the story and even the characters a mystery, so much so that they relied on character models designed specifically for this demo. 

With everything a mystery, they threw us right into the game – in the near beginning as the two main characters descend into Level 1313.  The mature tone was noticeable immediately.  The colors were darker, the conversations and characters more serious. 

Star Wars 1313

What stood out to me was just how polished the game looked, even with it being in very early production.  The game has a very cinematic feel to it with the cutscenes and gameplay transitioning almost seamlessly.  The preview began with a fantastic looking CGI intro showing a brief overview of the planet in typical Star Wars fashion.  You know, the kind that shows the planet’s surface and ships flying through the buildings.

After a short clip showing the two main characters descend into the depths of Coruscant, the “scrap metal” was bombarded by an enemy ship, for reasons that remain unclear.  The game transitioned from cinematic to gameplay without so much of a pause and soon we were in the mix.

Star Wars 1313

The game looked to play as your typical third-person cover-based shooter.  The debris formed from the explosions created your cover which you could duck behind while popping up to shoot enemies.  One thing that surprised me was reloading a blaster; I was never aware they used ammunition.  A small nitpick, in what otherwise looked like solid gameplay.

After some standard cover-based shooting gameplay, we got to an interesting part that reminded me a lot of something you’d see from an Uncharted game.  The ship, now destroyed, served as platforms for the character to leap to and from.  Leaping over gaping holes, jumping onto unstable pipes which would fall randomly, the character made his way across the destroyed ship. What really made it impressive was how fluid it all looked. As the player would leap, parts of the ship would collapse and he would seamlessly react to it.

Star Wars 1313 screenshot

If there is one thing to take away from the Star Wars 1313 tech demo, it’s that LucasArts is placing heavy emphasis on the game’s cinematic approach.  Outside of the game’s impressive visuals, lighting and shadows, it has a movie-like feel to it. From the character modeling to the motion-capturing, which LucasArts has spent much time fine tuning and improving, it felt like I was watching a new Star Wars film.

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