For millions, the phrase “new Star Wars IP” is a trigger. It sets a hype train in motion more powerful and destructive than you could possibly imagine. LucasArts stems the tide of chaos by carefully revealing select few details, which only compounds the mystery. Amidst the rumors and discussion of its intended console generation, we actually only have a handful of facts, which leaves me feeling rather silly when I stop and think about just how excited I am to taste something fresh from the Lucas-verse. It’s not so much the game itself that appeals, but rather the idea that we’re going to have a new adventure devoid of Jedi. Don’t get me wrong, the force is great and all, but we’ve all secretly hungered for something along the lines of the GameCube’s Bounty Hunter for years.
It seems like that’s almost exactly what we’re going to get with Star Wars 1313. Here’s what we know so far.
This is LucasArts’ first foray into the “mature” genre with Star Wars. We’re going to follow a yet-to-be-named bounty hunter down into the depths of Coruscant’s infamous Level 1313, a den of villainy and vicious criminals. It’s a massive effort combining the artistic and technical forces across multiple Lucas studios, including ILM, LucasFilm, and Skywalker Sound. The game will focus primarily on third person, cover-based combat with some platforming elements. The motion capture technique used to create these characters is very similar to James Cameron’s method behind Avatar, which has led to what is perhaps the single most stunning game I have ever laid eyes on.
Unfortunately, the list of unknowns is much larger. We don’t know who our protagonist is, and while Boba Fett’s name has cropped up time and time again on account of his nature as a bounty hunter and use of the clone trooper designation CT-1313 (in the expanded universe, not canon universe according to Lucas). We don’t know what consoles this game is intended for, which means we’re most likely looking at a game bound for systems that haven’t even been invented yet. We don’t know names, motivations, or even time periods (though we can assume that this takes place either during or after the Galactic Civil War based on the presence of tie fighters and a lamda-class shuttle.)
Right now, Star Wars 1313 is an enigma wrapped in a mystery. Luckily, I was able to get behind closed doors at E3 and peel away a bit of that mystique… for a very short period of time.
We were led into a viewing room that very closely resembled the interior of a Star Tours theater, with screens on the ceiling and walls set up to mimic a ship descending to Coruscant’s core. First, we watched the “making-of” featurette, which I’m fairly certain was longer than the demo itself, but I wasn’t exactly timing anything. When the actual gameplay footage appeared, I was quite literally awed by the photo-realism of what I was seeing. The cinematics were playing out in real-time, nothing had been pre-rendered, yet it carried on impossibly smooth. That level of excellence never wavered, even as exposition turned into action and our main character entered combat. Two bounty hunters are en route to Level 1313 with an incarcerated victim in tow. During their descent, they’re attacked and boarded by droids intent on stealing the boxed-up baddie. At this time, we’re told that this particular protagonist is a stand-in, which left me feeling somewhat deflated. While I respected LucasArt’s intent to maintain the integrity of the mystery (I’m a sucker for big reveals), it’s awfully difficult to care about someone in mortal peril when you know they’re not going to exist in a few months.
The scene carried out with a firefight inside the blown-out hull of their ship. The bass was heavy, lighting – abysmal. Everything about the scene conveyed grit and darkness. Our hero ducked behind crates, taking cover while blaster fire filled the room. The hud is downplayed, almost non-existent. All the while, I couldn’t help but be blown away by the fluidity of each character’s movements and the depth of the textures. Their faces were so realistic that it was far too easy to believe I was looking at live actors. The only weak point is in the eyes. While every other feature articulates well, characters’ eyes don’t seem to convey any of the emotion that the rest of their features do. It’s a minor gripe, but was noticeable enough to warrant pause.
Our hero escapes the hull after blasting his way through some droids, cycling through various weapons as we’re shown the variety we can look forward to. The emphasis in 1313 is on the gear and the gadgets. Without the force, a bounty hunter has to find other effective means to quell their prey. We’re going to get that experience and from what I saw, we’re not going to be missing those midichlorians. The firefight ends with our heroes victorious and we’re led to some platforming as our characters jump from flying shrapnel to a deteriorating wing. It seems tedious, tense, and completely gasp-worthy when a beam falls off and we’re suddenly left without a support to hold onto. The demo ends mid-action and we’re left wondering “what the hell was that and when can I have it?”
Despite the lack of an identifiable main character or concrete plot, the mere thought of being able to experience a brand new entry in the Star Wars universe is undeniably enticing. While I hope with all my heart that we’re introduced to an original protagonist and spared the overplayed sob story that is Boba Fett, there’s just too much good going on here to overlook this.
Let’s face it: we’re all still hurting from the blows dealt by the new trilogy, and the Clone Wars cartoon series isn’t doing anything to aid the healing process. Star Wars Kinect. Really? I’m ready to put my hope in Star Wars 1313, not just because this universe can’t get any more warped and ruined, but because the intent behind 1313 is already far more promising than anything else:
There is no force. There are no jedi here.
Hell yes, grab your blaster and let’s do this.