When I went to E3 this year I knew nothing at all about Star Wars 1313. The first I heard about it was a friend posting on my Facebook to see if I could get some information on it. The next time I noticed it pop up was on a screen as I walked by the G4 stage. I was curious but I wasn’t seeing anything on the show floor and I didn’t think I would end up having access to it at all. For some reason, and it might be that I have a head injury I don’t know about because it wiped out that whole section of memory, I did not put two and two together that my last appointment of the show with Lucasarts might focus on the brand new Star Wars game. I kind of hope that is it and not that I am an idiot. Anyway, the game I didn’t know about coming into the show has turned into one of the games I am most excited for from the show.
Star Wars 1313 is a third person adventure/shooter style game that follows a bounty hunter character down to the 1313 level of the planet Coruscant that has never been seen but is apparently filled with the sort of wretched scum and villainy you would get if you had a vast subterranean city for them all to hang out in. Because you are descending into a savage criminal underworld, the tone is much darker than a lot of Star Wars adventures and the content will cross into mature territory. I am not sure exactly how mature they plan to get but I got the impression that the violence would be pretty extreme down there.
The violence in question will not be carried out with lightsabers and force powers as there are no Jedi in the game. Instead, the character will be using an array of tech equipment and weapons to give him whatever edge he can carve out to try to deal with the dregs of the universe in 1313. The gun battles will play out in a cover and shoot format that looks a bit like Uncharted with up close melee kills mixed in with the pop and shoot action. Similarities in game play with Uncharted don’t seem to stop there as intense and challenging platforming is a major game play element as are big cinematic game play moments that allow you direct control of your character during whatever crazy things are happening. The team reported at the demo that there are no quick time events in the game and everything you play out you play out with direct character control. One of the teams’ mission statements is ‘Never see anything in a cut scene that the player would like to play.’ If this is a directive that they stick to, that is very good news for gamers as the stuff they showed in the demo looked intense and awesome and I would hate to just be sitting on my couch watching it play out. A lot of that is in the videos included in this article so you can see for yourself how awesome the game gets and how intense some of the action is going to be. It looks pretty spectacular.
The game play isn’t the only thing that looks spectacular. The graphical fidelity on this game is absolutely stunning. I am not sure the specs of the PC that the game was running on but the demo looked very clean and clear. Even if it isn’t running on a super high end machine I suspect it is still going to look pretty great. The attention to detail in backgrounds, character models and effects is every bit as meticulous as what you would find in a Star Wars film.
The reason for this level of detail and quality most likely comes from the fact that Lucasarts has brought in technical talent from Lucasfilm to help work on the game including teams from Industrial Light & Magic, Skywalker Sound and Lucasfilm Animation Ltd. This means that they are bringing movie level skill and technique to all areas of the game development to build something really awesome. The teams are working on the Unreal engine as a base and then building from there. This includes doing full body performance capture including facial capture for the performances. What makes this situation unique, however, is that none of the performances are rendered but are rather running completely in engine. This allows for an emphasis to be placed on the performance and allowed the actors to do multiple takes and ad-lib. The team also wanted to focus on non-verbal body language given the reliance we all put on such cues. From the brief cutscene performance they showed us, it looks like the process works pretty well.
The game is pretty early so there are still a lot of question marks like, for instance, who the main character is. The guy in the demo is apparently a place holder so they can keep from revealing the ‘hero’ until they are ready. They also didn’t expound on when in the timeline this takes place but given the ships in some of the videos and pictures I would say it is probably closer to the original trilogy than the prequels. Not sure on that one though. The story, too is a bit of a mystery as all we have to go on is that you are a bounty hunter in a really dark story that takes place in one of the most dangerous places in the Universe. That is enough to get my interest piqued though and I am really excited to see what this turns in to.
It is important to note that it is still pretty early in development so a lot could change between now and whenever this releases (sometime in late 2013?). While it is clear that this is going to be a PC title just based on the fact that it was running on a PC there was no mention of a console release. Whatever platform it appears on, the game looks pretty cool at this stage and is definitely one to watch.
Here are some videos from Lucasarts so you can see the game in action for yourself: