Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side in LucasArts’ upcoming Star Wars 1313. Find out why it’s the grittiest and most visceral game in series history!
As a Star Wars fan, I’ve been jaded about the series’ video games for a while. The Force Unleashed turned out to be a bit less exciting than its Star Destroyer-prying trailer led players to believe, and The Old Republic was too typical an MMO to get me hooked, so I haven’t expected much from the franchise since. The dancing simulator in Kinect Star Wars didn’t do too much to help that case either. So when I heard about Star Wars 1313 a few days ago, I was more disappointed by it not being a Republic Commando sequel than excited about the prospect of a new IP. I don’t think anyone really anticipated what the game would have up its sleeve however, and it has turned out to be one of the most impressive titles at E3 2012 so far.
Having just gotten my hands on a few short-but-sweet gameplay videos from the event, I have been watching them over and over, marveling at what have been comfirmed by Lucasarts to be in-engine graphics. We all like to pretend we’re not “graphics whores,” but in this case, they really leave a lasting impression. Much like what made the original Star Wars film so great 35 years ago, everything in this game seems like it’s been worn-in. It’s evident in the first extended gameplay clip below that their ship has been lived-in, and the secondary character’s armor seems a bit more pock-marked than our hero’s, suggesting he’s seen more action. Even the outside of their vessel has the appropriate level of grime, like the underside of a seafaring ship overdue for a cleaning.
What really impresses me however, is the detail in the characters. As we see them walking and speaking to each other, the animations are exquisitely fluid, realistic, and just flawed enough to seem real. For example, in an extreme close-up in front of a hologram display, we can see our hero speaks slightly more out of one side of his mouth, and his face has a tiny bit of scarring on its left side. Subtlety is key here, as this isn’t the typical overblown sci-fi or fantasy “gash across the face” of most games.
In the second gameplay video, we see a fluid sequence in which the main character and his companion investigate a crate, which proceeds to blow up in their face. What’s extremely impressive here is that when the explosion happens, everything gets scattered across the room in real time, immediately allowing the player to take cover behind some crates. While it’s likely scripted where the crates land, this kind of fluidity seems to a be consistent theme throughout all we’ve seen in the game so far. It looks like the developers want control to stay with the player during action scenes as much as possible without cutting away.
The elephant in the room is the graphic nature of 1313, which is uncharacteristic of the franchise. We see our hero grab an enemy from cover and immediately snap his neck, and not with a less offensive force choke either- he just plain snaps a dude’s neck. This style of play evokes memories of 2005′s Republic Commando, which strived to show battle from the perspective of soldiers in the thick of it, and if our hero the bounty hunter is going to make it in the seedy criminal underworld of Level 1313 he’s likely to stoop pretty low on the morality scale. Touches like the enemies getting electrocuted by blaster bolts and seeing Call of Duty-like bloodstains in the screen’s periphery when shot add to the more mature feel. The enemies even seem to bleed when shot. Gears of War-esque cover mechanics and blindfiring add to the gritty realism of the game, and ensure that it doesn’t feel like any Star Wars title you’ve played before.
In the final gameplay video, we see our heroes jump between crashing ships, in what I assume is the tunnel down to Coruscant’s titular level. The fact that the HUD appears the entire time the main character is flipping around, trying to grab onto the ship’s hull suggests Uncharted-like climbing mechanics, and really adds to the excitement of the demo. At least the entire game isn’t just about shooting Stormtroopers and robots, as one may expect from an action game of the sort. I speculate that these climbing mechanics, combined with the main character’s profession as a bounty hunter, may result in chase sequences through the city’s streets, in which obstacles need to be maneuvered over and traversed in a similar fashion.
Not since Republic Commando have gamers been able to experience something as gritty as this in the Star Wars universe, and 1313 looks like it wants to trump even that in its realistic, action-packed portrayal of a bounty hunter’s life. The sugar-coating is gone, and hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side in Star Wars 1313. The gameplay we’ve seen so far is from an extremely early build, and I’m sure you’re just as excited as I am to see how the game fills out as we draw nearer to release.
Nick Hawryluk is the senior producer, director and editor of Press Play the Webseries. He also runs and contributes articles to the Press Play website.