Star Wars 1313 Preview
While the storytelling quality of the last three Star Wars movies is something of a contentious issue, there’s little question that for all George Lucas’ failings as an auteur he has been at the forefront of some of the biggest innovations in the movie business.
So it’s with the combined might of some of his greatest accomplishments (digital effects house Industrial Light & Magic, cutting-edge animators Lucasfilm Animation and audio engineers Skywalker Sound) that LucasArts has focused on high production values for the latest videogame offshoot of the intergalactic soap opera.
Every effort has been made to make Star Wars 1313 as close to the cinematic presentation of the films as possible, immersing players into a seamless mix of spectacle, action gameplay and narrative.
While LucasArts is keen to stress that the game is only in pre-production at the present, there’s definitely potential in the central conceit.
Downplaying the presence of lightsabers and force powers – along with anything midi-cholorian or Gungan – gameplay takes on the guise of a typical third-person cover shooter.
Unsurprisingly, this lends an overwhelming sense of familiarity to the action, as an unnamed stand-in protagonist (LucasArts isn’t ready to reveal the game’s hero, but Boba Fett is a likely candidate given the game’s title doubles as a reference to one of the notorious bounty hunter’s aliases) enters a skirmish with a squad of soldiers that board his ship.
The cinematic quality of the lighting is what makes the visuals stand out the most.
While the bombast is exhilarating to behold, seamlessly transitioning between gunplay, melee combat and a platforming, the gameplay itself is a derivative Uncharted-alike escapade.
Nevertheless, as the hero clings to the wing of a crashing spaceship and you try to scramble to safety, it’s evident that the set-pieces tick the right boxes.
It’s hard to gauge where exactly Star Wars 1313 will take us, given that the whole project has been shrouded in mystery since its recent unveiling.
Alongside story details and the yet-to-be-named protagonist, there’s the little matter of which platforms the game will release on. LucasArts has told fans to keep an eye out for an announcement next year, which would suggest that 1313 is destined for a next-gen system.
Which isn’t exactly surprising news: the gameplay footage displayed was running on a high-end PC and it certainly was one of the most visually arresting attendees at E3 this year.
It’s a major contributing factor to a fresh vision of Star Wars, set within the seedy underbelly of Coruscant’s subterranean level 1313 – filled with gangsters, murderers and malevolent androids.
The protagonist is accompanied by his mentor in the portion of gameplay we’ve seen, which may indicate a co-op element – or, in another Uncharted comparison, it may just serve to add some additional dramatic coating – but it’s hard to say how everything will meld together.
1313 is the number of the level of Coruscant you’ll be visiting, and also a reference to Star Wars’ famous Bounty Hunter.
A more focused story-orientated Star Wars videogame would be welcome, and it’s a bold move to strip away many of its most synonymous components, but from a gameplay perspective it’s embarking down a well-trodden path.
At least LucasArts has been canny enough to reveal the game at this early stage in the title’s development. The progressive visuals have boosted awareness for the game and if the rumours of a next-gen release prove true, then it has given LucasArts a much-needed early buzz.
It just remains to be seen if this drastic new direction in the franchise can reignite interest in the brand after the rather so-so reception of The Old Republic and Star Wars Kinect.
It’ll be a while before we get further impressions, but if this is a genuine first-look at the next generation then it’s an underwhelming debut.
It’s certainly a tasty bit of eye-candy but the game itself looks like a staid retread of Naughty Dog’s greatest hits. Time will tell whether Star Wars 1313 will genuinely offer something new to the oversaturated brand or just another disappointing offering with some added gloss.