At gamescom 2012 we managed to sneak a peek at LucasArts’ first ever mature themed game, Star Wars 1313, and will start off by saying that without a doubt this is one of the prettiest titles we have ever seen in the world of video games.
Star Wars 1313 is set in the Coruscant underground, appropriately enough on level 1313, which is the home of some of the galaxy’s most nefarious criminal scum. The game is set between the two trilogies, in a period of Star Wars history where the Jedi have been all but wiped out, so there will be little reference to force-based powers and the focus will be very much on third person gunplay and hi-octane platforming action.
The player will take the role of a bounty hunter and will have access to a wealth of weapons and high-tech gadgets with which to immerse themselves into the action. The LucasArts team stated that these core gameplay mechanics will definitely appeal to the gameplay fantasy of many of their fans, to step into the shoes of one of the Star Wars universe’s agile and deadly bounty hunters.
Speculation abounds as to who the main character in this game will be and in the live gameplay demonstration we witnessed, the two main protagonists were replaced by unknown placeholder characters; which certainly implies that whoever our main character will be, he is definitely known in the Star Wars universe and his (or her) identity is being kept tightly under wraps.
A popular rumour out there is that a certain Mr Boba Fett is a likely candidate, after all he is one of the most iconic bounty hunter characters from the series. In addition, Mr Fett once went by the alias of CT 1313 in one of the novels of the expanded universe so is an obvious choice. Of course, perhaps this is so obvious that it can’t possibly be true.....
When the gameplay demonstration started and we witnessed the opening cinematic of ships flying above the surface of Coruscant we were staggered by the graphical integrity. With the exception of character modelling, which will always fall short of photo-realism (although was certainly some of the best we have ever seen) the image on show could quite easily have been taken from one of the new trilogy movies rather than a game. The level of detail was an absolutely mind blowing, ultra-real, HD showcase of pure graphical power and beauty. It ranks as a solid 10 on our pretty-ness-ometer.
This is no exaggeration, at its peak Star Wars 1313 is the most beautiful game we have ever seen. It is hard to imagine this level of eye-candy running on any of the current generation hardware or on anything but the most advanced modern gaming PCs in existence. If we may be allowed to speculate, we would not consider it a shock to find out that 1313 is being developed with next-gen hardware in mind.
This cinematic presentation seems to be central to the core of the game. As well as having outstanding visuals, the demonstration featured exceptional music and sound effects that were iconically ‘Star Wars’ in theme. The integration between cutscenes and gameplay is a big factor, with cinematic scenes moving seamlessly into gameplay moments and vice-versa with no pause, no loading screens and not even a camera cut.
We witnessed very early gameplay, where our two protagonists appear to be smuggling some sort of aggressive alien life form to the underworld but are ambushed by a ship full of goons who disable and board their ship.
Moving from the cockpit to the main body of the ship, our main character begins taking out these unwanted visitors in what can only be described as a fairly generic cover-based shooter section. Our hero hunkers behind cover and proceeds to pop up, taking potshots and clearing out the enemy. If he gets close to an enemy he can initiate melee combat for a more close range approach. We also see enemies being thrown from the ship in these melee scenes, which is a nice touch.
As generic as this seems we can’t help but think there may be some potential hidden there. We are seeing very early game footage where our character is armed with little more than a blaster pistol so the potential for fun and innovation is really reliant on the sort of cool gadgets players will be given as the game progresses. It’s a shame we couldn’t see any of these in this demo, but is understandable based on current early development stage of the game.
Our character’s partner then strikes a blow back to his attackers by ejecting an escape pod directly through the enemy vessel; which is potentially a very poorly considered move as now neither side has a working ship to rely on once the combat is over.
An impromptu boarding of the enemy ship now begins as the tide of battle is turned, but our hero times his jump badly and finds himself hanging onto the opposing ship’s outer frame for dear life as it plummets through the Coruscant underworld. What follows is a rather routine, albeit pretty, platform sequence as he attempts to climb his way up to to a boarding point so he can storm the vessel. This is reminiscent of gameplay from such games as the Uncharted series, although with a sci-fi twist, as he climbs up the ship and bits of it break away beneath his fingertips.
Again, whilst this section seemed fairly pedestrian in its gameplay content it comes back to the issue that this is an early game section and so the cool gadgets that will make or break this title were not yet available, so we really did not get a chance to see anything unique.
Star Wars 1313 looks as though it will definitely be a narrative led-title and with the seamless integration between cutscenes and gameplay, the amazing presentation, the mysterious main characters and the mature setting there are certainly all the right elements present to capitalise on this. We are promised a dark tale featuring interesting characters who inhabit a grey area on the morality spectrum.
The gameplay we have seen so far does not seem to particularly innovate, although it does look mechanically sound and is well implemented. A lot of emphasis has been placed on the technology and gadgets that will be on offer and until we have the opportunity to see these for ourselves we will be hard pressed to make an informed opinion, other than to say that 1313 is a graphical powerhouse that is pushing the limits of video game art design. It’s a shame we have no idea when we will see more, but it could be a long way off; Star Wars 1313 currently has no announced release date.