E3 2007: Spending Time With Lucasarts

Russ Pitts | 13 Jul 2007 16:06
E3 2007 - RSS 2.0

"LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga is the first game where you can swing a lightsaber with the Wii remote. It will not be the last."

Our time at Lucasarts was well spent. We found what might possible be our next favorite party game, got a look at two new games featuring exciting technologies and saw the first-ever use of the Wiimote to swing a lightsaber. These are days when one loves ones job.

LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga will be coming out in November of this year to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the original films, and features a ton of new stuff that might make it a worthwhile purchase even for owners of the first two games.

Extra levels, new play options (bounty hunter mode) new collectibles and, for the Wii version, the aforementioned lightsaber thing. You'll also be able to switch characters between trilogies and, for the PS3 version, use the Sixaxis controller to fly space ships with motions sensing Sixaxis magic.

It looks great, and has all the same features as before, plus more. I already own the first two, but I'll still probably pick up the Wii version just to hear the lightsaber noises coming out of the Wiimote.

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Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, or "The Star Wars Project" as they call it at Lucasarts, is "the next chapter in the Star wars universe. Set in the period between the two trilogies, the game features the story of Darth Vader's secret Sith apprentice, and, to quote Lucasarts, "He's a badass. Everyone is a badass." And so is the game.

The game is being built with a couple of interesting new technologies which, aside from making the game look fairly badass, should serve to advance the cause of creating virtual worlds (are you listening, Warren?). The first, the autonomous biomechanical A.I., governs how human bodies behave under stress. Such as when they're thrown across the room by The Force. Instead of scripting animations for each stress reaction, the ABAI creates parameters for how the bodies will react, and then allows them to do so in real time. The results can often be surprising.

The second mechanic, Digital Molecular Matter, controls objects, making it possible to fling things about willy nilly with a great degree of realism. The system decides what certain types of material will do, and then makes them do it, not to be overly simplistic. So that, in other words, glass will shatter like glass, metal will bend like metal and wood will splinter like wood. And all three will do all three when being crushed simultaneously. And yes, it looks gorgeous.

The Force Unleashed is due out in Spring of 2008 for 360 and PS3, with lesser powered versions also releasing for PS2, PSP and DS.

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And then there was Fracture.

The story sets up a future, 150 years from now, in which global warming has devastated the planet, divided the United States into two island nations on either coast, and forced a number of strange political alliances. To make matters worse, genetic experimentation has caused a great rift in the political fabric of the United States, and the two coasts have aligned with foreign nations against each other.

I can't honestly say I care for the plot, nor that it necessarily lives up to the standard of excellence one would expect from Lucasarts, but it's at least intriguing enough to give a second look, and as the premise for a videogame in which one gets to (literally) move mountains, it will probably serve.

Fracture exists to explore terrain deformation technology. In the game, you play as a warrior for the Atlantic Alliance who's set out, armed with terrain deforming weaponry (you can create cyclones and sinkholes, raise hills with a grenade and cause a pillar of magma to erupt from the earth) teach those Pacifica separatists where their bread is buttered.

The game features 16 player online play and is due out this year.

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