E3 2005: Level Up
Star Wars Abounds
Product: LucasArts 2005 Lineup
Company: LucasArts
Date: 05/24/2005
Avaliable On:

Not only did LucasFilms release Star Wars: Episode III during E3, but LucasArts also demoed three Star Wars titles due to come out soon.

Star Wars Galaxies: The Total Experience takes the Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided MMORPG and packages it with the game's two expansion packs, Jump to Lightspeed and Rage of the Wookiees. This collection makes it easier for new gamers to get into the SW online experience. One of the latest additions to the MMORPG is General Grievous, well sort of. Since the events of Galaxies takes place after Episode III, you don't face Grievous, per se. During your journeys, you meet a scientist who is interested in cybernetics. After several tasks that take you from one end of the galaxy to the other -- you find out that you've been helping the scientist rebuild the droid general. If you are able to actually stand up to the four-armed, lightsaber-wielding droid and win, you will be rewarded with Grievous' ship, the Belbullab-22.

The search for and battle against Grievous is just one of the many missions that puts you and your character right in the middle of the Star Wars action.

"People don't want to just live in the Star Wars universe, they want to be heroes," said Sony Online Entertainment producer, Dallas Dickinson.

Other story-driven missions include space mining in asteroids where you may or may not be ambushed by pirates as well as dozens of different combinations of species, jobs and classes. Star Wars Galaxies: The Total Experience will hit the shelves early June for $29.95 with a free 30 day trial.

Star Wars: Battlefront II was also on display at E3 this year. Battlefront II puts you in the front lines of the major battles found in the Star Wars galaxy. You can assume the role of a clone trooper on Utapu as Obi-Wan Kenobi hunts down General Grievous, or become an Imperial Pilot at the battle of Yavin. But Battlefront isn't all about the multiplayer aspect anymore (though that is still a major part of the game). Now, this game has extensive single-player stories that can cover many different Star Wars eras. An example of this is one of the clones from the 501st regiment -- essentially Vader's personal army. In this story, you will start off in battles from Episode III and continue all the way till Return of the Jedi, giving you a unique look at how the Clone Army evolved into the Imperial Army, and how clones slowly got replaced by stormtroopers. And yes, Temuera Morrison reprises his role as the voice of the clones in order to give that truly authentic feel.

However, the two biggest additions to the game are the space battles and the ability to control Jedi. In space battles, you can start off on one ship and jump into a snub fighter (be it a tie, x-wing or any other small craft) and dog fight your way through that battle. Or maybe you want to sabotage the enemy vessels from inside. Just pilot your ship into the enemy hanger, get out and tear the place up. Controlling the ships comes straight out of most space-based flight sims. This ability to jump into a space-craft and down others in the air helps make Battlefront II appeal to a wider audience. If you aren't the type to play third-person shooters -- then take to the skies and try your hand at a few dog fights. But in order to progress through the entire single-player game, you will need to get skilled at both aspects of the game. Space isn't the only place where you will be able to control vehicles. You will also be able to jump onto ATRT's as well as stationary cannons.

The addition of Jedi as playable characters was something that many fans insisted upon. When I first heard that Battlefront II would heed their calls, I was a bit weary. Nothing is worse (in my opinion) then running through the forest moon of Endor with everyone as force-sensitives. Not only does it not fit the timeline, but it just throws all of the balance off. The developers took this into account as well. Now, not only do you have to earn the right to control a Jedi character, but in order to continue using it, you must remain a positive influence in your side of the battle. The game will keep track of who has the most kills and completed tasks and if you aren't keeping pace, you won't be able to keep your power-house of a character. Expect to see Star Wars: Battlefront II on shelves for the Xbox, PS2, PC and PSP this fall.

Star Wars: Empire At War is a real-time strategy that minimizes the tedious resource management, while giving you control of everything from overall strategies, to individual ships. Empire at War focuses on the Galactic Civil War between the Empire and the Rebel Alliance. Your goal is to take over the galaxy, and rid the worlds of your enemy (one way or another). Empire at War was designed in such a way that it gives the gamers the ability to scale their battles from small skirmishes to the overall galactic war.

The galaxy is broken up into worlds and the hyperspace lanes between them. In order to control the asset management of this game, the system was simplified so that if you controlled a world, then the credits and technology that that world has to offer is available to you. You can lose control of a world in one of two ways, losing it to an enemy, or blowing it up ... yes you read right. You are given control of many different weapons, vehicles and creatures. You build or find everything from AT-AT's to Star Destroyers to Death Stars to indigenous creatures like Rancors. Though be warned -- even though you can find the local monsters of a world, they won't necessarily be yours to control. Locals will typically fight anything that annoys them or gets in their way -- maybe you can use this to your advantage, maybe your enemy can use it against you. The point is, not everything is in your control.

Not only will you be able to control the overall strategy of the battle, but once you have everything laid out, you can switch to a cinematic view. This special view will let you see the high-points of the fight with a very Star Wars feel. But you aren't locked away from your control when you do this. You can at any point return to the more removed, strategist position and rearrange your troops, then jump back in to watch the Tie-Bombers swoop down and take out the rebel shields. Ground units are also controllable, including special hero characters like Darth Vader and other Jedi. Expect to see Empire at War on PC's early 2006.

And as a little extra, below are some pics of the full size replicas lining LucasArts' booth during E3. Enjoy!

J.R. Nip aka Chris Meyer

GameVortex PSIllustrated TeamPS2