The next installment of the Star Wars Trilogy is just around the corner. After decades of waiting to see how Anakin
became Darth Vader, the wait is almost over. We'll get hit with a lot of merchandise in the coming months, but none of
it will hold our attention as much as the official game. I was lucky enough to get a chance to check out the
Playstation 2 version of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith this week, and I'm happy to report it looks
Seeing previews like this is always a bit tough. It's based on a movie that you want to see, so you're stuck between wanting to know everything and wanting to know nothing. While the fine folks at Lucas have NDAs tattooed to their eyelids, that still doesn't make it any easier. For instance, the demo broke ( I believe accidentally) into a film clip for a split second. Two of us averted our eyes, and looked over our shoulders. Yes, we should be blasted as nerds and demerited seven journalist points. But I, for one, will not be tainted.
The scene we got to check out has Anakin, Obi Wan and R2 racing through a space dock with trashed craft everywhere.
The droids are all familiar, and just as much fun to see break apart as they were in Obi Wan — which just so happens to
be my favorite action platformer with the Star Wars name on it. The action looks very similar to Obi Wan, with light
sabers swinging all over the place and incredible moves that only a Jedi (and a brilliant fight coordinator) could pull
off. Indeed, some of the folks who worked on Obi Wan are working on the Episode 3 game. Knowing that makes me feel warm
on the inside. Granted, they had to remove some of the more complex moves from OB for the larger, more “mainstream”
audience, but it looks like there will be plenty of tricks to go around.
One of the main reasons the fight moves work so well is because the character animation is very well done. Yes, you get the inevitable jerkiness as you change directions, but once you get going the motion adds a lot to the overall experience. For example, Obi Wan’s body language is formal, even uptight. Anakin’s movement, on the other hand, is cocky and brooding. This is the result of Hayden Christensen actually consulting with the developers. At one point, the team had Christensen’s digital counterpart holding the light saber tightly, as if he was preparing for battle. But Christensen informed them Anakin would never do that. He showed them how George told him to move (I wonder who he meant by this “George”). The result is that Anakin walks around with the saber at his side, dangling, casual. He’s not preparing for a fight, he’s ready for one. That attention to detail is palpable, even in the pre-alpha.
The scenes have scripted endings so all action leads you in that direction. However, as in Obi Wan, there’s a lot of free movement within the space. Hey, throw enough bad guys at me and I won’t care if I can jump on that scaffolding or not. Indeed, you’ll need the help of Obi Wan as you move throught the hectic level I saw. At one point, after a lull in the action, you realize your path is blocked by a ship’s carcass. You and Obi Wan can team up and Force Push that puppy right off its platform, allowing you to pass. Nice.
At the end of the level the Jedi must protect R2 as he carries out his duty. Again, the scripted elements were clear as day, but it’s the nature of the beast. And Lucas has more than proven they can pull off this kind of game.
Overall, I’d say you should expect an experience similar to EA’s Lord of the Rings efforts. Perfectly fun, mainstream fare, that many of us will consider a great way to cap off an afternoon of seeing the final episode of the Star Wars series. The game is due on the shelves May 5, 2005 (05/05/05…ooooooooh), which is before the film’s release date. If you don’t like spoilers then you will definitely want to wait on the game. It has a lot of key story points on display for all to play.