LucasArts Unleashes the Force for Star Wars Fans

“Star Wars” enthusiasts can finally begin their countdown to the release of “Star Wars: The Force Unleashed” (TFU). Game maker LucasArts on Wednesday made public long sought details on the next installment of the “Star Wars” saga. Gamers can expect to see “TFU” on store shelves in November 2007 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, Playstation 3, PlayStation Portable and Nintendo DS game consoles.

“While there are no more movies on the horizon, there are certainly more tales to tell in that galaxy far, far away — because as we all know ‘Star Wars’ is forever,” Brett Rector, assistant producer, wrote on his “TFU” production blog. “The crew at LucasArts are right now hard at work on the next link in the mythological chain; a link so strong and powerful it will greatly illuminate a crucial time during not only the rise of the Empire, but the dark lord himself.”

The Saga Continues

The game’s story line, created under the direction of George Lucas, takes place during the still undiscovered era bookended by the movies “Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” and “Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope”. In “TFU,” players take on the role of Darth Vader’s “Secret Apprentice” and assist the arch villain in his mission to eradicate the Jedi.

Players will be able to “unleash and upgrade” the Secret Apprentice’s four core Force powers — push, grip, repulse and lightning — during the entirety of the game. The character can use those powers against an array of adversaries created especially for “TFU,” such as fugitive Jedi and Force-sensitive Felucians as well as figures familiar to “Star Wars” fans, including Darth Vader.

“First thing, I’m definitely going to have to pick this up,” Rob Enderle, principal analyst at Enderle Group, told TechNewsWorld. “This is a big release, it promises vastly better game play, better physics and a continuation of a story line that was not really explored in the movies.”

Not Your Big Brother’s ‘Star Wars’

“TFU,” LucasArts’ first internally developed video game for next-generation consoles, “completely re-imagines the scope and scale of the Force,” according to the company. Using digital molecular matter (DMM) and the euphoria engine, technologies taking the stage for the first time, combined with Havok’s Physics system, game designers say they have created gameplay that fully utilizes the functionality of the latest generation of gaming consoles.

DMM, developed by Pixelux, brings a heretofore unimaginable level of realism in next-generation console games, LucasArts said. The technology creates completely interactive environments in which in-game objects imbued with material properties react just as they would in real life. The realistic behavior takes place in real time, the game maker said, without using a single frame of animation.

In previous video game generations, an object such as a piece of wood would break apart, splintering into numerous pieces at the exact point of impact. DMM takes into account the amount of sheer force exerted so that the wood reacts in the same way it would in reality, coming apart along a predetermined seam each time.

Every other object within “TFU” is subject to the same rules, LucasArts noted. Rubber bends and snaps back into place. Glass shatters while crystals fracture and stone crumbles. Jabba the Hutt’s fat rolls bounce and jiggle, and Carbonite, the substance encasing Han Solo, dents.

“The physics engine is supposed to be very good, which increases the level of realism in game play,” Enderle explained. “In addition, the exploration of the powers of the Sith, which just didn’t get much coverage in earlier games or movies, will be explored along with alternative story lines which should keep the game fresh longer.”

Choose Your Own Adventure

A groundbreaking behavioral simulation engine created by NaturalMotion, euphoria gives game designers the ability to simulate the unpredictability inherent to real life in which no two events are ever experienced in the same way. This translates into interactive characters able to move, act and even think like real human beings who can adapt their behavior on the fly, creating a different result each time.

In “TFU,” the technology has allowed the game maker to create action that is simulated but unscripted, thus preventing players from predicting exactly what will happen in a given scenario regardless of the number of times they have gone through it because it will change each time. Players will determine the path the story takes by the decisions they make and wind up at the end of one of multiple endings.

“Some of this [technology] has been done before, but I think for those that like the ‘Star Wars’ Universe and play in it a lot, they will see some things they haven’t really seen before,” Enderle said.

“I think they will be pleased,” he added.

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