When it comes to Star Wars, the gaming industry has a long history of cranking out titles of uncertain quality. For every brilliant title like Knights of the Old Republic, we've seen several clunkers (Kinect Star Wars anyone) and a few outright failures like Republic Heroes. LucasArts demonstrated a new Star Wars game at E3 this week -- Star Wars: 1313 -- and despite the brand's uneven history, we're cautiously optimistic.
The 1313 moniker refers to a specific level of Coruscant that's a haven for criminals, bounty hunters, and crime lords. You take on the role of a bounty hunter looking for information on an unspecified criminal conspiracy who descends to 1313 in search of data. This will be the first Star Wars game to be rated "M" for mature, and it focuses on the seedy underbelly of the universe. That decision alone could open up a wealth of gaming experiences. To date, we've only seen flashes of the poverty and desperation that exists within the Star Wars timeline; the games and movies may take quick trips to places like Nar Shadaa or the slums of Mos Espa, but these have always been pit stops on the way to glittering skyscrapers and grand cathedral-like buildings.
The E3 unveil included gameplay and movie sequences; the game's developers stress that they've worked hard to make the two flow together as seamlessly as possible in order to avoid breaking the player's sense of immersion. One thing that jumps out at us from watching the video is that the game clearly isn't running on legacy console hardware. Creative director Dominic Robilliard confirms this a little later in the interview, when he states that the demo is being powered by PCs using Nvidia hardware.
Obviously we can't say for certain, but there's some good circumstantial evidence that the game is built for DX11. Shadows are always the best thing to check -- DX10/DX11 shadows are softer and more realistic than their DX9 counterparts. Fog is another area where DX11 implementations tend to noticably improve on DX9, and the 1313 scenes are impressive on both counts.
There's no reason LucasArts couldn't develop the title for current consoles and cutting-edge PC hardware simultaneously, but this is good news for computer gamers -- games built on our platform tend to play better (and look nicer) than console ports that offer better textures but otherwise keep to the limits of six year-old hardware.
The one thing we don't know much about is the plot. Here's hoping LucasArts puts in the time and effort to build a decent game -- the Star Wars franchise is the poster child for proof that great graphics don't make for great games or great movies.