Recognizing individual console strengths, LucasArts brings innovation to Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

authorTimothy W. Young | February 29, 2008

In a galaxy long, long ago… third party developers would routinely create multi-platform games.

However, things have changed with the advent of the Wii, and while Sony and Microsoft continue to enjoy graphically-driven titles, the Wii, sadly, has been more or less left out of the picture.

While there are games for all three platforms, none of them really feel unique. Specifically in the case for the Wii, most of those games feel like a bad port.

But that is all about to change thanks to a new disturbance in the force.

LucasArts unveiled game footage of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed at this year’s Game Developer’s Conference (GDC), showing a multi-platform title that displayed not only a new direction for the franchise, but technological improvements for all three consoles.

The Force Unleashed takes place in between Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. While young Luke Skywalker is out killing womprats in Tatooine, Lord Darth Vader is feverishly working to rid the galaxy of all remaining jedi. As an end to his means, Vader introduces his “secret apprentice.”

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As Vader’s secret apprentice, players will get the chance to revel in the dark side. And although the idea of potentially three siths at the same time violates Star Wars dogma, George Lucas — the man behind the cultural phenomenon — is creating the new story, which the game’s official site says, “promises to unveil new revelations about the Star Wars galaxy,” so purists should wait before they sit down to write their angry letters.

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As far as the technology is concerned, developers for The Force Unleashed have created two new advancements to make life as a sith apprentice as immersive as possible. The first is DMM (Digital Molecular Matter), a physics engine that allows things in the environment — such as boards, glass and metal — to respond properly when something collides with it. The hard work and result by Pixelux Entertainment is allowing the player to throw a storm trooper through a board and see the board actually break and splinter where the storm trooper made contact. Instead of predetermined breaking patterns, DMM allows for players to feel immersion through the ability to actually impact the environment around them in an individualistic and unique way each and every time they interact with something.

The second advance is Euphoria, by NaturalMotion Ltd. Euphoria is a behavioral-simulation engine, which will grant life-like reactions to environmental stimulus for NPCs. In other words, when a storm trooper is pushed towards a cliff, they will respond by fighting to get their balance by swinging their arms, etc. Even further, if that storm trooper is dangling from the edge and another storm trooper is pushed off the cliff, the two NPCs will actually try to grab each other in order to save themselves. NPC involvement like this — in a game which allows players to fully-utilize abilities like the force push — should prove for quite an exciting gaming experience for players.

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Even though the game is being designed for all three next-gen platforms, the most obvious difference between the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 versions to the Wii version will be the graphics. As a result, some of the more graphically-demanding levels in the game may not see their way to the Wii console. Whether or not this will affect the amount of immersion that DMM and Euphoria will bring to the gaming experience is yet to be seen.

However, Wii owners will get something that should leave owners of the other two graphically-superior consoles drooling: multiplayer duels. Wii owners will have the chance to pick between 20 different characters to partake in one-on-one duels with other players. The combat will take place in nine different settings, which will all involve environmental hazards and power-ups.

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While this should open the Wii experience to some hardcore multi-player action, it has been said that wielding the Wiimote will not exactly be freeform sword fighting. Instead, the developers at Chrome — the gang that’s designing the motion controls for the game — have stated that the game will only recognize cardinal directions, such as up, down, left, right and forward.

It’s more than any other sword fighting title has to offer for the Wii, and I for one can’t wait to thrust the nunchuck forward to perform a force push.

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LucasArts is the first developer to show how a game can be created for all three next-gen consoles without the chance for the gaming experience to suffer quality based on which console a player owns. While the Wii version won’t offer top-notch graphics like the Playstation 3 and the Xbox 360, Wii owners will get the chance to experience fluid motion-sensitive controls and multiplayer duels.

LucasArts isn’t letting their vision for the game be diminished by developing on all three consoles. If anything, it is providing the level of quality that respective owners expect; ground-breaking graphics for PS3 and Xbox 360 owners and innovative and intuitive controls for Wii owners.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is due to arrive in a galaxy near you this summer.

Beyond industry rumors: Beyond Good & Evil 2 in development?

authorTimothy W. Young | February 28, 2008

Near the end of 2007, Surfer Girl leaked video game insider information revealing that Ubisoft is reportedly designing a sequel to the highly-overlooked Beyond Good & Evil.

Created for PC, Gamecube, PS2 and Xbox, the 2003 title was highly-acclaimed by critics but saw lackluster sales when it was released to the public. In fact, it wasn’t long before the game could be picked-up in the discount den.

Rumors are that Michel Ancel, creator of Rayman, initially wanted the fast-paced Wii title to be a traditional platformer, not a series of mini-games. However, another developer stepped up and delivered Rayman: Raving Rabbits, much to Ancel’s detest.

BG&E photo

Ubisoft then gave Ancel the authority to greenlight a project of his choosing, which is the supposed Beyond Good & Evil 2.

At launch, Beyond Good & Evil saw stiff competition from industry giants, such as the highly-innovative Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell.

Beyond Good & Evil was ranked as 47th in PC Gamers’ top 100 list of the best PC games.

The game featured an enriching story filled with corporate conspiracies and a young female journalist out to uncover the truth. The gameplay followed in the footsteps of any action-adventure Zelda-type game, where combat and puzzle solving were integral to the story’s progression.

The game also featured several moments for stealth, ranging anywhere from sneaking past unsuspected enemies to photographing corporate, alien and military malfeasance. Variations in gameplay even allowed for players to obtain an upgradeable hovercraft that was used to traverse the watery world, as well as gain access to a racing mini-game.

BG&E hovercraft

Players were quickly immersed in the game’s intrigue and rich musical score, and the cliffhanger ending only left gamers wanting more. It was one of those games that was highly-praised by those fortunate enough to play it. Much like the Playstation exclusive Legend of Dragoon, the lack of attention due to other anticipated titles left Beyond Good & Evil lost in video game history to collect dust on video game store shelves.

It is reported that Ancel told Nintendo Power that he is working on a new title that “means a lot to him” and that he would like to create a Beyond Good & Evil sequel. Whether or not the two are related is yet to be seen.

It’s quite easy to envision how the Wii’s control scheme could be used in the combat and picture taking — seen in games like The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess — as well as the the game’s hovercraft driving, with controls like Mario Kart Wii and Excite Truck.

Here’s to hoping that Beyond Good & Evil 2 goes beyond rumors and that the game gets developed, showing gamer nation the sort of immersive titles the Wii can bring to the industry.

BG&E combat

Rumor: ‘FFCC: My Life As A King’ to Launch With WiiWare

authorBucky |

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At the moment this is just a rumor since the official Square website for the game still says “Coming Soon” but The Wiire is reporting that Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King will be releasing on March 12. This means the game would be a launch game with the Wii’s new WiiWare service. Pretty exciting stuff seeing as the game is looking pretty good and I’ve been wanting to get my hands on it since I heard about. The game is reported to cost 1,500 Wii points, which isn’t to bad for a brand new FF game.

I’m kind of excited for the game but I’m even more excited for what WiiWare offers on the Wii. I’m looking forward to a ton of games coming out on it and believe that it is really going to help smaller publishers get games out.

No Voice Chat for Mario Kart Wii!

authorLukatoll | February 27, 2008

Well, it looks like its official… (though I hope its not) Mario Kart Wii will not feature voice chat this time around.

Instead, we can use text chat… Text Chat?!? For a racing game!?!

Here’s how it’s going to work, players can create rooms for your friends to join, which means you must add all your friends with those annoying friend codes, and while in those rooms you can chat with your friends while waiting for matches. It is very likely that you will be able use a USB keyboard though, which is pretty cool, but still nothing compared to voice chat. I guess Nintendo still has not learned. Please Nintendo, please change your mind!

How do you feel about this? Leave a comment below and tell us.

Defend Your Castle coming to WiiWare

Today, XGen Studios announced that Defend you Castle will be available on Wii-Ware for 500 Wii points. The online flash game is due out sometime in early 2008.

In the game, you basically do what the title says, you have to defend your castle. When you see a little stick figure running towards your castle you must point at him with your mouse, click on him, and throw him up. After a second or two, the poor little stick figure comes flying back down and splatters all over the ground. As you progress through the levels, more and more enemies start attacking and they eventually become faster and stronger. You can also purchase upgrades for your castle or buy little archers that help you fend off the enemy.

The company stated that the Wii-Ware version would have better graphics then its online counterpart, but other changes were not specified.

If you want to tryout the game for yourself click on this link: Defend Your Castle

After playing the online version, feel free to leave a comment below stating whether or not you think the game is worth your money.


GameStop, Inc. GameStop, Inc.

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