OXM Details Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

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The force is strong with this one. LucasArts is working hard to make sure Star Wars: The Force Unleashed emulates the thrill of manipulating the force. Gamers are salivating at the thought of throwing a TIE-fighter at a hapless group of stormtroopers with ballet-like grace. The Official Xbox Magazine got to spend time with developer LucasArts, and needless to say, OXM was impressed with the latest Star Wars game, the third-person actioner, The Force Unleashed.

We already know that you play Darth Vader’s secret apprentice, and you have a plethora of force techniques to dispatch henchmen, Rancors, and more menacing foes. Your modus operandi is this: hunt down the last of the Jedi plotting against the Empire. Namely General Kota, a rogue Jedi leader that Vader wants to see dead. Your missions for Vader will take you across the universe to TIE Fighter factories, junkyard planets, and a few locations you might recognize from the films. OXM watched in awe as the Sith-in-training manipulated the fungal environment of Felucia. Interactivity is a key feature for all of LucasArts upcoming titles, and Force Unleashed is their first opportunity to show off their skills with next-gen hardware.

The magic word is “physics.” Three different physics engines run concurrently in the game, and provide the backbone to all the chaos. In this writer’s humble opinion, these physics systems are truly next-generation tools. Physics, and as an extention, reactivity, make The Force Unleashed a visual delight, while also lending to believability. LucasArts has a reactivity system dictating AI response to their environment (called the Euphoria system), so enemies will hold on to railings (or each other) for dear life as you throw them around. Also, materials are imbued with real-world properties like plasticity and resistance. This technology is aptly called Digital Molecular Matter; metal will bend, glass will shatter, etc. Lastly, the good ol’ Havok physics engine allows your Force abilities to interact with everything in the environment, creating chaos in your wake.

Don’t think that this talk about physics and technical jargon is for nothing. The big shots at Rockstar Games took notice of LucasArts’s incredible technology and even licensed the Euphoria engine for Grand Theft Auto 4. Kinda sweetens both games, right? LucasArts has done a great job in the past with Star Wars action games (see: Dark Forces, Jedi Outcast, Jedi Academy) and The Force Unleashed looks to fully capitalize on the power of this generation of consoles. LucasArts is still mum on the release date, though a Summer 2008 date is expected for the Xbox 360 and PS3 editions. Stay tuned, young padawans. We’ll have more juicy details as they come.

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