Here’s how it’s going to go down. I’m going to pre-order it, pop it into the Xbox the minute the Amazon package comes, play it for 20 minutes — and then be so frustrated by the jumbo-jet-navigation complexity of the controls that I’ll never play it again.
But those are going to be the best 20 minutes of my life.
By the time the demonstration was over, I was left with the unmistakable sense that LucasArts was on the cutting edge of a huge leap forward for the video-game industry—a technological breakthrough, nearly as revolutionary as the introduction of sound in film, that could finally give gaming the kind of immersive realism that would enable it to join movies and television as a form of mainstream entertainment. The company has incorporated Euphoria and D.M.M. technologies into an ambitious video game called Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, which is scheduled to be released this summer. In addition to groundbreaking software, the game will employ Industrial Light & Magic’s facial-likeness technology and motion-capture expertise, which will give the digitally animated characters remarkably lifelike expressions and movements. And perhaps most important of all, the game has a compelling, movie-like story line, involving a secret apprentice to Darth Vader and the formation of the Rebel Alliance, which provides a visual and narrative transition between Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: Episode IV—A New Hope. It is being billed as the “next great chapter” in George Lucas’s space saga, one that, according to the project’s art director, Matt Omernick, “aims to convince players that, ‘Oh my God, I’m actually, finally, in a Star Wars movie.’ ” And not only that: it will be a Star Wars movie with a life of its own…
The core idea was to take the concept of the Force and supersize it in a way that would appeal both to Star Wars video-game fans, who at this point have played a number of LucasArts games that involve the use of Force powers, and to gamers who may not be Star Wars fans but will gravitate to a game that offers big-bang escapism. Blackman’s team also wanted to put the Force in the hands of a character who was not bound by the Jedi code, which, as the movies drive home, attaches all kinds of guilt and moralizing to letting one’s freak Force fly. Not only would the Apprentice be able to wreak havoc with the Force in the game LucasArts planned, but, Blackman says, there would be “no real penalty” for doing so; instead, gamers would be able to explore the pleasures of “kicking someone’s ass with the Force.” Unleashed Force wielders would now be able to dismantle buildings and, at the height of their powers, pluck an Imperial star destroyer—those massive triangular spacecraft that are the Empire’s equivalent of an aircraft carrier—out of the heavens and crash it onto a planet’s surface.
Follow the link and scroll down about a quarter of the way to see what the Euphoria and DMM technologies they’ve got can do. They’re getting the guy who plays Chad Vader to do Darth Vader’s voice. Dude. Chad Vader. Dude.