LucasArts has never been one to make a big deal out of E3. Unless you have an appointment to visit their "top-secret" booth the only way to even see a LucasArts' game is to watch their big-screen preview trailers that run in the main concourse area. This year they were hiding several new games behind their closed doors including several Star Wars titles and a tasty new nugget called "Mercenaries" that just happened to nail one of our Best of Show awards.
Mercenaries is an open-ended third person combat-action game set in North Korea where a coup has plunged the troubled nation into chaos, an elite private military company has dispatched a lone mercenary to track down 52 fugitive members of the old hardliner regime --- before they can launch a nuclear attack.
Mercenaries will give gamers the opportunity to live out their action movie fantasies with its explosive combat and non-linear gameplay set in massive interactive environments. If you can see it -- you can steal it, use it or blow it up. Players can demonstrate their creativity in the hunt for enemy combatants using more than 30 real-world military weapons. Gamers will be able to assume the role of one of three different Mercenaries, The American, The Swede, and The Brit, and each will have the opportunity to call in air strikes and pilot more than 20 authentic ground and air vehicles including helicopters, trucks and tanks.
Players can attract attention from embedded journalists in the game as they work with (and against) sparring international factions to secure all 52 targets, represented by a deck of playing cards. Mercenaries will be able to purchase additional weapons and vehicles with the money earned from each capture.
All of the nonstop action within Mercenaries will be highlighted with authentic sound effects recorded and mastered at Academy Award-winning Skywalker Sound. Mercenaries is published by LucasArts and developed by critically acclaimed Pandemic Studios.
Despite the overwhelming horde of war games on display at E3 this year, Mercenaries just had that "something extra" that elevated it beyond the rest. The gameplay, the setting, and some wonderful visuals and realistic physics will make this one of the best military games you can play on your console.
Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords (Xbox/PC)
Five years after the events from the award winning Knights of the Old Republic, the Sith Lords have hunted the Jedi to the edge of extinction and are on the verge of crushing the Old Republic. With the Jedi Order in ruin, the Republic’s only hope is a Jedi Knight struggling to reconnect with the Force and is faced with the galaxies most dire decision: To follow the light or succumb to the dark side…
My personal demo of Sith Lords was most impressive. The graphics have certainly been taken up a notch and there are now nearly twice the Jedi Powers, not to mention wondrous planets and exciting new characters. Bioware is consulting with Obsidian to make sure the same level of quality remains intact in this ambitious sequel. Explore the Dark Side this winter...
- The Sith Lords is the next chapter to Knights of the Old Republic; winner of more than 35 “Game of The Year Awards” featuring an all-new and perilous storyline set approximately 4,000 years before Star Wars Episode I.
- All-new Force powers, weapons, locations, characters and classes add to the richness of this next epic installment.
- Choose from three different classes of Jedi to start the game with access to specific Jedi abilities.
- Choose the light or the dark side of the Force based on your characters actions as you progress through the story. The choices you make not only affect your character, but also those in your party, and those who may join you in your quest.
- Cameo appearances from memorable characters of the first game enhance the continuity and story flow through this unique time period.
- Additional content will be available for The Sith Lords via Xbox Live.
- Developed by Obsidian Entertainment, the development house founded by members of the Fallout, Icewind Dale, Baldur's Gate, Dark Alliance, and Planescape: Torment teams
Star Wars Galaxies: Jump to Lightspeed (PC Online)
The struggle between the Galactic Empire and the Rebel Alliance extends into space with Star Wars Galaxies: Jump to Lightspeed, the first expansion for the award-winning Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing game set in the Star Wars® universe. Releasing in fall 2004 for the PC, this highly anticipated addition will dramatically expand the Star Wars Galaxies franchise by providing players more than 15 different vehicles for space exploration and combat.
Starfighters and other starships will be featured in the expansion that can be used for both space exploration and combat, allowing players to join up with allies and fly familiar X-wings and TIE fighters into battle against faction-aligned opponents and AI-controlled ships. Transport ships similar to the well-known Millennium Falcon will also be added into the game, allowing players to venture through space with friends aboard.
Set in the Star Wars timeframe between Episode IV and Episode V, this first extension to the Star Wars Galaxies foundation opens 10 vast and distinct space sectors, spanning from the Core Worlds to the Outer Rim, for players to explore while engaging their opponents in intense real-time combat or uniting with friends in battle or exploration. Players can embark on more than 100 new missions, venturing through asteroid fields, nebulae and space junkyards while honing skills in four new space-specific professions. The game also features two new and completely customizable species.
I was treated to a personal demo by the lead designer of Star Wars Galaxies and this could very well give the series the infusion fans have been demanding. Taking the action into space has never looked this good and I can finally say that somebody has actually surpassed EVE in stunning space vistas. The ability to fly in all of your favorite ships and new skills and professions specifically targeted to the space themes will certainly make Galaxies the game it was always meant to be.
Star Wars Republic Commando (Xbox/PC)
Enter the dark military side of the Star Wars® universe as a squad leader of a Republic Special Operations unit. You are a Republic Commando. You must infiltrate deep behind enemy lines and lead your elite team on precision operations – lurking in the shadows, striking at will...
My demo of Republic Commando was amazing, not only because the graphics blew me away, but the squad dynamics and advanced tactics were something you would expect from the more "serious" war games. Make no mistake - this is going to be one seriously FUN game when it releases this winter.
- Explore the military side of the Star Wars universe like never before
- Explore eight diverse environments including the hostile surface and subterranean setting of the planet Geonosis, the massive machine-like interiors of a Separatist Core Ship, a disabled and overrun Republic Assault Ship and the lower jungles and tree cities of the Wookiee home planet of Kashyyyk, while you take on special operations that feature hostage rescue, infiltration/data retrieval, assassination, assault, sabotage and reconnaissance objectives
- Access to more than twelve authentic weapons including the primary Republic Commando firearm, the DC-17m and secondary weapon the DC-15s Blaster Pistol, as well as enemy weapons such as the Trandoshan Slaver Shotgun and Geonosian Elite Beam Weapon
- Innovative squad combat utilizing intuitive and accessible “smart squad” command system featuring squad markers and stances
- Challenging combat with enemies that include Trade Federation Super Battle Droids and Droidekas, Geonosian Warriors and Elites, and Trandoshan Slavers and Mercenaries.
- Multi-player capabilities including deathmatch, team deathmatch and capture the flag.
- Play with up to 16 players online via X-box Live or out of the box Internet play on PC
Star Wars Battlefront (PS2/Xbox/PC)
Star Wars Battlefront is an action/shooter game that gives fans and gamers the opportunity to re-live and participate in all of the classic Star Wars battles like never before. Players can select one of a number of different soldier types, jump into any vehicle, man any turret on the battlefront and conquer the galaxy planet-by-planet online with their friends or offline in a variety of single player modes. Single player modes include “Instant Action,” “Galactic Conquest” and the story-based “Historical Campaigns” mode that lets gamers experience all of the epic Star Wars battles from Episodes I-VI, fighting from the perspective of each of the four factions within the game.
Battles are set up in more than 15 environments across 10 diverse planets such as Hoth, Endor and Tatooine, in addition to memorable Clone Wars locations like Kamino and Geonosis. Players battle in numerous different ways using a variety of Star Wars weaponry including blaster rifles, rocket launchers and thermal detonators, in addition to ground-based turret guns that can be manned and used to defend command posts. Players select to be one of over 20 different unit types from four factions: Rebel Alliance, Galactic Empire, Republic Clone Army and Separatist Battle Droids. Each unit has specialized abilities and the freedom to use more than 30 different ground and air vehicles like the AT-ST, X-wing and speeder bike. Players need to work together with their teammates to secure enemy command posts in an attempt to rule the Star Wars galaxy.
Star Wars Battlefront is optimized for PlayStation 2 online, Xbox Live and PC online. Console gamers can battle against up to 16 players (plus AI units) over the Internet or up to 32 players connected via LAN. PC gamers can battle against up to 32+ players on the Internet or via LAN. The game supports voice chat through compatible headsets for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox console systems as well as PC.
The thing that grabbed me the most is that this is the first Star Wars title to span all six movies. With the potential of reenacting you favorite movie battles with up to 32 real people on both sides Battlefront is likely to become the best Star Wars game in the history of the franchise.
- First and third-person gameplay – depending on player preference.
- Three single player modes including “Instant Action,” “Galactic Conquest” and the story-based “Historical Campaigns” mode.
- Multiplayer for 2-16 players (plus AI units) online or 32+ players via LAN.
- Split-screen mode for multiplayer ‘offline’ play.
- Battle in more than 15 environments across 10 diverse planets from the classic Trilogy and Clone Wars eras including Hoth, Endor, Tatooine, Kamino and Geonosis.
- More than 20 different soldier types from 4 factions: Rebel Alliance, Galactic Empire, Republic Clone Army and Separatist Battle Droids. Soldier types include standard infantry, scouts, heavy weapons and pilots - each will have their own unique abilities.
- More than 30 Star Wars weapons including blaster rifles, rocket launchers and thermal detonators, in addition to ground-based turret guns that can be manned and used to defend command posts.
- More than 30 diverse ground and air vehicles including the AT-ST, X-Wing, and speeder bike, as well as the massive Republic Gunship that can hold up to five different soldiers.
- Customizable controls on all systems.
- Supports voice chat via compatible headsets (PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC).
- Requires PlayStation 2 network adapter, Xbox Live kit and Internet PC for online multiplayer games.