Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Baleful Glare at E3 2012, Part 3: Star Wars 1313

Star Wars 1313 is a third-person shooter set in the Star Wars universe. You play as a bounty hunter hunting dangerous fugitives from justice in the criminal underworld of Coruscant's Level 1313, far below the surface of the city-world. (So probably no cameos from that four-armed guy who ran the 50s diner from Attack of the Clones, sadly.) I've commented at some length on Star Wars previously on this blog, which you can read here.

This seems promising. I applaud the idea of a Star Wars game that isn't about Jedi and/or an appendix to the plots of the six movies, having grown somewhat weary of both, and I like the bounty hunter premise.

I just hope the protagonist is cool. The last time somebody was hyping up a Star Wars videogame starring a new character having adventures involving the criminal underworld of the Star Wars universe, we got Dash Rendar.

Dash Rendar, in case you're not familiar with him, was the protagonist of the Nintendo 64 (and PC, but no one remembers that) game Shadows of the Empire, part of a larger multimedia spinoff project set between the events of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

Shadows of the Empire wasn't just a few new tie-in products, it was supposed to be an Event- practically a new addition to the original trilogy with everything but an actual theatrical film. A novel from Bantam books, a videogame, a series of comic books published by Dark Horse, trading cards, action figures, toy ships, Micro Machines. and- perhaps the loftiest laurel that can be placed upon a franchise's triumphant brow- a comic strip in Nintendo Power.

Truly, a fitting successor to Han Solo.
The problem was that it could not include Han Solo, since he spent the entire time frame of the new storyline flash-frozen in Boba Fett's trunk. But without Han Solo alongside the other heroes of Star Wars, you've got no cool, cocky, somewhat mercenary but basically good-hearted women-want-him-men-want-to be-him rogue. All you have left are the Jedi, the aristocratic female love interest, the droids, and the inarticulate alien sidekick, and if you've seen ever the prequel trilogy you know how that turns out.

The solution, of course, was to bring in a substitute Han Solo. Consequently, Dash Rendar was born, created according to a simple formula. First, take Han Solo and file the serial numbers off. Then continue filing until all interesting or memorable character traits have been filed off as well. Then fill the resulting void with nothing and come up with a reason for said void to be present at the Battle of Hoth so the “tripping Imperial walkers with harpoon cables” sequence can be crammed into yet another videogame as part of LucasArts' ongoing efforts to dethrone Normandy as the most reenacted battle in videogame history.

The Shadows of the Empire videogame is pretty well-regarded today; indeed, it's by far the most commonly and most fondly remembered part of the Shadows of the Empire project as a whole. It owes none of that success to Mr. Rendar.

Where was I? Right, that Star Wars game at E3.

LucasArts promises “a bold new take on the Star Wars galaxy, intended for mature audiences.” I'm of two minds on this. On one hand, while I have no problem with dark settings or stories, or with the sort of content people usually mean by “mature,” that sort of thing can go awry when you take an existing franchise where that sort of thing generally isn't the norm and start trying to add it. On the other hand, something in the Star Wars universe “intended for mature audiences” could be interesting if it's done well and doesn't just mean that there's lots of blood spraying around when you shoot guys and a cutscene where the hero calls some Hutt crime boss a “motherfucker.”
Anger, aggression, the dark side are- ah, the hell with it.
(Though now I kind of want somebody to make a Star Wars/Dead to Rights: Retribution crossover where Jack Slate teams up with Han and Luke to go on a bloody, profanity-strewn rampage through the criminal gangs of the Star Wars universe, just so that I can hear Luke Skywalker roar “SHUT YOUR FUCKING HOLE!” at some poor goon in the Mos Eisley cantina as the prelude to some horrendously brutal lightsaber kill. Just once before I die, that's all I ask.)

In any case, I'm curious to see how this turns out.

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