Fans of Star Wars gaming packed the Penny Arcade Expo 2010’s classy new main theater inside Seattle’s Benaroya Concert Hall for a preview of the franchise’s upcoming titles, The Force Unleashed 2 and The Old Republic. Force Unleashed 2 dev Emilo Torres kicked the panel off with a screening of the E3 cinematic trailer, and played up the mystery of how there can even be a sequel after the events of the first game. Is this Starkiller the same man, or is he a clone with faulty memory implants, and perhaps more importantly, does it even matter?
Putting the game’s mysteries aside for a moment, a previously unrevealed game segment was demoed for the audience. On the planet Cato Nemoidia, famed as the site where Jedi Master Plo Koon was killed by his own squad clone troopers under Order 66, and perhaps more recognizable as the planet with the upside down bridge cities, Starkiller has a chance to show off some new moves.
In addition to the duel welding of lightsabers, which reboots the franchise’s combo system, he displayed a Force Lightning charged Push attack, the ability to Force Pull enemy weapons away and use them against their owners, and new grappling attacks. Most humorously, however, was the use of the Jedi Mind Trick to cause Stormtroopers to attack each other, detonate their grenades in their hands or simply leap off the nearest ledge. A new over-charge meter can also be built up and ‘unleashed’ to further amplify Starkiller’s powers (making him look like the center of a plasma ball lamp) to the point where even large foes can be lifted flung about.
The demo then skipped ahead to an arena where General Kota was last seen. There, Starkiller faces the massive Gorog, the Rancor chomping mega-beastie seen in the very first TFU2 trailer. The creature is going wild and is tearing down the bridge-city in an effort to get to you, a speck compared to the Gorog.
The Force Unleashed 2 will be released for the Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Wii (which contains a fun Smash Bros. style multiplayer game) and DS on October 26, 2010.
The stage was the given over to the team from Star Wars: The Old Republic, who opened with the E3 “Hope” cinematic trailer, an action packed scene from the effort to oust the Sith from the formerly peaceful world of Alderaan. A live demo of the game itself followed with a team of devs each playing the role of one of the four basic Republic side classes: Jedi Knight, Jedi Counselor, Trooper and Smuggler fighting off a Sith incursion on their transport ship in a standard MMO style combat scenario. The heavily armed and armored trooper pulled agro on the siege droid while the Knight cleaned up the secondary foes, with the Smuggler taking rogue-like targets of opportunity and the Counselor healing and buffing.
Outside of combat, the concept of player choice was hammered home by the presenters. Gamers' individual (and group) conversational decisions will have a real impact on how their character’s game will play out. Furthermore, each class of character will have its own complete story, starting from one of four (two for the Republic side, two for the Sith side) origin worlds. By time they leave this starting world for the capitol planet of Coruscant, the force capable characters will have their lightsabers, and each class will have their own personal starship. It was also mentioned that interstellar travel is not without its risks, as a rail-shooting action sequence might play out.
Before opening the floor for a few questions, a demo of group-vote conversations teased the existence of a mysterious structure built by Darth Revan, who: “Was, before he was reborn, both Jedi and Sith,” that brought ‘ooohs’ from the audience. The brief audience Q&A brought a few other tidbits.
Q: Cross class weapons -or- can a smuggler learn to use a lightsaber?
Q: How does losing a light side/dark side group conversation vote effect your individual play through?
A: The game takes into account your individual intent, not the result.
Q: What about The Exile from KoTOR 2?
A: His/her story was a small part of the larger Old Republic universe, but its effect of the force-sensitive characters’ storyline (referring to that game’s plot critical ‘tear in the fabric of the Force‘) will be significant. “Remember, Revan left to seek the truth, and the Exile followed him, so we have two stories to resolve.”
The panel ended with a killer tease, showing a shadow standing over Revan’s mask, and the reveal of breakout character HK-47, quoting: “Aggressive statement: Prepare to die, meatbags.”Which Star Wars game are you most excited for?