E3: Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided Information

Given the recent release of Star Wars: Episode 2, it's not surprising that Star Wars games were a big part of Lucasarts' E3 lineup. Perhaps the most anticipated of these titles, however, is the upcoming Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided.

Set during the events of the original movie trilogy, Star Wars Galaxies is designed to convey the same epic scale of the movies. There will be between 8 and 12 planets when the game launches, and each planet will have a landscape that is larger than the entire playable area in Everquest and all of its expansions combined. Due to the game being set during the events of the later movies, Star Wars Galaxies will feature setpieces and characters from the films - Jabba's palace on Tattooine was demonstrated, with Boba Fett at the gangster's side.

Character customization options are nearly unlimited. There will be 8 playable races, including Rodians, Mon Calamarians, and the ever-popular Wookiees. After choosing a race and gender, a variety of selections for appearance can be customized - nearly a dozen for each race. Examples include the length of a Rodian's ears, height, weight, and even the tattoo patterns on the Zabraks (as modeled by Darth Maul in Episode 1). There will be some default "professions" available, though advanced players can select any combination of skills they wish.

Due to the game's focus on attracting a mainstream audience, the game's interface has been greatly simplified, and there will be a variety of social options. There are over 90 social animations currently in game, a variety of facial expressions, and happy/sad moods (which change the character's facial expression to better convey their emotional state to others). Players can choose any sort of career path for their characters, ranging from loyal Empire troopers, to bounty hunters, or even a miner or dancer.

Players will be able to shape the world, as they can purchase houses (and expand them with time) and other buildings, or even work to create their own cities and governments. To keep busy, players can get missions from NPC characters, or even create missions for other players to solve (and can place bounties on their heads should the players fail to fulfill their obligations).

Star Wars Galaxies features a very advanced graphics engine, with a variety of different effects to compliment the environments and sense of scale. Moreover, as the game is being developed according to a 5 year plan, the graphics will be scalable up as technology progresses; it was mentioned that the game can be turned up to show so much detail that it is impossible to play on any current machine.

Lastly, while no specific details were given about the Jedi system, some general information was stated. Regardless of character age, race, gender, or skill set, each player will have an equal chance to become a Jedi. Characters will go through an individualized process as they become attuned to the Force.

Star Wars Galaxies is set for a release this December, and a space flight expansion pack is tentatively scheduled for release a year later. Beta testing will begin on July 15th.

05.26.02 - 12:46 AM