Well, day 2 started out with power so that was a big plus over the previous morning. Without air conditioning and power to the media center, it sure made a long first day. Good thing we didn’t experience any of that today as power wise, everything went silky smooth. I was supposed to start off with Sapphire Tech, a make-up appointment for Wednesday’s appointment because Sapphire wasn’t able to make it to the show on time. Again, I was left there with an empty booth today but I decided against going back to check up on them as I saw they had a pretty booked day. I’ll try again one more time tomorrow.
So let’s get to LucasArts. I’ll let Charles detail Empire at War
so I’ll touch up on Battlefront II
. The follow-up to the Battlefield like game, Battlefront II
was being shown on the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and PC at the LucasArts booth. Our demonstration was on the PlayStation 2 and the guys at Pandemic Studios gave us the rundown. Major additions are playable Jedi, space combat, Episode 3 content, and a new story driven campaign. Sizes of the maps are now four times bigger than the original. The AI has also been updated to be more humanlike. They will definitely be more aware of their surroundings, group up, and hide behind objects.
For space combat, the demo showed a Stormtrooper hopping into a Tie fighter and flying out into the battle. There were some hard points on some of the ships that you can target. A really great part of the demo features the character flying into a Rebel ship, taking out the forces, jumping into a turret, and unloading on the ship’s other turrets and hull. They also showed the ability to jack an enemy vehicle, such as the X-Wing in this part of the demo. The transition from flying in space, into the hanger, and going into ground combat was seamless.
To demonstrate playable heroes, they showed a clip of the beginning of Episode 4 video and then transitioning to the Stormtrooper after the door was blasted open to start the game. After the objects for that level was achieved, the most valuable player became Darth Vader. If you don’t continue to contribute to the mission you will lose the right to be Vader. This will make sure that the person does continue to be a good contributor in the campaign and not slack off. You’ll be able to use various force powers when playing as a Jedi but you won’t be invincible. It will be a lot easier to use another Jedi to combat the enemies’ Jedi but you can have regular units eliminate the hero but it will be a lot more difficult. Now you don’t have to play as a Jedi but who wouldn’t want to do that when they earn the right?
Episode 3 content wasn’t shown too much except for General Grievous and some of the units that are modeled after the Clone Troopers. One of the classes, the Clone Commander, inspires the team by giving bonuses to those that are near him. This should help people stick together and work as a team. When I asked if Grievous was playable, the Pandemic guy said they are still deciding if that would be a feature. Let’s hope they give the go ahead to put that in.
Multiplayer improvements include an improved network code that should cut down on the lag. Player counts have been increased with the PS2 allowing 24 players, Xbox will let 32 players play, while the PC will have a whopping 64 player limit. With the Xbox, you can have split screen Xbox Live action where both of you can be online playing on one screen. Split screen Co-Op will be a feature of the consoles but there will be no Co-Op features of any type for the PC which is a little disappointing. But the PC version’s frame rate is no longer locked so you’ll be able to play at top speeds if you have a high end video card. The PC version looked very slick and polished with the PS2 version being the worst looking of the three platforms.
ABIT was my other appointment today with a new booth over at the West Hall and a nice upgrade from when they were in Kentia. It was a pretty big booth and of course, heavily branded with Fatal1ty. There was a nice setup for a deathmatch with the man himself. As far as a hardware goes, the big news is that ABIT has signed an agreement with Creative Labs so there will soon be Fatali1ty branded CL products. I asked if they would soon incorporate Creative Labs audio solutions on their high end boards but there were no news on that end yet. Zalman’s been working with ABIT for a little bit now and they showed off new Fatal1ty branded coolers for the CPU and video card. The CPU cooler was similar to the CNPS7000-Cu
but with a bigger fan. And the video card cooler’s design was similar to the VF700-Cu
. On display was also the case but there wasn’t any information on when it will be released. For motherboards, only the AMD64 SLI solution was on display in the case while various Creative Labs products were in the other portion of the display. Overall, ABIT’s booth had some fun events and if you like Fatal1ty’s products, this booth was for you.
Behind the ABIT booth, I ran into a product for FPS gamers called the Cyber Snipa
. What it is is a small USB mini keypad designed with a FPS-centric layout. As you can see, the directional keys are ZBoard
keys. Everything on the product is in easy reach and I didn’t have any problems getting used to the layout while testing the product with Unreal Tournament 2004
. For laptop gamers, this would be a nice device to take with you to LANs. Time will tell if it will be well received or be another small nitch product.
Over at the Tecmo booth, a demo that I really enjoyed watching was Trapt
. You play Princess Allura and try to lure enemies into various traps set in your castle. There’s nothing like avenging your father’s death by causing as much pain to your enemies as possible in various gruesome and humorous ways. There were some pretty innovative traps shown on the video such as one that was reminiscent of the movie Hellraiser where hooked chains come flying out and taking the enemy in the air. Another great one features an arrow is shot at a knight. On impact, the knight is thrown back with the arrow where it gets stuck in a clock face. Then the clock hands converge on the knight dealing more punishment to the victim. Trapt
looked pretty original and to be great fun.
Tomorrow I should be back with a lot more as it’s a full day of appointments for me. Some of the companies I will be meeting with are NVIDIA, Logitech, and Mad Catz. I’ll be sad when the day ends but relieved that another E3 is over and I can rest from the long walks between appointments.
Day 2 turned out to be significantly better than Day 1. The first reason was they managed to keep the power on for the entire day and because I had five pretty sweet appointments lined up.
Kentia Hall has something of a negative reputation and while that’s where a lot of weird items are shown it’s also where a lot of new ideas and technology are shown off for the first time. Last year the hot technology that debuted was Alienware’s new SLI technology (subsequently re-purposed and re-launched by Nvidia) and this year it’s the new physics technology from AGEIA.
Gamers have been playing software driven physics engines for the last year and a half or so (Half-Life 2, Painkiller, Psi-Ops to name three) so realistic physics in games is not something that’s new. What we are seeing is that the physics engines are becoming pervasive and that these engines are quickly providing game developers with new ways to add realism to games.
This is where AGEIA comes in as they are the first company to develop hardware and software solutions for in-game physics. Their NovodeX physics engine is poised to really change the world in which we play in. The company feels that realistic in-game physics are the next be leap in gaming since dedicated graphics processing cards hit the scene in the mid-nineties. AGEIA is currently developing a solution that will allow developers to create games with highly realistic physics for the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC’s.
What’s interesting about the PC side of the equation is the hardware aspect. With the multi-processor, multi-threaded capabilities of the two next generation consoles there is already a lot of processing power available to handle all of the necessary calculations for realistic physics (especially with the PS3’s cell processor) the PC doesn’t have a lot of extra bandwidth to handle all of these calculations. This is where the new AEGIA hardware solution comes in.
The PCI card will offload the physics calculations onto a dedicated processor freeing up the CPU to handle the rest of the game play calculations. This allows developers to really load up on calculations which helps create a more realistic game play experience. The intial set of board will be developed by Asus and will be released in the fourth quarter of this year with a price point between $249 and $299.
This means that rather than forcing gamers to stay within a fixed path, developers can open up the environment and setup scenarios where the environment reacts to the player. This also allows for cool things like more realistic explosions, realistic water effects, and things like realistic clothing, hair and grass. I got to see a couple of cool demonstrations of the hardware including a rotating country-side that had six thousand boulders rolling down a hill. Each boulder had its own trajectory, spend, and interaction with the environment differently. This was all done without dropping a lot of frames which is pretty impressive.
Since this is a middleware piece it doesn’t mean a lot without having software developers on board. AGEIA already has several software developers on board including NC Soft (City of Villains for the PC), Ubisoft (Ghost Recon 3 for the Xbox 360), Shiny Entertainment (Unnamed PC adventure game), as well as several other vendors.With all of the hoopla about the Xbox 360 this week it’s easy to forget that Microsoft still developers games for the PC and I was fortunate to get a look at four of their upcoming titles.
The first was Dungeon Siege II
and the game has come a long way since I previewed
the game last month. A lot of content has been added and the final layer of polish has been added to the game. Makes sense as the game will be in stores in August.
Next on the docket was Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends
. While the original game was a historically based RTS while this one will be more fantasy based. The game will feature four playable situations. Two of the races are magic based while the other two are more technology focused. It creates an interesting dynamic as you’ll have magic wielding sorcerers going up against robots.
It looks like the game will have three levels of units. You’ll have your standard infantry units, hero units, and monster super units. Hero units will gain experience and level up but even at higher levels they are no match for the super units. In the demo we were showed today we watched a large force of ground troops assault a city. The developer beamed in three hero units which made quick work of the army. Then the super unit for the other side moved in (an amazing looking giant mechanical spider) which then proceeded to mop the floor with the hero units before beginning the process of destroying the city. It’s an interesting system but looks to be something that will require a bit of balance tweaking.
The units themselves looked great even in this early build of the game. The game featured a couple of dragon units with translucent wings that were just beautiful to look at. The cities also look good and each of the four races will have unique style of its own.
While the Rise of Nations:Rise of Legends
won’t be out until 2006 we looked at something that will be out a little sooner. Fable: The Lost Chapters
isn’t just a straight port of the Xbox game but rather a new version of the game. The developers have added 16 new quests to the game, nine new environments, and a truck load of new content (spells, armor, tattoos, gestures, etc) to the game as well as an entirely new ending. The PC version really benefits from the increased resolution and the game looks a lot better than it’s Xbox cousin. Diligent gamers will also be able to find several new hidden items in the game as well.
Last but certainly not least is Age of Empires III
. The game picks up after the second game and this time it will be up to you to colonize the new world. What’s interesting about the game is that for the first time you have a strategy game where the graphics are the focus of the game. That’s not to say that they aren’t focusing on the gameplay and the other attributes that have made the game successful but you can tell that a lot of effort went into look and feel of the game.
A new feature for the genre is location specific damage. Rather than shifting through a pre-set list of tiles for when a structure is hit, you’ll actually see that part of the building being destroyed. The demo we say had a cannon attacking two structures by the coast line. On one building the cannon shot a ball through the roof before sending a second ball through one of the balls. A nice touch was that the cannon balls flew through the other side of the house and into the water below. Other examples of this could include knocking the mast off of a ship or knocking a row of enemy soldiers in formation down.
Another new feature in the game is the concept of the home city. The home city (from one of the larger cities in Europe) acts as a second level of technology tree. As you accomplish certain feats while playing the game you fill up a meter back at your home city. When the meter is full you can have a shipment sent from the home city to your colony in the America. So while you have a blacksmith that you can upgrade in the new world you can get an additional, permanent upgrade for that particular building. You can have multiple, concurrent home cities in the game but you can only earn points towards one at a time. Luckily you won’t have too long to wait for the game as it should be out in time for the holidays this year.Being a huge Star Wars nerd I was really looking forward to hitting the Lucas booth. Not only because they were showing three Star Wars games but because they had a full sized Vader suit, Yoda puppet, R2D2 unit, and even the prop of Han Solo frozen in carbonite. It’s hard not to be excited with these props nearby and I will admit to having a small nerd-gasm as we walked past them.
John’s already covered Star Wars: Battlefront 2
and Ben is going to be covering the new Star War Galaxies collection in a bit so I’m going to focus on Star Wars: Empire at War
the new RTS game. This isn’t the first attempt at a Star Wars RTS game but it’s the one that’s got the best shot at actually being a good, fun game.
Lucasarts has brought in Petroglyph to develop the game for them and I don’t think there’s another developer on the planet better suited for the task. Why you ask? Petroglyph is composed of people who worked on Dune II
, Command and Conquer
, and Command and Conquer:Generals
all of which seminal games in the RTS genre.
While the game is still months away from completion it looks really solid. The game is played on three different levels. The first is your ground combat on the planet through out the galaxy. This is your typical ground based combat RTS game that we are all familiar with. The next level up is space around the planets where you can wage epic battles between the fleets of the empire and the republic. Once you’ve assigned the fleet your orders you can actually switch to a cinematic view of the action and watch as your orders are carried out. This is a pretty cool way to get your space combat fix now that the movie series has wrapped up. The final view is the galactic view where you can mass your fleets and move them around the universe of the game. Petroglyph has done a great job of creating an easy to use drag and drop system so this portion of the game is exceedingly easy to use.
A new feature that’s been included in the game is the ability to retreat from battles. This is critical as protecting your resources in the game is important and it’s better to live to fight another day than to lose all of your units in a one sided battle. You can retreat from the planet battles as well as from the space battles. There’s a catch though as all of the capital ships have hard points on them (X-Wing fans remember these). The hard points cover such things as weapons and engines. Knocking out a ships engine prevent them from retreating which means you can play with your prey before finishing them off.
The game will also feature hero units from the movies and each hero unit will have their own special powers. Vader has a fun collection of force powers such as force push (which knocks down and kills enemies) and force crush (allows you to pick up and destroy units).
In talking with the Petroglyph guys we get a real feeling that they love the franchise and their attention to geek detail was impressive. This was clearly demonstrated when the death star moved into position about a planet and in order to fire the death star you have to pull the big switch that looked exactly like the one in the movies. It’s attention to details like that that give me the feeling that we may finally have a great Star Wars RTS when the game ships early next year.About half way through the day I realized that today had become RTS day. That’s not a bad thing as every RTS title I saw offered something new to the genre rather than just re-hashing an old idea with a new user interface. This was certainly the case when I met with TKO Software to talk about their new title Heaven Vs. Hell
The plot of the game is fairly simple. In the future, mankind has advanced so far technically that they’ve actually started to exceed God’s plan for mankind. This doesn’t make the big guy happy so he decides it’s time to clean the slate and start over again. Hell gets a whiff of the plans and is none to happy with it since it breaks the covenant between the two sides and thus Hell literally breaks out in the game.
The game features three different sides, the humans, the heavens, and hell. Each side has its own story arch so gamers will get a chance to play through each side. Like most RTS games each side shares common resources (brimstone and Primians) but what’s different is that each side uses them differently. The primians are humans that have been cast out from society for not believing in the technology lifestyle espoused by the rest of the race. Thus they’ve been cast out of society and they live in caves. When captured by the humans they are used as slave labor, when they are captured by heaven they are used as worshippers, and when used by hell they are placed in a crypt where they are tortured and their souls are used for natural resources. It sounds unpleased until you realize that the collector of souls for hell is the succubus who actually does a little provocative dance to entice them to their doom. It’s a cute little touch and really adds to the personality of the game.
The game looks like your traditional RTS game with the three quarter side view of the action. Where the game is different is the living terrain model that’s built into the game. The terrain is actually almost a living breathing structure in the game as it evolves based on which forces are occupying the land. So when the hell units occupy an area the vegetation dies turns to dust and you start seeing sporadic bits of lava in the area. When the same area is occupied by the forces of heaven grass grows green, flowers bloom and butterflies fill the air. This isn’t just a graphical look though as it represents a tactical element as non-hell enemies take damage from walking on the lava. The terrain will also eventually support some real time morphing from unit powers. For instance some hell units will be able to create a tear in the earth and have lava pour out which could block an advancing ground army.
Speaking of armies, the game will allow you to adjust the properties of the units so that you have an added level of flexibility in your units. Want to rush your enemy from the start? Crank all of the attributes down and create a large army of cheap units. Want something a little beefier? Crank them up to create more powerful units. This adds a whole flavor to the game as you may never fight the same army twice.
The designers have also made it so that you resource gatherers aren’t just the final units that get mopped up at the end of the game. If you go all the way through the tech tree you’ll actually be able to upgrade them so they are a little more than just the final lambs in the slaughter.
The game is being developed with modders in mind and I’m not just talking about the standard set of API’s and a generic tool kit here. This is a step past that where every element in the game is hot swappable. Don’t like the textures on something, create your own in Photoshop and import them. Want to change the model for the Ojinn? Create your own and import it. You don’t have to be a master artist/modeler/programmer to create your own levels and units it’s all in the game
The game looks to be one of those cool little gems of Kentia hall that come out every once in a while. The last appointment of the day was with Bethesda to check out the next edition of the Elder Scrolls series. I’ll say it right now, Elder Scrolls: Oblivion
is going to sell a lot of Xbox 360’s and high end graphics cards. You know you’ve got something special when the first screen loads up and everyone in the room let’s out a nice “ooooh” at the opening screen of your demo, multiply that by two when the room is full of developers from competing studio and then double that when you get the same response three or four more times before the end of your presentation.
Like every other Elder Scrolls game you start off the game in prison. This isn’t a bad thing as it turns out the only secret escape passage out of the castle is through your cell and the king needs to escape through it. The quirky thing is that he recognizes you from his dreams and you get to tag along as he escapes from the assassins who’ve just attacked his sons. That’s about as much plot as we were given but it was enough to whet the appetite especially since Patrick “Professor X” Stewart voices the king in the game. They’ve already lined up a lot of voice talent in the game which is important as they game has over 50 hours of dialog in it. This dialog will account for more than 50% of the storage space on the DVD the game will ship on.
From there we got to tour one of the forests in the game (which elicited another “ooooh” from the audience). Words can’t describe the lushness of the forests so just check out the screenshots at the bottom of the page from the Xbox 360 version of the game. What’s nice about the forest is that they are procedurally generated rather than placed. The folks at Bethesda created a program to generate the forests based on real world growth patterns and geological trends and the results are stunning. I can’t remember seeing a foreset that looked this real in a game before. Inside the forests are special areas like ruins and caves that are specially setup inside the forests. The game world is composed of 16 square miles of terrain and over half of that is forest.
The game also gets a new improved combat system where gamers have control over the three basic components, melee, defense, and magic. The game will also feature a stealth system which will allow you to act as somewhat of the fantasy Sam Fisher as you sneak around dispatching Orcs and goblins.
You can’t have a RPG without NPC’s and Oblivion has over 1000 of them in the game. Rather than programming 1000 different characters, the developers created AI behavior patterns for them. So NPC’s will work at their job for a period of time, go home, cook dinner all based on their personality.
Another interesting feature of the game is that there are no experience points to earn in the game. You gain experience in a skill by using that skill so you’re not really constrained to one particular user class.
We’ll certainly be talking more about this game as it nears it’s release this holiday season.It’s too early in the morning to drive to LA. The trip must be made however as day two was knocking on my door demanding an answer. The morning begin with a line for a poster from King of Fighter’s new lead artist; Falcoon who was on hand to sign posters for eager fans of the series. After that is was off to Capcom for a quick view of Okami and Killer 7. Killer 7 is hands down my game of the show, not some next generation title running in real time with arms so detailed you can count the pores. The new style of gameplay and graphical prowess of the game make this a must own game when it hits the shelves in June. I must have been infected with the Heaven’s Smile because I was grinning like a madman while I was running down a hall as Con Smith and putting bullets into the denizens of evil. After being torn away from the Killer 7 demo it was time to give Capcom and Clover’s latest opus, Okami; a visually stunning PS2 title that reminds me much of a PS2 game called Magic Pengeli in which you have access to a magic brush that can be used to draw objects. Say a bridge is broken, what to do? How about draw in a new one. Get a rock in the way of your path? Cut through it with the brush, the potential for this game shines through immediately as playing the demo only displays two of the abilities you can learn in the game
Next up was a trip to Square-Enix where I was provided with a quick questionnaire with producer; Asano, Tomoya of the next game in the Full Metal Alchemist line; Full Metal Alchemist: Curse of the Crimson Elixer. Immediately my first questions were about the gameplay as I found that to be the weakest aspect of the first game. After a little time hands on with the game and a little re-assurance from Asano I was convinced that this game is a definite improvement over the last game, the battle system is much quicker all around with the alchemy system being streamlined all in effort to make the game play better, and it does. The graphical style of the game has been changed in to a cel-shaded style that manages a smooth frame-rate thanks to the enemies that don’t really draw too much system power. If you are a fan of the series then you will notice that a portion of the story borrows from about the first nine episodes of the show/manga and then branches off into its own story. For the uninitiated the story does tell the tale of Alphonse and Edward Elric in their quest to find the Philosopher’s Stone; the ultimate tool in alchemy that makes anything possible. A bit of time hands on with the game has given me a lot of hope for this sequel and I can’t wait to get my hands on it later on this year.
Next up was a chance to sit down with Jack Niida from Nippon Ichi Software as they gave me a chance to see their newest offerings for this year and a small tidbit of information on a title to be released next year. First up was the next strategy RPG called Makai Kingdom which everyone will immediately recognize. This time around you assume the role of Lord Zeta who was turned in to a book and needs his loyal subjects to re-write his history. The newest twist that this game brings to the table is the fact that you now “invite” your minions to battle, with this you can also summon buildings and vehicles, which are both new to this style of RPG. Makai Kingdom is looking at a July release this year. Next up was a quick look at the more classical RPG called Atlier Iris: Eternal Mana. Atlier Iris has a beautiful two dimensional look; the classic look that takes us back to a time to before Final Fantasy 7 ruled the day of RPGs. The big feature to keep an eye out for in this game is the alchemy system where you draw mana from all the items in the world, this includes stuff like rocks or trees that you’ll see around you. All this in an effort to create new items, weapons, and armor, and there will be spirits who will assist you in creating new items. However you must make sure you take good care of them or else they will not help you. Treat them well and they’ll be cooperative. Atlier Iris is looking at a late June release. Last up is a new PSP title called Generation of Chaos; a well known series in Japan. This game is another strategy RPG and will feature up to thirty on thirty battles. It also has a system of politics and commerce, and when in battle all super moves have a really interesting animation set. I think I have finally found a game that makes me want a PSP. Well, here it is the end of Day 2, and I’m exhausted. After a full day on the show floor yesterday, and attending parties each of the past three nights, I was ready for a relaxing night. So, now that I’ve returned from a very enjoyable wine tasting, I’m sitting down to go over my time spent today with the U.S. Army and LucasArts.
The U.S. Army had a rather large encampment in the South Hall to promote their arsenal of PC and console games, but after negotiating the show floor and the mean streets of L.A., I was ready for my time with the military.
The Army’s big gun continues to be America’s Army, distributed as freeware, and available for PC, Mac, and Linux. The newest incarnation of this title is America’s Army: Special Forces. This title is vastly different from any other FPS on the market today. For example, the player cannot take the role of an enemy of the US Army. If the mission being played is too advanced for the players current skill level, he joins the battle as a member of the ‘indigenous forces’, poorly equipped soldiers who are local to the area. Players can also now train in the specialized role of a Combat Medic, whose job is to keep the other soldiers in his unit healthy. The game includes the full version of the previous release America’s Army: Operations.
“The US Army strongly believes that this game is an effective message tool in a time when most Americans receive their information about the military from either the news media or movie”, related Randy Brown, Technical Director of the America’s Army Government Applications group. “The technology used to create the public application of the game has also been used to create applications requested by government agencies.”
One such application is a part of the Army’s Future Soldier program. This program allows enlistees to postpone their date of active service for 6 months. “The application created for the Future Soldier program is considered sufficient training to allow the enlistee to enter active service with a higher pay grade than those who do not complete the training.”, stated Mr. Brown. “Another is for training soldiers who will be protecting convoys exactly how to do that, as it is a rather specialized form of combat.”
Once our discussion of the government applications for the game was complete, Phillip Bossant, Executive Producer and Art Director for the Public Applications group gave me a demonstration of AA: Special Forces. “The version I’m demonstrating on the PC is Overmatch, which should be launched in September. It includes the Hummer GMV and the Javelin Missle System, and enemy armor systems as well.”
In my last stop at the Army booth, Mr. Bossant showed me the upcoming console release America’s Army: Rise of a Soldier. Developed by UbiSoft and Secret Level, this new FPS for the XBox and PS2 is a departure from the America’s Army releases for PC. “I’m going to be very disappointed if this game doesn’t do well, because many of the changes made reflect my input on what I enjoy in a game”, stated Major Jason Amerine.
Maj. Amerine, a veteran of the US deployment to Afghanistan following September 11th, worked with Hamid Karzai, the now President of Afghanistan. He lead his group of Special Forces Green Berets in assisting the residents of Tarin Kot in ousting the local Taliban government. The group then led the effort to protect the town from the ensuing attack from Taliban forces out of Kandahar. “I haven’t had any time to play this week, but I play Star Wars Galaxies pretty heavily. I just finished grinding out my Padawan. A lot of my ideas for Rise of a Soldier come from the other games I’ve played.”
Rise of a Soldier is expected to hit stores the first week of August, 2005.
Next was the GamingNexus appointment with LucasArts. The entire group attended this appointment, and not just because the House of Vader is developing several new fantastic titles. This is the holy grail of nerdiness, and I literally shook as I walked into their invitation-only area. Even the booth itself was something special. The entry hallway contained a case of famous movie props from a Yoda puppet to Harrison Fords trademark hat and coat from the Indiana Jones series..
While LucasArts works on new titles such as Empire at War and Battlefront II, being the only member of the group with Star Wars Galaxies experience, I paid particular attention to this title. Star Wars Galaxies: The Total Experience is the upcoming release which includes the original game and its two expansion packs. Jump to Lightspeed brought spaceflight and combat to each player in the game. Rage of the Wookies, the new expansion pack based on Revenge of the Sith content is currently available for download.
Recent changes to the title include a complete overhaul of the combat system, an overhaul that was not without objection from some players who were more than happy with the previous version. The new combat system and changes incorporated in Rage of the Wookies now allow from a more directed form of directed content on the part of LucasArts. Chris Baker, Studio Publicist pointed out that “Most gamers want that level of interaction with the famous characters from the series, and these changes allow us to give the players more of that sort of content.”
As an example of this new content, LucasArts showed a group of Jedi taking on an enemy that looked very much like General Grievous. We were informed that for higher level players, there is a quest where they are tricked into helping a mad scientist obsessed with the legend of Grevious build a replica of the general. If they manage to defeat him, which is no small feat, they are given an extremely valuable reward: Grievous personal starfighter.
When SWG: The Total Experience hits stores May 26th, it will feature all 3 episodes of the game, plus some in game enhancements only available those who purchase the boxed product from a retail outlet.
I spent the rest of the afternoon perusing the he show floor of the South and West halls, and my unofficial stops will be detailed in a later story.