The Return of LucasArts?


posted 11/17/2003 by Ben Zackheim
other articles by Ben Zackheim
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Star Wars Galaxies
Haven’t played this one yet but, damn, it looked fun. Lucas was showing off their “expansion set” to Galaxies which includes more worlds to play as well as the long-promised mounts. That’s right now you can fight the rancor on the back of a dewback. It’s a really nice touch that should make any Star Wars Galaxies fan work their butt off for one. The mounts let you cover the ever-expanding galaxy quicker and in style. I saw the kaadu at work and it’s a fast little sucker. It gave its rider a huge advantage over mountless players in an epic battle with a rancor. Also included in the expansion are cities. Now players can build in a common area and create a community.

I also got a look at the vehicles expansion, due out next year. Nyah nyah. Looks sweet! This might be the detail that will make me plunk down the cash for the game. Let’s just say if you liked the scene in Attack of the Clones where the Count skimmed over the surface as he escaped our heroes, then you’ll love the vehicle expansion. All of this is, of course, just a warm-up for the spaceship expansion which will allow for dogfights in space. I was surprised to learn that no one has become a Jedi in the game yet!! That’s incredible. Looks like someone is close though (and I gather he doesn’t know it) so the folks at Sony and Lucas are prepping a little celebration for when it happens.

There have also been some improvements in Customer Care as they launch the game in England. When the blackout happened in the US, the UK folks got a chance for some on-the-job training and the game’s support center became a cross-continent affair. The team is huge and always growing, Lucas and Sony insist that the community is happier with Galaxies than they have been for any other MMO at the same point in its development. I don’t know about that. You tell me.

Armed and Dangerous
The last game I got a gander at was Armed and Dangerous and this is the blue ribbon winner, baby! Man this thing looks fun!! By the makers of MDK and Giants, Planet Moon has apparently perfected the funny, action-packed and gimmicky gameplay that they essentially introduced. This time around you get incredible weapons like the Topsy Turvy Bomb, which turns the whole screen upside down and “drops” the bad guys into the sky. There’s also the Land Shark Gun which lets you sic a great white shark on the baddies. The localized damage works better in this game than any I’ve seen. Hitting a grunt in the lower butt means you actually hit him in the lower butt. The physic engine looks awesome.

Graphically, I was blown away by the settings. I saw the X-box version and Planet Moon has tapped its power very well. The characters look a little blocky at times and their movement can be a little wooden but when you’re constantly getting blown away by fun gameplay its hard to notice that. Perhaps I’m being too enthusiastic for a game I only got 30 minutes with but it looks THAT good, folks. If you’re a fan of Giants or MDK (and always wished those games were just a LITTLE better) then I think you’ll want to watch out for this one.

Look, guys and gals, I went in to this press event with a chip on my shoulder. I admit it. I’ve watched in awe as the Lucas name has meant less and less over the years and more and more of their games go straight to the bargain bins. But something seems to be changing here. Whatever alterations they’ve made it seems to be working. The games look great. They seem tight -- as if they were given the time that they needed to be as good as possible. There’s innovative gameplay, deep stories and even good graphics (not usually a Lucas staple). I’d say I’m cautiously optimistic about the future of this great company. If they’re putting out consistently good games in a year and exciting people with their new product announcements (like they used to) then I’d say you can track their resurgence to Summer/Holidays 2003.

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