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Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Preview

publisher: LucasArts
developer: LucasArts
genre: Action

ESRB rating: T

release date: Sep 16, 08
» All About Star Wars: The Force Unleashed on ActionTrip

AT: Judging from the shots and footage released so far, the environments are pretty diverse. Exactly how many different worlds will players be able to visit in the game?

HB: We haven't released the full list yet, but we tried to capture a wide range of environments, from the very familiar to planets that might have only been glimpsed in one of the films, to brand new locations. Felucia is a personal favorite of mine because we didn't see much of it in Episode III, which allowed us to really develop the planet for the game. Also, players will get to see some of these locations transform over time as the Empire takes control. You visit a very pastoral Kashyyyk early in the game as Darth Vader, and then return as the Apprentice later to find it nearly burned to the ground, the populace enslaved.

AT: Balancing the game must've been difficult. Vader's secret apprentice has powers that appear almost God-like. How will the AI stand up to this? Force-wielding enemies will no doubt be able to fight back, but how does this reflect on weaker foes?

HB: Well, first and foremost, we wanted to give you some enemies that you could deal with pretty easily, to make you feel like a powerful Force wielder. But even with "cannon fodder" like stormtroopers, we wanted to present some sort of challenge, especially as the game progresses and on higher difficult levels. For these types of units, we focused on wearing the player character down through overwhelming numbers and eventual attrition. You might be able to handle a small group of stormtroopers, but if you get surrounded by them and don't use your powers effectively and efficiently, you can get ripped to ribbons pretty quickly. We also devoted a lot of energy to creating enemies. We have over 50 different enemy types, each with varied abilities, resistances, and tactics. Our design challenge was finding the best ways to place and combine these units in each of our environments. A scout trooper, whose primary attack in the game is a long-range sniper rifle, isn't much of a threat in the corridors of the TIE Fighter Construction Facility, where you can close with him easily. But put that sniper in a nest on Kashyyyk, and then place a bunch of heavier units on the ground to engage and slow the player, and the sniper becomes a huge threat. Among our enemy types, you'll also find a number of really tough units, including the Dark Trooper, Royal Guard, various Force wielders, and "giant" units like the AT-ST and rancor monster.

AT: Combining DMM and Euphoria was obviously a great challenge. Do you see these technologies used in other projects and for different genres?

HB: I certainly think we can continue to expand on the ways these technologies interact, and the technologies themselves. We've barely scratched the surface of simulation-based gameplay, environmental interactivity and destructibility, and bio-mechanical AI. While different genres might be better at exploiting these technologies, I think that many game concepts could benefit from the level of interactions we've achieved in The Force Unleashed, and I hope we continue to blow the doors off of real-time simulation moving forward, especially as we become more skilled at building games for the current generation of consoles and start looking towards the next generation.

AT: The upcoming demo features the Tie Fighter Construction Facility level and a different conclusion to that level - one that won't be in the final game. Is this ending an important segment of the overall story in The Force Unleashed?

HB: We added a new enemy at the end of the demo that players normally won't encounter at that exact location so that players get a taste for what it's like fighting a bigger unit.

AT: If all goes well with Force Unleashed, can we expect a sequel some time in the future?

HB: I hope so!

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