Stay on target
For too long the definition of “Game of the Year” has been unfairly narrow. How boring is it to see every website shower the same stale AAA games with praise at the end of each holiday season? So at Geek.com we’re doing what we can to put a stop to this in Game of the Year, a new column celebrating worthy alternative picks for the year’s greatest game regardless of genre, platform, year of release, or even quality. Here, any game can be Game of the Year!
As people pre-order their tickets for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, already the time before perpetual Star Wars is beginning to seem like a rapidly fading memory. Between alternating annualized episodes and spin-offs, Star Wars will be with us, always. And because Disney/Lucasfilm now has a century of content to create, it seems impossible that they would ever abandon any precious Star Wars material. How many “new” Star Wars things use old ideas and names cut from the original movies because they were (at the time) not good enough?
However, just as the existence of unused Harry Potter ideas shocked us, there are somehow still Star Wars projects that have never seen the light of day. One of the most heartbreaking Star Wars casualties is Star Wars 1313, a game that looked so ambitious and promising we’re giving this week’s Game of the Year award even though it’ll never actually come out.
At E3 2012, LucasArts wowed the gaming world with the debut of Star Wars 1313. The gameplay players witnessed featured breakneck, Uncharted-style cinematic action and third-person shooting set in a seedier side of the Star Wars universe. The title refers to the game’s setting: the 1313th underground layer of city planet Coruscant where criminals and the mercenaries who hunt them thrive.
Beyond the thrill of seeing a brand-new, big-budget Star Wars game, players were also taken aback by just how beautiful the demo looked. The game ran on the ubiquitous Unreal Engine 3, but the visual fidelity was clearly higher than what the PS3 or Xbox 360 could provide. At the time, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One hadn’t even been announced yet, but it was clear even then that this game, like the original Watch Dogs, was targeting those next-gen systems.
However, we never learned the most exciting surprise detail of Star Wars 1313 until after the game had already been canceled. Star Wars 1313 wasn’t going to be about the two generic bounty hunters featured in the gameplay footage. No, in Star Wars 1313 you were going to play as Boba Fett. Boba Fett! This would’ve been the chance to prove to the masses that the character worked as something more than a cool costume who pops up for a few minutes. The game could’ve redeemed his embarrassing Sarlacc Pit death. LucasArts was able to scrape together a pretty good video game out of Jango Fett in 2002’s Star Wars: Bounty Hunter. Imagine what they could have done with modern, AAA Boba Fett game. It was the chosen one!
So what chopped the head off of Star Wars 1313? Bad timing. Soon after the game’s announcement in 2012, a pretty big thing happened in the world of Star Wars. Disney bought the franchise and began its grand new everlasting plan for the future of Star Wars. The plan included great things like more movies and cartoons. Unfortunately, the plan did not include more video games from LucasArts. Like the similarly seedy Star Wars: Underworld live-action show, Star Wars 1313 was lost in the transition from George Lucas to Walt Disney. In April 2013 the game was officially scrapped.
However, as I asked earlier, will anything Star Wars-related ever truly die? Lucasfilm head honcho Kathleen Kennedy has talked about how material generated for dead projects like 1313 and Underworld are too good to throw away. Meanwhile, as the new Star Wars video game overlords, one of the projects EA is working on is some kind of third-person action game from Amy Hennig, Jade Raymond, and Visceral Games. These are the folks behind Uncharted, Assassin’s Creed, and Dead Space, respectively. The game won’t be 1313 in name, but with that talent working in that genre, perhaps it will be in spirit.
Like Yoda, Obi-Wan, and Hayden Christensen, Star Wars 1313 left this crude physical world to become a shimmering Force ghost smiling down on us. That sounds like a Game of the Year to me.
Check back next week to read about the next Game of the Year!