We took an up-close look at Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided, the upcoming online role-playing game from LucasArts and Sony Online Entertainment. Galaxies looks considerably farther along than it did last year--the game was in playable form, and we walked through several areas on the desert planet of Tattooine. The surface of Tattooine was covered by an arid desert, and most settlements were small villages of the same sort of dome-shaped buildings that appeared in the original Star Wars movie. According to LucasArts, the game will fully support player housing, and will let groups of players build houses in the same area, which may later become full-fledged cities. As we traveled through the various environments of Tattooine, we saw lots of familiar characters, including jawas, R2-D2, C-3PO, Boba Fett, and Jabba the Hutt. Each of the character models was extremely detailed and carefully textured to look like its motion picture counterpart. We also got a chance to visit Jabba the Hutt's palace, where Jabba was being entertained by his musicians from Return of the Jedi. Though the game will have huge, original areas to explore, it will also have locations from the movies, like Jabba's palace, where players can meet, socialize, and even get quests.
In addition to meeting key characters from the films, players will be able to recruit companions to travel with them--for instance, they'll be able to build or buy their own droids, and they'll also be able to train their own pets, like Tattooine's huge, furry banthas. They'll also be able to fight against all sorts of recognizable enemies from the Star Wars universe, such as stormtroopers and gamorrean guards. We saw a demonstration of the game's combat against stormtroopers and an AT-AT--it's similar to EverQuest's pseudo-turn-based system, in that player characters and monsters attack each other in succession in real-time. We also watched the demo player character run, circle about, strafe, and lie prone while fighting--maneuvering will provide extra tactical advantages.
Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided is currently scheduled for release later this year for the PC, and though it was also recently announced Xbox Live service--we'll have more information on that as we get it.