Say what you want about the Star Wars prequel trilogy, but it's a safe bet that the popularity of George Lucas' galaxy far, far away isn't going to abate anytime soon. According to LucasFilm, we've gotten all the Star Wars movies we're going to get, so it falls to other media--such as video games--to continue the fiction Lucas began almost 30 years ago. Ubisoft's Montreal studio will contribute to that hallowed universe with its own game, the just-announced Lethal Alliance for the PSP and DS. To get the first details on this upcoming portable title, we went straight to senior producer Bertrand Helias.
GameSpot: Now that the entirety of the Star Wars saga has been put to film, how did you decide where to begin when creating Lethal Alliance?
Bertrand Helias: Although the Star Wars saga has been put to film and many questions about the Empire have been answered, there are still many mysteries and untold stories in the Star Wars universe. The last trilogy is still fresh in our minds, and the original trilogy is a true classic--while everyone on the team is a fan of the entire series, we thought it would be most interesting to explore events between Episode III and Episode IV.
GS: What's the game's premise, and when does it take place with relation to the movies?
BH: The game takes place just a few months before Episode IV. You will play a Twi'lek mercenary named Rianna Saren. The game marks her first appearance in the Star Wars universe. Early in the game, she is recruited by the alliance to infiltrate Empire-controlled planets and ultimately steal the plans of the Empire's most powerful weapon: the Death Star. I suggest gamers watch the beginning of Episode IV again to understand the link between this game and the saga.
GS: Did LucasFilm provide direction for the fiction you're creating, or have you had free reign to craft the game however you want?
BH: We have worked very closely with LucasArts to define the game and the story. They have been excellent collaborative partners, and have also given us the freedom to implement the game mechanics we wanted to develop. Of course, we needed to be respectful of the universe, as Star Wars is even more complex than what we have seen in the movies.
GS: So what kind of game is this, anyway? Tell us about the core gameplay.
BH: The game will be full of action and the experience is all about the collaboration between you (the agile and weapon-equipped Twi'lek mercenary) and your security droid Zeeo. Only by working together will you be able to defeat your enemies, access secret places, and, finally, complete your missions.
GS: Star Wars characters in video games have a way of "discovering" latent Force powers. Can we expect Rianna to bust out a lightsaber or Force lightning at some point?
BH: No, this game won't have any lightsabers. Our Twi'lek is not a Jedi and the Force won't be with her. She is a mercenary; therefore she acts more like Han Solo than Luke Skywalker.
GS: How will Rianna and her droid Zeeo work together in the game? Will you be able to play as both characters?
BH: Zeeo will be helpful in many situations. In combat, the droid becomes your powerful ally to protect you or to help you defeat your enemies. In the game, working as a duo is more effective--and more deadly--than working alone. The more you collaborate with Zeeo, the stronger your partnership will become--you will, for instance, be able to perform some really cool, powerful combos by working together. Zeeo is also helpful during the exploration phases--it will help you open security doors, reach high areas, or bypass deadly areas.
GS: Will Lethal Alliance lean more toward the prequels or the original trilogy in terms of the alien races, locations, and ships you'll encounter?
BH: Your missions will take place on some famous planets from both sagas, like Coruscant, Mustafar, Tatooine, or the Death Star. But you will also discover never-before-seen locations on Despayre, Danuta, or even Alderaan. In each environment, you will encounter many characters and species: the unavoidable stormtroopers or scout troopers, Quarren, Arconas, many empire droids. In terms of ships, we cannot have a Star Wars game without the famous TIE fighters.
GS: Will players get to interact with many locations and characters that are well known in the Star Wars universe, or will much of the content be all-new? What familiar places and faces can we expect to see?
BH: In the game you will encounter some iconic characters like Darth Vader, Boba Fett, and Princess Leia. Of course, you will have some other surprises to discover! We have designed new places like Despayre, Alderaan, or Danuta. Each time we create something new from the saga, we work closely with LucasArts to stay consistent with the universe.
GS: Are you taking advantage of the DS and PSP systems' unique hardware features? How are you designing the game with these platforms' pros and cons in mind?
BH: When we started developing the games, we wanted to take advantage of the portability of each platform. On [the] PSP, we wanted to utilize the powerful hardware by making an action-packed, fun-filled game set in beautiful environments. On [the] DS, the main focus has been on using the touch screen--the game will be full 3D and contains many elements that require the use of the touch screen. As Wi-Fi is an integral feature on each platform, the multiplayer portions of both the PSP and DS games will enable you to take on your friends in a Star Wars universe.
GS: What will the main differences be between the PSP and DS versions of the game?
BH: The games will offer a similar experience, although there are differences, including multiplayer.
GS: What will Lethal Alliance's multiplayer be like? Will it be local wireless-only, or Internet-enabled?
BH: Both versions of the game offer local Wi-Fi capabilities. Each version will offer a different multiplayer experience. On PSP you will play Twi'lek versus Twi'lek, while on DS you will play droid versus droid.
GS: Thanks, Bertrand.