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Star Wars 1313: Visually incredible - but how does it stack up as a game?

LucasArts admit Uncharted is a big influence...

Two bounty hunters haul a cargo crate towards a lift on the surface of Coruscant - the Projects in Star Wars 1313. There's not a lightsaber to be seen yet. As they descend further into criminal territory, the more grizzled of the two starts to goad the player character and question if he isn't too green for the criminal hotbed that awaits them.

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Their faces crease and stretch with none of the uncanny valley quality we just take for granted. When their errand's inevitably punctuated by violence (a clones-era robot who wants to steal their cargo) the fluidity of everyone's movement is even more extraordinary - and there still aren't any lightsabers in sight. For once, it's not all about Jedis.

Thanks to the raft of gear and gadgets on offer, you won't miss the lightsabers...

Electing a bounty hunter as the playable character is "just something that fits really well with this kind of dangerous criminal underworld," explains creative director Dominic Robilliard. Apparently it's all about "knowing that you're under threat via the combat and the death-defying platforming." But 1313 hopes you won't miss the way of the Jedi by offering "amazing things through his gear, gadgets and how you interacts with the levels and the environment." Robilliard also worked on Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2, a game that took the Jedi power fantasy to its extreme.

BLASTERS, NOT SABERS

In place of waggling around lightsabers, the meat of 1313's gameplay is in cover shooting and platforming. Within seconds of the attack, firing off your blaster and dodging from cover to cover becomes clambering around on a rapidly disintegrating vessel. Thankfully bright red climbing pipes are a mandatory part of space ship design in this universe, and you gesture out towards reachable nooks with Nathan Drake-level agility. The Uncharted influence is no secret - Robilliard freely admits it.

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The incredible animation is down to Industrial Light & Magic, the effects house George Lucas created for his space operas and pioneering CG films like The Abyss and Jurassic Park. Working in unprecedented collaboration with Lucasarts, ILM is using performance capture - a technique that involves recording both facial and body movement together with audio, and using its Hollywood heft to produce a game with movie-level sheen. Seeing it in motion is enough to realise that isn't just rhetoric - 1313 is a real ground-breaker. With such dazzling tech and formidable talent in the visuals, it makes you wonder whether the end product might suffer 'tech demo syndrome', but Robilliard's aware of that danger: "The gameplay has to win. There's no two ways about that."

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