The shutdown of LucasArts by Disney early last month left many wondering about the fate of the Star Wars games. Disney had previously stated that their focus would be directed toward social games, and the with the demise of LucasArts fans wondered if all hope was lost. Who would save us from a sea of Star Wars Facebook and mobile games? Then an unlikely hero emerged. EA stepped in.
The announcement came yesterday to mixed reception. Some were optimistic, others were quick to point out EA’s reputation as the Consumerist’s Worst Company In America. On Twitter the #starwarsnextgen hash tag began to trend with ideas for new Star Wars titles, the majority coupling Star Wars Battlefront III with the Battlefield series engine, EA DICE at the helm. Others clamored for a new, non-MMO installment to the Knights of the Old Republic series.
Regardless of how you feel, it’s a very exciting time to be a Star Wars fan and a gamer. With LucasArts’ relatively poor showing the last 5-8 years there’s really only one direction Star Wars games can go. Up. So let’s take a few minutes to assess just why EA is a great choice for the franchise, and take a few more to note some potential caveats as well.
Inside source says that the fans may be the “only hope” to save the game.
Star Wars: First Assault isn’t the reincarnation of the now defunct Battlefront series like many had hoped. According to a Kotaku report citing an unnamed source who is said to be “familiar with the project,” Star Wars: First Assault is a first-person shooter consisting of 8-on-8 matches between the Rebel Alliance and Imperial Stormtroopers.
First Assault popped up on our radar last year, when LucasArts — the gaming arm of the Lucas empire — filed trademark and domain registrations for the title. It was a move that was not-so-subtly reinforced a month later when a solitary image leaked depicting a confrontation between opposing ground forces of the Star Wars universe, complete with an XBLA banner.
We’ve since suspected that Star Wars: First Assault could be the byproduct of Battlefront III, the long-rumored entry to the franchise that spent six misbegotten years in development and bounced between development studios before being unceremoniously killed. Allegedly, development on Battlefront III had been merged with Star Wars: Battlefront Online, a new iteration of the series that was designed for a console generation with an approaching expiration date and collapsed under its own weight, leaving years of assets unused.
Here we are once again at the start of what’s sure to be another fantastic year of XBLA releases. Each day this week XBLAFans will be rolling out a list of eight of our most anticipated Xbox Live Arcade releases of 2013. While we can’t possibly cover every single XBLA game planned for this year, we’ll be giving you a varied list of 40 of the most promising titles we expect to release on XBLA in 2013. Once it’s all done, be sure to check back in next Monday when each staff member makes his/her picks for the game he/she is most looking forward to.
Developer: Zombie Studios
No stranger to downloadable shooters, Zombie Studios’ upcoming Special Forces: Team X capitalizes on its expertise honed crafting Blacklight: Tango Down and Black: Retribution. Don’t be fooled by the colorful cel-shaded visuals; Special Forces targets frenetic third-person team-centric combat with brutal executions and an arsenal of real world weapons. Its dynamic map tile system puts players in control of generating the environment in a pre-round vote, with over a hundred possible combinations of individual tiles to choose. All this coupled with a healthy rank progression and customization system means Special Forces: Team X stands to deliver quite the bang for your buck when it hits XBLA on February 6 for 1200 MSP.
As a mega-huge Star Wars nut I squealed a bit inside when the box art for the upcoming Xbox Live Arcade title, Star Wars: First Assault was leaked a few days back. I scoured the internet looking for additional clues as to what it could be about. What type of game was it? A shooter? A Rogue Squadron-esque game? *gasp* A Battlefront game? The possibilities swam through my head. I had to know more, but every turn led to dead ends. Could Pandemic be developing it? Nope, they went under after The Saboteur was released. Maybe Slant Six Games is working on it. After all, Star Wars game load screens and character textures were found buried in the files for Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, and Kotaku reported in 2010 that they were working on something called Star Wars: Battlefront Online. Could this be that same game, but with a more finalized name? Maybe Spark Unlimited has the project? Nah, they denied it after stringing us along for months and finally revealing Lost Planet 3.
But one thing is for sure, between the leaked box art and domain names Fusible found registered to LucasArts, this game is happening. That being said I think it’s a Battlefront game. It’s the biggest sub-franchise LucasArts has ever produced, and fans have been clamoring for another real installment since Battlefront II came out in late 2005 (the portable games don’t count). It also fits the XBLA stereotype. Look at how many online shooters we have. Battlefield 1943, Breach, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Blacklight: Tango Down, and Hybrid. Clearly it fits the bill. But if it’s actually an online shooter it needs to be more than its competitors. Slapping the Star Wars brand on it isn’t enough.