Tech Check

LucasArts Shows Off New Games At CES

Here at the Consumer Electronics Show, big companies like Sony,Microsoft and Intel grab the headlines; but George Lucas is trying to "force" his way into their spotlight.

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His LucasArts, the video games developer of his massive Lucas empire, is set to unveil two of the most anticipated titles the industry as seen since "Halo 3."  And not just that industry:  the movie business as well since these games may herald the next generation of films from the legendary producer, even as he continues work on the mega, blockbuster Indiana Jones epic set for a Memorial Day Weekend release.

The two titles from LucasArts both rely on technology never used in video games production before.  "Star Wars: The Force Unleashed," bridging the gap between both "Star Wars" film trilogies, will let a player act as a Darth Vader  secret apprentice, but eventually the character seeks redemption and becomes a true hero.  But project leader Hadeb Blackman tells us in an exclusive interview that the game uses something called DMM, or digital molecular matter. 

"DMM allows us to simulate the way things behave in the real world based on real world properties, so metal bends like metal, wood would splinter like wood," he says.

The end result is an almost photo-realistic experience with characters automatically reacting to the scenarios they're part of, just as humans would using new software called Euphoria.

"It gives our character a central nervous system," Blackman tells us. "It gives them an intelligence you don't see in other games."

The game looks sweet and will be available on Nintendo'sWii, the DS, Sony's Playstation 2 and 3 and Microsoft's Xbox 360.

The other major title is called "Fracture," a brand new franchise for Lucas.  For the first time, the company is developing a game first that may turn into a film series of its own, rather than releasing a film first and later a game based upon it.

"The thing about 'Fracture' that sets it apart from all other games is what we are calling Terrain Deformation," says Jeffrey Gullett, the associate producer on the title.  "It is a brand new technology that allows you to manipulate the ground on the fly."

In Fracture, the year is 2161.  Global warming has devastated the world.  The eastern half of the US is relying on technological enhancement, cybernetics to cope with the disaster.  In the West, survivors are relying on genetically engineered characters. The central part of the US is destroyed while the two sides are fighting a civil war. 

Gullett says the game and its technical intricacies wouldn't be possible without the significant computing power in today’s PS3 and the Xbox thanks to chips from IBM.

And if anyone knows how to take advantage of new technology, or create its own, it's the folks at Lucas.  Stay with us for exclusive sneak peaks of these new titles.