LOS ANGELES –Here are quick takes on some of the games I’ve seen and tried this week at E3.
Star Wars 1313: Last year I questioned how many more Star Wars video games the world needs, but I spoke too soon.
In a private theater, LucasArts converted me with a preview of an exciting new title that takes the venerable franchise in a new direction. Called “Star Wars 1313,” it’s a first-person action shooting game and the first “mature themed” game based on the movie series.
There’s no force or Jedi knights, though the remains of an R2 droid was seen in one scene of the demo.
You play a scrappy bounty hunter in the elaborately developed underground area of a huge planet. Players gear up with weapons and gadgets available in the crime-infested zone, called 1313.
In the demo, shown in a small room decorated like the interior of a spaceship, characters duck behind cover and shoot attacking thieves with blasters, then leap from one burning spaceship to another as they descend through a vast shaft toward the underground area.
What’s most striking about the game is the realism of the main characters, whose faces aren’t hidden behind helmets. They’re almost photorealistic and further blend video games with movies. The demo showcases how the game is being developed by the different LucasArts companies, including its movie special-effects group.
LucasArts isn’t saying when the game will be released or what platforms will get the title. Nvidia helped the company produce the demo, which runs on a PC. I wonder if LucasArts is shopping the game around as a potential blockbuster to showcase the power of the new Xbox and PlayStation consoles coming in 2013 or 2014.
New Super Mario Bros. U: It resonated for me when Takashi Tezuka, producer of the new “Super Mario” games for Nintendo, said during a press event that he has two daughters who often ask him to help them get through levels of the game. That’s partly why the new Wii U version lets the person manning the GamePad insert blocks for the characters to jump on, creating new paths on the fly.
Speaking of flying, the game has two fun new ways to get airborne: A “flying squirrel” mode that gives Mario and Bros little wings and pointy ears like a fox, and “Tiny Balloon Yoshi,” which is a pink little dinosaur that inflates and carries them through the sky.
I’ll bet it’s the biggest seller on the Wii U when it arrives with the new console this holiday season.
Disney Princess: My Fairytale Adventure: Another venerable franchise being updated this year is the Disney Princess series aimed at girls 4 to 7. The latest version adds a bit more action and a new perspective, but it’s still accessible and should be easy for the littlest gamers to get through.
Instead of playing as one of the Disney princesses, you play as an apprentice fairy godmother who is learning as she works through different challenges in the realms of the various Disney princesses. I followed gold sparkles on a path through a fairtytale village to Belle’s house, where I had to shoot spells at imps by flicking the Wii remote at them, then spinning it to activate fairy magic and dissipate spider webs on the ground.
During the game you earn jewels, which can be redeemed for tiaras and other accessories that players can use to dress and customize their avatars and rooms at the fairy godmother’s castle — happily ever after.
The game’s being released in the fall for Nintendo’s Wii and 3DS and for the PC and Mac, but not the Xbox or PlayStation. It’s one of the few games for which you hardly had to wait for a demo at the show.
Perhaps it would draw more attention here if they called it “Call of Royal Duty: Pink Ops I