Star Wars Celebration VI took place August 23-26 in sunny (and frightfully humid) Orlando, FL. Even though BioWare did not have an official presence at the convention, Darth Hater was still in attendance and found several outlets for Star Wars gaming. From simple web-based games to the next big release from LucasArts, Celebration VI showcased something for every level of gaming enthusiast. Click through for my gaming highlights from this weekend.
Gaming at CVI
Thursday morning I headed off to my first panel of the weekend, which focused on the future of the official Star Wars website. As many fans have noticed, starwars.com changed drastically over the last couple of years and is now shifting its focus from raw data towards multimedia. During the panel, they highlighted three new and upcoming games.
- Jawa Junkyard: A never-ending memory game, which is live now.
- Ewok Village: In the same vein as many sim games, but with cute and fluffy Ewoks. The beta was playable on the show floor and has since launched on the official Star Wars site.
- Galactic Spy: A Where’s Waldo-esque item search game, which launched in September.
All the games look very polished and I encourage you to check them out. They are geared more towards a younger audience, but I found it easy to lose track of time when I gave them all a run through.
I started my Friday morning off with one of my favorite panels of the show, Star Wars 1313. The giant screen on the Digital Stage was a perfect place for them to display a lot of concept art from several different locations within Coruscant’s level 1313. Much like the art shown during our early coverage of SWTOR, these images were gorgeous and begging to be put together in book form. LucasArts also showed a couple of documentaries about the company working with Industrial Light and Magic to create the most realistic looking game they can. Following these short films, Dominic Robilliard, the game’s director, stood up and started playing the same level they highlighted at E3. At first, this was a little disappointing; I really hoped to get to see new content from the game. However, what he did next blew me away.
He paused the game during a cut scene and zoomed the camera in to show just the right eye of one of the characters. The detail on his model was incredible. Individual hairs from his eyebrow, the pores in his skin and the red veins in his eye were visible and on the same level of detail as your typical summer CGI-laden blockbuster. The only platform announced so far for this title is PC and after seeing the demo, I do not see any way that it can run on current consoles. He also mentioned that the main characters seen in the released game play footage are not the final models and are just temporary skins. They are not ready to reveal what the actual characters look like just yet. Let the speculation begin. (Hint: it’s about bounty hunters…)
SWTOR at CVI
The second panel I attended at CVI was ”Collecting at Celebration VI” where the hosts of Star Wars Action News showed off some of the most sought-after exclusive items available through the Celebration Store and the various vendors on the show floor. At the end of the panel, they handed out a comprehensive list of collectibles available at the show. One item listed was a “Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopedia Print” available at the DK Publishing booth. The print was only available on Thursday and was completely gone by the time I made it to their booth.
One happy surprise was that SWTOR was actually playable on the show floor. Nvidia set up a booth where a handful of PCs available for players wishing to try out the current build of the game. You could either log in with an existing account, or play with a pre-made character. I was happy to see that these PCs had a constant stream of players hovering around them to either try out the game for the first time, or get their SWTOR fix for the day.
There were a couple of people strutting around the convention center dressed as Darth Malgus and I got to meet a nice young lady wearing her own Satele Shan costume. The rest of the show floor found a smattering of SWTOR merchandise. The EFX booth had the amazing Master Orgus Din lightsaber hilt in their display case. The representative there told me that they do not have any current plans to produce the hilt for the public, which is contrary to the reports that I heard coming out of SDCC. The Hasbro and LEGO booths both had their current SWTOR merchandise on display and Gentle Giant Ltd. had their upcoming maquette of Darth Malak from KOTOR. This statue will definitely be joining my collection when it eventually comes out.
Highlights of CVI
Thursday night, I was fortunate to attend an after-hours party hosted by Star Wars Action News. There, I met two gentlemen, Brian and Dan and the three of us became fast friends. The next day, we all started hanging out with a large group of people that we all met in various lines throughout the weekend. Among them was Darth Hater reader darksidefish. He is a member of guild Electric Mayhem (yes, your mind should have just gone to the Muppets) on Shadowlands. We both lamented over the absence of a real BioWare presence at Celebration VI and cherished our mutual love for the hilarity of Body Type 4.
Meeting new friends is the best part of Star Wars: Celebration events. The next one (aptly named Celebration Europe II) is scheduled to be in Germany next July 26 – 28. If you reside in Europe and enjoy Star Wars at all, I encourage you to attend. These events are a great place for Star Wars fans to gather and share their love of the franchise with like-minded people. This is probably the biggest reason I have been attending them since Celebration I back in 1999. Celebration VI followed suit and I am already looking forward to Celebration VII when the event returns to the US. View the media gallery below for more highlights from the event.