05
Jun
09

new star wars trailer released, fans go apeshit

old_republic

A few days ago a trailer was released for The Old Republic, an upcoming Star Wars  MMOG (Massively Multiplayer Online Game).  It’s a pretty impressive piece of animation and while it doesn’t actually represent gameplay, it has served its purpose – to get people excited about the game.  For the most part, the mini-movie is an action piece pitting Jedi vs Sith and if you’re looking for a three minute fix of Star Wars  action, you’ll be hard pressed to do better.   Most of the comments being left by fans on the websites are along the lines of “wow, this is so much better than anything in the prequels, too bad the movies weren’t like this!”  But what do the folks at DarthMojo think?  Let’s find out…

First of all, props to Blur Studios, the guys in Venice, CA who actually made the trailer (everyone assumes it was either LucasArts or Bioware, the folks behind the game).  The work is top-notch and if you check out their website here, you’ll find links to some of their other work (including game trailers for Wolverine  and Terminator).  The story in this mini-movie is pretty bare: the cocky-as-always Sith show up at the Jedi temple on Corousant, spew forth some over-the-top, melodramatic dialog and prove (once again) that the Jedi are a pretty dim bunch who are ill-prepared for an attack.  Mayhem ensues.

Ok, I know it’s not fair to criticise the story of a game trailer, so this is actually more aimed at the Star Wars  prequel universe, but come on already – why are the Jedi always portrayed as morons?  In Episode One  the only way they could think to get Anakin off Tattooine was a Pod race,  in Episode Two  they happily take delivery of a Clone Army no one has a receipt for and in Episode III  all it takes is a couple of Sith and a bunch cartoony robots to bring them all to their knees.

They  were the guardians of peace and justice for thousands of years?  It’s hard to believe they managed to get drivers licenses, let alone save the galaxy over and over.   In this trailer, One Sith lord and a few henchmen with blasters are all it takes to get past Jedi security (which seems to be mostly made up of mall cops with big guns).  You’d think that to get inside “peace and justice” headquarters someone would at least have to buzz you in.

That being said, the Sith’s main point of strategy was pretty cool – crash a troop carrier into the building and then invade the temple (this leads to one of the coolest shots in the trailer, when the dark transport interior is lit up by the red glow of igniting lightsabers).  

old_republic-sabers

I have to thank Blur for paying homage to me with this shot – In the first episode of Battlestar Galactica’s  second season, I did a shot of a Cylon Heavy Raider purposely crashing into the Galactica’s flightpod, after which the hatch opens and the piercing red eyes of invading Centurions break the darkness (but don’t worry, I promise not to tell anyone).

From this point on the trailer is spectacular, all-out CGI combat.  I agree with everyone who says this three-minute sequence beats anything in the prequels – it does.  This is what the prequels should have been – people fighting people.  There was simply no emotional connection in watching the Jedi make spare parts out of an assembly line of robots – facing them off against a Sith army would have made all the difference.  Lucas had gone on record as saying he used robots because he didn’t want to show the Jedi slicing up living, breathing people.  Ok, fine, I understand not wanting to turn your movies into a bloodbath – but this trailer shows that you can get away with showing no  blood and it still works (Luke did a fine job taking care of Jabba’s henchmen in Return of the Jedi  and I don’t remember anyone complaining that we didn’t see arms and legs flying everywhere).

The choreography of this trailer’s fight sequence is nothing short of breathtaking; there’s an excellent balance of saber fighting and physical contact (it’s always cool to watch a laser-sword, Force-wielding warrrior make use of a good old-fashioned kick in the chest).  The cinematography is also top-notch and makes excellent, subtle use of hand-held camerawork while mainly sticking to the “classic” camera style of the Star Wars  universe (the few spots where hand-held was tried in the prequels felt forced and out of place – here it feels very natural).

My favorite moments in the trailer are at the end, when the hero is struck by the Sith Lords’s saber.  The moment occurs just off-camera, so at first we’re not quite sure what has happened – but then we see the Jedi’s saber fall to the ground in slow motion, the green light of his blade slowly fading.  This is an excellent directorial choice and a wonderfully subtle way of letting us know who the victor is (again, note the creative way of not  having to show someone sliced in half).

old_republic-saber

The trailer’s most dramatic moment comes next – the dying Jedi falls to knees, out of focus with his back to camera; we are with him to witness the last thing he will ever see – enemy ships swooping in and laying waste to the Republic he swore to protect.  Subtle, emotionally satisfying moments like this are what elevates this trailer to greatness.  Sure, the fighting is cool, but capping it all off with great drama is what makes you want to watch it again and again.

old_republic-watching

The only thing I’d like to ask the film makers is why is the Jedi temple made of dried mud?  Every time someone hits the floor or slams into a wall it shatters and crumbles like dry adobe.  I always assumed a palace like this would be made of marble, but everyone knows that when a guy hits concrete at high velocity, I’d put my money on the person  breaking before the floor does. 

old_republic-adobe

There are a few shots in this trailer of people being Force-pushed through breakaway walls, so my only guess is that the whole place is made of mud.  I’m sure it wasn’t because someone thought that a few scenes of people shattering concrete in the made-up world of the Matrix  was so cool they had to use it over and over again.  That would be silly!  Who knows, maybe 3, 500 years ago adobe was the primary construction tool on Corousant.  Didn’t I mention that?  Yeah, according to the website, the events of the Old Republic  game take place 3,500 years before the movies.

It’s amazing that in literally thousands of years, so little has changed; the look of Corousant, the basic design and sound of all the spacecraft, the Jedi and Sith wardrobe, R2 units, lightsabers… if I didn’t know better, I’d say this trailer looks like it takes place thirty-five  years before the events of Episode I, not 3,500!  It’s got to be a typo.  Can’t the ranch afford to hire some proofreaders?

Timeline absurdity aside, this trailer from Blur Studios really knocks it out of the park.  It reminds me of a time when George Lucas saw the value in hiring talented writers and directors to play in his universe…

Sigh.


22 Responses to “new star wars trailer released, fans go apeshit”


  1. 1 SebiMeyer
    June 5, 2009 at 4:17 am

    “Luke did a fine job taking care of Jabba’s henchmen in Return of the Jedi and I don’t remember anyone complaining that we didn’t see arms and legs flying everywhere”

    True, but to this day many complain about Bobbas flying into Sarclaccs.

  2. June 5, 2009 at 4:27 am

    Impressive to say the least. The detail, the flow of movement, the lighting. All spot on. Now if the overall product can give us something a little ‘different’, I’ll be happy.

  3. June 5, 2009 at 6:29 am

    When a Jedi Master *you* are, a temple of *marble* you may build. Hrmph!

  4. June 5, 2009 at 6:44 am

    Unfortunately, that 3500 isn’t a typo. The material establishing that time period (the Tales of the Jedi comics) made sure to have an art style that reflected the gap between them and the movies (at the time, just the Original Trilogy). But starting with the Knights of the Old Republic video game (also from Bioware), the licensees (both games and new comics in that time period) have decided to go with an art style closer to that of the movies.

    I understand why they did it—so that it’s more obviously “Star Wars“—but you’re right, it does push the limits of credulity.

    Though to my mind that’s a lesser sin than how the novels have Luke building a Jedi Temple, after getting along without one for twenty years, to the exact same floor plan as the one in the movies. Nice originality there.

  5. June 5, 2009 at 9:33 am

    3500 years before the prequels? Hmmm. All of this has happened before, all of this will happen again. The Battlestar Galactica universe isn’t the only one locked in epicycles, it seems!
    Spectacular trailer. I found it ironic that in the link you provided, I had to first watch an advertisement so that I could then watch watch the trailer, which is itself an advertisement…

  6. 6 Merlyn
    June 5, 2009 at 11:24 am

    Hi DM.

    Thanks for sharing. I agree its one nice piece of work. In addition to the made-of-mud temple, which you explained very well (the jedi order always has been very slow on moving forward imo and keeping the muddy temple therefor makes much sense), I thought the characters flying through the air had a very subtle stiffness to them, which made it look a tad unrealistic. Else it was really entertaining. I hope the game will not be equally disappointing as the trailer is promising. Sadly lately trailers seem to be the best part on new games and movies… the new trek and terminator were really good examples of that…

  7. 7 The Lobby Lurker
    June 5, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    I couldn’t have put it better- sigh.

    Many of the Lucasarts SW games have featured better writing and “acting” than the prequels, and I have enjoyed many of them immensely, from the simplistic action of Rogue Squadron to the nice rework of the POV shooter genre in the Dark Forces/Jedi Knight series, and the amusing “choose your path” RPG play of Knights of the Old Republic and KOTOR II. They all had one thing in common- interesting characters that you could invest some time in getting to know and involve yourself in their world, perhaps even grow attached to in some fashion.

    The trailer was beautiful and wonderfully directed, but yeah, those Jedi need to stop contracting out their temple construction work to those darn union Jawas.

    Wootinie, my ass! Build a better temple next time, but I still look forward to the game.

  8. 8 Ulysses
    June 5, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    I think the trailer looks great, even though i’m not really keen on Star Wars. In the scene where the bad guys lit up their red light-sabres i’d have expected some volumetric light scattering caused by the dust thrown up seconds after landing, but otherwise very nice work.

  9. 9 Colonial Warrior
    June 5, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    Simply breathtaking does not do justice in remark of this trailer. The fluid action of the characters is very well done. The camera angles and movements don’t make you wonder “what was that I just saw?” It gives the viewer just enough time for their optic nerves to register and comprehend and move on to the next sequence and appreciate the nuances. Repeat viewings will of course give you added things to try and find and admire. I was particularly impressed with the Lightsaber to the Sith chin at roughly 2:57 ( give or take 1 or 2 sectons). The one thing I’ve never been able to figure out is the one race which is depicted in the trailer, it’s the female with the twin tentacles on the back of her head. I keep waiting to see them get sliced off during a fight sequence such as this.
    Now I can take the blood-n-guts stuff but never thought it was really necessary and this trailer proves that. I liked the way the Jedi Lightsabers powers down giving you the impression that it’s power is dying at the same moment the owners life is ebbing away.
    You also need to admire the level of detail to everything up to and including the fires all over the place. Now normally you’ll see fire at several different locations in a trailer but have you ever noticed that most of them still don’t FEEL quite right? Well these fires do and do you know why they are more realistic in feeling? It’s the embers in the air swirling about. That speaks volumes to me on levels of painstaking details. Now as an avid ( ok lets face it I’m a gameaholic from way way back) The one thing that I keep asking is ok how much more power do I need to throw into my system to play this game. Followed by will it work with Windows 7 when it comes out in a few months. I’ll have to do some research on this and see just what the system requirements will be. Fortunately prices for the hardware that is needed for games like this have been coming down drastically. Luckily for me I have a TB worth of space on my harddrive so for the time being that’s not an issue but pretty soon we’ll have to have 4, 5 or 6 Ghz processors to really play a game like this without stutter or frames dropping out. Then there is the question of how will this handle during the online session and lag issues.
    I never got into the WoW series, I’ve tried Guild Wars a bit, loved the Battlefield series and currently love the Left 4 Dead but all of those graphically pale in comparison to this. Now if their level of graphic detail in game is as good as the trailer then this will be totally awesome. Either way I’m looking forward to giving this one a try.

  10. June 5, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    I will be trying this one out for sure. I am currently an Eve-Online and WoW whore so something in the Swars universe that is actually fun is something to look forward too.

    At the least it will allow me to cyber with a Wookie finally.

  11. 11 Jon S.
    June 5, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    My only complaint with the trailer is the slow-motion scenes, which feel gratuitous and out-of-place. Still, that trailer was the highlight of E3 for me, and I am eagerly anticipating The Old Republic.

  12. 12 _pole
    June 6, 2009 at 10:08 am

    Blur might have payed homage to Star Trek First Contact. Or wait, is that where your inspiration has come from too? A (semi-)robotic race looses a battle against mankind but manages to smuggle a boarding party into the biggest ship in the fleet and then… red lights in the dark? Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone either. ;)

  13. 13 Jon S.
    June 6, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    True, that. First Contact did the ‘red lights in the dark’ thing before Galactica. Perhaps you could just ask someone from Blur about it, Mojo?

    Personally, I would love to know if Blur is planning on doing the pre-rendered cutscenes for The Old Republic in addition to the trailer. I hope so… their work is amazing.

  14. 14 darthmojo
    June 6, 2009 at 11:47 pm

    The Borg lasers in First Contact are only vaguely reminiscent of what we see in this trailer… however, the enemy crashing a troop carrier into your headquarters to infiltriate and seeing their red lights spring to life one by one at the far end of the hatch is EXACTLY what happened on BSG. Ultimately it doesn’t matter, in fact I didn’t even think of the similarity until I was writing the review – but it would make me warm and fuzzy to think that my sequence inspired them.

    WARRIOR: Remember, this is going to be a massive ONLINE game, so the hardware requirements won’t be anything close to the horesepower needed to run an actual, local videogame. And I agree, the fire was done well. I didn’t know marble burned so easily ;-)

    DAMON: Yeah, naturally it makes sense for them to keep the art direction similar to that of the Star Wars universe we all know and love… but it would have been nice for them to simply create a game that didn’t have to take place 3500 years ago! It’s just silly.

  15. June 6, 2009 at 11:49 pm

    Whoa that video got me more excited than the FFXIV trailer. I am definitely going to keep watch on the developments of this game.

  16. June 7, 2009 at 4:06 am

    Oh i like this trailer but to be honest i was never e hardcore fan of star wars univers.. it’s actually more fantasy (and predestinate to be an mmorpg) than hard or soft scifi. nevertheless good sequences, i like the scene with the red and blues lightsabre running together. and as usual a very clean death of the good fellow. why? you cant even see a hole in which you see the smoke coming out. okey its just a detail but very star wars-like.

  17. 17 _pole
    June 7, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Well whoever thought of what and payed homage to whom is actually not that important. I think it works very well in all instances, although I must say the Borg lasers stand out for me. In the end it’s a great image, nothing more, nothing less. What really matters is the story that gives meaning to the visual idea. For BSG it as a nice change from the space battles. Seeing the Cylons up close on Galactica instantly made them scarier. VVVVVV—VVVVVV !

  18. June 7, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    Well, it has to be at least 1000 years before the prequels (since the Sith haven’t been seen for a millenium, according to Conehead, in Phantom Menace).

  19. 19 Colonial Warrior
    June 7, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    Conehead, in Phantom Menace? I didn’t know that Remulak was part of the Lucasian Mythos.

  20. June 8, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    I was initially dubious about a second STAR WARS MMORPG given the massive fiasco which was GALAXIES, but the fact BioWare are doing it immediately made gave it some much-needed credibility. Since then BioWare have been talking about how they want to make an MMORPG based around story and character rather than grinding and levelling. I get the impression they wanted to make a single-player KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC III, LucasArts wanted an MMORPG, and they compromised with what will hopefully be closer to a single-player game but with a co-op facility and presumably certain areas where you can mix with other players, whilst ‘quest’ and storyline areas will be instanced to just you and your co-players. BioWare have also repeatedly said that you can play the whole game solo with a number of NPCs if you wish, and there won’t necessarily be a monthly subscription.

    All of this makes for a very interesting-sounding game, and something different from WORLD OF WARCRAFT.

    As for the technology not changing, it’s not something I’m massively fussed about. This is a universe with the Death Star, Jar-Jar, the Force and some seriously dodgy hairstyles for Princess Leia. Those looking for hard SF concepts best look elsewhere ;-)

  21. 21 Kevin Rubio
    June 10, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    Some of the moves look like they were taken from RvD2. One of the guys actually went on to work for Lucas Arts

  22. 22 Robert
    June 11, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Kevin – I thought the exact same.

    LOVE the RvD movies!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: