It's the year of Star Wars for science fiction fans, and gamers already have a head start.
The Jedi brainchild of filmmaker George Lucas celebrates its 30th anniversary since the 1977 film release of Star Wars [image] in 2007. But for gamers, the festivities began late last year with the release of several LucasArts titles for hardcore fans.
LucasArts ramped up to 2007 with Forces of Corruption, an expansion pack to its Empire at War title that adds a third option for gamer unsatisfied with merely guiding the mighty Empire or Rebel Alliance on to victory. Instead, players portray Tyber Zann in his attempt to rule the Star Wars underworld with his criminal Zann Consortium [image].
Forces of Corruption joined a pair of other LucasArts releases - the Star Wars: Best of PC five-pack and Star Wars Galaxies: The Complete Online Adventures - to whet gamer appetites for 2007.
In a statement released last week, one day after storm troopers from around the world marched in the annual Jan. 1 Rose Parade in Pasadena [image], California, Star Wars officials pledged that 2007 will feature "entirely new videogame adventures that continue the saga in new and unexpected ways..."
"We're really planning the next 30 years of Star Wars," said Tom Warner, senior director of marketing for Lucasfilm Ltd, in the statement. "Star Wars is one of the most popular and enduring entertainment franchises in the world, and there's no better time than the 30th anniversary to look ahead to the future of that galaxy far, far away."
To give gamers a head start, Star Wars: Best of PC includes the original Empire at War, as well as Knights of the Old Republic, Battlefront, Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast and Republic Commando. Meanwhile, the complete online adventures of Star Wars Galaxies come packed with each of the game's three expansions of its initial An Empire Divided title, as well as a bonus DVD with fan-generated films and behind-the-scenes material [image].
Computer games aside, a host of Star Wars books, merchandise and events are planned throughout this year, culminating in Lucasfilm's four-day Celebration IV Memorial Day extravaganza at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Lucas is also reportedly pursuing a three-dimensional animated television Clone Wars series to continue the saga of the same name that ran between 2003 and 2005, though the show has not yet been sold to a network, according to the Associated Press.
"The last three decades were just the start," Warner said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.