Last year, LucasArts closed its doors. Instead of spreading even more malice than already out there about them not having produced good games for many years anyway, we would like to go back to the beginning of this development studio under the name of 'Lucasfilm Games'. One of their first two games called itself Rescue on Fractalus.
The first thing you may notice about this title and what probably made you wonder about the other games from this studio, too, is that there seems to be no connection with the 'Lucas' name brand. Everybody would have expected something along the lines of one of the most famous science fiction films of all times, wouldn't you think?
Successful games like Zelda, Ultima, Baldur's Gate and others dazzle us with an atmospheric fantasy world, challenge by fighting against hostile forces and offer a lot of experience for further survival. The top-down perspective – i.e. moving on a kind of world map – is a striking common feature of the aforementioned classics. The player has a top-down view of the environment and his avatar, but without taking over the avatar's field of vision and thus his role – as is usual in 3D shooters. In this kind of flight over the actual scene, the player is a bit further away from the action and gets a more abstract picture of the game's progress. The mentioned game titles nevertheless manage to captivate the player without much effort and integrate him into the story. This is achieved by the perfection of the well-known technical elements like graphics, music, game mechanics and also the psychological incentives, which reward a fight with progress in the story and increase the experience points.
What is a M.U.L.E.? It stands for Multiple Use Labor Element, the robotic backbone of the economy on planet Irata which is about to be colonized by members of different alien races. And, well, from human history, we all know what 'colonisation' implies: Grabbing land before anyone else does, exploiting it for profit and when you've milked it dry, move on – leaving political and economical chaos behind.
OK, so the long-term socio-economic aspects are not really part of this game. It is even completely unknown whether the planet has a native population to start with. It all plays rather like a board game: Each player can acquire one square piece of land per turn which they can then choose to develop to produce one out of four trade goods: food, energy, coal and gems. This is where the eponymous M.U.L.E. comes into play: One of these devices need to be deployed on each square. Otherwise, no produce.