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Star Wars Episode III Revenge of the Sith

If Han Solo had a bad feeling about watching the walls of the trash compactor close in on him in the original Star Wars, he would have had a coronary at the sight of Anakin Skywalker becoming Darth Vader in Revenge of the Sith.

We've yet to see how George Lucas handles the transformation, but we know it involves lava - lots and lots of lava - and we know it's bolted on to a lightsaber battle so huge, so long, so dark, so downright dirty and jaw-droppingly slick, insiders on the film set reckon it's simply history-defining.

Of course, it's difficult to say for sure whether that's company-spun hyperbole or a genuine description of what promises to be a memorable end-of-trilogy face-off, when Lucas has sealed the last ever Star Wars film up so tight you couldn't find a pinhole in it - but Xbox World readers are about to catch a lucky break.

Because, while the game version of Revenge of the Sith is out a full two weeks before the film, giving you a chance to steal a march plot-wise on the movie if you so fancy, we can go one better.

See, we already know a lot about the movie, because we already know a lot about the game. And, fortunately for you, we're going to be the first mag in the world to spill details.

So, that end-of-movie battle between Anakin and Obi-Wan. It's a pivotal moment, the dividing line between Anakin as a man and Anakin as a machine, and all roads lead to this.

The whole second-first trilogy - from Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon's entrance in The Phantom Menace to the fire-tinged eyes of Anakin in the latest Episode III trailer - point towards the moment Luke's old man grasps his destiny and then comes back with a breathing problem and a Casio calculator strapped to his chest.

Developers The Collective realise this. That's why the end-of-film confrontation has been perfectly mirrored in-game, and why the decision was taken to ignore the first-person shootery of Republic Commando, the RPG stylings of KOTOR, even the ships and shooters of Starfighter, and plump for a game based solely around 'sabers.

This makes complete sense. A game more similar to Jedi Knight reflects the importance of the Jedi weapon, and the fact that the lightsaber is the only link between both sides of the Force.

"Our game follows the plot of the film very closely," associate producer Justin Lambros told us when we caught up with him at the studio. "We really concentrated on bringing (Obi-Wan and Anakin's) key action moments to life in the game.

"But while Episode III recreates action sequences blow for blow and room for room, we also deliver the full impact of sequences that are just introduced, or hinted at, by the film. In fact, we've actually included levels based on scenes that were written and shot for the film, but won't make the final cut.

"Our integration with George Lucas from early on allowed us to expand on the film in ways that stay true to his original vision."

In fact, Lucas has been constantly involved. "Episode III producer Rick McCallum promised us 'whatever we needed (at the beginning),'" continues Lambros, "and working with ILM and Lucasfilm, he totally delivered.

"We got to meet with Lucas to get his synopsis of the story before he even finished writing the first draft of the script, and his involvement continued throughout the concept art phase, through principal photography and into post-production."

The result is a game that apes the film astonishingly. From the detailed backgrounds and level design, to the movement and sounds of battle droids and clones, aesthetically it's an achievement and a half.

There are some small niggles: the textures aren't the most convincing we've ever seen, for example, especially on the characters, but it's difficult to argue with the resemblance this has to its celluloid sibling.

Of course, with the game focusing super-hard on 'saber duels, animation and movement need to be spot on, frame rates need to be consistent and enemies need to react realistically. Well, as realistic as you'd expect an entirely made-up, CGI-created Droideka Destroyer Droid to be.

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