July 17, CNN

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Consider it "Star Wars III and a Half" -- complete with a pivotal plot twist.

When LucasArts releases "Star Wars: The Force Unleashed" on Sept. 16, the video game will serve as George Lucas' official median between 2005's "Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith" and 1977's "Star Wars: Episode IV -- A New Hope." In the game, players become Darth Vader's secret apprentice and use The Force to hunt the remaining Jedi.

"Force Unleashed" allows gamers use supercharged Force powers to bust through objects, wield a lightsaber, blast lighting bolts and fling around foes. The game will also change the way fans view "Episode IV" through "Episode VI -- Return of the Jedi," LucasArts project lead Haden Blackman told The Associated Press at the E3 Business and Media Summit.

"There's a couple of big twists and turns in the story," said Blackman. "One revelation in particular really impacts the rest of the saga as a whole. It goes way beyond filling in gaps. We try to make a bridge on every level. The story has a real implications on 'Episode IV.' In some ways, without the apprentice, 'Episode IV' couldn't happen."

Versions of "The Force Unleashed" will be available on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, PlayStation Portable, Nintendo DS and PlayStation 2. Blackman and his team worked with Lucas to craft the original saga, which mixes both pre-established elements from the "Star Wars" universe as well as new characters, locales and details from game developers.

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photo: Attendees at the E3 Summit check out the Playstation 3 booth. (AP)