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Platform:

PC

 

Genre:

Action

 

Publisher:

LucasArts

 

Developer:

LucasArts

 

ESRB:

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q1 2002

 

 

- Star Wars License

- Fun basic missions

- Easy to master, arcade-like controls

 

 

- Far too short

- Only minor improvements over year-old PS2 edition

- Suffers in comparison to the many great Star Wars games in this genre

 

 

Review: Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter (Playstation 2)

Review: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast (XBox)

Review: Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter (XBox)

 

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Star Wars: Starfighter

Score: 7.5 / 10

The PC version of Star Wars: Starfighter arrives approximately a year after its PS2 counterpart.  One would hope that the developer would have spent that year tweaking the game to match the strengths of the PC.  I, at least, hoped for a game that featured better textures, tighter controls, and a  better HUD than those featured in the PS2 version.  What I got instead was an unpolished, but solid, port of a good console game.

star-wars-starfighter-pc-1.jpg (80303 bytes)         star-wars-starfighter-pc-2.jpg (51454 bytes)

Despite being based on the clearly inferior Episode I phase of the Star Wars story arc, the visual design, story, and overall aesthetics of Starfighter are top-notch.  Even bad Star Wars is pretty good space opera, and the game definitely benefits from the license.  The ship design, as it was in the movie, is sleeker and less “industrial” that that of the original trilogy and all of the great flight combat sims based on that license—X-wing, Tie-fighter, and Rogue Leader among others.  Still, the ships are attractive and feature some decent texture work if you don’t look to close.  Zoom in though, and it is easy to notice that the textures on the ships and the rest of the game world are flat and sparsely detailed.

Besides the bland texture work, the rest of the graphics in Starfighter are solid, if not amazing.  On my Athlon 750 with a Geforce 2 GTS the game looks marginally better than the PS2 version, chiefly because of the higher resolution, and slightly worse than the Xbox special edition.  It won’t be a game that players will use to 

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show off their system to friends, but the lack of slowdown, polygon tears, pop up, and other graphical glitches will allow most players the opportunity to suspend their disbelief and get on with playing  the game.

 

Aside from the graphics, some other weaknesses carry over from the PS2 version.  Most important is the lack of a timer on the HUD.  Many of the missions are time-based and it seems inexcusable that a countdown isn’t provided on the HUD.

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Starfighter controls well, but the controls are very simple and lack the options one would expect from a PC game as opposed to one on a console.  Most evident is the fact that each ship has only two speeds--boosted and not boosted.  The lack of total control over speed gives the game a simple, arcade-game feel, which may or may not appeal to an individual player depending on their preference.

The gameplay is certainly solid.  There are fourteen missions with multiple objectives.  Players play through these missions using one of three characters (pre-chosen based on the mission at hand).  Each of the three characters has his or her own ship.  All of the ships use the same simple control scheme, but each handles distinctly within the constraints of the controls. 

star-wars-starfighter-pc-3.jpg (35433 bytes)         star-wars-starfighter-pc-4.jpg (50013 bytes)

Starfighter exhibits some replay value because of the incentive to replay the levels in order to complete non-vital missions and achieve a higher ranking It is possible to unlock a handful of short bonus missions and three additional playable vehicles that do little for the replay value (with the possible exception of Darth Maul’s Infiltrator).  The base levels can easily be played through in one sitting.  The question for most gamers waffling on a purchase will be “will I replay this enough times to justify the expense?”

I, obviously, can’t answer that for anyone else, but for me the answer would be “no”.  A plethora of bonus missions, extra ships, new playable characters, and the like might have made it worthwhile, but here there is really nothing of note to unlock.  More importantly, a fast-paced multi-player mode could have pushed this game into the realm of greatness.  Unfortunately, the game features no multi-player at all—not online, not split screen.  Even the original PS2 version had a 2-player split-screen mode that players could unlock with a code.   The game here is basically “what you see is what you get.”  The lack of significant unlockable features and multi-player action pretty much eliminates the possibility that this will stay on my hard drive very long after this review is posted. 

 

- Tolen Dante

 

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