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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

LucasArts

 

Developer

Secret Level

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

December 2001

 

 

- Solid controls
- Most missions are a good challenge
- Good sound design
- Extra missions to unlock
- Multiplayer is fun diversion

 

 

- Wingmen don’t have large vocabularies
- Occasional maddening mission
- Some annoyingly small flight “bubbles”

 

 

Echelon (PC) Review

Star Wars Starfighter (Playstation 2) Review

 

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Star Wars Starfighter Special Edition

Score: 8.0 / 10

 

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Any game based in the Star Wars universe is usually rated two ways: how it compares with games in the specific genre and how it compares with other Star Wars games.

I’ll get the Star Wars comparison out of the way. Starfighter Special Edition (SSE) is above average, but falls just short of the hour-sapping abilities of Rogue Leader, Tie Fighter, or Dark Forces II. It’s highly playable, has some challenging missions, good graphics, a story that fits into the Episode I timeline, and some good sound. However, some missions are mind boggling frustrating, the flight “bubbles” serve to

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annoy on some missions, and your wingmen have shallow vocabularies.

SSE details the exploits of Ryhs Dallows, Vana Sage, and Nym (all with their own reasons to hate the Trade Federation) leading up to the Battle of Naboo. There’s a definite story propelling the action and the missions are constructed around it. Mission design is solid – the objectives all make sense for any given

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situation (disable a freighter, fly escort, etc.) – and for the most part the environments are “realistic.” (There are also optional secondary objectives, but if you want to unlock some of the extra missions it’s required.) One of the later missions on Naboo, tasks you with holding back the ground forces of the Trade Federation and looks great. The fog that some have just accepted as a given to any game that shows wide-open vistas, is pushed to the far reaches and not that noticeable. (You really have to look for it.) There are ground and space battles and at the end you’ll take a foray into a Trade Federation control ship while battling/avoiding a vile mercenary.

The ground missions are most guilty of having small flight bubbles. When flying through a canyon on Naboo, you can’t pull out to get a better look at the situation since there’s an invisible ceiling keeping you penned in. I can accept flight bubbles but when you hit the edge then bounce off in a jarring way that is likely to disorient the player, that’s just wrong. Missions in space are freer and open for creative problem solving. Difficulty is good – most missions will take more than a few fly-throughs to finish. There's the occasional mission that's frustrating. The finale is probably the toughest to finish, the list of objectives is hard to fulfill and one or two mistakes and you’re dead. Plus, once you’ve figured out the best way to complete the first part of the mission it becomes mind numbing. To help out you have wingmen (usually the characters you aren’t currently using) to order around. They have this annoying tendency to line up in a row in front of you if you ask them to attack your target thereby blocking your line of fire. (Just tell them to attack a target then find another one for yourself.) They also don’t have much of a vocabulary. The same acknowledgements, the same phrases are repeated ad nauseam. For the most part though, they behave and will actually destroy targets – sometimes without orders from you. Thankfully, none of the challenge is owed to the controls.

 

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Each ship you fly has the same basic control, although their bombs or missiles differ. For example, while Nym’s ship is slower but it seems to be able to take more damage and dish out punishment with his bombs, the same mechanics from Sage's and Dallows's ships carry over so you don’t have to re-learn how to fly every time the game switches characters. The control scheme is laid out well on the controller. After about the fourth mission (there are 12 in the basic campaign), performing sliding moves, zooming in and blasting a target from long range while avoiding fire from droid fighters, becomes second nature (although it doesn’t mean you’ll walk through the missions).

Graphically I’d have to say SSE looks great. Playing in the 3rd Person view from behind the ship is more difficult than playing from the first-person perspective, for the reason that the ship blocks your view of some of the screen. Everything moves smoothly and the animation is great. Fire and debris explode out from vanquished targets. Bits of rock shatter off with laser fire. However, the cutscenes, or lack thereof, seem a little more subdued. After the first few missions, the cutscenes are limited to shots of your ship flying and audio of the pilots talking. On the audio side of things, John William’s is all over the music and the sound effects are direct from the Star Wars archives. Apart from the repetitive wingmen responses, the voice acting is first rate – what we’ve all come to expect from anything LucasArts puts its stamp on.

Multiplayer offers some variety. Whether dog fighting or playing capture the flag, there’s some fun to be had and it’s good to see it included. But if the single-player aspect is your thing, SSE has a good number of hours to keep you occupied.

As the Trade Federation blockade crumbles, Starfighter Special Edition is a solid game. The mechanics make it accessible for new players, graphics are colorful and smooth, the mission variety is wide, and there are unlockables for the truly Jedi-like. It may not be as addicting as other Star Wars games but it does offer some fun.

- Omni
(January 14, 2002)

 

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