Star Wars Starfighter
I know all of you are dying to read about a three year old port based on a movie that probably disappointed you. Normally Iíd bash Episode I in the introduction of a Star Wars game, but Episode III gave me back the enthusiasm I used to have for the Star Wars films. On that note, Star Wars Starfighter does little to add to the series, but it doesnít really detract anything from the films. Itís merely a ho-hum ride.
As the name implies, you wonít be seeing any lightsabers here since the focus is aerial combat. This story driven game will have you alternating control of three pilots in the events before Episode I all the way to the climactic finale against the Trade Federation. You first take control of Rhys Dallows, a young pilot for the besieged planet of Naboo. Next up is the feisty mercenary Vana Sage. Finally, thereís the badass alien pirate named Nym. The three character threads are interwoven well and the sidestory compliments the movie nicely. But then again the plot of Episode I was far from stellar to begin with, so any little bit helps.
Each of the characters pilot a different ship, but no matter who youíre playing as you are going to need a joystick. May the Force be with you if you dare to use mouse and keyboard. Each ship is unique and has a different area of expertise. The pirate Nym pilots a slow moving bomber that can take out ground targets with great ease. Vana Sageís mercenary ship is incredibly fast, while Rhys Dallowsí Naboo fightership comes with powerful homing missiles.
Piloting the ships is responsive with a joystick, there’s more to do than simply blasting everything. In many of the missions youíre fighting alongside a small squadron of allies and they donít just idly fly around: they actually can follow a few orders at your disposal. Ordering them to attack, cover you or defend a target makes things more exciting and less frustrating than it would have been if the other pilots werenít under your control.
The 14 different stages are customized for the three different ships. For example, Nymís stages usually consist of taking out many ground targets with his bombs, and so on. The stages take place either in space or on one of a few different planets and the objectives range from escort to protection of a base to simply blowing up opposing forces.
Although the missions are far from revolutionary, the sheer scope of the battles is impressive. Dozens of ships swarm from all sides with lasers being fired everywhere. The many enormous ships do more than simply add atmosphere since they actually attack and can be destroyed. The final stage has an incredibly large battle station, dozens of fighter ships and many, many explosions.
Although the graphics are outdated it is hard not to be impressed by everything thatís happening onscreen. Since this is a Star Wars game, the sound department is especially well done. John Williamsí score plays during key moments and the voice acting is also well done, whether itís during a cutscene or the quips pilots say while in battle.
As strong as some of the aspects of Star Wars Starfighter are, itís still hardto overlook how short the game is. The 14 missions can be beaten well under 5 hours. There are some unlockable stages and vehicles that could take a long time to acquire, but it isnít really worth it in the long run. There just isnít that much to do in the game. Why wasnít the Xbox special edition of the game ported instead of this bare-bones version? Some co-op and deathmatch LAN would have been incredible but sadly thereís no multiplayer to be found.
Aside from the short length there arenít many things wrong with the Star Wars Starfighter. However, there isnít anything special about it either. Itís quick, inexpensive fun that will be forgotten the moment you uninstall it. If that sounds like a good time then by all means give this game a try. At least itís more entertaining than the movie that itís based on.
Seven out of ten