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Star Wars Episode One: Starfighter
Preview By: Joe Rolfe
Developer:    LucasArts
Publisher:    LucasArts
Genre:    Shooter
Est. Release Date:    Winter 2000
Posted:    9-1-00

Okay, Iíll admit it. Iím not really excited about the PS2 launch. THERE, I said it.

Yes, the cold truth of it all is that there are few titles coming out on that magical October 26th date which catch my attention. Yea, there are a couple sports games in there that Iím interested in, but the same ones can be found already (or pretty soon) on my PC or original PlayStation console, so a graphical overhaul wonít justify a purchase of them. Thankfully, better games are on the horizon (shortly, too). One of those games is Lucas Artís next galactic shooter, Star Wars: Starfighter. Set to be a hybrid of an arcade and simulation feel, Starfighter is going to change how you play games on the PS2 and, if mildly, space games in general.

Starfighter follows the story of three selectable characters: Rhys Dallows, Nym, and Vana Sage. Each one will have a different aircraft to fly, and the plot itself is based in the Episode One timeframe. There are a rumored 20-plus ships to fly, with at least 20 levels to play. Starfighter will feature both ground and space battles with the Empire (or the Federation, if youíd like to keep with the Phantom Menace theme). It will be a strait-up shooter, akin to Rogue Squadron but with more simulation aspects in it as found in the X-Wing series.

What must be the best thing about Starfighter is how Lucas Arts is trying to recreate the Star Wars universe in your living room. Yeah, this has been said before numerous times with just about any SW games, but Starfighter is the first console version to really do it. Utilizing the accessible PS2 controller, Starfighter is currently planned to use both of the analogue sticks (which would give a total control of your ship), plus the shoulder buttons for acceleration and possibly 180-degree turns. Not exactly a revelation of sorts, but really the best way to truly feel like youíre guiding an X-Wing without using a dedicated flight controller.

The usual audio/visual pizzazz will of course be the usual AAA standard, with the graphics getting an extra boost thanks to the PlayStation 2ís power. Wonderfully designed ship models are joined by Star Wars universes that even todayís PC space games canít hold a candle to. All the environments are enormous in size with numerous reports that it takes minutes on end to find that "invisible boundary" on the sides of the levels. Stars, nebulas and lighting effects are extremely gorgeous and one of the only few PS2 titles to really show off the hardware like it were meant to be.

As for the sound, Starfighter should keep the usual Star Wars themes plus the Phantom Menace scores (the originals, mind you Ė not the re-mixed debacles found in Force Commander). With the added aural capabilities of the PS2 expect to hear TIE fighter roars and laser blasts to rocks your senses like no other SW console game before it. The audio in Star Wars games have always been the thing I looked out for the most, so letís pray that Lucas Arts improves upon what is already considered their strongest department in games.

All in all, Starfighter looks like another hot shooter from the cinematic masters at Lucas Arts. Currently set for a late Fall release, Star Wars fans obviously need to check this game out and PlayStation 2 gamers should get a taste of Starfighter as well since it could be one of the first "real" PS2 games for Sonyís new hardware.
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