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Star Wars Starfighter
Review By: Christopher Coey
Developer:   LucasArts
Publisher:   LucasArts
# of Players:   1-2
Genre:   Shooter
ESRB:   Teen
Date Posted:   8-25-01

The past few years have seen the LucasArts name whore itself with titles that were certainly less than deserving of the Star Wars franchise. Maybe this game will mark the beginning of a redemption of sorts. Starfighter IS deserving. Smooth; slick gameplay, and a gripping storyline. The stunning visuals and lightning frame-rate never seem to drop off. This is one game that certainly lives up to the hype.

The story is set during the events of Episode I, and follows three very distinct and well developed characters, each with their own distinct starfighters. The game follows the three through an interlocking events leading up to the final battle above the troubled planet of Naboo.

Inevitably while reviewing games, and reading reviews, one sees the same group of cliché descriptives: stunning, superb, spectacular, and a whole bunch of others that don't even begin with the letter 's'. I've used them myself time and time again. But they are certainly accurate when describing the graphics in Starfighter.

Let's start with 'stunning': the environments are enormous! Picture the final star-fight scene from The Phantom Menace. Hundreds of droid starfighters surrounding the massive droid control ship. Meanwhile, down on Naboo, huge Trade Federation dropships transport the droid army onto the peaceful planet. Well, it's ALL in the game. But imagine while battling the hundreds of droid starfighters, you can actually fly INTO the droid control ship. And while IN the control ship, there are dozens of Trade Federation Dropships! Are you starting to get an idea of the scope of this game?

Now 'superb': The original story, and wonderfully Star Wars music and sound mesh perfectly with the superior (another 's' word) graphics. This was the game that X-Wing (the original Star Wars space shooter) was supposed to be, if only it had the power of Playstation 2 back in it's day. And don't get me wrong, X-Wing was amazing! I really enjoyed the whole 'retro' feel or Starfighter. It was very much an Episode I title, Naboo-style cockpit symbols and all.

Finally 'spectacular': Once again, I have to go back to the sheer scope of this game, especially the space battles. It's incredible how much is going on around you; the battles, the speed. Even the cockpit chatter between pilots and enemies is a blast. And yet, it's as challenging as you want it to be. Adjustable difficulty settings, and 'bonus' objective for each mission add a lot to the fun, and replay value. Now, that being said, the game really isn't all that difficult.

The only real fault in this game would be the length of play. Sure, every hard-core gamer wants the great games to last forever, but Starfighter is glaringly short. Fourteen levels in all, which might be considered by some to be an acceptable number if not for the fact that most levels can be completed in under 10 minutes, sometimes the first time through. Even getting a gold medal in all 14 missions, plus the bonus games, takes a couple days play at most (unless you put the difficulty setting on 'hard', at which point some missions become outright impossible, and it doesn't effect which 'bonus' areas or starfighters you unlock, so why put yourself through the agony?) There IS however a pleasant surprise when the game is fully completed, it unlocks a hidden two-player mode.

There are a number of extra features in this game that do somewhat make up for the short single-player mode. As I mentioned: the bonus missions, which unlock depending on earning gold, silver, or bronze medals in the single-player mode. The Canyon Race is an interesting take on the Podracer scenes from the movie, as well, there is a cool 3D version of Asteroids which can be unlocked. The two-player mode is a nice touch. Not enough of a feature to recommend the game simple for this mode, but it's a welcome addition, and a lot of fun. And least we forget that you can unlock Darth Maul's Infiltrator: then play all the missions over again and REALLY kick-ass. Overall, a must buy for any Star Wars fan.

HIGHS:

  • It's a Star Wars game
  • Stunning, superb, spectacular graphics
  • Smooth controls
  • The scope of the game is astounding

LOWS:

  • WAY too short
  • Not enough two-player missions

FINAL VERDICT:

The game is short. But what it lacks in length, it makes up for in every other area. It's a great Starfighter game, regardless of the Star Wars tie-in. Something Lucas Arts should have learned years ago: make a great game, THEN make it a Star Wars game. The sheer size of the environments will blow you away, it's incredible! And although there are only 14 levels, the diversity of gameplay puts 90% of the games on the market today to shame. Whether you like Star Wars or not, this is a good game to buy. Plus, there's no Jar Jar in sight!

Overall Score: 9.0

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