Star Wars Starfighter was released for the PS2 in 2001 and to the joy of Xbox owners everywhere, it has now made its way to the Xbox. It picked up some improvements along the way including a graphics tweak, new levels, and an improved multiplayer mode. Star Wars Starfighter gives you the opportunity to take on the role of three heroes. And like most Star Wars heroes, each has their own ship to pilot.
You start off on a training mission learning to fly as Rhys Gallows, a young hotshot pilot who has just taken the helm of his first Naboo Fighter. After a real space battle with Rhys, you move onto a mission as the mercenary Vana Sage in a Y-shaped high-speed fighter, and finally you take on a mission as Nym, a rugged space pirate, who commands an armored fighter-bomber combo. As the game progresses you switch back between the three pilots. Each ship and pilot have,their own advantages and disadvantages modified by whether they are flying their ship on the surface of a planet or out in deep space.
If you are familiar with any of the other space combat simulators put out by LucasArts over the years, you will recognize that Star Wars Starfighter follows the same tried and true build up from hard battle to harder battle leading up to a battle that seems insurmountable, and yet you know that somehow you can overcome anything. In this case the big battle is taking on a federation command ship. And once again, I had a great time flying and blasting my way through each and every level.
If you saw Episode 1 either in the theater, or on either DVD or VHS, you will recognize all the sounds of ship combat you heard in the movie. All the explosions and laser blasts in the game are the same ones that you heard at the movies. Those sounds compliment a soundtrack composed by John William’s, and really make this an impressive sounding title.
As I mentioned earlier, the game opens with a training mission on the surface of Naboo, and I found that once you are able to complete that mission, you are able to fly any of the ships that you may encounter in this game. The controls take a little bit of getting used to, but after a few tries, I felt like I had been flying fighters all my life. The left and right triggers are thrust and brake respectively.
You and control your vector angle and fly with the joystick and shoot and select your target with the buttons. In some of the missions you will find that you have a few allies that will help you out. They can be commanded using the directional controls on the D-pad. The orders are limited, and it does get a little tiring hearing the same commands over and over again, but trust me, it is good to have their help. I noticed that the AI on your allies is not the best though, and sometimes they will fly into your stream of laser blasts, so keep your eyes out for them.
If you like to blow things up, then have no fear, as there is no shortage of things to shoot at on each level. The levels range for huge space battles to ground defense missions, with a good story line to explain the missions and the overall plot of the game. I have only seen screen shots of the PS2 version of the game, but I think the Xbox version is a major improvement, even if I am not convinced that it uses the full potential of the system. In several cases I was expecting a collision with a big ship and instead I just flew right on through. And getting close up to some of the ships, the coloring was definitely off.
The final addition to Star Wars Starfighter: Special Edition for the Xbox was improved multiplayer options. On this version there are five modes to choose from including head-to-head, capture the flag, tag, hunter and detonator drop. The first three are pretty self explanatory, but hunter is where you play a cat and mouse game with a damaged droid ship, where you need to get it before time runs out. Detonator drop pits two players against each other in an attempt to find and bring a weapon to your opponents base within a certain amount of time.
Overall I found Star Wars Starfighter: Special Edition an easy-to-learn game with a lot of fun and challenging missions. It sounded and looked great and I found it to be a great addition to the Star wars title lineup from LucasArts. I am pleased to give it 4 GiN Gems.