March 23, 2001
Star Wars: Starfighter - Review
"Use the force". Rarely does a phrase capture the imagination of so many people across the globe. Star Wars isn't just another science fiction movie, it's a passion. Millions of people worldwide devour anything to do with the movies and the queues on the opening days of Episode I: The Phantom Menace are proof of this enthusiasm. Ever since LucasArts announced Star Wars: Starfighter almost a year ago now there has been a lot of expectations placed on the game. LucasArts have certainly obliged with one of the best Star Wars games ever. Finally the company had a console that could provide enough power to generate a detailed Star Wars universe with as much action as seen in the movies.
|Close Encounters of the Laser Kind|
LucasArts' Star Wars: Starfighter puts you in control of several different fighter planes, including the Naboo Fighter from Episode I. While the game is set in the same timeframe as the Episode I movie, the characters and events are not related until the final battle over the planet Naboo. During the game you will play as three different characters including Rhys Dallows, a Naboo fighter pilot, Vana Sage, a former Naboo fighter pilot, and Nym, who is seeking all sorts of revenge on just about everybody, but ends up teaming with Vana to help destroy the Trade Federation. Unfortunately, due to period the game is set in you won't see any X-Wing or Tie Fighters in the game.
Unlike so many other console flight sims the controls in Starfighter are very easy to get to grips with. The two analogue sticks are used for steering and rolling your space ship while the top shoulder buttons are used to accelerate or brake, something which you will have to get used to rather quickly. The digital pad can be used to issue orders to your wingmen while the X, O, Triangle and Square buttons are used to fire weapons and select targets. One neat feature is the zoom button (R1) which allows you to zoom in on targets while firing for more accuracy. It really is a joy to fly the craft in this game as they react perfectly to your commands. Another neat feature is the damage to your craft. While they all have shields flying into the ground, canyon walls, mountains or other craft will result in damage. Just graze them and you will only suffer some shield loss. Slamming straight into the ground or another craft usually results in the instant destruction of your vehicle.
|The Battle Over Naboo|
The missions in Star Wars: Starfighter are as varied as you could ever want. From training through narrow canyons to attacking the Trade Federation blockade over Naboo and the final battle on the surface this game has it all. Starfighter includes 14 missions in the game, although more are unlockable, but it may be a little short-lived overall. There are three difficulty levels but even on Medium the game should be beaten in under 10 hours of play. Still it's a bit like Rayman Revolution. Short but extremely enjoyable. The cut scenes between missions are also very well done and give you information about the next mission and insight into your characters motives.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of this game is the stunning visuals. The first training level through the canyon is a concern with some frame rate drops but every mission after that has absolutely no problems, and is a lot more detailed. The craft are extremely detailed and the cannon fire and explosions are intricate. It's pretty safe to say that Star Wars: Starfighter is the best looking Star Wars title ever, and the best looking game to date on the Playstation 2. Prepare to be amazed as you skim over the surface of Naboo blowing up Trade Federation tanks.
|Approaching a Trade Federation Starship|
How many people don't like John Williams' Star Wars theme music? Probably not too many, and fortunately for gamers, Star Wars: Starfighter is choc full of dramatic Star Wars styled music. It give the game an epic and dramatic feel at all times, but especially at the high point of battles. Speech is also impressive with your wingmen often pointing out critical targets and what you should be doing next. The sound effects are also impressive with great explosions and laser blasts that wouldn't be out of place in the movies. If you've got an amplifier and some powerful speakers make sure you crank this up. It will blow you away.
|Escorting the Princess|
Star Wars: Starfighter is definitely the best game on the Playstation 2 to date. While the number of missions is a little disappointing there are plenty of secrets to unlock and the graphics can't fail to impress. If you're a Star Wars fan, as I am, there is absolutely no excuse for not buying this game. Excuse me while I go pick my jaw up off the floor and have another go of the best game to date on the Playstation 2. Star Wars: Starfighter is an essential purchase.