Reviewed by Mark Isaacson
There is no doubt that the Starfighter series has become a crowd favorite since its first appearance on the PS2 a while back. Since then we've had the Special Edition on the X-Box and a conversion to the PC. But now, just two months away from the release of Episode II: Attack of the Clones to cinemas worldwide, Starfighter fans are the first to see Episode II craft, characters and worlds in action. Enter Jedi Starfighter.
The first thing that I must mention is the story arc. I don't want to spoil anything for those who are waiting until May, so let's just say that Jedi Starfighter runs parallel to the Episode II story and features enemy and friendly craft that will appear in the movie (as well as the Jedi Starfighter itself) and a few interactions with characters from the film. Adi Gallia is the main character, who is trusted by her former master Mace Windu to stop an incoming invasion on the Karthak system planned by Cavic Toth. With the aid of Nym and his ship Havoc (both appeared in the original Starfighter, for those of you who don't know), you must control the heroes, stop the invasion and save the day. Sound familiar?
The Jedi Starfighter is a great little ship. It reminds me of a smaller looking Star Destroyer actually (whether it was supposed to or not I'm not sure). It's fitted with a simple twin laser system and is very fast and agile in combat. Here's where things get interesting. Since Adi is a master of the force, her abilities actually aid the ship. Starting off with the force shield (a simple shield that protects you from harm) you will come across the force lightning (strikes lightning at enemies), force shock wave (sends out a wave of energy, damaging anything in the surrounding radius) and force reflex (slows down enemy craft and increases your agility). All are very handy additions to your arsenal, although there is nothing like blasting your enemy out of the sky the old fashion way, which is where the Havoc comes in.
Just as it was in Starfighter, the Havoc is a slow but very powerful craft. Proximity mines, missiles and the like are at your disposal and although the Havoc is much slower then the Jedi Starfighter, it more then makes up for it with a stronger defense system.
As is expected, little has changed in the control department. You still control your ship using the two analog sticks, using X for your main attack, triangle and square for your targeting systems and circle for your secondary weapons.
What has changed is the use of the D-pad for certain actions. In the original, you used the D-pad to command the other ships in your party. The same can be done here, but by pressing L1, the D-pad will change to allow you to choose which secondary attack to use. For the Jedi Starfighter you select which force ability and the Havoc, its different missiles and mines. Then press circle to use each one, or press L1 to return to the party commands. Simple.
The targeting system is very important. Pressing square will highlight all enemies currently on the screen, and you can cycle through each enemy by pressing triangle. Certain information also appears over each enemy. Different icons will appear depending on how far or close it is, its current health level, whether it is communicating, etc. And your ships weapon target will change according to which weapon you have and when an enemy is lined up or not.
Presentation wise, Jedi Starfighter is a mixed bag. The graphics are a combination of elements seen in Starfighter as well as improvements to lighting (especially with the force attacks) and shadows. But there really hasn't been a huge effort to improve in a major way. The frame rate is the same as before with a few scratches here and there, each ship is detailed decently, but with nothing really flash or exciting (apart from the Jedi Starfighter itself) and glitches appear all too often during major fire fights.
I'm a little disappointed that Jedi Starfighter is far from the clean presentations of 3rd and 4th generation Playstation 2 games Grand Theft Auto 3 and Metal Gear Solid 2, but it does the job fairly well. It's the same as Starfighter, and there isn't much wrong with that. But a few cleaner images here and there would have been nice.
Jedi Starfighter continues the great achievements in sound and music development in the Star Wars universe. Music from John Williams as always is included along with some dialogue from major and minor characters and classic laser and explosion effects. I don't think I heard any music that may appear in Episode II during my play time, but keep your ears open anyway. There may be a few hidden tracks in there I'm yet to find.
The only major problem with the sound effects is the dialogue. The same sentences are repeated constantly over and over during most battle sequences, which will eventually get on your nerves. But you can always turn up the music in the options to drown it out!
One element that I've been praying would be improved over Starfighter was the multiplayer options, and I'm happy to say LucasArts have done their homework. The usual options are here, such as deathmatch, along with missions where you both can control the Advanced Havoc (one flies the ship, the other mans the gun turret on top). The best new inclusion, something I wasn't even expecting, is the co-op story mode. Here, two players play split screen through the normal single player story, and it's great fun. The other bonus in this mode is you can choose from more craft then in the other modes (but I'll let you find out which ships are there for yourself) and there are more enemy craft in the air to shoot down, meaning you each get your fair share of kills. I have no doubt in saying this is the best collection of multiplayer options in any Star Wars console game to date, period.
Wait, there's more. During the single player campaign, you will come across bonus missions to play. These missions are separate to the story arc, with certain objectives to complete. Once each one is out the way, you will unlock even further bonus material (much like Rogue Squadron before it). DVD like extras such as concept art, behind the scenes photos and trailers for LucasArts titles past and present there. But be sure to find your way through to the blooper reel, very funny stuff.
So, is Jedi Starfighter a worthy sequel to Starfighter? Apart from a few problems in the graphics department, I'd say yes. The Jedi Starfighter itself more then makes this a worthy addition to your collection, as it is just as enjoyable to fly as an X-Wing and looks a lot better then the N1-Starfighter ever did. And with a great back-up craft in the Havoc, you'll have a blast. But what's more important is the story arc. From what is presented here, Episode II looks more and more a beautiful treat. There are plenty of new enemy craft to keep an eye out for, and the extras on disc will keep you going for some time.
The only major problem I have is the fact that Jedi Starfighter has been released 2 months before the movie itself. It's a strange thing to do, and I'm confused as to why LucasArts chose to do so, knowing very well that many fans (gamers and non-gamers) are trying to stay away from anything that may spoil the surprise on opening night.
Jedi Starfighter is a great title and well worth a purchase thanks to the many options and bonus items available. Go get it now.
For comments or questions email the TFN Games Staff