(Playstation 2 Version)
Review by Joshua Griffin
Starfighter is LucasArts first generation flight simulator title for the Playstation 2. It's a great new shooter adventure in the same tradition of excellence in the Rogue Squadron series. Dynamic sound, decent control and amazing graphics round out the first title for the next generation of games and fans.
Take on the role
of one of three pilots that have been throwm together by fate
in the events surrounding the invasion of the peaceful planet of
Naboo. The Trade Federation will stop at nothing but total victory, so it us up to our three
unlikely heros. Good luck, you're gonna need it.
In a world where the Playstation 2 is the most powerful kid on the block - can you believe it still doesn't have a science fiction shooter? Until later this week that is, when LucasArts unleashes its latest creation on the gaming world. We got a chance to pick up an advance copy of the highly anticipated title and wanted to give you the lowdown on this very promising game.
The first subject that will demand your attention is the graphics. Every review you read should start of with this subject because they are that good. The Playstation 2 is a powerful workhorse that is waiting for someone to tap into, and LucasArts has done an admirable job considering this is one of the very first generation of titles for the system. It's running at a silky smooth 60 fps or so I would imagine, with not a hint of slow down.
Sure, the games will get better, but this is the type of game that makes you want to tear apart the guy at Electronics Boutique that tells you the system is still unavailable. One of the real drawbacks of the title is that so few people will actually get to play the games, keeping in mind the fact that systems are so hard to come by even a few months after the
release and Christmas. For this review, I even had to visit a friend's house to play it, since no one within 50 miles of me has a system for sale under $500.
But games are always better with friends anyhow, and even though the game is a dedicated one-player only title, the other can just sit back and rest his thumbs from the action and feast their eyes on pure screen candy until the other meets their demise. The game looks brilliant, with the liberal dose of the new PS2's effects just for good measure. Expect all of the bells and whistles including everything rendering in real time, like shadows and light sourcing.
The multiple terrains keep the levels completely different. They range from outer space to flying over planets to squeezing through tight canyons. There are plenty though they may be a tad easy and the variety helps propel the story along and makes for a great change of pace. It's not to often that a space-based simulator can also render excellent ground graphics, and do them both really well. Control is intuitive although the dual analog does take a bit of getting used to. The ZOOM feature absolutely rocks, it's just like sniping wamprats on Tatooine. Or something like that ...
The sound is also really sharp, with familiar tunes of Star Wars and unique compositions compliment the visuals. Most sound effects are fitting and keep the tradition of other titles. The sample library must have been huge, since each craft you can fly sounds different than the previous and there's plenty of action to fill up the multiple channels of the PS2. There isn't much to say about the sound, since LucasArts consistently get this aspect right and this title is no exception.
Then there's the LucasArts system of cheats and passcodes, for the gaming impaired and those that want to have some fun being invincible. There's also the medal system, which I would give at best a bronze. And undoubtedly more cool hidden stuff like levels and new craft to fly. The tracking system, weapons status and radar are all easy to understand (after a cursory examination of the instructions) and the flight models are very arcade-like.
And finally, guess what? The voice acting actually matches the character's lips! It was great to see some cinemas that really convey a sense of energy and intensity, including solid voice acting with great graphics. If there's one thing no one can complain about, it's the lack of cinemas. Before each level, in the middle of some, at the end of all and in-between load screens expect the story to be told like a movie. Dynamic shadows, awe-inspiring reflections and more greet you in the first couple of breaks and set a quick pace for the rest.
All in all a great game for those that want to blast the bad guys and enjoy a good Star Wars story along the way.
I have to admit it, I would have loved to have seen multiplayer. This game is probably just ahead of the technical ability of the internet for gaming, and a title this detailed would be hard to port over 56K. When broadband hits, LucasArts had better be ready to go head to head with me over here in Michigan. Though I still miss the feature now, I understand for technical reasons why it wasn't included.
Turning the attention to gameplay, actual flight could have been a bit faster, though it is improved much over the Rogue Squadron series. The game keeps pace with a solid story with excellent cinemas, but even a bit faster may have added to the intensity a bit. In an intense dogfight
The game on normal mode isn't too difficult; I didn't even bother to try easy and with a friend was able to take the title to the final battle in just a couple days of exhaustive playing. You will be able to as well if you're an average gamer, which makes it a bit short. But included for replay ability is a tested medal system, plus hidden levels and more. Some kind of a randomizer or multiple paths in the freespace environment is something to consider in a sequel.
If you're lucky enough to have a Playstation 2, buy Starfighter. It's a worthwhile game for any fan, and the hard-core SW gamer will feel it is impressive. Most impressive.
95 out of 100
Multiplayer is included in the game afterall. Shortly after this review was written we posted a series of stories on this subject. It is a bit limited, but still great:
Passcodes for Multiplayer
Ultimate Cheat Codes
Stawars.com Starfighter Interview
First Pictures of the Premiere Event
Chat Transcript from Starfighter Official Site
LucasArts Official Starfighter Site
First Passcodes for the Game
For comments or questions email the TFN Games Staff
and thanks to Joshua Griffin for the review!