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Review by Mark Isaacson

I must thank Lucasarts for reminding me how good Rogue Squadron really is. For those of you haven?t seen Battle for Naboo yet, it is much like a sequel to Rogue Squadron than a new game (or a prequel, if your going by the Star Wars timeline). And when I recently bought Naboo for the PC, I was interested to find a full copy of RS inside the box. So after rescuing Naboo from the clutches of the Trade Federation, I decided to trade in my N1 Starfighter for a classic X-Wing, and take to the skies once again.

Much like my review of Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machines, I?ll be taking a flight path between both this PC version, and the N64 title of the same name. So, here it goes:

Based on the novel and comic book series by the same name, Rogue Squadron follows the adventures of twelve of the most highly skilled, battle-tested starfighter pilots in the Alliance. With the skill and knowledge to fly the variety of craft in the Alliance fleet, the versatile Rogue Squadron is always counted on for the most difficult and challenging missions. Led by Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles, the group must rally against the Deadly Imperial fleets, who wish to destroy the Rebels and take the universe as their own. The events in this game take place during Star Wars: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.

If this were 1997, and Naboo wasn’t even around, then Rogue Squadron would be on top of everyone’s must buy list. Why? Because it is the first flight simulation that really hits the spot, on the console that is. In previous years, console Star Wars fans had been starved of a really decent flight sim that re-created those famous scenes from the Saga. Meanwhile, PC players were basking in the glory of having the great X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter gracing their hard drives.

For this title, if you want to experience it the way it was meant to, you need to get the 4MB RAM Expansion. After playing the game in the optional high-resolution mode once (640x480), you wouldn’t want to go back to the standard set-up (320x240), even if the framerate is a little lower in hi-res. Of course, with those who own the PC title, than an 8mb or higher graphics card should do the trick. Out of all of this, you’ll get a great looking title, with some incredibly detailed crafts (including the X-Wing, Y-Wing and A-Wing) and neat backgrounds.

This being one of the first games that Factor 5 had a hand in, there are many things here that are now standard in other Star Wars titles (such as Battle for Naboo, Episode 1 Racer and Starfighter), including the highly detailed surround sound setup. These days, it just would not be a good game without the Star Wars anthem blasting away, or blaster fire whizzing past from either sides, and Factor 5 compiled this very well, especially on cartridge. RoguePC also had a great soundtrack, and even improved the surround sound features in places.

The controls for Rogue are very similar to Battle for Naboo. However, unlike the younger brother’s difficulties on the PC, RoguePC is a much smoother ride. Again, if you wish to make the most of the game, then a gamepad is recommended. As for Rogue64, you won’t have any problems controlling your craft. Each has different strengths and weaknesses, but overall they are a joy to fly. As an added extra, if you are flying an X-Wing or Y-Wing, then your R2 unit can repair some of the damage taken during battle. This can come as an advantage if the battle is long and difficult, giving you a better chance to last the distance.

There are also plenty of bonus areas and craft to unlock. As you go about destroying the enemy, you collect medals for achieving certain tasks (Bronze, Silver and Gold). The more you collect, the more you open up. Rewards include craft like the Millenium Falcon, while you can also open a remake of the Battle of Hoth (I enjoyed this the most). The award system was also used for Naboo.

Speaking of which, you can also fly the N1 Starfighter in this game. A few months after release, Episode 1 made it to the big screen. What followed were a patch for the PC game, and a password for Rogue64. Both can be found at the Lucasarts official Rogue Squadron web site, which we have a link to. I wonder if there is something similar hidden away in Battle for Naboo, or even Starfighter. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Even with all the great amount of detail put into Rogue Squadron, there are still areas that let it down, but thankfully not as much as Battle for Naboo (BFN)

For starters, there is a lot of fog floating about in certain levels. This was toned down for BFN, and wasn’t as big a problem for RoguePC, but it was still there. One reason for this could be to reduce the amount of polygons used for the backgrounds, so more could be used for the ship models. Even then, the more that is on screen, the slower and less pretty the game can become. But it doesn’t happen that often to ruin your game playing experience, which is a good thing.

Another thing that bugged me a little was the AI. Most of the time, it is up to you to destroy the enemies on screen. No problems there, but when you have wingmen as part of the package, then it would have been more of a blast to challenge them for the kill (take a gander through the X-Wing novels if you don’t understand what I’m talking about).

Even though Rogue Squadron has been out for some time now, it can still hold it’s self up high against the newer competition, maybe not in graphical terms, but definitely when it comes to the amount of things to accomplish, and the wide range of battles and environments.

Again, much like Battle for Naboo, the console version is the nicer of the two, however RoguePC is a much better conversion compared to the PC port of Naboo. So, once you are finished with BFN, I recommend giving this a blast, especially if you are yet to play it. And now, it’s free.

89 out of 100
(add 4% if you don't care about graphical splendor)

Related Media/Stories:
Official Rogue Squadron PC Website
Official Rogue Squadron N64 Website
PC.IGN.com Review (PC version)
Rogue Squadron Related Stories at PC.IGN.com (PC Version)
Rogue Squadron Related Stories at IGN64.IGN.com
IGN64.IGN.com Review (N64 Version)

For comments or questions email the TFN Games Staff and thanks to Mark Isaacson for the review!

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