Star Wars Starfighter Review

Star Wars Starfighter takes place during the events just prior to The Phantom Menace.  Players will get to fly the nimble Naboo N-1 Starfighter, as seen in The Phantom Menace, as well as two new ships,  the Guardian Mantis and the Havoc.  Each of these ships are flown from the perspective of three different pilots with distinct personalities, a rookie pilot in Naboo's defense fleet, a mercenary, and a pirate.  The destinies of these three pilots cross paths several times during the game's storyline, which is used to set the stage for the 16 missions in the game.  Completing a mission will advance the storyline and make the next mission available.  In addition to the main objectives, there are also secondary bonus objectives.  Completing these awards medals to the player, which can be used to unlock the game's eight bonus missions.

A lot of the missions take place in space, and are of the destroy something, protect something variety.  Some of the missions take place on a variety of planetary locales and include attacking units on the ground as well as in the air.  Players will often receive instructions during the missions which will provide additional objectives.  Unfortunately, it can be a little tricky to hear the objective in the midst of combat and it is not always clear as to what must be done to complete the objective.  It might take an attempt or two at a mission before it is obvious what must be done.  This is not as bad as it seems, though, since the missions are scripted and players will know what to expect the second time through.  The scripting and similarity among many of the missions diminishes the game's replay value, despite the opportunity to unlock the bonus missions.  It is hard to complete all of a mission's secondary objectives, even on the game's easiest level, so some players may give up in frustration before ever unlocking a bonus mission.  Many players will progress pretty quickly through the game's 16 main missions, so it can come across as being a little short.

The player is not always alone in the missions, and Star Wars Starfighter allows players to issue orders to their wingmen.  This can be a big help in some of the missions since the player can order the other ships to defend a key objective, leaving him/her free to fend off the attackers.  Wingmen can also be ordered to attack a target, allowing fire to be concentrated on some of the larger key targets.

Gameplay in Star Wars Starfighter is more in the style of an arcade shooter than a space simulation.  The three available ships all handle in pretty much the same manner, and a lot of the missions can be completed by cycling through the auto-targeter and keeping the trigger depressed.  There is no throttle - ships travel at a constant speed unless a boost or brake key is pressed, essentially giving each ship three speeds.

The ships also look very similar, since a heads-up view is the only one available and the displays for each ship are more alike than different.  Each ship features a different special weapon - Proton Torpedoes for the N-1, Sensor Tags (drains shields and allows shots to home in on target) for the Mantis, and Energy Bombs (useful for ground targets) for the Havoc.

Star Wars Starfighter looks quite good - the ships are detailed and the various effects such as explosions are done well.  The sound is also of high quality, with authentic weapon and ship sounds from the movies.  The soundtrack is a quality mix of tracks, most of which will be pretty familiar to Star Wars fans.

In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 69%. If you are a Star Wars fan and enjoy arcade-style shooters, you'll probably really like this game.  Players looking for a more challenging or in-depth simulation, though, might be better off looking elsewhere.

System Requirements:  350 MHz Pentium II CPU; 64 MB RAM; 16 MB Video RAM; 4x CD-ROM; 580 MB Hard Drive Space; Mouse.

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