I've got a baaad feeling about this...
A not so long time ago, in a ranch not so far, far away, someone over at LucasArts had a plan. This plan was to put forth a game in every genre possible and make a pretty penny off of the Star Wars faithful. From there, the crusade began and would ultimately show some mixed results. A few great games, such as Jedi Knight, would arise to take their place in the hallowed halls of gaming history, while others, such as the recent Jedi Power Battles and Force Commander, would bomb like a malfunctioning thermal detonator. So what's the next game from a galaxy far, far away? Star Wars Demolition.
If you've ever played Vigilante 8, you know exactly what you're getting into. Demolition basically just throws the Star Wars universe into the mix. Take control of a vehicle/creature/jetpack and blast the stuffing out of your opponents.
Ever wonder if Boba Fett could single-handedly take out an AT-ST ? Curious how a STAP would do against a Rancor? Well, wonder no more. Demolition gives you the pick of the roughest, toughest, meanest hombres this side of Chalmun's Cantina. Over ten characters can be chosen in this all-out battle for supremacy.
Game modes include Battle, Tournament, High Stakes and Hunt-a-Droid. Battle is a one on one fight, Tournament pits you against several opponents whose numbers increase with each level, High Stakes allows you to bet on your performance, and in Hunt-a-Droid, well, you do the obvious.
Demolition's multiplayer mode features both versus and co-op play. This is great except that the split screen is run vertically rather than horizontally. Your field of view is so narrow; it's almost as if you're wearing blinders. Why no option to switch?
The worlds in which your battles take place will be familiar to anyone remotely in touch with the Star Wars universe. Hoth, Tatooine, Naboo, and even the second Death Star are just some of the arenas. The best part about each of these worlds is the level of interactivity. On Tatooine's Dune Sea, players can use their tractor beam to throw an opponent into the Pit of Carkoon. The second Death Star features wings of tie-fighters on strafing runs, and Hoth sports an attack on all contenders by AT-ATs. If your opponents don't get you, the level just might.
When it comes to control, things are made simple. Driving your vehicle/creature/jetpack feels just like Vigilante 8 complete with drift maneuvers. When standing still, players can rotate 360 degrees....
...which you'll have to do quite often, since there's no reverse. I'll say that again for the hard of reading: no reverse. This would have definitely come in handy on all those occasions when you run up against buildings. Isn't backing up sort of key in a game called Demolition? Sheesh, even airplanes have a reverse gear. Why doesn't my landspeeder, dammit? Stopping and turning allows the others a perfect opportunity to send a proton torpedo right up the wazoo. And speaking of proton torpedoes…
Demolition could have used more in the way of weapons. Besides your standard lasers, players can pick up one of only four secondary weapons common to the Star Wars universe. Proton torpedoes, concussion missiles, thermal detonators and tractor beams are the only choices. While finding out the best situations for each of the weapons can be fun, the game would have definitely benefited from a wider assortment of destructive fury. After all, this is a demolition, right?
A few power ups are also thrown into the mix, though they just don't have a big impact on the gameplay. Cloaking devices, deflector shields and energy converters are all helpful, but they don't seem to give you much of an advantage. Players can also find droids to increase the efficiency of their weapons and shields, but again, these little guys can only do so much.
Two vital structures on every battlefield include shield and weapons generators. At these stations, contestants can recharge their shields and weapons to an optimal level. These charges aren't free, though, as they will slowly drain your credit supply.
When it comes to visuals, the Demolition team has got it right. The damage modeling on the vehicles is excellent. There's nothing better than seeing you opponents fall apart piece by piece before you send them to the scrap heap. On the other side of the gun, seeing your vehicle getting trashed add a bit of urgency to your cause.
Blowing stuff up in Demolition is definitely fun in all its Star Wars glory, but the more you play, the more you'll notice the imbalance in gameplay. One thing that I learned early on is that offense is not the best policy. Players can unleash all their destructive force immediately, but without the proper weapon and enough charge, you'll barely scratch your opponents. Also, offensive play ends up draining the credits you have on recharges. It seems to me that a game like this needs plenty of offensive attitude. Demolition seems to reward defensive play instead, which leads to less thrashing.
But despite my fears, Star Wars Demolition turns out to be a decent game. There's some room for improvement, but what we've got isn't that bad. I just wish there were an Ewok fighter. Yub, yub!