Let ’em have Naboo if they’ll also take Jar Jar.
Every gaming platform from the Atari 2600 to the PS2 has had its fair share
of the Force, though the PC has enjoyed some of the brightest titles. From the
X-Wing series to the Jedi Knight games, the Star
Wars license has led to some really good PC games. Of course, stinkers like
Force Commander and
Rebellion have clouded the scene a bit. Star Wars: Episode 1 Battle
for Naboo falls somewhere in the middle.
In the spirit of Rogue Squadron,
Battle for Naboo is an arcade style shooter that pops you into the cockpit
of one of seven different vehicles and sets you off on a bunch of different
missions. From Speeders to Police Cruisers to Trade Federation Gunboats, each
vehicle gives the game a whole new feel.
Probably the most notable feature of BfN has to be the sound. From the
very first screen you are enveloped with a rich, powerful symphony. In classic
Star Wars fashion, the whole game is filled with breathtaking musical scores
that fill the room with energy. But wait, that’s not all.
The folks at LucasFilm are fortunate enough to have the original sound effects
from the movies at their disposal, so when you pull the trigger, the familiar
sound of a blaster fills your ears. Kudos to LucasFilm for keeping things real.
In staying with the cinematic tradition, BfN carries on through the
cut scenes by fading to letterbox format. With the well-rendered ships and cool
sound effects, you’ll be reaching for the popcorn between levels in no time.
The textures in BfN are right out of your choice of Star Wars flicks.
From ground surfaces to the hulls of huge smuggling vessels, this game simply
looks great. The single graphical shortcoming lies in the fact that your immediate
surroundings are the only distinguishable features. Though it doesn’t ruin the
gameplay, there’s more pop-up here than a toaster factory. Sure, the sky looks
good, but everything past 200 feet is hazy. Were those prescription goggles
that Anakin sported? I don’t think so.
feels a bit contrived, as the levels play about the same each time. Whether
you’re on an escort mission or off to destroy a satellite, shooting baddies
is pretty much the name of the game.
And what stupid baddies they are. The enemies in BfN follow a pre-determined
pattern; they seem to have no AI to speak of at all. If you keep getting shot
down in the same place over and over again, just apply brakes and the enemies
will zoom right past you. Then hit the gas and apply the necessary amount of
laser fire up the thermal exhaust. I think someone’s been stealing a bunch of
droid fighters from Warlord Zsinj. With the attention to graphics and sound,
a little thing like AI must have gotten left on the developers’ table.
At least the control is on point. The speeders hover nicely a few feet above
ground and turn easily while the Naboo fighter is as agile as a pigeon (have
you ever watched a pigeon fly? They’re gooooood.) Aiming can be a little challenging,
but with such stupid AI, the only thing it affects is your accuracy percentages.
Game developers seem to be constantly challenged with defining world boundaries;
every method has been used from the picket fence that surrounds Spyro’s
little world to the endless loop of 4X4 Evolution’s boundless environment.
But lately, LucasArts has been using silliest one yet. As you approach the point
the developers felt was the end of your environment, you hit some sort of invisible
force field that bounces you back and totally disorients you. It happened in
Starfighter and it
It would have made more sense to have speeder levels set in ravines that were
too steep for a speeder to climb, and for space to loop around like in Defender.
It’s just odd to engage in a dogfight in space and hit an invisible wall that
shakes you up and throws the nose of your ship in a random direction.
Strangely missing is any sort of multiplayer. Maybe the denizens of Nar Shadda
smuggled the plans out of the Lucasarts office, but it’s just not right to have
the keys to a Naboo Starfighter and not be able to show off against your friends.
But even with its shortcomings, Battle for Naboo is pretty fun. Maybe
it’s the whole ambience set by the slick graphics and powerful sound, but for
having so many complaints, I keep going back for more. So if the Alliance is
lagging on sending you that acceptance letter, and your droid is getting a little
antsy, this may tide you over for a while.