For once, I don’t have a bad feeling about this.
Episode PS2: Starfighter
The galaxy is on the brink of war. On the Playstation 2, the Trade Federation
is up to no good and it’s up to a small team of brave pilots to stop them. The
mighty forces of LucasArts have come together for this battle to create one
of the most exciting space combat games yet seen on a console. With more action
than you can shake a lightsaber at and a few jedi mind tricks to boot, this
game is certainly skilled in the ways of the force.
Our group of heroes consists of Rhys Dallows (rookie pilot in Naboo’s starfighter
core), Vana Sage (a mercenary for hire) and Nym (a Robin Hood pirate captain).
Vaguely reminiscent of the original trio of heroes (Luke, Leia, and Han), our
Starfighter friends are just the beginning of a classic formula that
The Starfighter heroes bring with them three types of fighter craft
that will be used to combat the Trade Federation. While flying as Rhys, you’ll
take control of the geeky N-1 Starfighter that was highlighted in Episode
1. It’s big, it’s yellow, and it’s got some sort of strange tail sticking out
of it’s rear end.
Fortunately, not all of the ships in the game are as corny as the N-1.
LucasArts actually came up with some fresh designs that look almost as cool
as the classic X-wing and TIE fighters. Vana pilots the Guardian Mantis,
which looks like a cross between a B-wing and an upside down Imperial Shuttle
and Nym flies the Havoc, which seems to be a mating of the Millennium
Falcon and an A-wing. New enemy ships will also be seen, including the Interceptor-like
Handling these babies is a snap thanks to Starfighter‘s simple and
efficient control scheme. One stick controls the direction and the other handles
rolls. The D-pad issues wingman commands when available and one of the triggers
offers a sniping mode for long distance shots. The rest of the buttons are used
for targeting and shooting, rounding out an easy-to-digest set of controls.
Don’t like the way it sounds? Then change it, thanks to the control setup option.
The missions in Starfighter break down exactly like any other space
combat game: attack, defend, and escort. Each of the game’s 14 missions have
multiple objectives along with bonus goals that will eventually unlock an additional
number of extra levels, including a Multiplayer race and Capture the Flag game.
You’ll also earn the right to use any of the main fighters on any level.
Unlocking all of the additional goodies will definitely be a challenge since
there’s plenty of fast and furious action going around. Players can toggle between
a first and third person perspective to keep up with the madness. Generally
speaking, Starfighter keeps up to speed very well, with only the occasional
hiccup to slow things down.
Though the missions may boil down to classic objectives, the cool level designs
turn them into something a little more special than your average space shooter.
First off, you’re not always in space. Flying between narrow canyons, through
a waterfall, and along a river blasting Scarab fighters will take all the skills
you can muster. Only one who is strong in the Force will be able to negotiate
One of the game’s downers, though is the inability to go outside the level’s
invisible boundaries. Even in space, you are confined to a certain area. Attempt
to travel outside these boundaries and you’ll be met with a force barrier that
will “bump” you back into the field of play. This can unfortunately cause some
disorientation, sometimes leading to a nosedive during planet-based missions.
Even Wedge Antilles would have a problem getting bumped around like this.
Graphically, Starfighter offers grade-A, top of the line goods. All
of the visual details that you could expect are here. Each unit bears all the
signs of use and stray shots will even have an impact on the landscape. The
only thing missing here is some damage modeling for the fighters. But with sweet
textures and nifty lighting, it’s easily one of the best-looking PS2 titles
Sound also gets a thumbs up. Musical scores and sound effects all ring true
to the Star Wars universe. The voice acting is also pretty good, giving more
life to our small band of heroes.
One of the only real flaws of Starfighter is its targeting system.
While it is easy to lock on to an enemy that is on screen without a radar, locating
a specific target offscreen can be a nightmare. Take one of the early missions;
for example, escorting the Queen’s ship. Dogfighting with the mercenaries is
no problem, but if you lose track of the Queen’s ship, it may be difficult to
locate again. It’s even worse on levels where the sheer number of enemies is
staggering. All you can do is mash the targeting button for a while, wasting
many precious seconds trying to locate your intended target.
While Starfighter is without a doubt a solid game, I can’t help but
wish for a more dynamic storyline or level structure. The ability to progress
in the game without complete success would definitely boost the depth by leaps
and bounds. Life after Colony Wars is
Starfighter is a classic example of space combat fun. Just about every
aspect is done right and some challenges are thrown into the mix as well. Even
with its arcade style of play and limited depth, this is one game that can be
enjoyed by everyone throughout the galaxy. Yub, yub.