Star Wars Episode One: Starfighter
What's the deal?
Forget about those dusty Kenner X-Wings and TIE fighters you toss around in the basement--the gang at LucasArts claims Starfighter is the closest you can get to movie-quality dogfighting. And that's not just 'cause of the extreme detail you'll find on the three ships you pilot against the Trade Federation. In Starfighter, size is everything. "One of our largest environments is more than 2,500 square kilometers," said Daron Stinnett, Starfighter's project leader. "The player flies about 250 kilometers per hour, so in that particular environment it would take about 10 minutes to fly from one side of the gameplay area to the other." You'll also face ships that were sketched by Episode I concept artist Doug Chiang but didn't make it into the movie. LucasArts built polygonal models of these leftover craft for the game.
Not all the planet-based missions (which are separate from the space-based stages) are set over wide-open terrain. One much tighter environment, for instance, takes place in a deep waterfall basin. The PlayStation 2's power is focused on this smaller area to create a lush, denser-feeling level. "Our engine does very well with virtually any-size environment, from vast open areas to others that are as detailed as a first-person action game," Stinnett told us.
So why is it a must-get game?
Starfighter's gee-whiz visuals are stellar, sure, but it's the mission variety--which looks to rival Rogue Squadron's killer assortment of sorties--that's got us excited. One planet-based level has you and your wingman whizzing down a narrow canyon in a dead-of-night stealth mission to deliver ammunition and supplies to the Naboo resistance. You'll also go on a series of space-base missions in which you'll take on an enemy convoy. You eventually hijack a Trade Federation lander and use it to sneak past a blockade. "In the final mission in that series," Stinnett explained, "the player mans the lander's turret for a little B-17-style gunnery action." Sounds fun, and we hear Super Bombad Racing is gonna be a blast, too. That's two good PS2 Star Wars games to look forward to.