Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace
It's always particularly disappointing when a Star Wars game fails to meet the standards that you think it should. Sure, The Phantom Menace has some gorgeous graphics, awesome sound...and even a copy of the music video included on the disc (if a little grainy), but it suffers from numerous tiny niggles that ruin it. First, there's the sort of top-down view, something that makes you feel like you're wandering around looking at your feet all the time. You can never see very far in front of you, and there is nothing on screen to give you any sense of direction...something that's especially annoying in the less action-oriented 'adventure' sequences. Speaking of those sequences, the fact that key gameplay points are fixed to conversation set-pieces is irritating too. You know you have to find Anakin in Mos Espa, but if you haven't had the right chat with the right person, he doesn't appear. It makes sense, but the way the game guides you...it feels very clumsy. Throw in some overly sensitive controls that make the 'platform game' bits unnecessarily challenging and you have something akin to Jar-Jar on the annoy-o-meter. If you battle on, it follows the movie in a satisfactory manner, but it inconveniences you so often that you might give up halfway through. After all, you know what happens at the end.
As a big fan of the flick, I can overlook most of this game's flaws, except for one biggie--the poor control. Jumping from platform to platform is more than a chore; it's annoying, falling forces you to loop back through terrain you already covered. The game does look nice, and the voice acting is well done (the voices for Jar Jar and Watto were done by the same actors from the film). Deflecting lasers with your saber is the best thing about this game.
I agree with John that Episode One lacks that special something you expect from a game based on such an incredible universe, but it's stilt cool walking around and kicking ass as a Jedi. But let's step back a bit and pretend the thing isn't associated with Star Wars--that it's just some generic action/adventure game. As such, it's only average. It has decent game-play and incredible music and dialogue but not much else. Some levels are pretty tedious.
TPM wasn't as bad as I had expected (the PC version was panned awhile back), but that's not saying a whole lot. Doing an action/adventure based on the movie can be tricky. To make the game playable and lengthy, they had to tweak with the flow of events. This automatically backfires because nobody wants scenarios that aren't in the movie. Plus, you can't change views so the top-down camera position can be obstructive at all the wrong times.
Download Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
You've seen the movie, lived through the hype, and probably had just about enough of Star Wars this summer--but you haven't played the adventure game for the PlayStation based on Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. If you're a fan of Star Wars, it was well worth the wait. And if you're someone who can't find anything else of interest in the action/adventure genre on the PlayStation, you'll feel the Force. If you hate Star Wars, however, you may want to stop reading now.
It's Raining Menace
What the Phantom Menace adventure game does for true fans is re-create the movie experience, making it completely interactive. You play as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn, Captain Panaka, and Queen Amidala as you race against time to save Theed, reach the Senate, and bring a new Jedi named Anakin on board. If you haven't seen the movie yet, don't play--all the film's plot points are revealed. Otherwise, you're in for a pretty solid action game involving lots of lightsaber slashing, item-to-item bartering, and good-old-fashioned blow-things-to-pieces fun.
As Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon, you'll swing the saber in a variety of ways and use the Force Push, which knocks enemies down and triggers switches that are just out of reach. As Panaka, you'll find a variety of weapons like blasters, thermal detonators, rocket launchers, and more to blast through the Federation's defenses, making quick work of enemy tanks, droids, and assorted henchmen. As the Queen (actually, Padm6, the disguised Queen), you'll fight through the last level of the game to reach the throne room and thwart the viceroy's amazingly wicked plans.
Mixed in with all the fast-paced action is a lot of talking. You have to barter with a variety of beings just to accomplish simple tasks, so the action slows down in areas. The excessive verbal fencing will cause some players (mainly non-StorWors fans) to put the controller down and head back to the theater for another fix, which is unfortunate. This isn't Jedi Knight, and that's ever so apparent when you have to trade a pair of binoculars to take a city tour on Coruscant in order to get to the Senate.
Guilty as Cin(ema)
Beginning on the Trade Federation ship, the game progresses much as the movie does. You escape, meet Jar Jar Binks, deal with the Gungans, rescue the Queen, travel to Tatooine, find Anakin Skywalker, batde Darth Maul in the desert, return to Coruscant, and end up back in Theed--where you eventually face Darth Maul in the final battle.
With brilliant explosions and fantastic lighting effects (especially in the lightsaber battles), the graphics, though not superior, do hold their own against games such as Metal Gear Solid and Syphon Filter. Each of Phantom's segments are also beautifully illustrated with cinematic cut-scenes that'll literally take your breath away. Despite plenty of jaggies and rough edges, the overall graphical feel is clean and simple.
Bringing Balance to the Force?
If your eyes aren't impressed, your ears will be as the game presents hours of voice enhancements and special effects. The former are particularly well done, featuring talent that closely matches the original movie actors (Jar Jar Binks and Anakin Skywalker are actually voiced by their movie counterparts; other actors are just really good mimics). Plus, Phantom Menace's music swells in anticipation of the action--the Duel of the Fates piece sounds especially heroic in the Maul scenes (see sidebar. "Duel of the Fates Video!").
So your eyes aren't impressed, and your ears are in heaven--now its time to figure out your fingers. To say the least, they'll be frustrated. The controls lean a little toward the Dark Side, especially with the tricky jumps and rapid response of the computer A.I. In areas where you escort a person to safety, that person will often linger in the background, which forces you to backtrack to look for them all over again. You may also find that the rotating camera makes it hard to pinpoint targets with a blaster or other weapons. But a skilled player will soon master these weaknesses (by feeling the Force flowing through them, of course).
Thv Force and Sith, er...The Fourth and Fifth
Phantom Menace leaves you exactly where the movie did. It has its moments of excitement and its spots of drudgery, and in the end you wished they'd put more Maul in the game. But you'll never once say you didn't enjoy it, and that's all that matters.
Not as visually impressive as Final Fantasy VIII, but a hell of a lot better than Tomb Raider III, Phantom Menace is more about the overall experience than the imagery.
Minus a half-point for Jar Jar Binks (who is annoying on his own merits) and for the few times when Qui-Gons voice sounds like a tired Sean Connery. Otherwise, the music, voice, and sound effects are awesome.
Fluid gameplay is offset by tricky jumps and hard-to-target enemies. You'll find yourself backing up and moving forward so much, you'd swear you were trying to parallel park a podracer. It's nothing a true Jedi can't master, though.
You have to be a fan of either the Star Wars movies or solid action/adventure games to like Phantom Menace. Fans will forgive minor graphical hiccups and plot variances faster than adventure gamers, but both will love this game.