Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter
Call me cuckoo, but if someone was searing my backside with lasers, I'd think about scooching out of the way. It's a concept that never occurs to the big bad-die ships in Jedi Starfighter. They just sit there and take it until they go boom. The piddly droid fighters ain't much smarter. You don't really face any hard-to-kill adversaries until you're well into the 16 missions, and those foes are only prickly 'cause of their souped-up guns. But Jedi Starfighter isn't really a game of white-knuckle one-on-one dogfighting (cripes, it's barely even a game of Jedi starfighting: You get a measly four Force powers). The fun here comes from all the stuff thrown at you: swarms of enemy ships, capital craft and planetside structures bristling with bits to blow up, even scurrying little clone troopers. Missions are so hectic that a few got confusing. But it all hangs together as a satisfying, if not exactly deep experience. Better still, you can play any mission cooperatively with a buddy. (You even get a surprisingly fun, little two-player game exclusive to this Xbox version.)
Download Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter
Star Wars games are almost as common as porn Web sites these days, so it's hard to get fired up when a new one arrives. Jedi Starfighter is the latest of the LucasCrop, and it comes with a unique reason to cheer: It's the first game to dive into Episode II.
The game's story follows Nym, a squawky rebel leader from the previous Starfighter, and Adi Gallia, a girly Jedi who is dispatched by Mace "I'm a badass mothaf*cka in another movie" Windu to stop a massive fleet of ships that could destabilize the region. The chain of events that follows provides oodles of target fodder for your prototype Jedi Starfighter, and better yet, they unveil parts of Episode II. One of the missions is even named "Attack of the Clones."
For those of you familiar with the first Starfighter, you'll know what to expect: massive space and land battles where you're outnumbered ioo-to-1 by brain-dead adversaries. To even the score a bit, you can now dip into the Force to fry groups of ships in electrical storms, erect defensive shields, or use Jedi awareness that slows the game down, /Matrix-style, while you move at full speed. And if that's not enough, you can play the game cooperatively with a buddy. After all, if Obi-Wan had Qui-Gon at his side while fighting the Dark Side, why not have your lazy friend at yours?
Maybe a better name for this thing would be Star Wars: Occasionally a Jedi Starfighter. You only spend half the game as a Force-wielding pilot, and even then you get a measly four powers to fiddle with. But when you do get sick of Jedi tricks, you’re still left with a worthy sequel that LucasArts souped up in all the right areas. Well, nearly all of them. As in the first game, enemy A.I. here might as well stand for “Artificial Idiocy”; many bogies mosey in a straight line while you strip away their hull. It’s like, “Hello? Is anyone in there?” To make up for its lack of smarts, the game’s evil empire strikes back with sheer numbers: You get into many thrilling, white-knuckle battles with ships swarming everywhere. Several of the 16 missions tie into Episode II, although I had a tough time figuring out what was going on because much of the plot unfolds during the heat of battle. In fact, a couple of missions were just plain confusing, forcing me to madly cycle through my targets to find a primary objective. The final mission doesn’t deliver the frantic, enemies-everywhere finale of the first game, either. But ledi Starfighter comes back strong with slick two-player cooperative options. You can play any mission with a pal in split-screen. In some you’ll fly separate ships (fun); in others you’ll fly in the same craft, except one player mans a turret (more fun). If you know another space jockey in your ZIP code, Co-op mode is the way to play.
I’m not completely convinced by the whole Force power thing goin’ on here. It strikes me as a nice idea that ended up not quite working out how it was supposed to. Maybe it’s just me, and I’m not trying to geek-out here, but isn’t the Force supposed to be a very intimate thing? The idea of using it in space kinda detracts from the concept, and there’s no sense of connection with the stuff that you’re messing with. Still, that’s not to say that it spoils the game, which is otherwise solid and competent, if not particularly spectacular. Like the original, it gets a big thumbs up from me for adequately rewarding diligent players.
LucasArts’ ads tout this game as being “Force Powered,” and after playing it, I’ve figured out those are codewords for “same ol’ s***.H How many times do we need to dogfight brainless enemy ships in the same tired way? I hoped the new Force Powers would spice things up, but it’s hard to get excited over another trite Matrix time freeze or erecting a shield. If that’s what Yoda taught Luke, we’d fall asleep in the theater. At least the weapons on non-Jedi ships are flashier, and co-op play makes the ho-hum missions better. It's not enough to justify buying this rehash, but if you own a Darth Vader helmet or X-Wing model, maybe it’s worth a rental.
Jedi Starfighter begins slightly before the events of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones as the galaxy is coming apart at its seams. With a secessionist movement gaining momentum throughout the Republic, the Jedi are called to action in an attempt to quell the uprising and return stability to the galaxy. Unfortunately, other unseen forces are at work thwarting their efforts as the Jedi struggle to get a handle on a situation spinning out of control. In an attempt to investigate some of these disturbances, the Council lead by Mace Windu, has sent out one of their best Jedi named Adi Gallia to the Karthakk system. Using a prototype Jedi Starfighter, Adi quickly encounters resistance but taking down a Jedi can be a difficult task. With her natural piloting abilities combined with her mastery of the force, Adi fights though numerous skirmishes only to discover a massive fleet controlled by the vile Captain Toth and some other unexplained force.
Jedi Starfighter takes us back into the Star Wars Universe skirting on the plot for Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Similar in many ways to the original Starfighter, Jedi Starfighter does not change much in terms of its control or graphical ability. It does however add a number of new features including force attacks in addition to solid multiplayer options and large amounts of bonuses to unlock. Although the differences in gameplay and graphics may not be substantial from the original, they started out well balanced and sharp to begin with so only minor modifications were required. Because of this however, it may feel very similar to the original, which can be a let down. Even with that, it won't distract most as the game takes on a life of its own, once again setting the standard for console based flight simulators.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Jedi Starfighter will feel very similar to the original Starfighter in a number of ways. As before there are two main modes of play with one being the story mode where the bulk of the game is located and the other is the bonus features where different missions or other features are available to unlock.
The story mode still has the same flow where cut scenes are distributed through the different missions and medals are awarded if given goals are met. Progression to the next mission also can only be achieved if the minimum requirements for the current mission are accomplished. There are a number of improvements to the story mode however, that either changes how the medals are obtained or offer different options for playing. For instance, gold, silver, and bronze medals were awarded before but now only two are given'one for bonus objectives and one for hidden objectives. This change in medal distribution not only is more challenging since the hidden objectives aren't stated but also it's more rewarding when they are found. Another popular improvement is the ability to play through the story mode using two players. Instead of only one or two bonus missions having this ability before, now the entire game is available using this option, giving it a new dimension. In addition, having the option to play two players increases the game's shelf life dramatically as the absence of multiplayer capability in the original restricted its replay value.
The bonus features option also has the same flow as before where medals obtained in the story mode are used to unlock various extra single player missions, two player missions, other flyable ships, and bonus material like concept art and game trailers. The main difference with Jedi Starfighter however is the amount of material to unlock. With over thirty different features to open, including close to ten playable ships and game trailers like Bounty Hunter, achieving the bonus and hidden objectives in each mission as opposed to just meeting the minimum requirements becomes much more interesting. One other small change is how the features are unlocked. Before multiple medals were required to unlock one feature but now each medal unlocks its own feature. Although not a huge change, it does help create ways to increase the game's life span by given the option to play other missions or use other ships while still working through the story mode.
One area that was thankfully left relatively untouched is the gameplay structure. This could actually frustrate some people as some would like an entirely new experience, but when a game obtains a well-balanced structure especially between the controls and interface, changing it too much often ends up destroying the balance that worked well originally.
There are some new additions however that changes the experience so the entire game wouldn't feel the same with only a new story to unfold. For instance, this time there are two main characters that are followed, the Jedi Adi Gallia and the pirate Nym. Nym makes a return appearance with the heavy bomber Havoc only this time a number of modifications have been added. Instead of having the energy bombs as the only secondary weapon, now cruise missiles, cluster missiles, and proximity mines have been also been added. Although the new weapons have only a limited amount of ammo available, they are extremely useful and change the strategy options used when attacking a mission. Adi, new to the series, flies the prototype Jedi Starfighter which is more agile then the Havoc but also more fragile due to less shielding. Instead of conventional secondary weapons, Adi uses the force to attack enemies. These force attacks include force shield, force lightening, force reflex, and force shock wave. Each of these secondary attacks is self-explanatory but using them successfully is where the challenge lies. For instance, if force lightening is to be used on a squad of enemy ships, if the button is depressed and immediately released only two or three out of seven would be hit. If however the button is depressed for the appropriate period of time, all seven could be destroyed.
The controls have also been slightly modified to account for the increase in functionality. Most of them are the same however as the R2 boosts, the L2 breaks, the left analog stick controls the ships nose, and the right analog stick rolls left and right. The triangle still targets the nearest opponents, circle fires secondary weapons, X fires primary weapons, and R1 zooms in. What has changed is how commands are given to the wingman and how secondary weapons are selected. The d-pad is used in both instances to select which secondary weapon or wingman commands are used while the L1 button distinguishes between them. When depressed, wingman commands can be given, otherwise, the d-pad controls the secondary weapons selection.
Not much has changed in the graphics department, although it was impressive to begin with. The explosions have been improved however as large ships will explode with blinding flashes of light but the ground textures are still blurry when viewed up close along and other minor issues that were left are unchanged. It would have been great to have a revamped graphics engine as there have definitely been better visual performances from other games on the Playstation 2, but as stated before, it wasn't bad to start with.
Like most games from Lucasarts, the sound quality is top notch. All the effects are directly from the movies and the character's voices all add depth to their personalities. It was hard to hear some of the voices from the cockpit chatter during missions but the issue was resolved by changing the sound settings.
Star Wars Jedi Starfighter builds off the original Starfighter and brings another great flight simulator to the market. Those looking for a completely new experience won't get it however, as much from the original was retained. Additional changes to functions and the gameplay, however, will satisfy most. The addition of the expanded multiplayer options will also create more interest and increase the replay value. This is a must have for any Star Wars fan and those who enjoy space simulators.
The greatest merit I found in Jedi Starfighter was that it recreated the experience that I loved so much from the original Starfighter. It's greatest flaw I found was that it did just that, and no more. Updated for the release of the movie Attack of the Clones, this game finds you playing an important part in galactic affairs, defending the innocent, and generally meddling in the events surrounding Episode 2.
Only two characters from the original Starfighter have returned, but it doesn't hurt gameplay, thanks in part to the small changes Lucas Arts made. First, each ship has multiple secondary weapons, with extra firepower for the Nym's ship, and Force powers for the Jedi Knight Adi Gallia.
With tweaked performance, fans of the original Starfighter should adjust to the bomber quite well, and the Jedi Starfighter itself is maneuverable enough to replace both of the missing fighters from the original game. Following in Lucas Arts tradition, there's plenty of stuff to unlock, from extra missions to new ships, even going so far as to let you fly the Slave 1 if you beat enough of the game.
Sadly, it just doesn't seem that there's much more to this title than new graphics and a little rework of the engine. It feels, sounds, and flies just like the original Starfighter. That's good, because the first game rocked, but at the same time, it doesn't present anything new or really interesting, and just ends up rehashing the old material, this time with a poorer plot, and a lack of inspired design. Sweeping reprises of John Williams's soundtrack and the Star Wars title makes the game worth it for fans of the previous titles, but I wouldn't suggest this for everyone.