Star Wars: Rebel Assault
Lies. utter falsehoods I tell you. Whenever a magazine or journalist tells you that they don't consider the graphics to be the most important factor in a game, they are lying. Through their teeth. Through my teeth. I have said it in the past myself and I know now that not only was I leading you up the garden path, I was taking you into the front hallway and through to the kitchen for a quick fabrication and biscuits.
The proof of this is Rebel Assault, the latest cd romp from LucasArts, and a game that actually has very little in the way of deep gameplay but is presented in such a fashion that it is certain to get accolades from just about every pc games magazine currently in print.
There are a number of ways to describe it: X-Wing on heat; what Wing Commander wanted to be; a real interactive movie (although I have my own views on this - see the panel). There are also a number of ways to approach it. Three in fact, and I'll attempt to cater for each of them over the following pages.
But first, the game
Yes, to start with I'd best describe the game. Taking the main action segments from the first two movies (and if you haven't seen the Star Wars trilogy then I'm not going to explain the plot here. Stop reading, go and rent them, then come back and carry on when you're done), Rebel Assault removes all traces of the film's heroes and carefully weaves the plot to centre around you and your buddies in Blue Squadron.
You start with a few training missions at various secret Rebel outposts before moving on to the ice world of Hoth to battle Imperial Walkers, and finally scooting out to Yavin and making an attack run against the mighty Death Star. Rebel Assault mixes film-like storytelling with arcade action, creating a game that is true to the Star Wars ethos in every way bar the backwardly-scrolling message at the start.
To go into detail about the plot would deprive you of half of the enjoyment to be gained from the product. Suffice to say that between each level (or chapter as the game calls them) the story is told using superb animations, digitised film footage and truly breathtaking sound and music taken straight from the films. The other thing is that whereas most games save all the best graphics for these animated rewards. Rebel Assault makes the most use of the CD by keeping the film-quality visuals throughout the action segments.
It's here that I back up my accusations about graphics affecting the way we see the game. The fact that the actual game segments are fairly limited is practically overlooked simply because of the way it's presented. That and the fact that it is Star Wars of course. If this had been set in the Wing Commander universe I really don't think any of us would be half as impressed.
The action junkie
Which seems as good a place as any to introduce the first of our categories tonight (Sandra, the curtain if you'd please): the action junkie. Do you fit into this category? A simple test. When you loaded Elite II for the first time, was your immediate action on starting at Ross 154 to push the fire button and bring on the police? Yes? You're an action junkie. You prefer Wing Commander II to Elite II, Comanche to Tornado and your ideal night out would be a trip to see Demolition Man followed by a few quick bursts at your local Quasar emporium.
Rebel Assault would be considered by some quarters to be the perfect action game. It's fast, loud, simple to use and you can play it without looking at the manual. Plus there are superb 'reward' sections between each level and, of course, it's set in one of the classic action universes. Rebel Assault was born to be a coin-op machine. We must count ourselves fortunate that the infant was swapped at birth and found its way into the loving arms of Mr and Mrs cd-rom instead.
Those of you who spend so much time in your local arcade that you know the attendants by their Christian names and consider your home to be a place you just visit occasionally to get some more cash, will possibly find it a little too easy; but then I suspect the only thing that could really provide you with a challenge would be that strange thing called schoolwork that occasionally crops up in your life. Let's just say that a friend of mine, who I consider to be a fairly expert arcadester (as I believe is the term employed by those in the know), couldn't get past chapter six on the easiest setting. Also, as is the case with most arcade-style games, it has that replayable factor to it. So it's a major thumbs-up from the arcade fraternity.
The 'serious' PC gamer
This is a thorny debate, right up there with the gravel or newspaper for the cat's litter tray argument. Rebel Assault versus X-Wing. On the one hand you have a fast-moving, beautifully-presented space shoot 'em-up that tells a full story set in the Star Wars universe; on the other hand you have four fingers and a thumb (I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I'm sorry. That was thoroughly uncalled for. I have no idea what came over me. Such weak jovialities are simply not worthy of your attention. Sorry, sorry, sorry...). On the other hand, you have an in-depth simulation of life in the Star Wars universe that allows you to divert power from the engine to your shields.
As a rule, I consider myself to be quite a serious gamer. I have no time for annoyances like Street Fighter II, Sensible Soccer et al. and would much rather curl up in front of the CPU's fire and lose myself in a few hours of Elite II or Day Of The Tentacle. However, I have been unable to draw myself away from Rebel Assault's flirtatious charms lately and I've a feeling that after all the hi-techness that X-Wing was able to offer, every now and then you just need to sit down and let your inhibitions loose and go totally wild.
Many was the time I would be sitting around on a Sunday afternoon, waiting patiently for the delightful comedy-drama of that irrepressible rogue, Lovejoy, to arrive on my tv and, since I am allergic to The Gothes Show and One Man And His Dog, I would find myself wishing I could just turn on my pc and play something mindless to fill the long hours. We all need that release and Rebel Assault perfectly fits the ticket's bill.
Consider the future. Not the 'rocketships in the backyard and personal translocation podules' future but just one or two years from now. I have a single-speed cd-rom drive which means that the maximum level of interaction in a cd-rom game open to me is that of Rebel Assault. Plenty of room for animations and graphic files, but just enough diskaccessing time to allow for simple arcade-style games. Anything beyond that would be somewhat slow and unwieldy and a serious detriment to the enjoyment factor.
I look at Rebel Assault, though, and I see so much more going on behind it. Imagine what LucasArts could have done if they hadn't been limited to supporting the likes of me. Take a triplespeed drive as a minimum spec and you'd get the depth and gameplay of X-Wing with the speed and graphics of Rebel Assault. It's for both this reason and the one I've outlined in the panel accompanying this text that I consider Rebel Assault to be the most important step in cd-rom gaming so far. King's Quest 7 and The Labyrinth Of Time show how the adventure genre could benefit from cds, Microcosm and The Lawnmower Man are exercises in graphics and The 7th Guest was useful for opening people's eyes, but Rebel Assault, with all of its interactive movie qualities, is an indication of what lies ahead for the gaming industry as a whole. If that isn't important then I will eat every hat in the millinery section of Harrods.
And so to the score
I really feel that Rebel Assault, apart from being a damn good blast, is an extremely significant step in gaming history and my mark reflects this. I can see what will happen to those of you who just concern yourselves with the day-to-day events of the gaming world though. Remember when the Amiga was the dominant figure? There was Kick Off 2, the most playable association football game to be found. Then came Sensible Soccer and the gaming world was split forever. Just as the Muslims fought with the Arabs, just as Pepsi fought with Coca Cola and just as Eastenders fought with Coronation Street, so the Sensis fought with the Kickers. We're going to see the same here. X-Wingers versus the Rebels. At least this is an important fight, though. (I'm beginning to realise just how Salman Rushdie feels - I can only hope my beloved editor feels the need to edit that first analogy. Death threats from fundamentalists are just the things to really screw up your Sunday afternoon.) To close though, I would like to ask a question. Can it really be a mere coincidence that two of the galaxy's greatest heroes, Luke Skywalker and Nigel Mansell, both go by the callsign Red Five?
A small point, but one worth noting, is that I experienced an alarming problem with Rebel Assault when attempting to run it through an older version of the Sound Blaster. For some reason it would not accept my FlightStick through the game port on the Sound Blaster and the only way I could play the game with the stick was to turn the music off. Check with US Gold's technical support staff if you feel you might have the same problem.
The words 'interactive' and 'movie' are two that have been used many times in the past year or so, but it is only with Rebel Assault that their true meaning becomes as clear. There has been a lot of talk recently of Full Motion Video cards and CD-V (Compact Disc Video) technology that can play full video imagery and digital sound. Phillips' CD-i machine is to be re-released next year with a built-in FMV card and those in the know are predicting that this is where films on CD will take off.
But surely a compact disc capable of storing video information is also capable of storing CD-ROM data? If so, does this mean we could see the film and the game industries merging properly for the first time? Think about this scenario: an FMV-supporting CD machine capable of playing both games and CD films; Star Wars is released and on the same disc you have the data for Rebel Assault But let's go a step further. As well as being able to either watch the film or play the game, how about being able to watch the film and play the game. Replace the plot segments from Rebel Assault with the actual film data from Star Wars and whenever an action sequence crops up in the film the viewer is given the choice to just continue to watch passively or to take part, interactively, playing a Rebel Assault-style section that's been tailored to fit the film. Hey presto, the first true interactive movie.
Download Star Wars: Rebel Assault
Star Wars happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, blit it's certainly still near and dear to many hearts. Now you can join the Rebel Alliance against the evil Empire, but it's an uneven fight. The 3DO ver sion features excellent visuals, but you need the Force to master the flighty controls.
Rookie, But No Wookie
Rebel zooms you through 15 chapters based on the original Star Wars movie. Leia, CP30, R2D2, and Darth Vader make brief cameos, but the main cast is brand new. Basic flight training prepares you for daredevil dogfights leading up to a planet-busting showdown against the Death Star.
You fly A Wings and X-Wings through various hairy maneuvers. The training flights are nicely tied to skills you need later, such as running an asteroid field and chasing TIE fighters through canyons. Clashes with Imperial forces look mesmerizing, and they're lengthy and very tough. However, much of the game's challenge is the result of clumsy controls.
The Force Is Not with You
The controls suffer from a skittish and slow directional pad. In behind-the-ship view dogfights, sensitive directionals make your ship rock like a bucking bronco. During behind-the-character gun battles against Storm Troopers, they're slower than Jabba the Hutt.
In cockpit view action, the directionals pull dizzying double duty. They move the targeting cursor all over the screen, but they also control the ship's vertical and horizontal movement. You can't make turns unless you shove the cursor to the screen edge.
At least the awesome graphics put on a spectacular show. A few scenes are digitized from the movie, but the majority are excellent computer generated visuals.
The sounds are also sweet. You get plenty of crystaldear voice and forceful effects.
Of course, the classic theme enjoys a reverent presentation.
Rebel Without A Cause
Rebel Assault launches an assault on your senses with mixed results. Superb graphics and sound immerse you in an excellent Star Wars saga. Imprecise controls will drive you to the Dark Side.
- Feel your way through asteroid fields by watching the autoscrolling and then pressing the directionals to exaggerate the left-to-right movement. You must destroy most of the gray ice asteroids, but not all of them.
- When you attack the Imperial Destroyer, knock out the closest guns on every pass.
- When you hit the miniwalkers in Chapter 5, swing your sights along a line of them to score multiple hits.
It seems like those poor Rebels never get a break these days. Rebel Assault offers the same game play and control found on its PC and Sega CD counterpart, but the musical score from John Williams and digitized movie scenes add an entertaining twist. Try to rent this title first to find out if you like what you see.
Possibly being the biggest Star Wars fan around, I was eagerly anticipating this cart. The music made this game I love John Williams' soundtracks. The graphics hurt this game considerably, especially when they only use about four colors on-screen. It plays pretty well, and I really like the Star Destroyer scene. Star Wars fans might be a little disappointed, but it's not bad once you play it for a while
This game had so much hype around it, it's almost sad that it came off so badly, particularly due to limitations of the Sega CD. The color palette is so poor in many scenes that you never know you're going to hit something until it's too late The music is right from the movie, the voices are good, and the cinemas are nice and lengthy, but alas, the color palette kills them. Hey, how about bringing this to the 3DO?
Even though Rebel Assault is loaded with full-motion flight and battle renderings, I just didn't find this game all that exciting. For one thing, the lack of colors really hindered game play and at times, you couldn't tell where your ship was going, resulting in a crash. Flight controls also need to be improved because the ship moves awkwardly and sometimes feels unresponsive. It just doesn't do Star Wars justice.
Being a big fan of the Star Wars series I tried to give this one a chance but to no avail. I've never really liked flight sims and this one shows the reasons why. The digitized looking graphics are just too grainy and the game play is simple and not interesting enough to maintain your attention. However, there are some excellent cinema scenes and a large variety of levels. It's not my kind of force but it may be yours.
The Star Wars trilogy is one of the best sci-fi films ever seen and now it can be played on the Sega CD.
Footage from the trilogy and the technology of the Sega CD combine to give you an arcade-like shooter with an incredible soundtrack and fantastic digitized graphics that will surely attract Star Wars fans. The game is based on the series which delivers the true settings and narration from the blockbuster movie.
In the game, you will able to fly the T16 Skyhopper, X-Wing Starfighter, the Snowspeeder, and the A-WIng Starfighter against the Empire's arsenal. It would be a good idea to train first to improve your flying and shooting skills before taking on the Empire. You will encounter many enemies with this challenging addition to the CD-ROM. May the Force be with you.