Star Wars Starfighter - Special Edition
Star Wars Starfighter was an eagerly anticipated title when it premiered on the PS2. If any of the buzz surrounding this title is correct, it might not be so eagerly anticipated, but this version of Starfighter certainly promises to be a solid, quality title for the Xbox. In the face of the disparity of solid titles for the Xbox, this is a welcome sight. Seeking to present Xbox players with a well-designed Star Wars title, Starfighter - Special Edition has brand new features that should entertain people that already own the original Starfighter.
Set during the events of the popular film, Star Wars - Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, Starfighter is a story told from three different angles. You'll start out as the brave Naboo fighter pilot Rhys Dallows, a new recruit in the Royal Naboo Air Force. Later, you'll get a chance to fly as the brave mercenary pilot Vana Sage, and finally, as the pirate captain Nym. These three heroes take on a challenge that you didn't see in the film, as they battle against the Trade Federation in a story that meshes perfectly with the heroic adventure depicted in The Phantom Menace. Each of the heroes has fully developed storylines that not only play an important part in the bigger picture of the Phantom Menace, but also dovetail perfectly to tell a single overall story.
At its heart, Starfighter is a fighter sim, putting you in the cockpit of some of the most advanced fighter craft ever seen in the Star Wars universe. Three fighters, plus more that you'll unlock as you complete the various missions, let you wield a variety of blasters, ion cannons, missiles, and proton torpedoes. Providing a simple gameplay style, Starfighter is a good arcade title, easy to play and quick to learn.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
This title is best termed a flight sim. A fairly simple, easy to play flight sim, that lets you play from either first person or third person perspective. Switching between your cockpit and rear-of-craft view is as easy as hitting the back button, and whichever mode you use depends on your personal preference. Since the follow camera in the game is pretty forgiving, you'll want to practice until you're used to each of the modes, as they both provide advantages. You won't need to worry much about the actual skill required to pilot your fighter as it is absurdly simple. The hardest part will be learning how to pilot and fire your weapons at the same time, since you'll only need to worry about getting hit by gunfire if you stop moving.
The analog sticks control your pitch and roll, with the trigger pads controlling your accelerating and braking. Each fighter has a unique set of weapons, with a primary and secondary weapon, and an alternate secondary weapon that you can charge up for a special effect. You can zoom in your display as you're flying to give you the drop on opponents, letting you snipe them. Your weapons are fairly standard, with the Naboo fighter packing a set of blaster cannons, and proton torpedoes. The Guardian Mantis, Vana Sage's fighter, comes equipped with tag missiles, which hit an opponent, causing all of your primary weapon shots to seek straight to the target, even if you're rotated 180 degrees away from it. Captain Nym pilots the Havoc, a slow but powerful gunboat, with a devastating ground attack bomb.
Your storyline missions follow a standard linear path, advancing to the next mission only after you've completed the previous one. Each mission can be played on Easy, Medium, or Hard modes, and a series of in-game objectives let you collect medals for your gameplay. Depending on how many medals you collect, you'll unlock various secrets that give you even more missions to choose from. At certain points during your progression, you'll be treated to a rendered CGI sequence, which, along with in-game scripted events, advances the story, telling you more about the Starfighter plotline. Aside from the story, you can also fly the bonus missions. Most of them are unlocked as you play, but these missions are little side stories that usually challenge your skills and are necessary to unlock some of the more interesting secrets. For those of you that aren't quite as skilled that this sort of game, you'll be happy to know that you can unlock all of those items with cheat codes.
New in the Special Edition are additional multiplayer features with new maps and a host of bonus missions that can be attempted with two players instead of one. The Dogfight is something you'll all know and love, as it is the Starfighter equivalent of the deathmatch. Capture the Flag is likewise the same old game, but Tag lets you get tagged "it," in a game where you'll earn more points depending on how long you can stay away from the other player. Hunter places one of the players as a Scarab fighter (weak enemies from the story game, and also an unlockable fighter you can get as a secret ship), and if you can avoid being destroyed five times in a row, you've won. Detonator Drop is similar to Capture the Flag, but instead of taking the enemy flag back to your base, you'll need to collect the Thermal Detonator at the center of the map.
With the power of the Xbox, it's actually somewhat surprising that the graphics on Starfighter don't look better. There's an obvious improvement in the look of both space and ground battles, but I wasn't particularly impressed with the sharpness and extra detail that can be provided on an Xbox. The design team that developed Starfighter did a pretty good job the first time around, and in that respect, the game didn't need all that much work. A few more enemies can be on the screen at one time, but nothing that you'd notice without lots of gameplay.
Featuring many clips from the Phantom Menace soundtrack, Starfighter, like many of the official Star Wars titles, has the great music that helps drive the Star Wars epic. These audio tracks really help move the suspension of disbelief in the game, as you're that much more able to get into the game when it actually sounds like you're in the move. Similarly, the sound effects are also completely authentic, and the voice acting is not only sharp but very professional, without any of the traditionally bad voice acting that usually accompanies a video game.
Relation to Previous Versions
If you happen own an Xbox and even a PS2 as well, Starfighter - Special Edition is a good improvement on the original title. If you've already purchased a copy for the PS2, I wouldn't suggest getting this Xbox version, but it is well worth it if you haven't yet owned a copy of Starfighter. The extra features add a bit more replay value over the original; especially given that split screen multiplayer mode won't slow down your system at all.
As an update of the original title,has added features to provide new gameplay, and additional replay value. There are new bonus missions, a multiplayer mode for two players, and improved graphics for the Xbox premiere. I suppose that my favorite feature is the lack of performance issues thanks to the Xbox's more than ample hardware. Ultimately just a port of the original game, Starfighter retains its origins well, and adds enough extras to be an enjoyable ride. Still, with the difference between the PS2 and the Xbox versions, they're still close enough to make this new version only a slight improvement over the original. Buy the version you like, or the version you've already got the console for.