Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance
It is the event the gibbering hordes of Star Wars fans have been wet-dreaming of for years. Ever since crappy old X-Wing appeared on the PC six years ago, featuring - woo - 'gouraud' shading and quite spiffo gameplay, fans of the series have been demanding the opportunity to play the fastest ship in the fleet - the Millennium Falcon.
Whether you finally get to see how Chewbacca picks the winnets out of his furry ass or to complete the Kessel Run in under 15 parsecs isn't important. You get to fly the Falcon, the coolest ship in the Star Wars universe. And yes, you can get too cocky in the laser turret too. Actually, you don't get to fly the Falcon straight away. You fly a bog-standard Corellian Transport ship, which is basically Man Solo's beloved vessel stripped of various enhancements. The ships are owned by a business-minded family, the Azzameens, who run a thriving shipping and storage company. You play Ace, their youngest son, who learns to pilot the cruiser and thumbs the tire trigger as gangsters and Imperial-backed conglomerates muscle in and finally crumple the Azzameens' trade.
Instead of the drier mission-based progression of previous Star Wars space-combat games, such as X-Wing Vs TIE Fighter, X-Wing Alliance is story-driven from the off. It attempts to simultaneously tell a people tale and fill in the backstory of the trilogy, answering many of the mystery questions unanswered by the films along the way. Like, what the Rebels did after being stomped on ice-planet Hoth, how they found out about Death Star II, and exactly how many Bothans died to bring us this information?
Naturally, your companion and co-pilot in all this narrative nonsense is a camp robot. How a civilisation technologically advanced enough to build planetsized space stations and fly across the galaxy is unable to build an android minus John Inman's mannerisms is beyond us. To make things worse, this poncy, lisping, C3P0 look-alike berates you regularly should you collide with a space station or accidentally destroy friendly craft.
As in life, you start your pilot's career with some bog-standard YTS job, picking up boxes and stacking them on nearby space stations. Then you get to go on the gun turret, Skywalker-style, to pick off yet more, slow-moving cargo canisters. And all the time you're getting hassled by the Viraxo. Who are they? Exactly. An alien race so far removed from the movie plotlines that you can execute them without causing ripples in the true Star Wars plot.
Now I Am The Master
Anyway, they hassle you and the argy-bargy progresses, through various double-crosses and plot turns, until finally after the eight or so starter missions, the Empire finds out that you've been sucking up to the Alliance and decide to kick your ass. Thank Christ. No more cargo bay loading. You get to take on some Imperial gunboats and see some combat.
Naturally, things go awry and you soon find yourself fighting for your life and deciding to join the Rebellion. Of course, the Alliance isn't just going to pick up any old vagabond and make them a general, so you have to prove yourself as a pilot and a subordinate capable of taking orders. Cue a variety of tough rookie missions that require you to hyperspace between various against increasingly insane numbers of enemy fighters. And to add insult to injury, all this is done in Y and X-Wings.
Then there are seven battles or chapters of the storyline, each one split into two to eight missions. Once you've gained your licence, you can start ingratiating yourself with Admiral Ackbar and working your way to Top Ace level, as the game weaves its way in and out of both its own storyline and the films' backstory. You help rescue stranded comrades after the battle of Hoth, for example, and get to steal the Imperial Shuttle used for the commando mission on the Forest Moon in Return Of The Jedi. In between takes, you fly missions to avenge your father's demise on the Viraxo.
In battle two, entitled Secret Weapons Of The Empire, you have a six-mission quest to tackle the Empire's new prototype fighters. In the next, you trail an Imperial defector who is slipping messages and information to the Rebellions. As the story unfolds, you learn who it is and are sent out to protect him from being assassinated as he defects. In battle four, the Rebels catch a sniff of the "secret military project". You even get to fly a mission as a wingman to Luke Skywalker. Wow.
The campaign progresses until the Rebel fleet musters at Sullust and you can finally do what you came here for - take on the Death Star.
Great Shot Kid!
With a shiny new engine, the 3D-rendered Stars Wars universe finally looks fabuloso. Although not even close to the grimy realism of the films, you can't help feeling a little loosening of nostalgia's very sphincter muscle as you soar over a vast 30-rendered Alliance cruiser with the hum of the Falcon's engine in one ear and the clashing glory of the Star Wars soundtrack in the other.
New additions such as gas giants, nebulas, and half-moons give a great sense of depth to the space field and also help out when your targeting system gets trashed in mid-battle. When you finally reach the Battle Of Endor, the incomplete Death Star II hangs in the sky while the Imperial Fleet and the Rebel ships slug it out above.
Brilliant. This is all iced off with new dynamic lighting effects, particles (wounded ships vent plasma), and newer, crunchier, more satisfying explosions. The ship models are far more detailed, and low-polygon variants at a distance mean the game can cramp more than 100 fighters and 30 or so capital ships in the battlefield without slugging the processor.
With Alliance, LucasArts have finally rounded off all the corners and closed all the plot holes in their combat games. It's not startlingly original, but it does house all the ships and the best of the series under one roof. No doubt they're busy shining their technology for the endless stream of games that will follow the release of Episode One: The Phantom Menace. But no matter what fat. chunky ships the new film gives us, our hearts will always belong to the Millennium Falcon. Well, mine will anyway.
Download Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
High up on a black metal gantry, Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader are thrashing it out with lightsabers. Vader swings wildly at an overhead locker, and the contents - an old towel, a dogeared copy of Knave and a pair of Reeboks - drop on to Luke's head. As he falls to the ground, a sinister figure looms over him. Luke, says Vader, raising his hand, I know what you are getting for Christmas.
Luke is clearly distraught. Never! he howls. I don't believe you! It is true, my son, Vader replies. It's a Lenny Kravitz album and a handy A to Z of Mos Eisley.
Of course, what Luke had asked for was a copy of X-Wing Alliance, the latest in the critically acclaimed Star Wars: X-Wing series. Not only was he more of a Kraftwerk fan, but the upcoming LucasArts game had support for 3D accelerator cards, two concurrent storylines, loads of new options and double the number of craft and objects of previous instalments. Only trouble was that it wasn't due to be released until spring 1999 - and not even the Power of The Force could change that.
Flying the Falcon is an experience that game fans will be happy to wait for, I assure you, says Larry Holland, of developers Totally Games. They'll also get a big kick out of our technical advancements, richer gameplay and engaging plots. It's the most rewarding X-Wing experience yet. Okay, so we all knew he was going to say that. But was he fibbing? Early indications are that no, by Jove, he wasn't. X-Wing Alliance has been beefed up beyond all recognition, principally by the addition of addictive new elements and support for 3D accelerator cards. That might not sound like much these days, but in an instant all the chunky X-Wing and TIE Fighter graphics of yore have been replaced by smoothly rendered things of beauty.
As ever, the evocative Star Wars plot and LucasArts interface form a cement for the game's many component parts. This time around, though, there are two parallel storylines that bind everything together and hold your interest throughout the 50 single-player missions. The primary tale is of the Rebel Alliance and its struggle for survival after defeat at the Battle of Hoth; the other follows two rival families battling each other for control of an interstellar trading business. Unlike before, both plots can carry you across entire solar systems, dropping you into battle at various locations throughout the whole galaxy. As a result, player craft have been equipped with hyperdrives to enable travel between the different sectors.
Perhaps most significantly for owners of the previous games, X-Wing Alliance gives you the opportunity to fly the Millennium Falcon and fry some Dark Side butt with those beefy quad laser cannons. This has been billed as the top attraction, but don't let it distract you from the scores of other advances and improvements that the game has to offer - even the aged X-wing, A-wing and B-wing craft have been stripped down, rebuilt and optimised for the new game. If only it was all in time for Christmas.
As Star Wars movie-prequel fever heats up, LucasArts is again punching the sub-light engines on the PC front with the latest chapter in the successful X-Wing action/flight sim series. And this game has one important thing the others don't the Millennium Falcon!
X-Wing Alliance features 50 missions, five multiplayer scenarios, plus support for force-feedback sticks and3D accelerators.You'll get the chance to pilot old favorites such as X-Wings,Y-Wings, B-Wings, the Z-95, Corellian transports-- and that legendary hot rod of smuggling ships, the Millennium Falcon.
You'll not only fly her into battle against the second Death Star, but you'll also jump in the gunnery chairs that Han and Luke used in A New Hope to take out incoming TIE Fighters. X-Wing Alliance looks poised to set a new standard for the series.
As the world awaits the next Star Wars movie, LucasArts is forging ahead with the fourth installment of its space-combat sim franchise. But have Descent: Freespace and Wing Commander: Prophecy already signaled the downfall of X-Wing Alliance--or are they merely phantom menaces?
Join the Rebellion
Alliance returns to the series' roots with a story-driven campaign told through the perspective of Ace Azzameen, a pirate, whose family of traders is assaulted by its competitors who are conspiring with the Empire. Ace joins the Rebels as they struggle to recover from the Hoth siege and prepare for their desperate assault on the second Death Star. This tremendously satisfying plot reveals new aspects of the series' story line, while the 50 missions (with adjustable difficulty) are full of surprises.
The Audience Is Listening
Alliances luminous planets and vast nebulae are much livlier than the bleak starfields of past X-Wing installments, and, if you have a PC with a high-end 3D card, the vehicle textures look photo-realistic. The games stunning visual presentation is also enhanced with debris-spewing explosions, oppressive capital ships, asteroids, and the interiors of space station superstructures--you'll even fly through the Death Star while piloting the Millennium Falcon.
Sonically, the Force is with Alliance. The thunderous score responds to in-game action by trumpeting the Imperial March when Super Star Destroyers approach, and the sound effects will roar from your speakers as if they were THX-equipped.
Use the Force...Feedback
Alliances strongest improvement over X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter is its incredibly fluid interface. Your crafts' rudder-support enables spiraling attacks, the force feedback rocks in conjunction with the phenomenal lightspeed effects, and the overhauled heads-up-display (HUD) system incorporates Freespaces innovative removable and adjustable components. Alliance's 28 Rebel, Imperial, and pirate ships are available in skirmish or multiplayer modes, including five prototype TIE variations, the Millennium Falcon, and the Firespray (modeled on Boba Fetts Slave-1). The ships handle uniquely, from the sluggish Y-Wing to die darting TIE Defender, and the larger ships have more powerful shields that take longer to recharge.
X-Wing Alliances cinematic dirills take the space-combat sim crown back for the franchise, but there's no Imperial campaign, no method for using the Force, and no mission editor. Star Wars fans will adore Alliance, but the ultimate X-Wing game still proves elusive.
- In Battle 3: Mission 3, you'll find the hatch to enter the Kuat Facility on its side-make sure you keep some extra torpedoes handy to take out the power source!
- In Battle 1: Mission 7, stay between the Imperial launch pad and your attack transports to pick off the TIE Bombers' torpedoes as they assault your transports.
- When bombing capital ships, use your Ion cannons to disable them first so your rockets aren't destroyed in mid-flight.
- In Prologue: Mission 7, hide behind the space station as the TIE Bombers approach to avoid long-range missile attacks.
- For fewer losses In skirmishes, allow your weapon and shield strength to regenerate when there's only one ship left in each enemy flight group.
- To evade enemy fire, use the otan Weave-spin on your axis while diving and climbing.
- During your descent into the Death Star, try the third-person perspective to safely navigate the Millennium Falconl.
Although die starfiighters aren't much improved from X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, space itself is a whole new place-nebulae, ringed planets, and various heavenly light sources give a whole new backdrop to your theaters of war.
John Williams' masterful music resonates through your head as the TIE Fighters roar past and zap you with the electric slam of their turbolasers. Alliance also contains excellent voice-acting as well as funky Cantina Band muzak while you're changing CDs.
Feel the jolt of lightspeed through force feedback, execute lling attack.runs with rudder support, look around your cockpit or jump into the free-tracking gun turrets on the Millennium Falcon--all while utilizing the overhauled HUD system. Impressive. . .most impressive.
The X-Wing franchise goes back to its roots with a compelling story-driven campaign and unsurpassed combat Alliance incorporates most of the great elements of its predecessors while adding superb new features. Unfortunately, there's no Empire story line and no method of using the Force.
As the youngest son of the Azameen family cartel, you begin the game running your first missions for your father. Flying YT1300s (same model as the Millennium Falcon, but less customized) you learn the ropes of your business from family members. But before you can get too comfortable, your father gets into trouble while making a deal with the Rebellion. The ensuing disaster costs you and your family all but your most meager possessions -- basically, the ships you escaped in.
The Rebellion has taken you in and you have joined their cause, a decision which has caused not a little disturbance in the Azameen family. Now any Bob Rebel can fly an X-Wing or B-Wing in tight formation, but it's time to show those Rebel boys what a real hot-shot can do behind the stick and turrets of a Corellian Transport. Move over, Han Solo, Ace Azameen is in town.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
The time-line of the game spans from Hoth to the Battle of Endor. You join a splinter of the main fleet which actually ends up discovering a lot of the revelations sprung upon the heroes of the movies. For example, you get to fly the missions that discover the existence of a second Death Star. You get to fly missions with actual members of Star Wars (both in celluloid and in print) such as Admiral Ackbar, Dash Rendar and Luke Skywalker. Yes, Luke is in there. It's awesome to watch one man providing space superiority cover for a whole wing of Y-Wings (of which you are one).
The game itself is fun in both single and multiplayer modes. In fact, single player mode is quite engrossing. While being linear, the stories revealed are entertaining. Still, like every other space combat sim, you fly missions connected together by command briefings and debriefings. However, LucasArts has made the interludes interesting. First of all, there are a lot of missions. I mean a whole lot -- over fifty. But you get to feel a sense of accomplishment because the game is divided up into several chapters, each designed to advance the story toward its climax at Endor. Mingled in with the Rebellion missions are missions you fly for your family in cargo ships like the YT1300 or 2000. So while you are helping the rebel cause, you are salvaging your family business at the same time.
As far as how the game is controlled, most of the controls are from previous Star Wars space sims, so the layout is familiar territory for veterans of previous X-Wing / TIE Fighter titles. Plus, there is the ability to jump into the turrets of turreted vehicles (YES!). My only gripe here is that I haven’t found a way to re-map my controls. I hate having to reach around my keyboard to perform often-used functions. I wish I could put controls where I want them. But for the most part, it's a minor point.
I love the graphics in this game. They seem greatly improved over X-wing vs. TIE Fighter. When you are flying a mission and a Star Destroyer and Darth Vader’s Super Star Destroyer drop out of hyperspace and into your lap, you know what has happened even before the dispatcher tells you. The models look just like they do in the movies (adjusting for minute details, of course). You can even see the pilots of the other ships in a lot of the models.
However, the graphics do not stand up to the Descent: Freespace standard. There is no bleeding fire from wounded ships. All the explosions are small and look strangely similar, and the shielding effects are kind of weak. However, the movie didn’t sport bleeding ships or shield effects, so maybe it is that way by design.
Suffice it to say that the graphics are more than adequate. They are more than good, but not eye-popping, "wow"-saying wonders, which in my book is good enough. A game is not made fun by eye candy alone.
A strong point in the X-Wing series has always been its sounds. I mean, they are right from the movies. From the "whap whap" of the X-Wing’s lasers to the roar of the Millennium Falcon’s engines, it's all there and it's all correct.
Well, except for one thing. I’ve actually seen some people complain that the voices from the movie are not used in the game. I mean, the Battle of Endor is almost painstakingly recreated, so why not use voice files from the movie, right?
Maybe, but you encounter those same voices and other character voices elsewhere in the game, so you can’t just change them for the scenes where you have existing audio. Besides, who really cares if you hear the "actual" voice or a "similar" voice of a fictional character anyway? Really, the voices are good enough not to detract from the gameplay, and that’s good enough for me.
All this being said, the best part of this game’s audio is its music track. It is so unbelievably cool to be flying an X-Wing through an asteroid field being pursued by Star Destroyers, with John Williams’ Star Wars music blaring through my speakers. It made me want to cry out, "I’ll cut across their axis and try to draw their fire!" ta taa taaaa ta ta taaa ta!
Super-cool stuff here. Two items of note are the point system and the skirmish mode. In skirmish mode, you can quickly set up multiplayer and single-player battles -- not full-on scenarios with scripting and stuff, but simple battles like you and your friends would want to play. Setting up a skirmish is as simple as listing the pieces out, determining their mission goals, their AI level, their distance apart and some other options. Then let it rip. It is really easy and only takes a few minutes to create a balanced skirmish.
The keywords here are easy and balanced. It's easy just because it's a point-and-click, pull-down box kind of set up. But it's balanced because of the point system. You can fly every fighter in the game from the crappy p.o.s. pirate jobber to the TIE Advanced from the TIE Fighter series to your standard X-Wing or YT-1300. Everything. Plus you can fly a lot of the shuttles and cargo ships as well. And you can have any of the ships from the game from Shuttle Tyderium to Darth’s Super Star Destroyer as NPCs. Each ship has a basic point value that represents how powerful it is and that number is modified depending on how the ship is loaded out. So as a game host, you just say, this is a 5000 point game and fill out each team (up to eight, I believe) with up to but not over 5000 points. It's that simple.
Windows 95/98, DirectX compatible computer, 200MHz or faster CPU, 32 MB RAM, you can squeak by with 2 MB PCI/AGP 2D graphics card, but... For 3D Hardware: 4MB PCI/AGP Direct 3D Graphics Accelerator. 16 bit sound card or better (also supports PCI 3D sound card), CD-ROM drive, joystick, mouse and keyboard required. DirectX 6 required and included on the disk. Multiplayer will do IPX, TCP/IP, modem, and Direct Serial with appropriate hardware.
Documentation is good. It has a short section telling you who you are and a short description of the chief characters of the game. The rest of the story is unfolded within the game. Each command is documented.
The game does not come with any kind of tutorial that tells you how to do the elementary functions. I found myself pausing (after I found the pause command in the huge list) a lot and looking up the keystroke sequences for commands I was being asked to perform. This is to be expected in large complicated games, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating.
If you dislike lots of commands or space combat in general, or think Sci-Fi space operas are better off in a galaxy far, far away, then this is not the game for you. However, if you are a space combat sim fan, you'll enjoy this game. If you are a Star Wars freak (and hey, who isn't?) with even a passing interest in space combat sims, then you'll love this game. I realize it may not be for everyone, but that doesn’t mean it's not one fine piece of work.
Thank you, LucasArts. You seem to have corrected everything from the nightmare that was X-Wing vs._ TIE Fighter_, then kept everything good from the previous three games and made a wonderful, multi-faceted game. I highly recommend it.