X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter
X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter sets up the ultimate combat experience for the trilogy's fans and for gamers seeking challenging multiplayer dogfights in outer space. Blasting across the Star Wars galaxy in this outer-space shooter, you can fight for the Rebel Alliance or take a walk on the Dark Side with the Em pire.
Download X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter
Ever want to pilot an X-Wing and help the rebels save the galaxy? How about donning the helmet of a Storm-trooper and flying into battle against those Rebel Alliance scum? In X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, you can choose to do either, and you can do it against eight other players in networked combat.
There are 15 missions, over a dozen spacecraft to choose from, and a customizable mission creator that enables you to personalize your campaign against the Empire or the Alliance.
Choose wisely: The Force can be turned to the Dark Side, and you don't want to be on the wrong side of the Lightsaber when it happens.
The thing about this game is, you want so much to really like it. The Star Wars movies were (and are) a defining moment not only in science fiction and Hollywood history, but to some degree in the mythos of a generation that tends to eschew mythos. Given such an overwhelming back story, plus two solid predecessors (individually, and ) and a HUGE budget, it seemed that LucasArts couldn't go wrong. I won't go so far as to say they went wrong, but they certainly came up short of the expectations and the possibilities.
There is not a great deal in X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter that is really new or innovative, except for the fact that now you can fight Imperial craft versus Rebel craft. Sure, the graphics are 1997 rather than 1993, but that was to be expected. Missing, however, are any cohesive single-player mission sets, any storyline -- and, well, game. This is a one-trick flight sim, but where the likes of Jetfighter III and Flight Unlimited have some great scenery, or where Air Warrior 2 and have an engaging storyline, historical interest, etc., X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter has X-wings, TIE fighters, and a lot of black and white pinpoints that simulate the not-so-awesome reaches of space (it's hard to think vast on a computer monitor). What I'm getting at is, it's really cool (especially in multiplayer) to go head-to-head with the Empire, but after a little while you're looking around and saying "Is that it?"
The basic gameplay in X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter is the same as we saw in the original Wing Commander, with the addition of multiplayer capabilities -- a space-based flight sim with escort / protect / attack objectives in each mission. The thing is, in Wing Commander, you really cared who won -- ironically, the line between the good guys and the bad guys is not as clear here; both are cool and have pretty darn similar objectives. Where the Star Wars movies so eloquently laid out the virtues of the light side of the force and the awesome "power of the dark side," X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter leaves such distinctions more up to the soundtrack than the gameplay. The original, stirring music from Star Wars is front and center, very nicely woven into the game, and this does help set -- or rather rekindle -- the mood of good vs. evil, but once you're actually out there in space looking for the enemy, the immediacy of the moral conflict just isn't there. Expecting too much from a video game? Perhaps, but expectations are a double-edged sword; the game makers set them up so you'll buy the game, but they'd better deliver. I don't feel that this one measures up.
As alluded to above, the graphics in X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter- are quite good, but not stunning. I want stunning and larger-than-life out of anything Star Wars-related. I want a gigantic, ominous, evil star destroyer filling 4/5 of my screen, and I want to feel the claustrophobia of a laser-spitting Death Star trench with 3 TIE fighters bearing down on my wounded X-wing. Great special effects do that, as anyone who has seen Star Wars can attest. The graphics here are great when you're up close to an enemy -- which is to say about half of 1 percent of the time. The rest of the time, the graphics are very much akin to the original _X-Wing and TIE Fighter standalone games.
Say what you will about John Williams; the Star Wars score is immediately recognizable and instantly conjures up so much of what was great about the movies. LucasArts was very smart to include as much of the original score as possible, as it adds a sense of purpose to a game which otherwise often struggles to find one. Also, the sounds of the lasers, of R2D2 cooing and whistling as a TIE fighter buzzes your X-wing, and a number of other minor but recognizable sounds from the movies add a great tie-in.
Big plusses and minuses here. Head-to-head battle is the name of the game, any game, these days, and X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter makes it pretty simple to get hooked up over the Internet, especially if you have an independent ISP where you can broadcast an IP address to your gaming pals. However, there are a number of interface design headaches that are sure to frustrate many gamers. To begin with, once you have clicked on "Join" to launch a multiplayer game over the Internet, the game goes into "hang and wait" mode for 2 1/2 minutes -- during which, if your game does not connect, you cannot exit out of the interface without rebooting your computer. Try getting a tricky connection set up and having a nice sandwich break between each attempt and you'll lose your zest for playing in a hurry. And then there's the issue of how it feels to be a bad and/or beginning player in a big multiplayer game. Get killed a lot? Yep. But that's not the main problem. The problem is that in many missions you get only a limited number of ships. Lose, say, your four ships in the first 2 minutes of a 10 minute battle and guess what you get to do? You get to go make another sandwich, then watch a thrilling 2D representation of the battle that everyone else is having for the next 8 minutes.
Now, having whined about all that, I must say that once you do get a multiplayer session going, it's a lot of fun. In fact, this seems to be have been what the majority of the energy in making the game went into. Is a good multiplayer space sim worth $40 or $50? I think you really have to ask yourself this if you're contemplating buying this game, because this really is the primary value here. Better yet, go down to your local software store and see if you can get a test fly in ... it's not for everybody.
Required: Windows 95, Pentium 90 or better (P-100 for multiplayer, P-133 for Internet play), 16 MB RAM, 2X CD-ROM drive, PCI graphics card, 16-bit sound card, joystick, DirectX (included on CD)
Recommended: 4X CD-ROM drive, P-133 or better, 28.8 modem for Internet play.
X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter is a decent game that should have been (and received a crushing amount of pre-release publicity as being) great. It does not do even a fraction of what it might, given its heritage. Perhaps such a distinguished tradition to follow was too much for any game. But as Internet gaming ups the ante, and as graphics, storyline and adrenaline gameplay command more and more of the multi-billion dollar gaming market, X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter will ultimately end up as an also-ran.