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Game Over Online ~ 3D Star Fighter Pilot

GameOver Game Reviews - 3D Star Fighter Pilot (c) 3DAGames, Reviewed by - Fwiffo

Game & Publisher 3D Star Fighter Pilot (c) 3DAGames
System Requirements Palm OS 3.0
Overall Rating 80%
Date Published Monday, February 4th, 2002 at 06:30 PM

Divider Left By: Fwiffo Divider Right

3D Star Fighter Pilot (Starfighter) revived my fond memories of a Palm Elite clone that I saw called Void. Of course, that title didn't allow for 360-degree movement and at most, there were only two opponents (a dumb asteroid and a fighter) to contest with. But I was hooked at the fact that the Palm platform could be the seeds for a full-fledged space sim. Fans of PC space sims know that they won't see a respectable space sim for quite some time. As Wing Commander was shelved indefinitely because of Origin's focus on Ultima (and Ultima Online, really), Volition also shelved plans to make a follow-up to the epic Freespace 2. With mediocre titles like Starlancer, I would be in what most people would call an impoverished state.

Starfighter is a fully 3D title from 3DAGames. The developers have implemented a true real-time 3D engine for Palm devices. Even gray-scale graphics are supported but they will undoubtedly miss out on some flashy explosion effects. All in all, you can't expect the calibre of particle effects, textures and things like lens-flare from a PC space sim, but that didn't mean 3DAGames gave up on the Palm platform, as most developers seem to do. They have used a wide-ranging set of colors to dress up over twenty types of enemy craft. The effects look like a bit like the original 1990s version of X-Wing. Though the shading is not as sophisticated as what LucasArts did on my 286 machine back then, it is nonetheless impressive. There are attempts to model smoke trails (through blobs) and particle effects (bigger grayer blobs). This isn't exactly Goraud-style shading that X-Wing had but it is impressive for a Palm OS title and adds a bit of style to it. What's more impressive is the attempt to do real-time lighting effects that you'll see, at various times, lighting up your ship.

You progress through over thirty sectors of enemy-infested areas. There are slight differences between the types of enemy craft but in general, they appear to dogfight competently. There isn't any specific affiliation that each craft has. They are scattered at random throughout the different sectors. This is perhaps the Achilles heel of the whole product. The developers claim their artificial intelligence is dynamic in that enemy craft don't fly fixed patterns like rail shooters (Rebel Assault comes to mind). Unfortunately, this isn't put to good use as the sectors you travel through are thinly linked together. What made a title like Wing Commander revolutionary was not the actual dogfights (although those were good), it was the ongoing drama out of the cockpit as well as in it.

Starfighter supports a myriad of Palm OS devices so it is good value for those who have a slightly dated PDA. You only need to run Palm OS 3.0 and the memory requirements are not steep at all, perhaps owing to the dynamic nature of a true 3D engine, making it unnecessary to store large libraries of textures. Although there are five difficulty settings available, I thought there was room for a few improvements like multiplayer options. It would also have been nice to have randomly generated dogfight scenarios or even expansion packs you can add on.

3DAGames clearly has a solid engine running here although for now, most of it is relegated to running you through a gauntlet of enemies. The addition of an overall story line and multiplayer features would definitely tap into the potentiality of Starfighter. Its 3D engine is intriguing and simplistic as it may be; it has rekindled that sense of style that I grew to admire in X-Wing. If only the title would add capital ships and cinematic sequences, it would be a must-have for any Palm wielding space sim junkie.

[07/10] Addictiveness
[14/20] Gameplay
[14/15] Graphics
[07/10] Interface/controls
[09/10] Program Size
[03/05] Sound
[05/05] Discreetness
[13/15] Learning Curve
[ N/A ] Multiplayer


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