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Game Over Online ~ Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter

GameOver Game Reviews - Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter (c) LucasArts, Reviewed by - Fwiffo

Game & Publisher Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter (c) LucasArts
System Requirements Xbox
Overall Rating 75%
Date Published Thursday, July 18th, 2002 at 03:58 PM

Divider Left By: Fwiffo Divider Right

When it came around to the release of Episode II, LucasArts was at it again with a major Episode II game release on nearly every platform. For the Xbox, you'll be looking at Jedi Starfighter, a spiritual sequel to Starfighter SE, released not too long ago. Jedi Starfighter adds a new word, namely the word Jedi since after Episode II, LucasArts is betting everyone will be enamored with the Jedi order, shown so vividly in the theatrical release. Taking up the role of Adi Gallia, you'll be dispatched by Mace Windu to investigate things that Anakin and Obi-wan never got around to doing, namely investigating the actions of Count Dooku's key lieutenant, Captain Thoth.

Considering the space combat takes a back seat in Episode II, save for a thrilling battle amongst asteroids, Jedi Starfighter, being a game that emphasizes space combat, has a fair bit of leeway in terms of creative freedom. You'll still pilot the nimble fighter that Obi-wan used during the film. It's a quick fighter, very agile, much like the original trilogy's A-wing. The Jedi ship is only equipped with lasers so the equalizer is the introduction of Force powers. Previously the exclusive purview of action or FPS games, Force powers have made it to Jedi Starfighter. As Gallia, you'll execute offensive attacks where shockwaves will emanate from the nimble fighter or even call forth bolts of lightning to smite your foes. The defensive Force powers are none too passive either. There is the traditional shield barrier but you can also use a reflex barrier, effectively turning all incoming fire on to your enemies.

Along the way, Gallia will become ever more reliant on special powers as Captain Thoth is helped by the Trade Federation and thus, you'll come up against enormous odds. Fortunately, this is one of those titles where gunning down dozens of enemy craft is all in a day's work. Gallia stumbles across Nym, the pirate raider from the last Starfighter game. Thus, for some missions, you're able to turn in your Jedi-issued craft for the powerful bomber-fighter Havoc. Closer to the end of the game, the Havoc features a powerful cannon that is able to level freighters and capital ships; not unlike the formidable beam weapons found in Freespace 2.

One key improvement Jedi Starfighter makes over the existing Xbox Starfighter game is in the realm of multiplayer. It doesn't have a system link component per se, but finally, someone has included a co-operative component throughout the entire story campaign. Often, you'll be able to fly two ships and if not, you'll at least be able to split turret/ship controls in the Havoc when assuming the role of Nym. Competitive multiplayer levels still exist and they're fun, provided you have more than two players involved. Xbox owners will get the bonus of a Coruscant capture-and-hold level. Altogether, Jedi Starfighter makes the greatest strides in this area. The gameplay improvements here, a clear response to critical and popular complaints about the original Starfighter, overshadow even the introduction of Force powers.

Unfortunately, this title is not without its faults. Visually speaking, it hasn't made great leaps and bounds. Compared to titles like Rogue Leader on the Gamecube, there's room for improvement, especially since the Episode II film was filled with so many visually stirring scenes. Jedi Starfighter also lacks the intuitive targeting system found in Rogue Leader. Targeting, especially prioritizing these targets, is still an issue and often, you'll lose missions and objectives only because you can't find the right target amongst the morass of ships depicted on-screen.

Nonetheless, there's a lot to like about Jedi Starfighter. The sound effects continue to be stellar. And the musical soundtrack, drawing content from the new theatrical score, is much appreciated. It's a pity, however, that this title won't be the best-looking Episode II game a few years from now. Moreover, it looks like Xbox owners won't be seeing another title revolving around events from the film for at least a few quarters. The addition of Force powers to space combat is the chief trump Jedi Starfighter offers, or so the literature says. In my opinion, it's the multiplayer features that shines most. The Force powers may be unique. It certainly has never been done before but with that introduction, I get the feeling Jedi Starfighter is becoming more arcade-like than before. Witness a bolt of lightning shooting at an enemy fighter and you'll know why. For starters, it looks too much like something from the fantasy realm.

Finally, there's the prized Episode II connection. A fine story about the Republic losing its grasp of the member worlds is more interesting as the basis for Jedi Starfighter. It's not clear, however, whether the title is ultimately helped by being linked to Episode II. The last Starfighter game had more characters but the plot never seemed to pick up until the epic battle on Naboo. In Jedi Starfighter, the Episode II material emancipates the developers to try new things but for me, the resulting story is still a hackneyed one, primarily because you always feel like you're playing second fiddle or doing inconsequential things compared to where all the real Jedi are. Furthermore, the film only had a brief space combat encounter. For that reason, other types of games might be more appealing. Jedi Starfighter, after the release of Starfighter, seems a little too convenient, especially since the latter continues to be fresh amongst most Xbox-owning Star Wars fans. The flurry of lightsaber skirmishes and the intense ground battle that marked the film's exciting climax is a void that will only be filled with Clone Wars' forthcoming fall appearance on the PS2 and GameCube.


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