The Star Wars universe has become a
case of parallels run amok. One event foreshadows another, this guy becomes that guy,
Im your father, hes my clone, and shes "got a bad feeling about
this." Some of it is precious ("Hes going to be the death of me,"
says Obi-Wan of Anakin), some of it is overkill (How many times does Darth Vader have to
lose his hand in order for us to understand that connection?), but it is all in
good fun. Plus, it makes great fodder for the films, novels, comic books, and, of course,
the video games.
Star Wars Jedi Starfighter takes place during, around, and in between the
events that occur in the film Attack of the Clones. It also continues the story
that took place in its video game predecessor, Star Wars Starfighter, which in turn
shadowed the events of the film The Phantom Menace. You see what I mean about too
many parallels? Starfighter was a fantastic game, Attack of the Clones was a great
movie, Phantom Menace was, well, it was a movie
and Jedi Starfighter is
somehow supposed to follow in all of their footsteps. The trouble is that Jedi Starfighter
does nothing to surprise us or get us excited about another rally against the Trade
Federation. From the moment the opening titles end, and the game begins, you feel like you
have done this all before.
places players in the role of Adi Gallia, a Jedi Master put in charge of both testing the
prototype Jedi Starfighter and investigating a threat to the resource-rich Karthakk
system. Players will also occasionally have to assume the roll of Nym, an alien pirate
introduced in the first game, who, along with other freedom fighters, is defending
The game has
fifteen levels in the story mode, which range from original ground-based missions, and
open space battles, to the climactic clone battle from the film. Each level gives you a
minimum number of objectives to complete in order to progress, as well as bonus objectives
that will unlock the five single-player missions, six two-player missions, and extra
spacecraft, as well as game trailers, commentary tracks, and behind-the-scenes footage.
If all of that
sounds familiar, thats because it is. The missions contain all of the standard
objectives: destroy this, protect that, destroy these things while protecting those
things, et cetera. Adis Jedi Starfighter and Nyms Havoc Bomber are vastly
different in function and performance, and vary the gameplay nicely, but no more so than
the spacecraft in the original Starfighter. The game boasts all new Force Powers, which
allow you to use Alis Jedi skills in ship-to-ship combat. There are four powers at
your command: Force Shield, Force Lightning, Force Reflex, and Force Shock Wave. Each
power has different levels of effectiveness depending upon how long you hold the button
before releasing it. The Force Shield is exactly what it sounds like, deflecting lasers in
its weakest state, reflecting them back at the enemy at its strongest. Force Lightning
strikes your target, plus a small or large number of surrounding craft. Force Reflex slows
down the action around yousort of like a "Jedi bullet time." The Force
Shock Wave pretty much wipes out everything in its blast radius. Each power depletes your
Jedi Meditation Meter, which must fill before you can use the power again. In the end,
however, these powers just seem like kind of nifty secondary weapons, much like a missile
or bomb. Some are almost too powerful. The Jedi Lightning is neat, but it takes out so
many enemies and recharges so fast that it makes you lazy. To be honest, I liked the
secondary weapons of Nyms Havoc more. They were cooler, and they required more skill
In fact, the
only new elements that actually add anything to the series are the multiplayer options.
First, there is the Cooperative Mode, which allows two players to play through the entire
story mode together. This is just what the game needed, and what few games like it have.
Some missions, like Poisoned Skies, are begging for two players. In it you must save an
Island compound from destruction. But you will be taxed to your limits as you must shoot
down wave after wave of missiles raining down on you from space, all the while veering off
to take out fleets of bombers, fighters, and huge warships. The pace is relentless, and it
is nice to have a partner to help out. There are also competitive missions that have you
dogfighting, trying to destroy the most targets, and more. These missions are much better
done than in the previous game.
are a sticking point with me. This is one game where the PS2 controller, with its four
shoulder buttons, is far superior to the Xboxs two triggers. The original
Starfighter on the PS2 placed all of the core functionsaccelerate, decelerate,
primary and secondary fireon the shoulder buttons. Therefore, they were all
accessible while keeping your thumbs on both analog sticks. You could move your nose with
the left stick and roll with the right while speeding up, slowing down, and firing. Once
you got used to it the game really took off. Rolling, spinning, and diving while firing at
enemies and navigating canyon runsit was beautiful. With the Xbox controller, you
have to take your thumb off of the right stick in order to fire with the A and B buttons,
which eliminates your ability to roll during dogfights. Sure, you can use it to get a good
angle on something if you have the time, but sharp, banking turns are out of the question.
This takes a bite out of the "realism," and the fun. For all intents and
purposes, the controls might as well be the same as Rogue Leader. Also, the addition of
the Force Powers, which are selected with the D-pad, make giving unit commands frustrating
during battle. You now must press and hold the white button while pressing the D-Pad,
which takes your thumbs off of both of the analog sticks.
presentation runs the gambit from truly amazing to dreadful. The graphics especially are
uneven. During the game the graphics are decent, but far from great. The original
Starfighter looked better, and compared to Rogue Leader on the Gamecube, forget it. In
that game nebulas and asteroids became works of art; here they are merely objects on the
battlefield. The special effects are practically non-existent, or, at best, unimpressive.
But the strangest thing has to be the dichotomy between in game and pre-rendered movies.
The pre-rendered movies are fantastic. The "Jedi Valor" cinema that comes after
you have infiltrated the Trihexalon factory is awe-inspiring as Adi leaps out of her ship
and cuts her way into a firefight with her lightsaberforce-pushing droids,
reflecting shots, leaping and slicing. But the in game cinemas are horrible, with dreary
backgrounds, sputtering effects, and pixilated light sources. The sound is great, for the
most part, with a terrific soundtrack and the usual array of effects, although the sounds
of spacecraft engines are conspicuously dull. Once again, check out Rogue Leader and see
how the roar of a Tie Fighter gives you chills as it passes by. Overall, there are plenty
of performance issues as well, with constant slow down and jitters throughout the game,
and unmercifully long load times which are unforgivable on a system with a hard drive.
Although Star Wars Jedi Starfighter is fun, with some must play levels and a great
cooperative mode, it is a step backward from the string of great Star Wars games that
LucasArts has given us lately. Watered-down, over-milkedpick your favorite negative
beverage descriptive and Jedi Starfighter probably suffers from it. If you love games like
this, as I do, then you can certainly get $50 worth of enjoyment out of it. Several of the
missions as well as the multiplayer mode add a lot of replay value. However, I would
recommend a rental to anyone who isnt a hardcore fan. Even then, Rogue Leader (if
you have a Gamecube) and Starfighter (especially on the PS2) should be your first choices.
Myself, I am going to go back and play the Poison Skies mission again. There is just
something about flying into a barrage of powerful missiles, on purpose, that is incredibly