|Anybody that has watched
and enjoyed the Star Wars Trilogy has probably played at least one of LucasArts
games. Whatever system you own--Nintendo, Playstation or PC--there are Star Wars games to
be played. Some are good (Dark Forces, Jedi Knight, X-Wing, Tie Fighter) and some are just
okay--or maybe even bad (Rebel Assault 1&2, Masters of Teras-Kasi, Shadows of the
Empire.) When I heard that Star Wars Rogue Squadron would be a full game of nothing but
ship combat along the lines of the Snow Speeder battles in Shadows of the Empire, I was
Star Wars Rogue Squadron is the first game that allows you to play the role of Luke Skywalker in fighter combat. The story takes place after the destruction of the first Deathstar, as Luke forms Rogue Squadron of the most experienced and gifted fighter pilots. The main members include Wedge Antilles, Dack Ralter, Wes Janson, Zev Senesca, Derek "Hobbie" Klivian, General Rieekan, and of course Luke Skywalker. The Rogue Squadrons purpose is to defend the Rebel Alliance against the mighty forces of the Empire.
As I said before, LucasArts has published some good games and some bad games. I cant express how much I enjoy anything having to do with the Star Wars universe, but I seemed to find more to quibble about with Star Wars Rogue Squadron than to praise.
First off let me start by saying that Ive played X-Wing, Tie Fighter, and X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter so Im not a novice at space combat sims. Of course I know that Star Wars Rogue Squadron isnt supposed to be a sim, but that doesnt mean that they can slack off on the controls, either. When I played Shadows of the Empire, flying the speeders on Hoth was the most enjoyable part of the game, but when I experienced this in Star Wars Rogue Squadron I was mightily peeved! Why on earth would you fix something that wasnt broken?! The flight control of Shadows of the Empire was perfect for an arcade style flight sim, but thats not the case with this game. The first of my control problems came when I couldnt find a way to setup my Sidewinder Force Feedback Joystick to roll using the twisted Z axis on the joystick. I thought this was kinda stupid, but I figured that they just decided to not support that feature since not all joysticks have the Z axis. But I soon found out that the only way you could roll your ship was to hold a button down and then push left or right on the joystick--very lame, and without this finer control over your ships, they seem very sluggish while turning. This is at the root of all the games control problems, and I figured it out within the first 5 minutes of gameplay; can you say play testing?
The game does, however, look pretty spiffy, though not revolutionary. The textures on objects and terrain are awesome, which makes the games visuals look very appealing, but the game engine falters in rendering objects at long distances. Your radar is for the most part limited to what you can already see, which isnt very far. Anything out of view is covered up with a thick fog cloud, which reminds me of Magic Carpet, a game that is almost 5 years old. I cant believe that an engine that utilizes the newest 3D acceleration hardware cant render any better than a game that uses no 3D acceleration hardware. Sheesh. That aside though, the explosions look great and laser blasts do have light sourcing, which is a step in the right direction.
Since this is a Star Wars game I of course figured the sound and music had to be perfect. And though the trade mark sound effects we expect from watching the movies are there, for some reason the music is in some sort of midi format and doesnt sound all that great. Yeah, the same old tunes are used, but cmon--if theyre trying to conserve space on the CD they shouldve used MP3 encoding and not sacrificed the musics quality.
Even though I had problems with this game, I dont think it was any worse than the Rebel Assault series. LucasArts sold a lot of copies of that series and I wouldnt hesitate to recommend Star Wars Rogue Squadron to someone that just wants to blow the crap out of Imperial property. I was just hoping for the same gameplay I found in the Shadows of the Empire, and I didnt.