Title :Star Wars Starfighter
Platforms :Sony PlayStation 2
Publisher :LucasArts
ESRB Rating :Teen
Game Rating :8.5
Review by :Larry Tipton

Many gamers, myself included, have been waiting with great anticipation for LucasArts' latest attempt at bringing a class act Star Wars title worthy of the name to a console system. This time they got it right. Starfighter is filled with intense 3D air and space combat action all within the Star Wars universe, circa Episode I. You will control three different pilots as they take on the evil Trade Federation. The game is not directly tied to the movie plot; you'll not see any of these characters in the movie. 

Star Wars Starfighter is composed of fourteen varied missions. You'll be asked to pilot a variety of craft, from the swift and agile to one that is slow but extremely powerful through both land and space missions with specific primary and secondary objectives. Successfully completing the secondary missions will reward the player by unlocking other game features. 

You'll begin the game as Rhys Dallows. His craft, simply named N-1, is fast and nimble. In later missions you will take on the role of Vana Sage as you fly the Guardian Mantis, a ship with extremely high maneuverability characteristics. Finally, you'll control a character named Nym in his ship Havoc, a bomber full of devastating firepower.  You may think that all this jumping around from character to character is confusing but it is not. LucasArts guides you through the transitions seamlessly as the story unfolds using dialog and rendered cut scenes between each mission. 

The graphics are perhaps some of the best looking seen yet on the PlayStation 2. The ground missions are rich with detail. The space combat missions are breathtaking at times, with huge asteroids, ships and more in glorious detail. All this graphics goodness has a price however. Occasionally, the frame rate stutters or slows down when there is a lot of activity on screen. 

The sound effects are good. There is quite a bit of voice acting to be found in Starfighter. It could become repetitive after awhile, especially if you spend much time replaying the same mission an effort to get a higher score. This is something you will do if you hope to unlock the game's many secrets, including a two-player capture the flag mode. That's right, you must complete the game using any level of difficulty to unlock this mode. 

Controlling each craft is a pure joy. The Sony Dual Shock Analog Game pad does an excellent job and is up for the task. The layout is intuitive. After a few minutes you will be at ease with the responsiveness and effectiveness of the control scheme. At no time did I feel that the game needed more button options. Everything is at your fingertips so that you can concentrate on the action. 

I have found that to truly enjoy the game one must play from within the cockpit view. Using the external camera view can be confusing and it harder to line up your shots. Starfighter features an innovative zoom mode for those times when you would like to get a closer view of a ship or object in the distance. Star Wars Starfighter will appeal to space jockeys everywhere. It will particularly appeal to those that enjoyed playing the Colony Wars series on the PSOne. The game is not particularly long but you will probably play the game over and over due to the award system that is in place. You will no doubt want to play the game again and again for its beauty, varied missions and utter enjoyment. May The Force be with you. 

This article is copyright (c) 2001, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 05-Mar-01