Starfighter has a long history behind it, and a lot to stand up against with the X-Wing series and the first Rouge Squadron both having been released prior. The history of Star Wars flight sims is one of beauty and challenge . The X-Wing series is hailed by many as they best Star Wars flight sims ever produced. Perhaps a little complex for some players to grasp, the X-Wing series gave the player a level of control over their ship that hasn’t been seen since. But I’m not reviewing that game, I’m reviewing Starfighter.
As mentioned in the Wikipedia blurb, the story follows three different pilots, from three different backgrounds, that end up working together. You’ve got the new recruit in the Naboo forces, a mercenary, and a pirate captain. The story doesn’t have the cohesive flow one hopes to find in most video games. Instead it has that quick mashed and thrown together vibe. It, mostly makes sense, and so long as you don’t question much, you can follow it easy enough. But I personally, kept asking why, and didn’t get many answers back.
You fly three different ships, however you don’t get to pick which ships. Each level is assigned a different ship, and while this makes sense on the early levels. The later ones where all the characters are fighting together, an added feature of pick-your-ship levels would have been nice, and even added a little replay-ability. Replay factory is something this game does give you. As it tracks if you’ve beaten each mission on each skill level, as well as each mission has bonus objectives to accomplish. So right out the gate you can play every mission three times with a little personal goal of 100% completion. There are also unlockable missions, both single and multiplayer. These add a little more playtime, but not a whole lot of fun. As I noted before, the multiplayer is pretty lacking.
Graphically Starfighter isn’t bad, it’s what I call PS2 graphics. Which makes sense since that is what the game was built for. But PS2 is also a good marking point on the graphic timeline. If there is one constant from Lucas Arts, it’s that their games always seem to be at the top of the line for graphics.
The controls were a little poor. But I have to admit that this was probably due to the Logitech software more so than the game. Some of the buttons weren’t mapped how one would have expected them to be, while others not used at all. This can be fixed in either the Logitech software or in the games settings. But since you have to exit the game to adjust the controls I never bothered, and just learned to work with it. Maybe it’s just me, but when I play a combat flight sim, I expect to have to lead my targets. If we’re both moving I shouldn’t be able to just put the cross hairs over the target and hit it. I should have to send the shots ahead of them, so they fly into them. Is this not accurate? Because Starfighter doesn’t do that, here you just put your cross hairs over and fire.
One of the big problems about the game, and more so writing about it, is that it doesn’t leave anything with you. You play it, you beat some levels, and that’s it. There really isn’t anything that you take away, no real moment that you reflect on later. It’s almost just a sort of time filler for everything else you do. Its not a bad game, its not a great game, its just a game. Stuck in this sort of grey zone of quality. I cant say I hated it, nor can I say I loved it, and I’m pretty sure in a few days I’ll have forgotten I even played it. I guess that’s what leaves the biggest mark on this game, when its not there right in front of your eyes you forget it even exists.
One thing of note, if you want to check this game out, and you opt to go with the PC version. Get it on Steam. I’ve read some various things around the web that say the original released version is pretty much borked on Windows now. But that the games engine was fixed for it’s Steam release. However I would personally recommend PS2 for this. Unless you have an epic joystick, in which case that might improve controls improving the whole experience.
I didn’t play any of the multiplayer, for a few different reasons. One being that unless the game is only multiplayer, I don’t use that as a measuring factor of it’s quality. I’m anti social remember, I prefer to play solo. The other being that I didn’t have anyone or the means for multiplayer. I’m assuming it’s not network/internet capable with the multi, and that it’s just a split screen venture.