Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter
The Starfighter series is back, with a new adventure in the world of Star Wars.
About one year ago, Star Wars: Starfighter was released on Playstation 2. It was the first Star Wars game to hit a next-generation console, and one of the first big releases for Playstation 2. LucasArts created a well-balanced space shooter, with beautiful graphics and excellent sounds. The game had a story on its own, even if the events were contemporary to those of Episode I. Starfighter gave a different perspective on the story of the movie, putting the player in the role of three fighters - Rhys, Vana Sage and Nym - battling against the evil Trade Federation.
Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter is based exactly on the same formula, and the story seems to start immediately before the events of Episode II. But since this time the game has been released a couple of months before the movie, players have a unique possibility to have a taste of the story, the new spaceships and also many of the characters which will be featured in Episode II.
Good, if you are still reading the review at this point, it means you didn't shut down your computer to go out and run at the nearest store to get yourself a copy of the game. You want an unbiased, sincere, honest review of the game. Well, while I literally grew up with the Star Wars series, that's what I'll try to do for you.
A secessionist movement threatens to expand in the Karthakk system. For this reason, Master Mace Windu decides to send one of the most influent Jedi of the Council, Adi Gallia, to investigate. Using the Republic's new prototype Jedi Starfighter and her own force powers, Adi Gallia will have to fight the fleet of the evil Captain Toth, while a mysterious figure moves in the shadows to destroy the foundations of the Galactic Republic system. Nym (one of the heroes of the first Starfighter) will join her in this difficult mission.
If you have played the first Starfighter, you know exactly what you should expect from Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter. In fact, despite the introduction of a few novelties, the game design of Jedi Starfighter is exactly the same of Starfighter. And that's at the same time the greatest strength and weakness of this game.
Like its predecessor, Jedi Starfighter is an addictive pick-and-play space shooter in which the player has to play through 15 missions, divided in land and space based levels. The structure of the game is extremely linear, each mission is separated from the others and the story develops thanks to the in-battle dialogues and to a series of CG movies. If you were expecting a more dynamic structure, you could be disappointed. Unlike other space shooters like Colony Wars, your actions in a mission will never influence in any way the following levels or the story of the game. There aren't multiple endings or paths to follow, and there is no way to modify the spaceships.
Playing in single player mode you'll have to control alternatively Adi Gallia's Jedi Starfighter and Nym's Havoc. The Jedi Starfighter is a new spaceship which we'll see in action in Episode II. It's a fast, light, triangular ship equipped with laser cannons, a prototype created by the Republic for the Jedi knights. While lacking the firepower of other ships, the Jedi Starfighter is deadly agile, a powerful weapon when combined with the force powers of a Jedi Master. Nym and his ship are back in this episode of Starfighter. The Havoc is a massive craft; it's slow, but armed with powerful weapons. The triple laser cannons and the unlimited energy bombs are still here, but this time the Havoc can also fire cruise missiles, cluster missiles able to penetrate the shields of the enemy and proximity mines. If you play in cooperative mode, you can also control Reti's ship, the Zoomer, Jenkins's Freefall, and another Jedi Starfighter piloted by a young Jedi knight, Siri Tachi. Each of these spaceships behaves differently from the others and is equipped with unique weapons.
The land and space missions are varied, even if the objectives and the structure are the same of the first Starfighter. Most of the times, you have to escort or protect spaceships, engaging desperate battles against hordes of enemies. Anyhow, the most noticeable novelty in the gameplay of Jedi Starfighter is that all the missions can be played in a great split-screen cooperative mode. One player controls the primary character (Ada or Nym) while the other controls one of the secondary characters. In some missions both the players have control of an advanced version of Nym's Havoc: one player controls the ship, while the other controls a turret added on the top of the craft. Playing the missions in cooperative mode is exciting; you can defend your friend, point at different objectives, and create your strategies.
The controls are the same of the first Starfighter, with a few additions introduced to manage the secondary weapons and the force powers of the Jedi knights. The analog sticks are used to move the spaceship, L2 and R2 are used to accelerate and decelerate. The main buttons of the Dual Shock are used for the combat system. The target buttons are Triangle and Square, and they work as good as in the previous instalment. Triangle will target the closer enemy or the one who is shooting at your ship, Square will target the enemy in sight. X and circle are primary (laser cannons) and secondary attacks.
According to the ship (and the character) you are controlling, secondary attacks vary. Nym's Havoc, as I said before, has four different secondary weapons which can be selected using the d-pad. Since the Jedi Starfighter doesn't have secondary weapons, these buttons are used to select one of the four Force Powers available. The force powers are used exactly like any other weapon. You "equip" them and then you press the circle button to "fire". The only difference is that you have to release the circle button timely if you want to have a more powerful effect. At first you'll be only able to use the Force Shields, which will protect your ship for a limited amount of time; later, you'll have Force Lightning, a powerful electric attack which link enemy ships together and destroy them, Force Reflexes and Force Shockwave. The latter is a circular blast that damages all the enemies close to your ship, while Force Reflexes will simulate the extraordinary reflexes of a Jedi Master. Once activated, all the enemies will slowdown, while you'll be able to move at normal speed thus having a great advantage against your opponents. Like in the first Starfighter, the d-pad can be also used to talk to your wingmen and ask them to protect certain objectives, to cover you or to attack a target; simply, this time you have to hold L1 while pressing the d-pad buttons.
Where Jedi Starfighter beats completely the original Starfighter is in the number of extras featured in the game. Basically every time you complete the bonus objective in one of the 15 missions you unlock something. First of all, there are 5 extra missions that can be played both in single player and cooperative mode; then, there are 9 spaceships to unlock, including the X-Wing, the Tie Fighter (I love these ones!!), advanced versions of the spaceships of the game and a few others. There are also more than ten movies to unlock, including a trailer of Star Wars: Bounty Hunter, a game in development in which you'll take the role of Jango Fett (Boba Fett's father), special stuff on the making of the game and the new movie, and much more.
The only fault of Jedi Starfighter is that it doesn't offer anything really new to the ones who played the first Starfighter, but it's undoubtedly a solid space shooter, with a great multiplayer mode and well-designed, classic missions.