Written by  :  Ray Soderlund (3609)
Written on  :  Mar 29, 2000
Rating  :  2.2 Stars2.2 Stars2.2 Stars2.2 Stars2.2 Stars
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Few games can live up to their Star Wars title, especially those with clunky interfaces.

The Good

It's a galactic game of conquest in the Star Wars universe, including all the famous ships, characters, and ground vehicles from the movies and the most popular books. What more can one ask for in a concept? Any game that allows one to assemble a fleet of Star Destroyers to scour the galaxy looking for rebels automatically scores points.

The concept of being able to capture planets through diplomacy and the use of espionage to weaken your opponent's forces is a welcome way of thinking in a universe full of 'brute force' games. The game's two sides lend themselves to two different styles of play. The Imperial forces can assemble a huge military force and just sweep through the galaxy, while the Rebel forces need to initially play a diplomatic game, with guerilla attacks to help them win battles.

The use of characters is also interesting, as characters are sometimes more important than a fleet or planet under one's control. The more powerful characters are trump cards of sort. While one would like to use them for everything, one is also afraid to lose them on an inconsequential mission. The Force-sensitive characters can detect such in other characters and train them, increasing their abilities. Who (aside from Vader, Palpatine, and Luke) are Force-sensitive is random each time, so sometimes this concept plays a major factor. For example, once I had Luke discover that nearly half the rebel characters were Force sensitive and had him train them all. What resulted was a true 'Return of the Jedi' as this band of Jedi dominated the rest of the game, nearly to the point where military conflict was no longer necessary.

The Bad

The interface is quite dreadful. One often needs to go through a number of screens to do the most simple of tasks. Planet reports open up in static, half screen windows and opening two of these will prohibit further such openings until the previous ones are closed. Nothing can be done simply and this is unfortunate, as it is the first major stumbling block in this game being a classic.

The AI is as pitiful as the interface. The computer doesn't play a smart game and often seems just to be roaming around the galaxy randomly, hoping to hurt you wherever it can, despite the side it plays. While initially it will cause a player grief because its haphazard approach causes planet losses in secure territories, once a player knows what he/she needs to do to compensate, victory is usually ensured.

The tactical space combat, while one of the things many looked forward to, actually disappoints. Another poor interface causes the battles to be annoying and confusing and one will often resort to just letting the computer figure out the results. While the idea of watching a fleet of Star Destroyers engage a rag-tag fleet of rebel cruisers with TIE and rebel fighters swarming around should be fun, the way the ships maneuver and place themselves make the battle seem stagnant and boring.

The real time pacing of the strategic portion of the game causes an odd pace, as one will often speed up time to wait for the next major event and find oneself pausing the game to deal with issues. This constant change in pace makes the game feel like a round of stop and go traffic rather than an enjoyable game.

The Bottom Line

An attempt to bring what many people wanted, a galaxy-wide strategy game set in the Star Wars universe, that falls short of being a classic because of bad design decisions. What should have been a fun conflict between an evil Empire and a small band of nobles turns into a fight between the user and the interface.

There are a few Star Wars fans that can overlook many of the games problems. If you haven't tried this yet, then chances are you're not one of those people.