Written by  :  Chris Martin (1204)
Written on  :  Oct 04, 2001

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Alliance beats them all.

The Good

After the not-so-complimentary reviews of the "heralded" X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter, I was very leery about the release of X-Wing Alliance. Besides, I didn't have a computer fast enough to run it. :)

But LucasArts then re-released Alliance under their "Classics" titles. And since I have a P3 1gz, I really couldn't pass this one up. So I picked up Alliance and hoped for the best.

The best is what I got.

Right from the get-go, I have to say that graphically, It's astounding, and I honestly can't see the series getting better in that department. Running a P3 1gz machine with an NVIDIA-TNT card, the graphics are smooth and the different effects are amazing. The TIE Fighters look so "realistic" that you begin to wonder if you are watching the movies or playing a game.

The Heads-up Display (HUD) takes a bit getting used to, even though it is implemented flawlessly. For starters, Mission Objectives are displayed on the right side of the screen, so there is no more needless switching between screens. All important inbound communications are displayed on the left side. The cockpit graphics are uncluttered, but if you are used to the setup in Any of the previous sims, it will takes some getting used to. No longer are the Shield, Laser and Engine configuration bars in front, but they are tucked away on the upper left and right hand corners of the screen. Thankfully, the "Radar" circles are still in the same place :)

As for the gameplay, it rocks. You take on the role of "Ace" Azzameen, working for your parents shipping company. The first 7 missions are designed to help you learn how to control your ships, pickup cargo containers and how to locate navigation beacons.

As you play you learn about Luke Skywalker destroying the Death Star, and you hear about the Rebellion and the help you need. I won't spoil the actual game for you, but needless to say, you end up joining the Rebellion. I love the way LucasArts incorporated the gameplay with the facts and storyline from the movies. It really gives you a sense of being in the Star Wars Universe.

After joining the rebellion, you're choices of things to do are great. Remember the "Pilot Proving Ground" from the original X-Wing? It's back in Alliance, and it's unbelievable. There are 7 different obstacle courses you can fly through, each one more difficult than the previous. Personally, I enjoy flying the PPG. If you haven't played in a while, It's the perfect way to get your reflexes and timing back into tip-top shape.

Along with the regular missions, you can also play in the Combat Chamber. This allows you to play multiplayer against either the CPU or up to 16 other people over the internet. It's great to throw 1 X-Wing and about 11 TIE fighters in the mix, and see how many you can nail in 10 minutes (my personal best is 22). You can have the battle in deep space, in a junk yard (Like the PPG) or even better, an asteroid field. I always wanted to fly through the asteroid field in a YT-1300 Freighter, and now I have my chance.

Speaking of ships, the number you get to fly is staggering. With the exception of the command ships (Star Destroyers, Calamari Cruisers, etc.) you can fly almost every ship seen on the Big Screen, and all from the previous 3 X-Wing games. In fact you start out by flying a YT-1300 Freighter, similar to the Millennium Falcon (but without all the extras... I know, it's bummer).

The sound is excellent. It really captures the feel of a Star Wars Movie, and the fact the CD Tracks are pulled off the Star Wars Trilogy Boxed set is a bonus. There are musical tracks you won't get on the regular soundtracks and it sounds great.

The control of the game is very intuitive. I use a Wingman Digital 3D Joystick, and I can't believe how well the game handles. Joysticks with a twist rudder capability enable you to fly without holding down the secondary trigger button in order to rotate your craft. This makes for great combat. It takes a bit getting used to, but in the long run it helps your game.

The Bad

Nothing. It's a great game.

The Bottom Line

LucasArts did the right thing. They heard the complaints that users had about X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter, made some fantastic changes and enhancements to the system, and produced a fantastic game worth owning. A must have for both space-sim and Star Wars Fans alike.