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Written by  :  Gatekeeper (310)
Written on  :  Jun 01, 2012
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.57 Stars4.57 Stars4.57 Stars4.57 Stars4.57 Stars

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Never underestimate the power of the Dark Side!

The Good

Following the tradition of the movies, most Star Wars games put the player in the position of one of the good guys - a brave soldier of the Rebel Alliance or a selfless Jedi Knight, fighting against tyranny and oppression. In TIE Fighter, you can forget about all this - you are now a pilot in the proud Imperial Navy, the Emperor's main tool of imposing his rule on the galaxy.

The greatest thing about TIE Fighter is that it allows you to see and experience the Star Wars universe from the Imperial perspective. Everything seems to be turned upside down - the Empire is a force of good, bringing peace and order to the galaxy, whereas the Rebels, "just a little better than pirates", are criminals and renegades who bring only conflict and treachery. As a newly recruited TIE pilot, you are to participate in the forging of a better tomorrow for all beings!

Star Wars: TIE Fighter is the direct successor of Star Wars: X-Wing (in which you are a Rebel pilot) - it is fairly similar to it, yet introduces numerous enhancements that make the game even better and create an entirely new experience.

At first sight, the game engine seems to be the same as X-Wing's, yet it has many advancements in terms of gameplay. Missions become more complicated and are rarely straightforward - all sorts of surprising events can occur before the end, e.g. unexpected arrival of new enemy forces, or supposedly friendly forces turning traitor and attacking you.

Mission objectives are more numerous and more varied - beside the standard Primary Objectives, you will be given Secondary Objectives, which are optional but give extra points and please the Emperor, as well as Bonus objectives, which are initially hidden and are revealed when you complete them, encouraging players to experiment.

The CD-ROM version, in particular, adds a few more improvements to the game engine, the most significant of which is the support for 640x480 resolution. It also features a revamped intro video and full audio briefings. The final three Battles, which complete the story, are exclusive to the CD-ROM version of the game and were never available separately.

The game's story is developed very well and features quite a few unexpected twists and turns. The main plot begins to unfold with some subtle hints from the very beginning, and comes to its glorious climax at the end of Battle 13. It is an entirely new story, influenced by the events in the movies, yet not strictly bound to them. The Rebels will not be the only enemy to fight, you will also face pirates, criminal organizations, hostile alien governments and even traitor Imperials.

You will fly many of the starfighters seen in the movies (TIE Fighter/Interceptor/Bomber) as well as a few new ones, such as the Assault Gunboat and the TIE Defender. Flying in an unshielded craft early in the game adds a whole new dimension to gameplay - dodging enemy shots becomes crucial for survival. Later on, shielded craft become available, yet that won't make your life much easier, as the enemy firepower will also be getting stronger.

The missions you'll be flying offer a good balance between epic battles and more common scenarios. You will get a taste of daily military life in the Imperial Navy - routine patrols, cargo inspections, hunting down criminals, customs duty, etc. You will also participate in battles that could decide the fate of the galaxy...

If you are the kind of player who enjoys gathering rewards and trophies, you are in for a treat. TIE Fighter offers hundreds of rewards to earn - from the simple badges, patches and medallions for beating the training courses to big shiny medals for completing Battles. You can also receive small silver or golden stars for completing all Secondary and/or Bonus objectives in a mission.

The most interesting aspect of the rewards system is the mysterious Secret Order of the Emperor - a clandestine group of agents of the Dark Side of the Force, who accomplish various "unofficial" tasks for the Emperor himself. Completing all Secondary Objectives in a certain number of missions and having an outstanding score will get you initiated into the Order. If you continue to excel and serve faithfully, you will advance in rank (designated by an eerie purple tattoo on your character's arm). Several cutscenes depict your initiation and further promotions. Secret Order ranks do not affect gameplay - they are there entirely for the prestige.

The Bad

My primary complaint about the game is related to its difficulty. Some missions are too easy, even on the Hard setting. Others are way too hard, even on Easy. Sometimes you will have to rely on simple luck to keep a mission-critical ship in one piece. Sometimes you will be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of enemy ships, not knowing which one to focus on.

Some missions have so many objectives that the player may feel confused. Some mission-critical craft might not appear until late in the mission, making the player wonder if they have missed something important (potentially aborting the mission).

At the time when Tie Fighter was made, polygons were still something quite new and even exotic. Therefore, the engine might exhibit a few glitches related to collision detection or slight graphical corruption at places.

The Bottom Line

A hardcore Star Wars fan should not miss this title. If you enjoy old DOS classics, you are also very likely to enjoy this game.

TIE Fighter provides many hours of quality gaming, and has great replayability. May the Force be with you :)