Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter Preview
Another Star Wars game, already? Yes, indeed. But like its predecessor, this might not be just another Star Wars game. In fact, with visuals that rival GameCube's Rogue Squadron and intuitive gameplay on the side, Jedi Starfighter may turn out to be one finest Star Wars titles.
You play as Adi Gallia, a girl Jedi. As Gallia, you will embark on a story that follows along the lines of Star Wars: Episode 2's plot. Your ship, which is also featured in Episode 2 is the Jedi starcraft. Back again is the daring rebel leader, Nym. With Nym at your side, you must stop and defeat the biggest threat around, known as Captain Cavik Toth. But, of course, he has some pretty impressive backup; the Saboath Squadron. Adi and Nym must both defeat Captain Toth's crew, but for their own personal reasons. Nym was driven away from his own planet, and Adi must protect the Jedi from being wiped out completely. So these two character's own agendas brings them together in hopes to stop Toth and his minion.
Throughout the game, you'll unlock different force powers. These force powers have a much greater power than your regular blasters. There are four in all: force lighting, force reflex, force shockwave and force shield. These force powers will have a significant effect on the outcome of your battles. 'Force lighting' dishes out damage to all air crafts around you. 'Force reflex' activates the bullet-time feature--found in other games such as Max Payne and the upcoming Dead to Rights. In bullet-time, everything around you slows down while you maneuver your character and finish up the job. 'Force shield' creates a force field of sorts that deflects all oncoming fire for an allotted time. Lastly is 'force shockwave', which sends out an energy wave in all directions around your ship: damaging all enemies around you within a certain distance.
On your screen is a ‘force' meter which indicates when you can use a force power. You can use a force power anytime the meter is fully charged. However, use them carefully, because it will take some time for the meter to recharge. This levels out the gameplay to make it a big more challenging while still giving you a chance to use some heavy artillery. The force attacks are also dished out in three different ways depending on when you hit the button to use it. If you time your button press to a visual cue, the outcome will be much greater. The three different levels of power in order from strongest to weakest are 'force clarity', 'force connect', and 'force disconnect'.
The different ships handle quite well and the controls are basically the same as the first Starfighter. X, as in most other shooters, fires off your machine guns. Circle is used for your secondary weapons such as missiles and bombs; but it also controls your force weapons. Square targets a ship within your cross-hairs, if one is present; and triangle toggles your lock-on between the different enemies on-screen. The D-pad acts as a menu pull-up and lets your scroll through your various secondary weapons and force attacks. Zooming in on specific items is done with R1. R2 and L2 make your ship boost and brake respectively while the left analog controls your ship's directional movement.
Yet another feature new to the series is the use of co-op play. Every single-player level is selectable as a co-op level. This is pulled off with split-screen play. As player 2, you'll get a choice between two characters: Reti and Jinkins. Reti commands the Zoomer, while Jinkins takes control of the Freefall. The Zoomer is backed up with chainguns and lasers. The Freefall, on the other hand, has drone fighters at his aid, on top of laser guns.
The graphics are easily as impressive shown off by the bright colors and lush backgrounds in the screens. It doesn't take a genius to know that Starfighter's graphics were simply amazing as is the case with Jedi Starfighter. There's also a nice degree of detail shown off in each of the different star crafts, as well as background objects. With all the on-screen happenings, Lucas Arts still promises a fast, steady framerate.
Jedi Starfighter might just be the PS2's Rogue Leader. Only time will tell though, as Starfighter still has a couple of months to be improved upon. SW: JS is currently scheduled to hit stores March 12th.
1/16/2002 Joseph Comunale