Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance

13_1As with previous games under the same Star Wars banner, X-Wing Alliance is the game we were expecting the first time, here made possible by the increase of computing power and more powerful video cards. You take the role of Ace Azameen, a young boy working for his family’s transportation business who yearns for the day when he’ll become a starship pilot. As the story evolves the player gets caught up into the Rebel Alliance’s struggle for survival from the ever expanding Galactic Empire.

You’ll get to fly an impressive number of Star Wars ships in Alliance, including Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon, X-wings, T-wings, Y-wings, B-wings and other Corellian transports. Over 50 ships are available for the player to fly, and all of them are accessible via the in-game simulator, which acts as a great training ground. While many of the ships found in the simulator fail to make an appearance in the campaign, there is still more variety in ship selection than in any of the previous titles

Overall mission design is varied, but with standard fare objectives. Almost all of the missions encompass some sort of escorting, key-target destruction or rescue type objectives. Some do have a few surprises, and offered dynamically-changing objectives. While the campaign is completely linear, there is enough scripting to keep your attention focused throughout, and give it that Star Wars cinematic feel. Though some of the missions, especially the final Battle of Endor and when you fly for your family, were damn challenging.

It is possible to experience a few minor inconsistencies during some of the missions as well, whereas certain scripting events such as radio and email messages appear at the wrong times, but it doesn’t really detract from the overall ebb and flow of the campaign. An update has also been released which adds in a few of the features that were removed in the rush to ship the final version. This update as well as a full description of what it adds to the game can be found right here.

Alliance uses a enhanced version of the XvT engine, but new effects such as colored lighting and increased resolution capabilities truly separate the two titles. Improved code and the evolution of hardware allow for larger battles with many more ships on-screen at one time. Scaling has also been addressed as ships appear larger and more detailed than ever. The Star Destroyers and Super Star Destroyers still lack the detail and awe-inspiring fear of those seen in Descent Freespace though.

3_1The interesting single player campaign is exactly what this series needed. The storyline’s duality is a nice twist and introduces more substance to the Star Wars universe. While the game still doesn’t have a dynamic style campaign, focused scripting during campaign missions makes up for it. There are over 200 ships throughout the game, many of which that can be flown, including new experimental Tie Fighters and the famous Millenium Falcon; each ship has its own distinct style. A new skirmish mode lets you develop your own mission designs that allow for limitless types of missions and outcomes.

Overall, Alliance is an excellent upgrade to an old space combat series. Star Wars fans should do well not to miss out on this classic.

System Requirements: Pentium 200 MHz, 32 MB RAM, Win95

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