When it came around to the release of Episode II, LucasArts was at it
again with a major Episode II game release on nearly every platform.
For the Xbox, you'll be looking at Jedi Starfighter, a spiritual sequel
to Starfighter SE, released not too long ago. Jedi Starfighter adds a
new word, namely the word Jedi since after Episode II, LucasArts is
betting everyone will be enamored with the Jedi order, shown so vividly
in the theatrical release. Taking up the role of Adi Gallia, you'll be
dispatched by Mace Windu to investigate things that Anakin and Obi-wan
never got around to doing, namely investigating the actions of Count
Dooku's key lieutenant, Captain Thoth.
Considering the space combat takes a back seat in Episode II, save for a
thrilling battle amongst asteroids, Jedi Starfighter, being a game that
emphasizes space combat, has a fair bit of leeway in terms of creative
freedom. You'll still pilot the nimble fighter that Obi-wan used during
the film. It's a quick fighter, very agile, much like the original
trilogy's A-wing. The Jedi ship is only equipped with lasers so the
equalizer is the introduction of Force powers. Previously the exclusive
purview of action or FPS games, Force powers have made it to Jedi
Starfighter. As Gallia, you'll execute offensive attacks where
shockwaves will emanate from the nimble fighter or even call forth bolts
of lightning to smite your foes. The defensive Force powers are none
too passive either. There is the traditional shield barrier but you can
also use a reflex barrier, effectively turning all incoming fire on to
Along the way, Gallia will become ever more reliant on special powers as
Captain Thoth is helped by the Trade Federation and thus, you'll come up
against enormous odds. Fortunately, this is one of those titles where
gunning down dozens of enemy craft is all in a day's work. Gallia
stumbles across Nym, the pirate raider from the last Starfighter game.
Thus, for some missions, you're able to turn in your Jedi-issued craft
for the powerful bomber-fighter Havoc. Closer to the end of the game,
the Havoc features a powerful cannon that is able to level freighters
and capital ships; not unlike the formidable beam weapons found in
One key improvement Jedi Starfighter makes over the existing Xbox
Starfighter game is in the realm of multiplayer. It doesn't have a
system link component per se, but finally, someone has included a
co-operative component throughout the entire story campaign. Often,
you'll be able to fly two ships and if not, you'll at least be able to
split turret/ship controls in the Havoc when assuming the role of Nym.
Competitive multiplayer levels still exist and they're fun, provided you
have more than two players involved. Xbox owners will get the bonus of
a Coruscant capture-and-hold level. Altogether, Jedi Starfighter makes
the greatest strides in this area. The gameplay improvements here, a
clear response to critical and popular complaints about the original
Starfighter, overshadow even the introduction of Force powers.
Unfortunately, this title is not without its faults. Visually speaking,
it hasn't made great leaps and bounds. Compared to titles like Rogue
Leader on the Gamecube, there's room for improvement, especially since
the Episode II film was filled with so many visually stirring scenes.
Jedi Starfighter also lacks the intuitive targeting system found in
Rogue Leader. Targeting, especially prioritizing these targets, is
still an issue and often, you'll lose missions and objectives only
because you can't find the right target amongst the morass of ships
Nonetheless, there's a lot to like about Jedi Starfighter. The sound
effects continue to be stellar. And the musical soundtrack, drawing
content from the new theatrical score, is much appreciated. It's a
pity, however, that this title won't be the best-looking Episode II game
a few years from now. Moreover, it looks like Xbox owners won't be
seeing another title revolving around events from the film for at least
a few quarters.
The addition of Force powers to space combat is the chief trump Jedi
Starfighter offers, or so the literature says. In my opinion, it's the
multiplayer features that shines most. The Force powers may be unique.
It certainly has never been done before but with that introduction, I
get the feeling Jedi Starfighter is becoming more arcade-like than
before. Witness a bolt of lightning shooting at an enemy fighter and
you'll know why. For starters, it looks too much like something from
the fantasy realm.
Finally, there's the prized Episode II connection. A fine story about
the Republic losing its grasp of the member worlds is more interesting
as the basis for Jedi Starfighter. It's not clear, however, whether the
title is ultimately helped by being linked to Episode II. The last
Starfighter game had more characters but the plot never seemed to pick
up until the epic battle on Naboo. In Jedi Starfighter, the Episode II
material emancipates the developers to try new things but for me, the
resulting story is still a hackneyed one, primarily because you always
feel like you're playing second fiddle or doing inconsequential things
compared to where all the real Jedi are. Furthermore, the film only had
a brief space combat encounter. For that reason, other types of games
might be more appealing. Jedi Starfighter, after the release of
Starfighter, seems a little too convenient, especially since the latter
continues to be fresh amongst most Xbox-owning Star Wars fans. The flurry of lightsaber skirmishes and the intense ground battle that
marked the film's exciting climax is a void that will only be filled
with Clone Wars' forthcoming fall appearance on the PS2 and GameCube.