Game Over Online ~ Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

GameOver Game Reviews - Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (c) LucasArts, Reviewed by - Wolf

Game & Publisher Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (c) LucasArts
System Requirements Pentium 200, 32MB RAM, 3D Accelerator
Overall Rating 78%
Date Published Tuesday, May 25th, 1999 at 04:53 PM

Divider Left By: Wolf Divider Right

Well, the movie Star Wars: The Phantom Menace is finally out. People are crowding the cinemas with their valiantly fought for tickets, waving it in front of the cashiers face and smugly thinking of how they will awe their deprived friends the next day in their mad rantings about the film. Along with the film, there are the two games that coincide with the movies release: "Star Wars: Pod Racer" and "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace" (which is appropriately named just like the movie so you have to add "The Game" when ever you talk about it, making it an awfully long word to say). Even when I shorten this to SWTPMTG, it's more like the sound a drunken Bee would make, therefore I will refer to it as SWMenace to avoid confusion with drunken bees.

The storyline…well, as some of you may have guessed from the start, the game is based entirely on the movie "The Phantom Menace". Now, I have not seen the movie myself, but I can safely tell you that playing this game shouldn't have spoiled it for me one little bit. Any of the story they might have tried to implement from the movie must have fallen into a pit somewhere. You will recognize all the characters from the movie, and I bet this game's levels are all based on the movie, but it's nothing special.

In SWMenace, the camera is placed a bit like Tomb Raider except that it's a bit higher. The good thing is that you cannot have your arse in the way of your view, but the bad thing is this seriously limits the distance you can view. The graphics engine leaves something to be desired, and it looks like a rather quick programming job. The only textures you see in the beginning are flat and gray, then you get textures with some different colorrs. Overall, the environments look rather shoddy and quickly done. The second mission is a perfect example where you are wandering around in, what feels like, a forest made out of carton clippings. Shrubberies are presented as two flat bitmaps with leafy colors intersecting each other and forming a "X". Trees look even worse! They look like long, brown poles with flat, leafy-colored bitmaps attached horizontally. I must admit, the graphics do start looking better when you are at the Queen's castle. The level designers have managed to make it quite colorful using the limited technology available.

The models in the game look average; the lanky, pathetically meek-looking blaster-wielding droids are there from the movie in large numbers along with the much better looking, big, tough-looking droids that roll along the ground, "deploy" with a green shield and fire two double laser cannons. The colored lighting effects are there, although, apart from the lasers and your lightsaber, you don't see much of the colored lightning. The explosions are shocking, really shocking. In the first mission, as you walk outside through an air duct, you see this really big space ship "explode". I lack the words to try and describe why it looks so shocking, but you will have to take my word for it. The speed of the game is perfect, of course, this might be due to my 450Mhz PC with a TNT card, but I think any average PC should easily be able to handle this game(although a 3D Card is required). The only really bad thing I noticed about the speed is when two or three robots explode on your screen simultaneously the game crawls to a snails pace displaying all those horribly drawn explosions on your screen, which I would rather not see anyway.

All the characters in SWMenace have proper speech audio, and they are all nicely done. The fact that there is no way to skip the speech is rather irritating, as Anakin, for example, keeps yapping on about his pod racer as soon as you step near him, and you have to wait for him to stop blubbering on so you can talk to him. Nothing to mention about the sound effects really, just the usual array of little sounds and nothing special.

The Menu is nicely done with each of the four main options showing a small video clip from the film, although if you haven't seen the film yet you should close your eyes when looking at the menu, or you'll spoil it. The controls are rather simple and consist of moving about, rolling, jumping, and using the "push" force. Now I had hoped that you would be able to use the force like in "Jedi Knight", but I was sadly disappointed. The only force you can use is the "push" force, which had always been one of the more useless ones in Jedi Knight. This force is a bit more spicy in SWMenace, but still rather useless. Your trusty lightsaber is there, but the array of moves available with it is rather disappointing. All you can do is hold forward, left, right or back while waving your sparkly stick about. Holding left or right will make you do a roundhouse-like move (which is rather useless unless you want to turn 90 degrees away from your enemy). Holding back just waves it from left to right, which is useful for deflecting shots, but is also annoying because it merely prolongs the fight while you backpaddle the whole way and cannot block 100% of the incoming lasers anyway. All that's really left is to just walk forward and hack. You also get your standard-issue blaster, which is a very useful blaster with a lot of punch, and I find it far more effective than the next weapon, which is similar to a machine gun that fires woosy little toothpicks at the enemy. There is also a Rocket Launcher, which is rather average, and you're forced to chug through the inevitable explosions it makes. Then you get this lovely little thing called a Thermal Detonator. This little baby makes one really big bang, but of course it's extremely rare, and sadly one of these things won't kill a tank. Then there's a small collection of stun grenades which are rather useless as they just stun the enemy for a bit.

Starting out, you play Obi-Wan Kanobi. Your mission is to escape from some sort of base (remember, I haven't seen the movie so I don't know the names of these places). Your master, Qui-Gon Jinn, is there to help you along with those really useful earth shattering suggestions such as, "This door is closed, there must be a switch nearby". He doesn't really help you fight, instead he just stands there and waves his little sparkly stick about, deflecting shots. It's up to you to run in and cut up the enemies. After some hacking and pressing buttons you'll get onto the next level, the Swamp. There is more hacking and slashing in this level, and it's relatively easy. The next mission has you "infiltrate" (hack up all and sunder) the queens castle to protect her. On the way you meet some small groups of troops fighting the droids, but they don't actually help you or anything. After you complete this you have to escort the princess back to her ship, now the game is a little bit different in that you have a useless woman running behind you who gets herself killed if you wander off to far without her, and just hits the deck as soon as she gets shot at. If she could at least use some blaster or put herself to some use ,instead of being such an annoying little nuisance who gets herself stuck on every little outcropping of wall, it might be a bit more fun. Other than that it's exactly the same as before, except that near the end of this mission the difficulty curve is feeling confident and makes an exponential leap for the moon. Then they start throwing all these big droids with the dual laser cannons and green shields at you, having just acquired the rocket launcher it is perhaps a bit easier to deal with them. Without a rocket launcher you can forget about it, unless you exploit this "feature" where if you're positioned properly you can barely see the droid and fire at him, but the droid will not fire back. After this mission is completed you continue on to a desert world where, at first, you have to fight a small group of those monk monster dudes from the original Star Wars. Then something completely different happens. You enter a city…and you don't shoot anybody. That's right, after wandering around all the levels, with your fingers hovering a millimeter above the fire key, there is actually a lull in the action. Congratulating myself for pushing through this far, I curiously walk into the city and start exploring. You walk into the city and find a T-14 engine for your damaged space ship, and, as I started talking to some people, I had this feeling in the back of my mind screaming "Noooooooooooo!". You see, all you need is a T-14 but nonono, it's not as simple as that. You have to talk to this pompous oversized butterfly who declares that your going to need a lot of money to pay for one, perhaps betting on the pod racing. Sounds simple enough. The young boy named Anakin tells you about his revolutionary engine that will make his podracer the fastest ever, (he says that about 50 million times to try and get the point across) and suggests you bet on him. His podracer is broken though, and you need to find *two* parts to fix it. Just two. That's it. Two.

Nothing could have prepared me for the ultimately devastating, irritating and frustrating search for these two parts that took place afterwards. Talking to people all around the city where everybody is willing to trade this for that. Slamming the space bar irritably at every person I met in the search for people who will interact, and perhaps help, I failed to turn up much. There seem to be only about 4 people who will talk to you at all and will trade with you, never asking for parts that you actually have. After wasting away the best of my evening, I managed to get *one* of the parts Anakin needs. This "adventurous" bit the developers plugged in is just executed in the most abhorid manner possible and consumes hours of time without giving any enjoyment in return.

Upon first seeing this game I thought of it as a blatant cash in, but, upon some further playing, I found this was not so. The Graphics engine may be a rather quick put-together job, but the actual gameplay can be quite fun (up until you meet the "adventurous" bit). Luckily, the action picks up again afterwards and you'll happily be hacking away again at those lanky tin cans. I have to end this with a note to the level designers that they have done a lovely job and saved this game from doom.


  • The action missions are quite enjoyable
  • Its Star Wars, you can't help but enjoy it a bit more because of that
  • Level Designers did an excellent job on saving this game from being a disappointment


  • Graphics engine is rather shoddy
  • Adventurous parts are badly executed
  • The game is rather simplistic


  • See the Game Over Online Rating System






    Screen Shots
    Screen Shot
    Screen Shot
    Screen Shot
    Screen Shot
    Screen Shot
    Screen Shot
    Screen Shot
    Screen Shot
    Screen Shot
    Screen Shot

    Back to Game Over Online