Action - X-Wing Alliance
100% Jar-Jar Free: X-Wing Alliance
What? A Star Wars game without Jar-Jar or a two-headed announcer? How can this be? Well, you have to look waaayyy back to when Star Wars didn't suffer from such atrocious decisions (though lacked the charms of a certain Natalie Portman). That's right, we're still talking the original films. If anyone remembers, there were two excellent games that Lucas Arts released in the mid 90s. X-Wing was basically the first chapter of Star Wars from a pilot's point of view. This is what Star Wars: A New Hope might have played out like if Luke wasn't a Jedi, just a regular pilot. You fought against overwhelming odds, often outnumbered 5 or 6 to 1 by TIE Fighters while trying to accomplish your objectives. You went on rescue, recon, assault and defense missions. Not a Jedi in sight. Just you and your fighter, out in the cold darkness of space against the Imperial Navy.
Another one bites the dust
Taking apart a Tie Bomber
The next game in the series was TIE Fighter, which was probably the least movie involved of the games but rather turned the light on the inner, byzantine workings of the Empire. At first you flew the assortment of TIE craft and even the Assault Gunboat on plain-old missions. Almost always outnumbering your foe, you had to be careful not to get hit or you'd die. Later, you advanced to more powerful craft as the story got convoluted and it went Imperial vs. Imperial. That's where the charm began to fade a bit but the mission design was so good, we couldn't help but finish it. A very cool game which got kind of bogged down in the expansion with all-newer and more powerful ships. Oh well, on to happier thoughts.
Back to the Rebellion
So what is this third game in the series? Why, it's X-Wing: Alliance. Wow, that sent your memory racing back, didn't it? Alliance, right up until FreeSpace 2's arrival, boasted the best graphics and sound in a space game yet. It also has a much more personal story, giving you a name, a rich trading family and a lot of detail to all the characters. While there are a few goofy twists to it, we really appreciated Alliance's story. Why? Because it took a break from the traditional Star Wars happiness of a clean war. In Star Wars, whenever anyone good dies, they served a purpose, they became greater for it, etc. No bad consequences, in other words. Alliance, however, does give sporadic glimpses at the harsher side of things. You'll see it when it comes. It's not immediately obvious and hardly relevant to the storyline but at least it's there.
Combat-wise, Alliance is still amazing. You get to fly all sorts of Rebel ships and your family's transports during the singleplayer campaign. You'll alternate between missions for the Alliance and missions for your family. If you get stuck on a mission, you can take 'leave' which lets you skip it. The missions are very well designed for the most part, though experienced X-Wing and TIE Fighter players will get irritated with the training missions that you are forced to go through early on. Some of the most memorable missions include the one where you first run into the Executor (Darth Vader's personal Super Star Destroyer) - what a sight!
X-Wing: Alliance: 4.0/5.