Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone




Acting as a sort of preview of Episode II, LucasArts’ brilliant Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter on the PS2 transports players into a central role in a battle against the corrupt Trade Federation. With improved controls making for more intuitive combat, superb individual mission structure and better gameplay balance, this improves an already great franchise. Look inside as we examine the improvements, most of which significantly enhance the experience and make this one of the best PS2 shooters to date.

One of the most impressive PS2 launch titles was LucasArts’ stunning Star Wars: Starfighter. Now, an improved version of that title hits in the form of Jedi Starfighter. While the first game was fantastic in most aspects, the newest installment features numerous enhancements including 2 player cooperative missions, and a much improved graphics engine that moves the series forward with several significant steps. While the feel of the gameplay and the chapter-based mission structure is similar to the first game, it has been streamlined. Jedi Starfighter has been rebalanced and tweaked to make this installment become a more seamless experience. The game follows two main characters which include the Nym character from the first game who returns much older and more cynical as well as Adi Galliya, a female Jedi Knight who pilots the prototype Jedi Starfighter. The plot in Jedi Starfighter parallels the movie and intersects at some key points with Attack of the Clones. So be warned before you play, there are some areas which might spoil parts of the movie for you. The missions seem more cohesive this time around. Instead of switching from character to character, both of these main characters play a key role in the plot throughout and the interwoven storyline makes Jedi Starfighter feel more cohesive than the first game which seemed a bit confusing at times thanks to the changing locales and characters.

The first Starfighter game was excellent but some players had issues with its interface, which took awhile to get the hang of and use effectively. Thankfully, while they retain a similar feel, the controls are significantly different this time having been tweaked to make them easier to understand. Players will find both of the main craft are quite nimble and dexterous. The two main ships operate similarly to each other from a technical standpoint with turning speed becoming faster when you’re braking while slowing when accelerating. It’s simple to implement the spinning and rolling with the craft thanks to the analog sticks. Getting the hang of the controls is made easier to understand thanks to the extensive training missions. The interface is intuitive and simple while also allowing for some completely new abilities.

The HUD display interface has been made much simpler yet more powerful, allowing you to cycle through enemies and target the ones you want to hit. In addition, there’s a new "Revenge" targeting mechanism. Using this, you can auto-target the specific enemy craft who last fired on you, allowing you to inflict retaliatory damage swiftly. The design is also simpler this time around, with clearer icons making things more intuitive. This makes Jedi Starfighter more accessible than its predecessor, while still making for involving and challenging gameplay. The shield and power indicators for each enemy fighter allows for much easier targeting and make the streamlined combat easier. Another substantial change in Jedi Starighter comes in the operation of the wing-man system. This system has undergone substantial renovations to make it easier to use, and also much more effective. In addition to calling on them to perform standard defensive moves and mission status operations, you can now order the wingmen to attack your targeted craft, making for easier battles. Your weapons system has also been enhanced, and the new targeting indicators increases the craft’s accuracy when dropping bombs or launching missiles. This has become a more integral part of the game and enhances its immersion significantly, making the experience much more enjoyable. In Jedi Starfighter, you actually feel like you’re leading a squadron into battle, and the urgent cross-talk makes it that much more exciting.

One of the most immediately noticeable enhancements in both the controls and the overall feel of the game comes when you play as Adi, the Jedi Knight. While she has all the standard abilities that Nym has, including use of the Wingmen, different weapons and a nimble craft, she has a huge advantage. Her Jedi Starfighter prototype crafts allows her to call on her powerful alliance with The Force. In her ship, there’s a Force energy bar at the left of the screen, and when it’s fully powered up, Adi can then use the Force in battle. She can choose unleash it in a variety of ways. One of the best uses is for devastating lightning attack that can destroy several smaller ships or objects in close proximity. The Force can also be used to make the ship invulnerable for a short period of time when the Force Shield is turned on. While it’s quite powerful, the Force effect only lasts for a short period of time, so it needs to be used wisely. You’ll also quickly realize that the Force Lightning can’t be used against larger craft, which is annoying. However the coolest ability this grants her is that Adi can use the Force to slow down time itself, which is an astonishing effect. This is quite effective when you’re facing a full-fledged assault and need to shoot dozens of objects quickly. This power is really effective and gives Jedi Starfighter a unique feel that differentiates it substantially from the first game, while keeping the essence of the series largely intact.

A large reason why the first game was so exciting and addictive were its the long, cinematic missions. The original Starfighter’s missions were complex, had multiple objectives which helped to immerse the player into the action. This legacy continues in Jedi Starfighter because its Mission structure is similar, several long missions with multiple objectives, plus hidden and bonus objectives. These can unlock bonus missions and bonus craft which can be used in the missions again. Missions are still quite long but the sustained action and intensity is one of the key elements in Jedi Starfighter’s appeal. The battles in this game seem much more intense and have you facing off with dozens of ships and enemies at once. The enemies have also been given more intelligence and aggression than the first game, making them harder to destroy. They have a tendency to attack in large numbers and these swarms in later levels which can become almost overwhelming.

The sheer number of objects on screen is quite impressive. This however, is just one element of the visual appeal of the game but it stands as a testament to the amount of graphic work has gone into Jedi Starfighter’s powerful, undeniably impressive engine. What’s even more impressive is that there is now more variety in the number and types of objects in the game giving it a more epic feel than the first game. The jaggies that plagued early PS2 titles are almost nonexistent and the texture mapping is also significantly better, with individual objects featuring improved texture mapping plus an increased polygon count. There’s a whopping 40 different types of ships and objects in the game. These show a much greater range of detail and movement than they did in the first game. A powerful engine also means that the transitions between cinematic and gameplay sequences is virtually seamless, making the experience that much more like the movies.

Jedi Starfighter’s incredibly rich and stunning environments, likewise have been greatly improved and take place both in the surface of planets and in deep space. Some of the planetary levels are quite beautiful and astonishing, implanting light-sourcing and reflections perfectly. The level designs offer visual variety and are impressively done to the point that you feel like you’re watching the movie. The sound effects are excellent, as is the voice acting which is most noticeable in the excellent cut-scenes which expose the plot. There’s also a good mix between original compositions and John Williams’ score, which adds to the urgency of the missions, making this feel like Star Wars. All the elements combine brilliantly to showcase some of the best production values seen in a PS2 game to date and should thrill Star Wars fans with it’s evocative yet accurate recreation of this science fiction landmark. This is a showcase title and its increased attention to detail that makes this experience visually one of the best to date on the PS2.

As an added feature Jedi Starfighter also features two player cooperative missions that lets you and a friend battle the Trade Federation together. The multiplayer missions share the same outstanding visuals and intelligent level designs as the rest of the game but don’t really have much of an effect on your progress in the main game which makes them seem almost beside the point. Fortunately, the single player game is so excellent, the fact that the multiplayer modes seem to be afterthoughts doesn’t really matter. The game’s overall structure is excellent, though once again suffers from the repetitive nature that plagued the first game. In order to unlock all the secrets in the game, some of the missions have to be replayed multiple times before all the hidden and bonus objectives can be completed. This is annoying but doesn’t really detract from things as much as you’d think it could have because the missions are so immersive and evocative. The improved visuals, soundtrack and excellent voice acting give it a dynamic cinematic feel, making for an intense gameplay experience. In summation, Jedi Starfighter is a highly polished, thoroughly enjoyable game that should appeal to both the casual and hardcore Star Wars fan.

> Related Reviews:

Star Wars: Starfighter (PS2)
Star Wars: Obi Wan (Xbox)
Star Wars: Racer Revenge (PS2)
Star Wars: Rogue Leader (Gamecube)

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