Back in ye olden days in the mid-to-late 90s, when LucasArts were still going on strongly, they started to delve into flight simulators with a Star Wars flavour. Their most successful take was the Rogue Squadron series for PC and Nintendo which spawned 3 sequels. Where you flew around in X Wings, Y Wings and all sorts of moments taken from the film like the Death Star or Hoth and some from the expanded universe in and around the original trilogy – and it was bloody good. 17 years later, and EA have decided to bring the Flight Sims back with Star Wars Squadrons, so, shall we see what’s what?
Firstly it has a campaign, which takes place in between the original and sequel trilogy. Which follows both the Rebels (New Republic) and the Imperials. After the Death Star blows up Alderaan, Mr D Vader Esq. orders all imperial forces to take down any refugees who managed to escape the blast. Which at the time, Lindon James of the Imperial Navy decided wasn’t the right thing to do and turn on his comrades and help the convoy to escape.
Fast forward till after the Battle of Endor where James is now running a secret project codenamed “Starhawk”. Which is a big fuck off starship with a massive tractor beam made from Star Destroyers. Terisa Kirill, who was one of the comrades that James turned on at the start of the game now having a Star Destroyer of her own is tasked to take down the project and also get even with James. And we as a pilot of Titan and Vanguard Squadron play out this tete et tete between the two.
Now, before each mission, there is a moment where you can go around and talk to the members of Titan and Vanguard squadrons if you so please. For the most part, both sides play as you would. Running away from past fuck ups or rebelling against the Empire, or mad Tory Bastards with a superiority complex. There are a couple of interesting characters though: Grey, who leads Titan Squadron in the game. started life as a copper – taking on corruption and injustice. Which does sound very “Rebel” doesn’t it? and does have doubts about the empire but believes they are the best bet for peace in the galaxy. And in a same-sex relationship as well, which overall does raise an eyebrow in terms with how much it’s crowbarred in, but it’s worth talking to them all to get the backstory in.
Overall, the story is acceptable enough, but I do have some problems with it. First of which and I’m going to sound like a twat for this, but it could have done with one or two familiar moments from the film like the Battle of Endor, or the Death Star. Nothing against doing it own thing for the most part but something more familiar as an introduction. And it doesn’t have an ending at all and no one won outright from it which is a fuckin downer it must be said. More of a mild inconvenience for both sides. Maybe a multiple choice ending would have worked much better and have a better end to the game?
As for the gameplay, I’m happy to say it’s a blast. You have a choice of 4 classes of fighters to choose from. Fighters which act as an all-rounder, Bombers which while slow are more powerful and can take on bigger ships. Interceptors that are best in a dog fight, and Support, which can support other ships and armoured. Each of the ships is customizable with cosmetics and load-outs, and you will be flying in a first-person perspective in its entirety. Which can be daunting but with the targeting system which is very useful in tracking targets and can be changed depending on the specifics. If you want the nearest relevant thing to target, just a simple press of a button. No real need to find and lock on to your targets manually.
One of the main things of the game is the power management system. Where you can divert power to weapons, engines and shields. To give them a faster recharge and be more powerful, so more power to engines means more speed and manoeuvrability, and charging up your boost as well. Weapons mean more damage and can fire for longer and faster, and shields, which are more durable and a faster recharge rate. You can also divert the shields if you want to protect your rear or your front specifically which is a handy tool. The imperial ships bar the support don’t have the luxury of shields. Instead, can put all available power to either shields or weapons. Which does balance things.
If you are some kind of person who wears aviators all day while listening to Kenny Loggins all day, you’ll be happy to know that the game does support joystick controls so you can go full Top Gun if you so please. On the humble controller, it’s still very easy to pick up and play regardless. So while the story is weak the gameplay makes up for things and some.
Now aside from the story, there is a Training mode where you can practice each of the ships on offer, play around with load-outs to try out and practice on bots from fighters to big capital ships. Which for newbies to practice and veterans to home in on the perfect loadout it’s a nice little addition. There is some multiplayer on offer, but not exactly filled to the brim with game modes with the only Dogfight, which is Team Deathmatch, and the titular Fleet Battles. Where both teams compete to destroy the other teams capital ships, which you can do either against AI or humans.
The Fleet Battles are the better game mode of the two frankly, as you can be defending at one moment and then attacking the next. There is a handy tutorial that teaches you the basics so you’re clued up before taking on everyone as it has cross-play. This could have done with one or two game modes I think, even if it’s an impromptu Capture the flag/cargo game mode. It’s fun but needs more sustenance
Other aspects, such as graphics are very nice, but it’s to be expected when it’s the Frostbite engine. Runs very smoothly, and does bring the life of the pilot in Star Wars to fruition. The soundtrack is lovely and Star Warsy as to be expected. There is VR support as well which is very nice, and didn’t have any major bugs and or glitches to report from my findings.
Star Wars Squadrons
Star Wars Squadrons is the return of the days of Rogue Squadron back in the late 90s – early 2000s with its very intuitive gameplay and with the titular fleet battle mode taking centre stage. As with previous Star Wars games from EA, it does look and sound very good. It doesn’t have a lot of content on offer, but it’s a very solid foundation to build upon.
- Intuitive and great gameplay
- Fleet battles are very good fun
- Looks and sounds good
- Missing some nostalgic moments
- The story is a bit weak and doesn’t end
- Not a lot of multiplayer game modes on offer
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