Star Wars Gaming
By Steven Bilodeau
Do you remember when compact
disks were released about 15 years ago? Not only were the latest titles
available in this new but popular oldies were also converted to take advantage
of the new technology.
Computer gamers are seeing
the same phenomenon with >respect to video cards. " 3D accelerators
can make new titles look incredible but they won't do anything for a game
that has not been written to take advantage of the technology.
So, just as record companies
remastered their music, game developers are rewriting their software.
One of the best computer games of all time, "TIE Fighter", has
now undergone this remarkable revision. It is packaged together with its
predecessor, "X-Wing", which has also been enhanced for the
new graphics technology.
original "X-Wing" game was released in approximately 1994. At
that time a 286 was common PC computer; 386s were leading-edge.
Sounds cards were basic and hard drive space was almost always less than
the 100 MB.
quickly became a best-seller not only because it was set in the Star Wars
universe, but also because of its well-balanced gameplay. There was a
story involving the Rebel Alliance and its fight for survival against
the Empire. Ships flew realistically and enemies made intelligent moves
instead of simply circling until they hit you.
Because of its technology
limitations, there were no textures on the images and little or no shading.
When "TIE Fighter"
made its appearance two years later, the advances in technology and game
play made it "Game of the Year." The storyline present in the
game combined with the exceptional flight model, music, sound effects
and imagery made these games favorites for years.
But, as with all technology,
time it takes its toll. Both of them were written for DOS and suffered
from that operating systems limitations. Most notably, computers
must have their memories specifically configured to allow the games to
run. Present-day PC users who are only familiar with Windows 95 games
have missed out on the years of grief provided by memory managers, CONFIG.SYS
files and crashed programs. Once they are up and running, the graphics
look pretty stale compared to todays standards.
the graphics engine for its 1997 release, "X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter".
That game was not as well received since it was focused at multi-player
gaining and offered little, if any, storyline for the single player experience.
Critics lamented that this game did not have the fun-factor present in
the previous two entries.
heard the feedback. "X-Wing" and "TIE Fighter" have
been re-released in the "X-Wing Collectors Series". All of the
objects in the game including fighters, capital ships, asteroids and bases
have been redrawn with texture mapping and high quality graphics. There
is so much detail now that only a computer equipped with a 3- D accelerator
could properly handle it. It has also been re-written as a native Windows
95 game; that means no memory problems, no sound card configuration, and
no worries about setting up your joystick.
The package is priced
with value in mind at around $30Cdn.
It contains the full
version of the "X-Wing Collectors Edition" which has 122 missions
as well as full of voice narration. The missions include the favourite
of Star Wars fans, the Death Star trench attack.
The "Tie Fighter"
component includes about 100 missions, again with voice narration.
The bundle also includes
14 missions from "X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter". This will give the
player the opportunity to sample multi-player gaming in the Star Wars
universe, though only with other players who have this particular bundle.
Even if you already
own either or both of the Star Wars combat games you should consider this
bundle. The graphics, though not up to the same high visual standard set
by "Wing Commander: Prophecy" or "Descent: Freespace",
are impressive. And now these games are easily playable on today's modern
Pentium Windows 95/98 systems with no configuration hassles.
For players like me
who were immersed in the action and thrill of Star Wars combat, Lucas
Arts has delivered a real gem. That they priced its so reasonably is a
is a columnist for the Edmonton Journal. You can find more of his columns
can be reached via e-mail at StevenB@msn.com.
And for more computer news, visit JournalExtra, the World Wide Web site
of The Edmonton Journal, at http://www.edmontonjournal.com.
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