Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance casts you as the youngest son of the Azzameen family, a merchant dynasty operating in a galaxy far, far away. The game is set in the turbulent time period between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Caught amid increasing tensions between the Galactic Empire and the Rebel Alliance, with business rivals watching for any sign of weakness, the Azzameens are on the edge of financial ruin. Worse, their Rebel sympathies may endanger their very survival.
As the family's newest pilot, you fly tutorial missions at first, under the supervision of your sister Aeron and the droid Emkay. But even as you are training, the situation heats up. Before long, the family has been betrayed, your space station has been seized, and you're forced to turn to the Rebellion. Though the game's focus is on combat, the development of this story is tight and suspenseful.
The story and the merchant/smuggler setting give the game plenty of variety. One mission may have you piloting a loaded freighter through an Imperial blockade, while another may place you in the cockpit of an X-Wing on a hit-and-run raid against an enemy battle station. Every ship, every weapon, every sound effect is pure Star Wars, totally faithful to the look--and feel--of the movies. This extends to the missions themselves: nothing works as planned, but somehow you and your Rebel allies manage to make it all the way to the climactic Battle of Endor. If you've distinguished yourself in the earlier missions, hot pilots will get the chance to take the controls of the Millennium Falcon and cram a torpedo into the gut of the Emperor's second Death Star.
Controlling the fighters, freighters, and transports in X-Wing Alliance is easy, with all the options you'd expect in a Star Wars simulation. Shield, engine, and weapon power levels are all adjustable, so you, too, can transfer all power to front deflector screens while attacking, or shut down power to weapons to outrun a swarm of TIE fighters. Novice players may find it difficult to control wingmen or to keep track of the changing objectives when missions go sour. But practice makes perfect, and the truly frustrated can simply skip up to three missions without penalty.
With a modest learning curve and graphics that put you right in the milieu of the Star Wars films, X-Wing Alliance will have you flying combat missions for the Rebel Alliance in no time--and loving every minute of it. --Alyx Dellamonica
- Loving attention to detail
- Fantastic sound effects and John Williams's music
- Interesting and changing mission objectives
- Wide variety of spacecraft
- Occasional bugs within missions can render them unwinnable
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