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Reviewed: Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
Publisher: Lucasarts
Developer: Lucasarts
Genre Type: 3D Platform Shooter/RPG
Price: $49.95
Required System:
Reviewer's System: PII233, 96MB Ram, 8GB HD, Riva 128ZX video card (8MB PCI), Win98
Related Games: Star Wars Episode 1: Racer and SWEP1: The Gungan Frontier
Overall Rating:
Author:Michael Ahlf      Date: July 21st 1999
Page: 3
For storyline, the game takes a TON of liberties with the movie script.  After the first level involving escape from the station, forget what you know of the movie -- there are twists and turns everywhere.  A few highlights were a rescue of Jar Jar (complete with Gungans attacking Obi-Wan), Qui-Gon battling in Jabba's pit to earn money for his bet with Watto, and Darth Maul flinging Force Lightning (wait a minute... a Force power not seen in the movie, being used by a villain? You bet!). With all of this, you'd think the storyline is immersive, right?  Well it is... sort of.  Cutscenes in the game are rare: after two huge ones (at the beginning and the arrival on Naboo in the driod carrier) they disappear until a scrolling text cutscene that jumps straight from the arrival of the Princess on Coruscant to the final battle against the Trade Federation, or at least the assault on the palace. After killing Darth Maul, there is only a short cutscene from the VERY end of the plotline, and then credits.  Immersive?  Perhaps.  Shortened and problematic? You bet.  Lucasarts would have been better off using two CD's for this one, instead of skimping on cutscenes.

The customizability of the game is pretty well done: options for various visual effects, as well as screen resolution, were available, and the customization of controls went well, except for soem joystick detection problems.  Those with a lower-end system will have no problem running the game, as the worst system eaters (water refraction and visual reflection) are available for turning off.  For high-end users, extra particle effects and weapon tracing make the game a visual treat. 

As for sound and music... LucasArts does their usual bang-up job here, with wonderful Star Wars sound effects and music throught the game.  3D audio specs of various types are available, though on my SB Live the Dolby Surround option sounded somewhat stifled... Creative EAX support, however, was a BLAST to listen to.

So what was missing?  Well, a few things.  Most obvious: the game has no multiplayer option.  Granted, it wouldn't be that great in the engine, but an option to have duels between Maul and Obi-Wan, or even play with a friend using multiple characters in escort levels, would have been a definite plus. 

Secondly, the game has no option to change the camera angle.  As mentioned earlier, this makes the game hard -- enemies shooting from offscreen can get really annoying.  Players also will find themselves getting very acquianted with the backs of the characters' heads.... a real downside since the faces are well crafted. 

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The cutscenes, few as they are, feature great visual quality... you almost can't tell they're rendered instead of being real clips right from the master.
Loaders show great scenes, right from the movie.
Welcome to Otoh Gunga... don't worry, you don't have to fight the fish.

Watch Qui-Gon and Maul battle it out in the last level...

Okay so you don't send him hurtling down in pieces... but he's dead and that's good, right?

Added:  Wednesday, July 21, 1999
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf
Page: 3/4

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