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Reviewed:Star Wars X-wing:Alliance
Author: Michael "" Ahlf       Date: December 31st 1999
Page: 2

You are Ace Azzameen, the youngest (and apparently most gifted) pilot in a family shipping business. Your family has recently P.O.'ed a rival shipping family, the Viraxo, by moving in on their customers, and they don't like it. More to the point, the Viraxo are pretty buddy-buddy with the Empire, and so every time you go anywhere near the Rebellion they're there to stick both their and their Imperial friends' noses in it. Add to the mix several epic battles (including one at this little place called Endor) and you're in for a fast-paced plotline.

The game starts out with a few missions that mostly serve as tutorials, with cargo pickups and a bit of fighting on the side. Stick with everything and you'll get to watch the fun as the enemy Viraxo and the Empire discredit your family and break it apart. At that point you'll join the Rebellion and get to jump from your Corellian transports (YT-1300s similar to the Millenium Falcon as well as the meaner and sleeker YT-2000 Otana) into real fighters like the Z-95 Headhunter, B-wing,A-wing,Y-wing, and of course the all-important X-Wing. Impressive cutscenes and in-mission plot points serve well to guide you and bring out what's going on. For a special touch look at your room from time to time, and check your email: there are messages and trophies from successful missions to be read and enjoyed. Upon reaching the end of the game, missions will begin to look more like the missions from the first two games: hit and run missions, protection strikes, and large-scale assault missions will be there for your enjoyment. Especially enjoyable (though a bit disconcerting) is the Battle of Endor, the final four missions. For no apparent reason you take control of the Millenium Falcon, and get to enjoy the craziness of the final Death Star run as well as the battle to avoid being hit by the operational battlestation.

Flight deck -- the main menu of the game.
Your room sure gets cluttered by trophies.
Want to know about the objects/ships
in the game? Check the library.

In order to be successful in the game, however, there is a lot of memorization. Controlling wingmen is essential: for the first time in single-player missions, they are actually capable of finishing off a mission objective such as disabling a or capturing an enemy craft without you specifically taking the shots. The menus, however, can get hairy to use in the heat of a dogfight, as can locating a target when there come to be more than 25 targets available (which is easy when your squadron and several TIE squadrons all start launching missiles). As a bonus however, your wingmen can be told to attack a wing, a target type (for example, all TIE Bombers), or an individual unit as well as told to "disable" a targeted unit to save time and confusion. The largest control problem is figuring out where to go, and there are only four target presets available for setting. These must be chosen with utmost care, or else it is easy to fly out of the action and not be available to save a vital craft which may come under attack.

The weaponry systems of the game have not changed much at all. There are shield,weapon,and engine power consumption levels as well as beam weapons (very infrequently available except for the multiplayer missions). The largest change is the addition of the transport vehicles and their automatic gun turrets. When flying these, the simplest method of attack on enemy fighters is to turn off the main gun (the turrets are always powered), throw full shield power up, and fly around while the turrets automatically pick up the targeted enemy fighters. The biggest addition to this flight model is the ability to target specific sections of enemy craft. Not much use on the fighters, it is incredibly important on the larger craft as the ability to neutralize their gunnery systems (read: blow up their turbolaser turrets) and shielding is the key to a successful attack on anything in the Star Destroyer class or even the lighter Interdictors.

Go for the multiplayer missions or
single-player repeats of old missions.
Worried about your skills? Try the proving grounds.

The AI of the game is a challenge, but not too unpredictable. The main thing to be said about the AI is this: your wingmen are at least as good as the enemy. That's what makes the game's wingman system worthwhile, as well as the mission play as a whole. The actions of the AI, however, are pretty predictable. Fighters will break formation upon first being fired upon, and whole wings of fighters are pretty easy to destroy if you can get them into your sights (they don't react to their wingmates beng killed for some reason). In terms of mission objectives, the AI is smarter: no longer can you screw up a mission by having your wingmen attack something they shouldn't attack, as they will actively disobey you for it and indeed shoot you down if you attack something you're not supposed to too often.

Multiplayer in Alliance seems to be as good as XvT, although there isn't much added. Most of the differences are the computer AI advances, which allow mission work and team attacks which are much more complicated. In particular are formation attacks: it is now much easier to stay in formation with wings and get appropriate strafing runs against larger ships or enemy wings instead of leaving everything in just one person's hands. An extra treat are the racing simulations (yes, even starfighter jockeys can enjoy a race against each other) and the ability to stage both long missions and quick skirmishes, leaving the players much more freedom in their choices for multiplayer gaming.

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Added:  Friday, December 31, 1999
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf
Score:
Page: 2/5

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