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Star Wars Games For The Macintosh
December 2, 2004 | IMG Staff

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TIE Fighter
As good a game as X-Wing was, it paled in comparison to TIE Fighter. TIE Fighter put you in the cockpit for the Empire, and hurled you through a series of missions against the Rebel Alliance.

The graphics were considerably more detailed, and now included texture mapping for increased realism. There were also many more fighter, freighter and capital ship classes to protect and destroy. But most importantly, it allowed you to be the bad guy. You were rewarded for brutality - the more you destroyed, the higher the rank you could achieve.

TIE Fighter also added an interesting twist to ranking - as you progressed through the game, you would get secondary objectives from the Emperor's inner circle, and you could earn a second, secret rank in the game. For those Star Wars fans that read the extended universe novels, the rank of "Emperor's Hand" was the highest achievement in the game.

TIE Fighter had a training simulator and obstacle course like X-Wing, but immediately placed you in an unshielded TIE Fighter in the mission campaigns. TIE Fighter forced you to become a good pilot immediately, as a single hit from a laser cannon could destroy your fighter. As you gained rank and experience, more fighters became available in missions. By the time you reached the TIE Defender, you generally had the skills where you could ignore the shields and tractor beam in the fighter. However, combining experience with a heavily shielded fighter turned into a very satisfying and lethal experience.

The Defender was equipped with a tractor beam that when activated, would lock a fighter directly in front of your ship. Killing a locked fighter was simply a matter of unloading your laser energy through it's shields, and pounding it as it sat helpless in the beam. Did I mention this game was big on brutality?

TIE Fighter allowed you to call in Imperial reinforcements at the expense of some mission rating points if you found yourself getting clobbered by the Rebels. Space battles often involved heavy fighting between both swarms of fighters and capital ships. Not only was dogfighting a survival skill, you had to learn not to wander between a Calamari Cruiser and Star Destroyer slugging it out.

Again, there were countless wingmen to command, including one mission flying on Darth Vader's wing - who did not take kindly to orders.

In my opinion, TIE Fighter was not only the finest space combat game ever, it deserves to be in any gamers top ten list of all time.

Rebel Assault & Rebel Assault II - The Hidden Empire
The Rebel Assault series was a huge departure from the gameplay standard set by the space combat simulators. Rebel Assault and Rebel Assault II: The Hidden Empire were "rail-shooters," arcade-style action games where the action followed a set path through a series of levels and scenarios. The games combined limited shooter action with flight and space simulator levels.

The action consisted entirely of shooting anything that got in your path. Rebel Assault included levels where you could bring down AT-ATs, blast TIE Fighters and Star Destroyers, and finally take on the Death Star. You took on the role of "Rookie One," a name I found terribly lacking in a universe filled with Luke Skywalkers and Biggs Darklighters.

It was released on CD-ROM in the days when most games were packaged on floppy disks. Needless to say, it required a CD drive to play the game, and occasional skips and pauses as the drive spun were par for the course. The graphics and sound were amazing for the mid-90s, with almost the entire game being rendered as full-motion video with layered graphic sprites. The sound quality was stunning - and revealed how cheesy the MIDI-type sound in the space combat simulators really sounded.

Game play quickly became repetitive, as levels and enemies always followed the same pattern. It was easy to fall into the "Dragon's Lair Syndrome" and merely hit the right keys or move in the proper direction on cue, rather than being immersed in the game.

Rebel Assault II: The Hidden Empire continued the adventures of Rookie One, who maybe should have been Veteran One after destroying the Death Star in the first game. It was a great looking game that utilized the first new Star Wars live action scenes shot since Lucas wrapped the first (or second, depending on who's counting) trilogy in 1983.

As I recall, the plot had something to do with cloaked TIE Fighters that were being assembled to bring down the Rebellion. Again, the action was completely pre-scripted and much easier than playing X-Wing or TIE Fighter. The entire game could be played through in a fairly short amount of time, and did not get better with repetition. It felt much more like an arcade game than a computer game.

So who saw Star Wars and decided they wanted to be Jedi? Who still watches Star Wars and wishes they could be a Jedi? If you want to act out all your Jedi (or Sith) fantasies, then you needn't look further than the range of Star Wars first person shooters (FPS) available for the Mac. Some Star Wars FPS games never made it to the Mac, but with two exceptions, its only ever been the bad ones (e.g. Obi Wan for the PC and Xbox)


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