Star Wars: Rogue Squadron 3D is a basic port from the Nintendo 64 version of the game (or perhaps the other way around, but in any case they're identical on both systems) with the exception of the main screen and the cheat codes.
You are Luke Skywalker, Rebel hero and leader of the elite group of pilots known as Rogue Squadron. Set during the time period between the first Star Wars film (a.k.a. A New Hope) and The Empire Strikes Back, this game features a series of 16 missions plus three bonus ones available based on your ability to earn medals. To earn a medal in a mission, you must complete its objectives and meet certain statistical benchmarks; the better your numbers, the better your medals, from bronze to silver to gold. Along the way you also receive promotions, from novice to flight commander to captain and so forth.
LucasArts was smart to dump a lot of the extra baggage in their earlier X-Wing game when creating this one. Rogue Squadron is more of a basic Arcade shooter; you can't transfer power from shields to weapons and vice-versa, for example. Each ship only has so much strength in its shields, and once that's used up the next hit you take will send you to a spectacular crash (the crashes are great in this game -- try to watch if you can as a TIE fighter plows into a mountain or hits the water). Your main weapons, however, have unlimited power, although your special weapons (proton torpedoes on X-wings, cluster missiles on V-wings, and so forth) have a limited capacity which can't be replenished.
The missions are varied and fun to play. They're divided into four chapters, with the final one being just one mission: The Battle of Calamari (fans of the Dark Empire comic book will recognize the V-wings and World Devestators). Along the way a story is told, and each chapter is preceded by the main Star Wars theme, along with the now-familiar scrolling text telling the player what has happened so far.
Part of the story involves an Imperial pilot named Kasan Moor who defects to the Rebels. Pursuing her is Moff Kohl Seerdon, who is determined to punish her for her actions and pops up a couple times. Sub-plots abound, such as the capture of Wedge Antilles by the Imperials and a power struggle over much-needed bacta supplies. This is gameplaying at its best, because players feels like they're really part of a big story as opposed to repeating the same level over and over again with minor variations.
A lot of thought and care obviously went into each mission. The planets are varied and their scenery is really well done, although the use of fogging to obscure a lack of graphics can be frustrating when you're hunting for that elusive enemy ship. Fans of the original films will enjoy going to places such as Corellia, home planet of Han Solo; Kessel, whose spice mines C-3PO was sure he'd be sent to; and Calamari, home of Calamarians like Admiral Ackbar who were featured in Return of the Jedi. The most impressive planet has to be Sullust, where the action takes place underground among fiery volcanoes and toxic gases. Taloraan, a gas giant similar to Bespin, is a close second with its music lifted straight from the film; the ability to fly to great heights and depths in the planet's atmosphere makes up for the lack of any space-bound missions.
The graphics are really beautiful. Every ship is rendered exactly as it should be, and the planets have unique personalities. You really do feel like you're in the cockpit of one of these ships, engaged in a fierce dogfight. My only complaint is that this game doesn't handle as well on a PC as it does on the N64. Even with 333Mhz, 4MB of video RAM, a 3D card and 64 MB of RAM, it still felt choppy. This made it difficult to zero in on targets, which really held down my shooting percentages. In missions where accuracy is key, prepare yourself for some frustration.
Overall though, this game is a blast. It's a must for any videogame enthusiast -- even if they're not a big Star Wars fan.
Graphics: Beautiful. The only aspect which holds it back is the overuse of fogging in some missions.
Sound: Awesome. All the sounds from the films are there. You'll feel like you've stepped into one of the movies.
Enjoyment: Lots of fun, but I take this area down a notch due to the nature of the controls. It's tougher than it should be to get a bead on enemy fighters, especially when compared to the Nintendo 64 version of this game.
Replay Value: It should take quite a while to get through all the missions and do well enough to open the bonus ones.
People who downloaded Star Wars: Rogue Squadron 3D have also downloaded:
Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance, Star Wars: Rebel Assault, Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, Star Wars: Dark Forces, Star Wars: X-Wing Collector Series, Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces 2, Star Wars: X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, Star Wars: Starfighter
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