Introduced by Episode II, the Jedi Starfighter is a nimble craft with the ability to symbiotically harness the powers of the Force with the help of its pilot. In the videogame of the same name - now available on Xbox - it's piloted by a librarian of a Jedi Master named Adi Gallia. Adi's tale begins with an assignment from the Jedi Council to investigate a disturbing trend of unrest in the Karthakk system, a system under the suspected leadership of Count Dooku and teeming with Trade Federation types. Something odd is going on there, and Adi has to go and find out what, allying with tentacled space pirate Nym, the only surviving playable character from Jedi's predecessor Star Wars Starfighter.
Obviously the game has had to move from the Dual Shock to the Xbox controller, and it's a surprisingly painless transition. The left analogue pad controls pitch and the right analogue rolling and centering on surface levels, whilst the shoulder buttons allow you to adjust your speed, A controls basic lasers, B handles secondary weapons (for Nym) or Force powers (playing as Adi), and the other face buttons switch targeting. You can pick from the two views, external and nosecone, using the 'Back' button.
Overall the system works just as well as it did on the PS2 because there is little need to reach over the top of the face buttons and brush X or B accidentally, although as with the PS2 version, the Options menu doesn't make it clear whether inverted pitch is on or off by default, and you can easily pick the wrong one and then have to exit and go back in to make the change. For your reference, pitch is inverted by default - stick with it.
Your change, Master
The Xbox port of the game has also picked up a handful of improvements. The greater power of the console has given LucasArts the opportunity to iron out some, but not all, of the single player slowdowns, and to enhance the various explosions and other minutiae with a blurry white translucency, which is an improvement over the blocky, insubstantial blasts from the original. Thankfully they've also smoothed out the previously clunky menu interface, but other than that it's graphically the same as the PS2 game. That isn't a huge problem though; ships are reasonably detailed, and the larger vessels have moving turrets and other surface attractions, which can be destroyed individually to soften the ship up for juicier bombing runs.
Furthermore, Xbox owners are privy to a new multiplayer level set on Coruscant. LucasArts would have you believe it was kept over for the Xbox version, but we suspect it was simply too judderingly slow on the PS2 hardware to be playable. Available as a prize for achieving one of the bonus objectives in the single player game, the Coruscant level is a kind of capture-and-hold game with commentary from the annoying two-headed sports announcer fromEpisode I, and even on the Xbox it chugs. It may feature the Slave 1 (in a total mismatch against one of the allied ships from the single player game), but the framerate is too poor and the screen too busy for it to be all that enjoyable.
However, the rest of the game is. The three episode single player game gives you a fair mixture of levels in Adi's Jedi Starfighter and Nym's Havoc, and the plot is quite engaging thanks to the vastly differing personalities of the cautious, mindful Adi and her gung-ho Han Solo-cast comrade Nym, and the voice-acting throughout from virtually every character hits the spot, both in-game and during the competent cutscenes. Mission objectives change as you play, bathing the adventure in excitement and giving it a very unpredictable feel, and there are some terrific cameos from recognisable ships like the early Star Destroyers, Trade Federation capital ships and even a planetary ion cannon!
Jedi Starfighter has made a perfectly reasonable transition to the Xbox from its previous home on the PlayStation 2, and now occupies the position of the best Star Wars game on the Xbox. It's a completely different proposition to the Cube's Rogue Leader, and a lot easier to boot, although a mixture of difficulty levels, a two-player co-operative mode and a huge number of secret bonuses to unlock (including various ships for use in the single player game, like the X-Wing, TIE Fighter, TIE Advanced and Slave 1) mean that you will certainly need to allot a good deal of time if you plan to complete it thoroughly. As an accompaniment to the movie, this is first class, and as a game in its own right, it makes a Forceful impression.
8 / 10