A new Star Wars game looks set to be announced at this year's Video Game Awards ceremony.
That's one way of looking at a new Spike TV teaser video, anyway. Over footage of previous SW games a voice says, "You've seen every film over 200 times, you know the Skywalkers better than your own family, you have a stronger knowledge of the Force than Yoda himself - but one thing you don't know is what's next. Find out at the 2009 Video Game Awards."
Said Awards are being held on 12th December so expect more news then. Will it be a sequel? A brand new franchise? Or just another class or something for Star Wars: The Old Republic? Clouded, the future is etc.
It seems like just yesterday when the arrival of a new Star Wars
game from Lucas Arts would have been cause for celebration. But
then came a string of duds and disappointments, second rate
spin-offs released to cash in on the over-hyped new movie The
Phantom Menace. And so today the arrival of a new Star Wars game is
met with a mixture of dread and morbid curiosity.
Pentium II 233 or equivalent
8Mb Direct3D compatible graphics card
Any Port In A Storm
The latest such release is Star Wars : Battle For Naboo. A
fast-paced arcade-style shooter featuring seven vehicles to pilot,
ranging from land speeders to star fighters, this is a Rogue
Squadron for the Phantom Menace generation. As Lieutenant Gavyn
Sykes of the Royal Naboo Security Forces you must battle your way
through fifteen missions, freeing prisoners, escorting vehicles,
defending Naboo farms from Trade Federation raiders and generally
mopping up the mess left behind after Queen Amidala buggered off to
Coruscant to plead for help from the Senate.
There's nothing particularly complex or subtle about the game. The
controls are simple once you get used to them, particularly if you
have a gamepad or joystick to hand, and most of the missions simply
boil down to blasting the hell out of every red dot that pops up on
your radar scope. There's even a handy orange triangle that shows
you which direction your next objective is in, although in a couple
of missions the developers seem to have forgotten to use this.
Alarm bells began to ring though when I realised this is
essentially the same Battle For Naboo that was released on the N64
late last year. The menu system is designed for use with a gamepad,
right down to the arcade-style wheel for selecting your three
letter name, and sadly the rest of the game shows about as much
effort in adapting it for the PC.
Battle for Naboo pushed Nintendo's antique console to the limits in
terms of graphics, but compared to most modern PC games it is still
unattractive. The terrain is expansive but not particularly
detailed, and invisible barriers are used to keep you within the
playing area in some missions. The vehicle models are reasonably
good, but people and droids look more like cardboard cut-outs than
characters - your pilot is made out of two flat sprites arranged at
right angles to give an illusion of depth. Surface vehicles don't
explode so much as gradually sink into the ground, and special
effects in general are disappointing.
The only concession to the vastly increased horsepower which is
available in our beige boxes seems to be an increase in the draw
distance compared to the N64 version, although enemies frequently
appear out of thin air and there is still scenery pop-up evident on
a few of the larger levels. There isn't even any fogging to mask
this problem - mountains simply appear on the horizon as you move
towards them. On a five year old console this might be considered
acceptable, but on a high spec PC it just looks plain silly. Add to
this the hideous MIDI renditions of John Williams' orchestral score
and poor voice acting, and you have a package which looks and
But the biggest problem that Battle For Naboo suffers from is that
it is just too short. There are fifteen missions, but they only
take five or ten minutes each to complete, and only a few offer any
real challenge. I had reached the final mission within three hours,
and the hardest part was actually hitting anything - you have to
score a direct hit for a shot to register, and with everyone
zipping around you at high speed this is trickier than it sounds,
especially as your laser shots move rather slowly.
It's fun while it lasts, but sadly that isn't very long, and with a
£30 price tag, no multiplayer support and little reason to go
back and play through the campaign a second time, Battle For Naboo
is terrible value for money. For the same price you can pick up the
entire Star Wars trilogy on video - it lasts twice as long as this
game and is more likely to get played again...