tiistai 3. toukokuuta 2011

REVIEW - Star Wars: Flight of the Falcon (2003)

GENRE(S): Shooter
RELEASED: November 2003
DEVELOPER(S): Pocket Studios

Flight of the Falcon is one cool name for a game, and for a Star Wars fan, it immediately paints a picture of a bombastic shoot 'em up starring THE dynamic duo of science fiction kicking ass all over the galaxy. Let's look at the track record of Star Wars games leading up to Flight of the Falcon on the Game Boy Advance, though. Jedi Power Battles; that game sucked. The New Droid Army; that game was nearly decent. Attack of the Clones; ...argh, forget it. Revenge of the Sith; well, that was a good game, but it was Ubi's game, while rest of these games were published by THQ. Well, so was Flight of the Falcon, and it follows up on THQ's crappy record. However, it has some small qualities which save it from getting thrown into the deepest Sarlacc pit in the horizon.

Watch the wisecracks, kid, or you're gonna find yourself floating home

Star Wars: Flight of the Falcon doesn't really have a story, it's more like a collective of different settings of space combat that may or may not have been seen in the first three movies. Even though the game is called Flight of the Falcon, you control the Millennium Falcon only in some stages of each "movie". You'll also have access to the landspeeder, Luke's X-Wing and the bike from Return of the Jedi in the rest. There are 14 stages altogether, and let me tell you why they suck... right after I tell you about the huge gap of contrast between the graphics and sound in the game.

Actually, I'll break tradition and take a dive into the audio pool first, 'cause I want to start one review of a bad game on a high note for a change. The music is excellent, not nearly as monotonic as in most handheld Star Wars games, and the soundtrack is comprised of bits of classic Star Wars scores only. The main theme, "The Imperial March" and a few lesser tracks appear, and switch at a fair pace. The sound effects are also very good and just listening to this game creates a good Star Wars mood. Flipping over to the graphics, we see one damn rough presentation with a continuing lag throughout that'll knock your socks off. Some random background art's quite OK, but each moving object looks like the game was made at least ten years before it actually was.

Captain, a swarm of pixelated junk heading
our way!
So, the game is a rail shooter in which you simply control your vehicle, whichever it may be, and shoot at incoming enemy vessels. You can't move forward. Your objective in each stage is to destroy a certain amount of vessels; the needed number is indicated by a bar instead of an actual numeral. At first, I was quite OK with this idea; I mean, I haven't been a huge fan of rail shooters in years, much less of one on a console instead of an arcade cabinet - but who knows? For all I know when I start the game, it could be quite good. Well, I enter the first stage, a mix of scenes in Episode IV, in which my mission is to "fly" the Falcon and shoot a million TIE Fighters to shit before Vader's Star Destroyer catches up to me. When I get over the lackluster graphics, I've already shot down about 20 TIEs. Let's take a look at the bar - it has barely lost half an inch of its maximum length. Turns out million's quite right.

You can use missiles to get rid of large swarms of enemies, but there's a very limited amount of them, and the only way you can refill your stock is to spot a missile power-up coming towards the screen, move to its spot and wait for IT to come to YOU. Can't we just shoot 'em to collect 'em? No, that seems to have been too practical for the developers' tastes. Collecting health power-ups is even worse; you're cannon fodder since you can't necessarily aim at every incoming enemy when you're stuck in the corner, concentrating on aligning yourself just right so you wouldn't miss the item. What happens if you die? That's a good question - and I'll answer it as bluntly as I can: you have to start from the beginning. That's right, there are no checkpoints at all. Even if you have been patient enough to bear this creation that far and managed to destroy all but one remaining enemy vessel to deplete that three-year long bar in the bottom of the screen, you'll have to start over when you die. There's no point in having lives, really.

The bonus stage casts a shadow over the
14 stages, and no matter how thematically different they are, they play out the same. Think about it before you grab Flight of the Falcon and take it for a spin. There is one part of the game I like just for the nostalgic factor, and that's the bonus stage, unlocked after you have beaten the whole game. It's a 2D arcade shooter with the same theme, as traditional as a 2D shoot 'em up can get, in the vein of R-Type and Gradius. As ridiculous as this might sound like, it looks and plays out more consistently than the game itself! This is the first time that any sort of minigame or bonus game has actually outdone the main game in my opinion.

Star Wars: Flight of the Falcon is another sad chapter in the history of Star Wars video games, but not quite from the most melancholic end. As a so-called "hangover handheld", it's almost tolerable since it's just a simple, generic railie and doesn't require that much fast thinking and concentration. I'll be damned if someone can bear to whip it regularly and seriously. It's so boring, ugly and repetitive.

SOUND : 9.2


GameRankings: 43.08%

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