'Star Wars: Squadrons' Has A Lofty Legacy To Live Up To
Yesterday saw the debut gameplay trailer for the first fully-dedicated Star Wars space battle game in a long time.
Calling it Star Wars: Squadrons instantly recalls, for me, the hundreds of hours playing all three Rogue Squadron games (released between the N64 and GameCube) over and again until I gold medaled every level. Many a math test was failed as I pushed studying aside just to hear John William's score as I zipped through the bowels of the Death Star. Having recently replayed the first in the series on PC, I expected wasn't surprised to see that a game from 1999 felt a bit dated. It didn't have the visceral sense of speed I had remembered and many of the missions are deeply uninteresting. But the vibe, the corny "it makes you feel like [insert movie character]" of it all was still there. As the first promising Star Wars flight sim since the Rogue Squadron games, Squadrons has the task of living up to the legacy of a series that brought a part of Star Wars to life that often gets ignored so we can swing a lightsaber instead.
Years before the Rogue Squadron games came along with arcade-inspired gameplay, the X-Wing and TIE Fighter games wanted to put you in the cockpit of iconic Star Wars vehicles with a first-person view so it could really make you feel like idiot for forgetting to divert power to shields when you're getting torn apart by enemy fire. I was always too much of a dumb brute when it came to video game combat to appreciate the strategic simulation elements of these early games. Sure, I'd be killed immediately as I charged directly at the giant balls atop a Star Destroyer and then get frustrated as I wondered why the universe hated me so much, but the point is I had fun. Squadrons is bringing back that strategic ship-management aspect that only compounds when you factor in how each ship's cockpit is unique in its layout of scanners, maps, indicators, and field of view. It's a refreshing change of pace from the one-size-fits-all ships of the Rogue Squadron series, where the only difference between an A-Wing, a Snowspeeder, and a Naboo Starfighter was its speed which directly informed how much I hated said ship. Slow-ass Y-Wing bombers can suck it forever in Hell, for instance.
Squadrons has a chance to rekindle some of the lost magic of the Star Wars flight combat sim. It has a lofty legacy to live up to, but so far it looks like it's developers at least have a fundamental understanding of why fans have fawned over these fictional ships for years. That's a promising start. Also, Squadrons looks like it'll let players create their own pilot. If they don't give me the option to give my pilot a luscious, original trilogy 1970s mustache, then no amount of brilliant gameplay will make it worth playing.
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