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.
Luis can be found on Twitter and Facebook. Catch him on the "In Broad Daylight" podcast with Cracked alums Adam Tod Brown and Ian Fortey! Check out his regular contributions to Macaulay Culkin's BunnyEars.com and his "Meditation Minute" segments on the Bunny Ears podcast. Listen to the first episode on Youtube!
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