Game Review: Star Wars Episode One - The Phantom Menace

Geek Specs:

Title: Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace
Platform: PC
Genre: Adventure
Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: LucasArts
Release: May 19, 1999

Minimum Specs:
Processor: 200mhz
Memory: 32mb
Video Card: D3D Compatible with 4mb of memory
Hard Drive Space: Just over 100mb (minimum install)

I think: Those specs are fine on the low detail setting. At a guess, I'd say 600mhz and 64mb RAM for some of the higher detail settings.

Introduction: With Star Wars Episode 2 coming out very soon, lots of fans are going Star Wars crazy. Unless you've been living on a far away planet, you have to have heard of Star Wars. However, since this is a review and not a history book about successful movies (and also because 99.9% of you will know exactly what happens in the films), I won't provide a brief history of all things Star Wars. Instead I'll cut to the chase and start the review.

Review: When you've installed and loaded the game, you'll obviously be introduced to the main menu. The nice thing about this one is that instead of boring looking buttons to click, you get animated ones that play movie clips from the actual film. For example, move your cursor over the 'Start Game' button and you'll be treated to a short clip of Obi-Wan and Qui-Gonn causing havoc aboard the Trade Federation Battle Ship. Choose 'Load Game' and you'll be able to watch a short lightsaber fight between Obi-Wan and Darth Maul. It's a nice touch and it gives you a sense of action before the game has even started.

So now it's off to the first level, before which you'll experience the classic scrolling text and music. From there, a space cruiser flies into the Trade Federation Battleship. Then, the game actually starts and we find Obi-Wan and Qui-Gonn discussing the Trade Federation Viceroy. A C-3PO type robot enters and the room begins filling with poisonous gas. The two Jedi run out only to be confronted by an army of Battle Droids, who unsurprisingly start firing at them, obviously trying to fry them to such an extent that it would appall even your local KFC. When you've found a way around the Destroyer Droids that show up a little bit later on in the level, you'll need to stow away aboard one of the Trade Federation's ships and then it's off to the Swamps of Naboo. Soon enough you'll find yourself jetting off around the galaxy to planets such as Tatooine and Coruscant.

All the characters from Episode One make an appearance at some point, although it would have been nice to control a few more of them - it's fine playing as Obi-Wan, Qui-Gonn, Captain Panaka and Queen Amidala but it would have been fun to play as Jar Jar Binks, or maybe even Anakin Skywalker, especially in a Podracer level. Some of the Star Wars regulars show up too, such as Jawas, Bounty Hunters, and Tusken Raiders (which are all very easily recognizable if you've seen the movies). There are some great set pieces in the game (confrontations with Darth Maul being amongst the best) which you'll keep coming back too long after you've completed it. The characters look very life like - the only possible exception being Obi-Wan, who's new spiky hair seems to have had a very close encounter with a pot of gel (either that or he's been playing Final Fantasy 7 too much). On the subject though, Padme kind of resembles an elf and Jabba The Hutt seems to be VERY brown (I won't say what he actually looks like, but use your imagination, brown is a VERY big clue). Most of the characters look fine though. It's also possible to kill all the characters you don't like. See you in Hell Jar Jar! (SCHWIIIIING!) You can get carried away, but it's great fun to rid the galaxy of Star Wars greatest pests. You'll also have to restart the level or load a game if you kill one of the important characters (which most of them are). However, on one level, it is possible to destroy C-3PO and R2-D2 without any level ending consequences.

One thing a Star Wars game would not be complete without is all that classical music. Thankfully, this shows up at nearly every given opportunity, making the game feel just like one of the movies. They normally accompany the many tense moments littered throughout the game. Such as opening a door and finding that five Destroyer Droids roll out when you've only got 10% of your health left. The voices are also reasonably authentic (none of them are from an actor of the movie). The only real voice actor from the movie is Jake Lloyd, who played Anakin Skywalker. On the weapons front, everything is just dandy. Playing as one of the two Jedi, you'll be able to get your grubby little hands on all the best weapons; plus you have your trademark lightsaber. If you play as Captain Panaka your primary weapon is a bog-standard blaster. The Queen on the other hand has a nifty little gun that fires bolts of electricity. The graphics aren't particularly bad. Just a little blocky here and there. Then again, as far as I know the PC and the PSX version were identical, so this might be the explanation.

Conclusion: If this review has gotten you interested, you'll be pleased to know that this game is now available on budget. It's well worth hunting down, and although it's never going to be remembered as much as something like Max Payne or Zelda, it's still a good way to spend a couple of weeks playing.

Ratings: (scale of 0.0 - 10.0)

Gameplay: 10.0 Graphics: 8.0
This is one of the few games you can say has a real go-anywhere environment. For once, you can fully explore the world of Star Wars: Episode One. The various side quests will keep you occupied as well - there's just so much to do. There are some colourful graphics in this game - Star Wars never looked better.

Sound: 10.0 Overall: 9.0
Like I mentioned, the classic Star Wars tunes crop up everywhere. The sound effects are very good too. From the lightsaber's buzzing sounds to the satisfyingly, well, 'lasery' sound of a blaster (you'll know what I mean if you've seen the movies). This is a great game. Although it's no classic, I think it's fun enough to warrant a 9.0 rating. And isn't that what games should be all about, fun? As it's now on budget, you should definitely try it. Who knows, it could become one of your favorites!

Written by Cosmic3k


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