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This Page Updated:
Sat Jan 24, 1998

Stat Box
Title: X-Wing vs TIE Fighter
Developers: LucasArts
Genre: Simulation
Release Date: Finished

X-Wing vs TIE Fighter
Page 1: TIE Fighter Goes Multiplayer
By: Evan Jones

X-Wing and TIE Fighter were two very popular games when they were released. Both are quite dated now but they are still a lot of fun, proven by the popularity of the collector's edition versions. In fact, TIE Fighter recently won PC Gamer's number one spot as the best game of all time. The only real flaw with the two games is that they could only be played by yourself. X-Wing and TIE Fighter were created before the huge multiplayer gaming craze and Lucasarts has taken their time in moving into the multiplayer generation. Big changes are in store at LucasArts, because they have finally created their first multiplayer game.

Multiplayer games are the latest and greatest thing in the computer game industry, and one aspect that LucasArts has overlooked in the past. Lucasarts disappointed fans in the past when they released Dark Forces, LucasArts' Doom clone, without the option to battle your friends. Their reasoning was that multiplayer battles would not fit with Dark Forces' plot. The sequel, Jedi Knight, does allow players to battle each other one on one in the Star Wars universe. LucasArts' first multiplayer game is X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, a multiplayer oriented game which will allow you to defend the Rebellion or the Empire against and with your friends. LucasArts' director of sales and marketing explained that LucasArts is finally making network games because "Technology has finally reached a point where we can offer networked games without compromising game play." LucasArts has obviously noticed that multiplayer is the way of the future.

LucasArts has not simply taken TIE Fighter and made it a multiplayer game, the engine has also been souped up and looks fantastic. All the ships are polygon objects, like in previous versions, however each and every ship and object has its own texture map that adds great detail to the models. Each of these textures is also lighted in real time. When you blast a ship with lasers the hull will light up with each explosion. Ship details have also been taken from the archives at LucasFilm, to create a more realistic Star Wars space combat experience. The engine displays this world in very nice 16-bit color at a maximum resolution of 640X480.

To make the graphics even more beautiful as well as correct some slight bugs, Lucasarts has released a TIE Fighter upgrade. The most major change to version 1.1.4 is the added support for 3D accelerators through Direct3D. Other improvements include improved Internet play and randomized melee start points.

There are 47 missions that can be flown for either side. Many of the battles are quite similar to missions in the previous games, in fact some are from the previous games, however there are some that really use the new engine. The asteroid field missions are a good example. Thanks to the new engine, texture mapped asteroids fill the battle field, something which would have been possible but difficult and slow in the older games. Each of the missions are playable by yourself, however many of them are definitely geared for multiple players. Playing with other people is more enjoyable anyway.

In multiplayer mode players are assigned the role of a single pilot in a flight group. You are not limited to just that specific ship. You may switch to any computer controlled craft in your flight group at any time, including when your own craft is destroyed. The game's host assigns teams and various battle options. There are melee, cooperative and combative missions. Players must cooperate and act as a unit in last two mission types to be victorious.

Unlike most multiplayer games, team work is heavily emphasized in X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, which is a nice change. The game is definitely more entertaining when you have a friend watching your six. If you aren't lucky enough to have a player piloting other craft in your flight group your computer controlled wing mates can be controlled by keyboard commands which are very similar to the ones used in the previous two games. You can do battle with to 8 of your friends over modem, IPX or TCP/IP networks as well as the Internet.

One weak side of this sequel is the poor Internet support. It is is not quite built in like the box leads you to believe. LucasArts chose not to create their own system and instead decided to use Microsoft's Internet gaming Zone. Microsoft's Internet Zone is a good idea: Allow consumers to set up Internet games straight through their web browser. Unfortunately, that browser must be Microsoft's own Internet Explorer. This is another tragic chapter in the unending browser wars, and with this move Lucasarts has forced half of their customers to install another browser to play a computer game. I would have preferred if they had created their own system like Blizzard's There is hope for those of you who prefer not to use Internet Explorer, Kali, the first real Internet gaming system, supports X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter as well as pretty much every other multiplayer computer game that has ever been created.

The other weak point is the single player action. The single player missions are not even close to as engrossing as the missions in the older two games. In X-Wing and especially TIE Fighter, the single player campaigns were tied together with a storyline and cut scenes that Lucasarts has always done so well. That was what made TIE Fighter so spectacular, the action was great and you felt like there was a reason to continue. In X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, there is none of that incentive to play the single player missions. You can play them in any order and there is nothing that ties them together.

Lucasarts is trying to correct these mistakes in the upcoming expansion, Balance of Power. The add on will add 40 new missions, both single player and multiplayer. The biggest addition will be two story driven campaigns which will be told through briefings and cut scenes. I am guessing that there will be one campaign for both the Rebels and the Imperials. Other additions are a new star fighter to fly, new ships to destroy and customizable chat hot keys. The expansion is expected to arrive sometime in the first quarter of 1998.

X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter is available for Win95 only. The system requirements are standard, except for the strange requirement of a joystick. That is a change from the previous games that could be played with a mouse or a joystick but it should not be a real problem. Not many out there will want to play a flight simulator without a joystick.

Overall X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter is a good multiplayer game. It has nice graphics, beautiful Star Wars CD Audio, great sound effects as well as great action. However, as a standalone game, it sucks. If you have no easy way to play it against anyone go find the X-Wing and TIE Fighter Collector's Edition packs are available and they offer terrific quality for the cost. You can get both of the older games for the price of the newer one. On the other hand, if you have a number of computer game playing friends or have a LAN at your office, X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter is a good choice for some multiplayer action. It has some of the best team play options that I have seen in any game yet.


The glorious Star Destroyer presides over the battlefield

An X-Wing glides through an asteroid field
The Star Destroyer goes down in a ball of fire
Further Info

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The Future of Gaming is created by Evan Jones