X-wing computer game series

From Academic Kids

The X-wing computer game series is a series of computer games set in the Star Wars universe that attempts to "realistically" simulate the experience of combat in the starfighters of both the Rebel Alliance, and, in later games, the Galactic Empire. To complete the games, players must complete missions ranging from simple dogfights with opposition starfighters, through escort duty for freighters or capital ships to attacks on larger opposition ships. As well as dogfighting designed to resemble the free-wheeling duels of World War I, the games also offered the challenge of managing power resources and wingmen, and using weapons effectively.


The games

The first game in the series, X-Wing, and the last, X-Wing Alliance, featured as their concluding missions recreations of the attacks on the first and second Death Stars respectively. The game series references the Imperial Navy rather than Imperial Starfleet as in the Star Wars films. In 1994, X-Wing won the Origins Award for Best Fantasy or Science Fiction Computer Game of 1993.

X-Wing begins, presumably, a few months prior to A New Hope and involves helping the rebel alliance with salvage, intelligence gathering and ambushing imperial star destroyers where feasible. However, the third campaign is driven mostly by the interception of the Death Star plans by secretly modified imperial communication satellites, which prompts the player to help deliver the plans to Princess Leia and eventually stop the death star at the Battle of Yavin.

The expansion-packs "Imperial Pursuit" and B-Wing focus on helping the rebel fleet evacuate Yavin after the destruction of the death star and protect the rebel fleet while searching for a new base. The game concludes with the rebels moving into the Hoth System and setting the stage for The Empire Strikes Back

Tie Fighter picks up not much later, just after the Battle of Hoth. The player is initially assigned to various tasks around the Galaxy, including helping protect a space station under construction on the Outer Rim, quelling a war between two non-aligned planets and hunting down pirates. However, the game soon focuses on various Imperial Commanders who join the Rebellion and must be eliminated. The game had bonus objectives in certain missions which would increase your prestige with the Emperor. The game ends just before the Battle of Endor. Tie Fighter has a number of cameos, including Mon Mothma, The Emperor, Admiral Thrawn, and Darth Vader (whom you fight along side in one mission).

The main character of the TIE Fighter game was Marak Stele (or Maarek Steele), although this is only from the official strategy guide. "TIE Fighter" had advanced features including Gouraud shading for more realistic polygon models, a more advanced targeting computer (showed a miniature polygon of the targeted vessel which allowed the player to adjust to the target's orientation), and the ability to match speed with a target (which allows the player to tail his prey more effective and avoid collisions). Besides being able to fly the TIE (Star)fighter (with the Hexagonal panels), TIE Bomber, and TIE Interceptor seen in the movies (the Fighter and Interceptor often have bonus missiles loaded), the "TIE Fighter" game also added new craft with better shields, weaponry, and hyperdrives. Those included the Cygnus Assault Gunboat, TIE Advanced "Avenger", TIE Defender (added to the Star Wars: Essential Guide to Vehicles), and Cygnus Missile Boat (in the Defender of the Empire and Enemies of the Empire Expansion). Oddly, Darth Vader's TIE Fighter (TIE Advanced x1) is not included. In fact, those new craft completely replace the original movie fighters by campaign 5. As a result, the gameplay ends up similar to X-Wing since the player's side does not feature mass overwhelming attacks with expendable craft (as the true Empire would do at the height of its power), and often the player does not have the benefit of wingmen.

TIE Fighter and the Defender of the Empire Expansion introduced many craft never further adopted in the Expanded Universe. Examples include the Platforms, the Mon Calamari Light Cruiser (the regular Mon Calamari Cruiser is not used in the storyline missions), R-41 Starchasers, and T-26 Starchasers.

X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter is slightly different to the other games in the series. It was conceived as a multiplayer-focused version of the first two games, and includes no real storyline; its single-player element is simply a set of unconnected missions, and there are no cutscenes. "X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter" was also criticized since the polygon models were the same as those in the dated "TIE Fighter", with only enhanced textures. Since the story element of the first two games was what many fans found the most compelling aspect, LucasArts recognised this as a mistake, and introduced the expansion pack for X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, which includes a series of missions with a proper storyline and cutscenes in the style of the first two games. They also returned to the story-driven format for the final game in the series, X-Wing Alliance.

X-Wing Alliance merges together the improvements made in the X-Wing/Tie Fighter re-releases and provides an even more complex and longer original storyline that takes place before and during Return of the Jedi. The player is Ace Azzameen, youngest member of a family owned transport company. The first approximately eighth of the game involves transport missions and the family's conflict with a rival company, the Viraxo. The second part involves Ace's career with the Rebel Alliance as a freelance pilot. The player pilots the Millenium Falcon in the game's final mission which includes the Death Star Run at the Battle of Endor.

Most of the games featured voiced (this was quite unusual in the days of the first two games, X-Wing and TIE Fighter) and hand-drawn (along with occasional rendered) cutscenes at crucial points in the storyline, although these were nothing like as extensive as those in the Wing Commander series to which the games owed much. They also featured music from the original trilogy (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi, ), which in some games responded to the player's actions, using the iMUSE system.

Release chronology

The collector editions

X-Wing and TIE Fighter were re-released as Collector's CD-ROMs, with the expansion packs included. These releases also tweaked various areas of the games by including bugfixes, improved graphics, rehashed cutscenes (that were rendered instead of hand-drawn), bonus missions, and the addition of voiceovers for the mission briefings and in-game radio messages.

A cut-down version of X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter was re-released as part of the X-Wing Collector Series, which also contained the Collector's CD-ROM versions of the first two games. In this edition, X-Wing and TIE Fighter were retrofitted with the X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter graphics engine, which uses texture mapping instead of Gouraud shading.

There was also an X-Wing Trilogy release containing X-Wing and TIE Fighter with the updated graphics engine, a demo version of X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, and X-Wing Alliance.

The developers

The games were developed by Lawrence Holland's company Totally Games, under license from LucasArts, later also released by LucasArts. There are no plans to release further games in the series, although in an interview in 2003, Mr. Holland indicated he might return to the series at some point in the future.

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