Pages: 1 2
Review by: Brian Pipa
Prince Xizor is the Lord of the Black Sun crime ring and son of a Falleen king. Because Darth Vader is responsible for the deaths of 200,000 Falleen, Xizor would like nothing more than to see the Dark Lord ruined. In order to foil Vader’s attempt at turning Luke Skywalker to the dark side of the force, Xizor plans to have Luke assassinated. Princess Leia has hired you, Dash Rendar, captain of the Outrider and mercenary maverick, to protect Luke and stop Xizor.
Shadows of the Empire (or SOTE) was originally created for the Nintendo 64 and was ported to the PC. I haven’t seen nor played the N64 version, but I hear that the PC version looks much better than the N64. Its console roots definitely show through, as SOTE is an action game from start to finish. SOTE offers ten different missions, and each one is separated into four different levels.
Of these ten different levels, six of them are a first/third-person point-of-view (POV) similar to Duke Nukem 3D and Tomb Raider, respectively. You can switch the camera angle between these two different perspectives, and can even change it to a drop camera, in which you see yourself from a side view or even from above (good for those tricky jumps). The first-person POV is more similar to Duke than to Quake in that you can look up and down, but it’s not easy to do and isn’t really required. I ended up playing all six of these levels mainly from the third-person POV. This view reminded me a lot of Tomb Raider both graphically and in the overall feel. Dash can’t do many of the acrobatic moves that Lara Croft can, but he can jump, duck, look around, slide left and right (strafe), and he auto-aims just as Lara does. If you can point Dash in the general direction of his enemies while firing, he’ll hit them most of the time.
The different first/third-person levels range from the Rebel base on Hoth, to a junkyard and train ride on Ord Mantell, to the sewers of the Imperial City of Coruscant. All of them look great and are full of many Star Wars characters you know, and a few that I’d never heard of previously. There are many droids throughout the levels, like assassin droids, Imperial probe droids, interrogation droids, and gladiator droids, and there is also a fair share of human and subhuman enemies like the snowtroopers, wampas, Boba Fett, and Imperial commandos. There are also plenty of the obligatory stormtroopers scattered liberally about.
Of the remaining four levels that aren’t from this first/third-person perspective, two of them are space battles fought from your prized ship, the Outrider. Dash has boasted that the Outrider can outrun the Millenium Falcon on any given day, and he gets a chance to prove it. During these two missions, Leebo (LE-B02D9), Dash’s piloting droid and good friend (Dash’s version of R2-D2) pilots the ship while Dash is the turret gunner. The first mission puts you up against TIE fighters and bombers in an asteroid field, and the second pits you against TIE fighters and bombers, and a ship I’ve never heard of called a star viper. These two levels are pure arcade action. You control the sights of the turret and spin around wildly trying to blast any enemy that gets in your way, just like Luke and Han did in the Millenium Falcon in Star Wars.
One of the remaining levels allows you to fly or drive (I’m not sure which you’d call it) a swoop through the city of Mos Eisley. A swoop is a Star Wars version of a souped-up Harley Davidson motorcycle. These things are flat-out fast! Zooming through the city and canyons on these things is quite a rush. The closest thing I’ve seen on a PC to this kind of speed is Moto Racer. Your mission is to catch up to a gang of swoop-riders that are going to kill Luke while he’s visiting Ben. You have to drive up next to them and push them into walls to get rid of them. It’s very challenging trying to fly through narrow doorways and tunnel openings. This level is probably the closest thing we’ll ever see to a Star Wars racing game. If they made some actual tracks, added blasters and maybe mines, multiplayer racing, etc., I think a Star Wars-based racing game could be a hit. Are you listening, LucasArts?
The final type of gameplay in SOTE (which just so happens to be the first and last missions) is flight. On Hoth, you fly a snowspeeder in the battle against Imperial probe droids, AT-STs, and AT-ATs. This is, by far, the best mission in the game (and is also the one you can play in the demo). You truly feel like you are right there on Hoth blowing up probe droids and attaching your harpoon to the AT-ATs to trip them up. You also get to pilot your Outrider in the final sub-level of the Skyhook battle, after the turret gunning. There you have to destroy the turrets on the Skyhook station, then fly into the station, destroy the reactor core, and get the hell out of there before the whole thing blows (sounds like the Death Star mission, doesn’t it?). These flight missions were my favorite of all of the levels in SOTE.
Pages: 1 2