With XvT, LucasArts answered the prayers of all the players who, one day, wished that a network version of both, X-Wing and Tie-Fighter, would be developed. Indeed, XvT brings several multi-player capabilities that will let people choose among various connection possibilities to play together, ranging from LAN networks to modems through the Internet. At last, players can choose their side, and combat against other players in fierce and deadly space battles. This said, XvT doesn't limit itself in delivering those multi-player capabilities that Star Wars fans eagerly awaited for, during the past years. Everything has been built up from scratch, and the only thing that this new version shares with the prior ones is the similarity with the names. And yet, when X-Xing and Tie-Fighter only gave the opportunity to players to incarnate respectively a pilot from the Alliance or the Empire, XvT offers both of them, and pit players from one side against the other.
A single glance at the screen while playing is enough to immediately notice the difference in the graphics. The standard VGA mode of the old hits has been replaced with brilliant SVGA graphics, enhanced by a palette of 65,000 colors which makes the flight engine look absolutely stunning. Detailed textures, various lighting effects (local light source, diffuse lighting, specular highlights), vivid explosions, space debris and backdrops render the space battle incredibly realistic. A real feast for the eyes! Thanks to the high-resolution textures of the game, each starship has been rendered with an amazing level of detail, and all this without a 3D accelerator card being required. The downside of the new 3D engine will be as usual the necessity of a decent configuration, which means a fast processor and graphic card with enough memory (16Mb or more). But once these system requirement are filled, you will not regret it, XvT is truly the definite challenge in space flight combat simulators.
XvT features over 55 different 3D objects ranging from starships to platforms through probes and asteroids. Each of them can be viewed in the craft menu where you can rotate each object and even change the lighting. What you will see on the screen is not only exactly what you will get during the game, but also a faithful reproduction of the originals featured in the movies. Eight different ships will be at your disposition, which are respectively the Tie-Fighter, Tie-Interceptor, Tie-Bomber and Tie-Advanced for the Empire, and X-Wing, Y-Wing, A-Wing and Z-95 Headhunter for the Alliance. In addition to these fighters, you will also be confronted to larger ships of both camps such as the Imperial Class Star Destroyer, Nebulon-B Frigate or Calamari Cruiser. Flying over the 2 miles long Star Destroyer and trying to get the turrets down is certainly not the best way to stay alive for long, but it sure is worth the view. It's simply awesome!
The music is not in rest either, with a digital soundtrack that is truly the icing on the cake. Over 40 minutes of the original soundtrack from Star Wars has been included and is played during the missions for a complete immersion in the Star Wars universe. In-flight dialogues, engine noise, data-pad sounds, and other sound effects can be turned off to speed up the performances of the game, but it would be a pity to miss the excitement they add to the game play.
Because it was built from the ground up as a multi-player game, XvT may not be however as appealing as were X-Wing and Tie-Fighter, at least for a single player. As a matter of fact, with only eight solo missions per side, players will definitely think there is not enough to play with, and it's not the training missions that will succeed in filling the gap. Although they will efficiently teach step by step the basics of space combat to novice pilots, training missions should not be considered as part of the missions, in terms of challenge and difficulty. Still, even a solo player can try the multi-player missions included in the game, the difference being that the other players will be controlled by the computer. It sure is not the same as with human players, but it extends the game's life by adding new situations. The missions in XvT present various sorts of objectives, and whether you play as a pilot from the Empire or the Alliance, one mission can be very different from one point of view to the other. For example, if in one mission your task will be to defend a rebel convoy for example, your goal playing as the other side, will be to destroy it. Mission objectives will often resume to either escort and/or defend, or attack, but surprisingly, never will you find a mission that resembles another. In general, the overall difficulty is slightly higher than in X-Wing or Tie-Fighter, but you can set the difficulty to a lower level if you find them too hard to complete. The melee missions, which can be considered as the equivalent of the Doom "death match" and thus do not require any strategic skills, will pit players from one team against another, the goal being to shoot at the greatest number of adversaries, either drones or opposite teams. Melee missions involve teams from two to four players, and can be enjoyed as well by a single player. The only difference is that pilots from the player's team and others, will be played by the computer's artificial intelligence.
If you proved your value in combat in both single and multi-player missions, you will be awarded with medals and other trophies. In the Pilot's Roster, you will view all your statistics, including laser and warheads' accuracy, number of enemy killed, collisions, hidden cargo found, and much more, as well as your mission achievements and medals. You can always replay a mission if you find your performances too low in one mission in order to achieve a better score. Remember that the quicker you complete one mission, the higher points you will awarded, and therefore the sooner you will be promoted to the next rank.
Besides new graphics, digital music and multi-player support, XvT also features new flight commands. To give a few examples, you can set up your speed so that it adjusts to your target, target specific areas of a large ship such as hull, engines, guns, turrets or shield, take a look at the new tactical map of the battle, or communicate with other pilots with a choice of ten different orders.
Conclusion:With X-Wing vs. Tie-Fighter, LucasArts did its best to satisfy both, single and multi-player fans of the series, and in many ways they have succeeded. The sound and 3D engine's upgrades alone are worth the purchase of the game, especially if you can play with all options turned on.
Regarding game play, XvT is very rewarding when you can try it with other players. However, depending which type of multi-player option you select, the results can vary from the best to the worst, and no surprise, it is the Internet connection that delivers the worse performances. It shouldn't be surprising though as XvT was not developed with the Internet in mind for multi-player. It naturally occurred that it could be a great option to add to the game, with the growing importance of the Internet as a medium for multi-player gaming. However, the reality is that its performances are far from being satisfactory to play XvT without any problems regarding the game's speed. Even the patch released by LucasArts to reduce the problems due to the lag on the network won't be enough to let you play with XvT anytime anywhere with anyone on the Internet. Simply said, if you want to get the best out of XvT, forget the Internet (unless all players share the same Internet Service Provider and live in the same area), and choose instead a direct modem or serial connection for two players, or a LAN for more than two.
Written by Frederick Claude
Click here for screen shots.
System Requirements:Pentium 90MHz or faster,
Min 16Mb RAM,
Hard disk with 30Mb free space or more,
SVGA graphics card (compatible with DirectX 3.0),
Double speed CD-ROM drive or faster (Quadruple speed recommended),
DirectX 3.0 compatible 16-bit sound card.
Pentium 100Mhz or faster (Pentium 133Mhz required for Internet Play).
Local Area Network Play: Supports up to 8 players via IPX or TCP/IP Local
Area Network (LAN)
Developers & PublishersLucasArts Entertainment Co.,
P.O. Box 10307,
San Rafael, CA 94912.
PublishersIn North America:
Virgin Interactive Entertainment (Europe) Ltd
Internet Support: Virgin Interactive
Entertainment UK Technical Support
Web site: Ubi Soft France
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