By Dean Moses
Game: Star Wars: Squadrons
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Rating: T for Teen
The Star Wars franchise has produced some of my favorite video games ever. I have fond memories from my childhood staying up late into the night, talking with friends online while we played the likes of Jedi Academy, Star Wars Battlefront, and Republic Commando. The beauty of games set in this Sci-fi universe is its capacity to fit into a multitude of genres, everything from racing and real-time strategy to lightsaber wielding action experiences. The latest addition to an extensive list of Star Wars titles is a space combat simulator named Star Wars: Squadrons.
Cogs in a Machine
Many of us have always dreamed of piloting an X-Wing or even a TIE Fighter, to see the endless bastion of space from a high-tech cockpit. Star Wars: Squadrons puts us in the roles of nameless pilots for the Galactic Empire and New Republic, just cogs in a much larger machine. The narrative takes us on objective based sweeping space battles that will see us fighting over gigantic ships, through asteroid fields, and above planets.
This game was specially designed to incorporate virtual reality headsets like the PlayStation VR, allowing for deeper immersion in the pilot seat. Still, it is by no means necessary for the experience. Gameplay consists entirely of the first-person perspective, which can make it harder to control and will make the experience daunting for some players. While this is, of course, a science fiction setting, great lengths have been taken in order to add somewhat of a simulation aspect.
Spaceships fire lasers and rockets as you might expect, yet there is also a system implemented that allows you to transfer some of the ship’s power to a specific proficiency. For instance, if you need more speed you can divert energy to velocity. Similarly, this goes for shields and laser fire. However, focusing on one aspect can lead you open in others. Online modes such as dogfights really put your knowledge of which skills to use and at which times, while also providing some memorable moments. One particular instance, I was zooming by an asteroid when I was shot, causing me to spin out of control. I found myself tapping all of my controller’s buttons, trying to regain control of the ship before I collided with the space rock. Unfortunately, these candid moments are separated by a deluge of repetitive action.
The Wonders of Space
You may not think the deep, black emptiness of space can provide for visual wonder, yet the backdrops of planets and purple quasars prove to be stunning. These impressive graphics also extend to the spaceships’ cockpits, which are all individually designed depending on which fighter you are piloting. They can be spiced up even further with unlockable trinkets that dangle and sway as you barrel roll to victory.
Star Wars: Squadrons can feel a little repetitive and even nauseating at times of high speed, yet it can also provide for some great off the cuff moments that will leave you with a smile. Unfortunately this title leaves little middle ground for causal fans, either hardcore Star Wars fans or flight junkies will be the only ones who will find hours of fun here.