SWTOR may be the newest Star Wars game out there, but the legacy of Star Wars games is a long one. Long before players thought of playing online in a Star Wars game, there existed games set in the Star Wars universe that you could play in the arcade, on various consoles, and, naturally, the computer. Swtorhub.com returns to those hallowed days of yore and looks back at one of the most popular Star Wars games ever: X-Wing.
X-Wing was released by Lucasarts way back in 1993 and was the first Star Wars game from Lucasarts released on DOS (the original PC operating system for you youngsters!). This game was a blockbuster in both scope and success and it spawned several sequels. Why was it so successful? The answer is threefold: gameplay, gameplay, and gameplay.
X-Wing was set during the events of the original Star Wars movie (Episode 4) and consisted of three campaigns that players could play. The first two campaigns consisted of 12 missions while the third campaign had 14 missions. Not only were the players able to play the various campaigns, there was also a pilot proving ground where you could practice your basic starship skills at ever increasing difficulty. There were also historical missions that you could play; there were six missions each for the X-Wing, the Y-Wing, and the A-Wing. Once you played a campaign mission, you could replay it to your heart's content in the historical missions. Lastly, you could record your missions as you played them and could go over the footage later. Overall, quite a lot of features were squeezed into a game produced at that time.
The gameplay of X-Wing was simple and addictive. You flew one of three available ships (X-Wing, Y-Wing, or A-Wing) on various missions following a campaign narrative. What really set X-Wing apart was the feeling of being fully immersed into the Star Wars universe. Each mission had a graphic, detailed briefing outlining the objectives of the mission. Then it was on to the hangar where you would watch your ship leave the fleet and head off to hyperspace. Once at your destination, the mission began.
You had total control of the environment in X-Wing. You could issue commands to your wingmen, adjust the recharge rate of your shields and lasers, adjust your throttle speed, change your shield facing and strength, and fly wherever you wanted to go. That's right, my friends, this old school flight sim was not on rails! You could have mad dogfights against Tie Fighters all day long if you wished. The missions could vary from straight out dogfights to bombing runs to even reconnaissance missions. X-Wing promised Star Wars style space combat and, boy, does it deliver.
All this freedom of gameplay led to an addictive experience. Missions could last anywhere from ten to twenty minutes and you could easily fail. (Or hit 'H' by mistake and enter hyperspace!) You had to keep an eye on your shields, not to mention the level of energy left in your lasers. Don't keep your shields charged up and you get hit by some blaster fire...BOOM! Shoot like mad and forget to recharge your lasers would leave you with no firepower and, most likely, not long to live. Combat was pretty unforgiving. However, the seat-of-your-pants flying coupled with the tiny margin of error led to thrilling space combat. Your X-Wing, or other fighter, wasn't some super-powered behemoth of destruction. You were not blowing up Star Destroyers for kicks. Heck, you could even get captured by the Imperials and come face to face with Vader himself, and an interrogation droid.
While the graphics are dated by today's standards, they hold up surprisingly well and the music really gets you in the Star Wars mood in all its MIDI glory. When X-Wing was released, the sound and graphics were state-of-the-art. While younger players may not be enthralled by the audio and visual bells and whistles, us old grognards will concentrate on the exciting space combat that this game delivers in spades.
All in all, it's definitely worth the time to take a look back and play the game that really started the space combat sim series for Star Wars. X-Wing was an innovative and addictive game that, once it got hold of you, didn't let go. The game was so successful that two expansion packs were produced: Imperial Pursuit (depicting the evacuation of Yavin IV) and B-Wing (where you could fly the cool looking craft from Return of the Jedi). Full dogfighting space combat was never better and the gameplay was definitely ahead of the times. If you want to get off the kiddy-train of rail space combat and try out a true space combat sim, then fire up X-Wing and start flying. You won't be sorry.