My Gamer Geek Past, Part V - Stay on Target....Stay on Target...

Be 100% honest with yourself - as soon as you watched the Death Star battle in Star Wars: A New Hope, you wanted to be an X-wing pilot, didn't you? You can admit it - I, of all people, am in no place to judge. Heck, I'd wager half the air force wanted to be a pilot because of Star Wars (the other half because of Top Gun).

There is no shame to be had in getting excited about X-wings and TIE fighters and the Millenium Falcon. We all want to fly'em, don't we? If we didn't, why would people have been inspired to do the following?


Okay, this one isn't rideable but I included it I want one. Or five.
Anyway, the point is, everyone wants to be a Star Wars pilot, and thanks to the geeks over at LucasArts, you can be one of the greats alongside (nerd alert) Wedge Antilles, Biggs Darklighter, Garvin Dreis, Jek Porkins, Derek "Hobbie" Klivian, Zev Sanesca, Wes Janson, Tycho Celchu, Soontir Fel, Maarek Stele and others (all from memory, thank you very much).

1,000 free internets if you can name this guy. I could.

Note re: the last sentence - you guys don't understand just how much of a Star Wars geek I used to be and still am. Just saying.

X-Wing was released in 1993, and while there had been space-based flight simulators before, this one actually put you in the cockpit of the legendary Incom T-65 X-Wing fighter. You feel like your sitting in the craft, S-foils at your side and an R2 unit beeping from behind you. You can also fly a Y-wing, A-wing and B-wing, but let's be honest - it's the X-wing pilots what get the girls, m'kay?

Your missions range from basic dogfights to escorting other ships safely to some destination to aiding the capture of enemy vessels to large-scale attacks on much larger enemy warships. You can change how fast your lasers and shields recharge, and where the latter are focused; you can issue orders to wingmen; you can get up close and burn TIE fighters with lasers or knock'em out of the stars with torpedoes from afar.

One of us isn't coming out of this okay (Hint: it's probably the one
without any shields)

The story for X-wing takes place shortly before the Battle of Yavin, divided into campaigns that have you protecting your own, salvaging, gathering intelligence and swatting the Imperial flies away when you can. Some campaign missions link you directly with the story of A New Hope; for example, in one scenario you escort the ship delivering plans for the Death Star to Princess Leia, and in another you actually participate in the attack on the Death Star, culminating in you making the trench run made famous by Luke Skywalker.

X-Wing got rave reviews, but it was shown up by its spinoff/sequel, TIE Fighter, released a year later. This game flips the coin and puts you in an Imperial flight suit at the controls of one of the iconic TIE fighter craft, be it the original straight-winged model or the ones introduced later - the TIE bomber, TIE Interceptor, TIE Advanced and TIE Defender.* This time, the story takes you from the Battle of Hoth, through various engagements both with the Rebels and with dissident elements of the Empire, right up to the Battle over the forest moon of Endor.

Note to Y-Wing pilots: never be anywhere near a TIE fighter if you value your life.

A multi-player version of the games was released in 1997 - X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter was designed to allow up to eight players battle each other in space. Its multiplayer nature and lack of story garnered it lukewarm reviews.

Allow me to present an ASCII illustration of how exciting X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter was for someone who didn't do multi-player:

>o< ===== (patsew patsew) ===== |o| (o) |o|

Then there's X-Wing: Alliance. I think I liked this game most of all. Not only do you get to fly freighters like the Millenium Falcon, switching from pilot to gunner at will, but you got to move around space more freely in the form of hyperspace jumps. Before, you jumped in/out of hyperspace to begin/end missions. Now, different missions sometimes included multiple areas, and you get to jump between them, spinny colorful hyperspace tunnel and all. Also, with the in-game simulator, you totally get to fly the Slave I.

Yeah, this guy.

The second-best part is the story. You play as Ace, the youngest of the Azameen family, whose members make their living in the shipping business. Eventually, the Empire raids your operation, forcing you out of your home and into refuge with the Rebel Alliance (to which your family was already sypmathetic). You then continue your training as a Rebel pilot, with the occasional but of family drama mixed in.

The game ends with the best part: fighting in the Battle of Endor. You pilot the actual Millennium Falcon around, keeping fighters and capital ships at bay while General Han Solo's strike team takes down the deflector shield. You then fly into the belly of the second Death Star, take out the power generator and fly out in time to avoid getting sauteed by explosiony goodness.**

This may or may not be me about to see a massive explosion from sitting next
to Lando Calrissian in the Millenium Falcon 

And this is definitely me in the core of the second Death Star. We all know
how this ends.

I love flying games. In another life, I might have tried to be a pilot. Instead I get my kicks flying around virtual space in starships from a galaxy far, far away.

Again, this will end badly for one of us. And again, it's not me.

*These last two didn't make it into the films: Darth Vader's bent-wing TIE was an Advanced x1 model, but the one you fly in the games is different. The game also offers two other craft seen only outside the films: the Imperial Gunboat and the Imperial Missile Boat. This last one is a personal favorite because you can pack a veritable crap-ton of missiles and bombs and waste anything in your path.

**The only reason I got this far in the game was cheating. The same goes for TIE Fighter. If you don't know by now, I use cheat codes liberally if I find a game too hard, which is often; refer to this post for details. All three games give you the option of making yourself invulnerable and/or giving yourself infinite firepower. I almost always flew with these options on. There was a catch, though: TIE Fighter and X-Wing:Alliance let me progress in spite of my cheating ways. X-Wing did not - I'd finish a mission, then get back to the briefing room to find it still open as if I'd never flown it at all. Thus, I never actually finished X-Wing like I did the others.


Ellaniemae said…
Was that a picture of Scott Bacula? If not, I have no idea who the actor is, or even the character... Sorry...
Leon said…
|o| |o| |o|

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