Review by Scottie theNerd

"Whole lotta Yea, little bit of Nah"

Having never played the PC version, I can honestly judge this shoot em up without being biased.

Basically, StarLancer is a Flight Sim set in space. The story begins with a cinematic intro of the signing of a peace treaty between the Alliance and the Coalition. The ''Coalition'' are the stereotypical ''bad'' countries, like Russia. The ''Alliance'' are the ''goodies'', like the US, France, Japan (!?), etc... Back to the intro. The actual event itself went horribly wrong, thanks to the Coalition mastermind Admiral Kulov. I won't go into detail about the intro. All I can say is, wow.

The Alliance, crippled after the last attack, are short on military support. Therefore, the Alliance NEEDS YOU! You are a civilian, recruited by the Alliance to protect innocent lives, take over strategic points and annhilate the Coalition. Sounds good enough. You are placed in squadron called the ''45th Volunteers''. After a briefing by your commander, you are put into instant action. Controls may take some time to get the hang of, but the main thing point is to develop your own kill techniques. Not only dogfighting against enemy fighters, but against cruisers and carriers. But you're not alone. With you are your trustworthy wingmen, always being at your side and blasting away at Coalition scum while giving you a helping hand.

The game is action-packed. Enemies will swarm in from nowhere, and with a wide arsenal of missiles, like the Bandit and Jackhammer, you can frag em in any way you like. Talking about missiles, you start off with a only a few different types, each with a specific purpose (eg- Knocking out capships, stunning opponents, or just sticking iron down some tailpipes) but as the game progresses, you have access to more. You also have a large variety of fighters, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Again, as the game progresses, you can gain access to the more powerful fighters. You can also access them if you get promoted for outstanding performances. Each ship has different weapons and special equipment, like Spectral Shields, Electronic Counter Measures and Cloaking Devices. Each ship also has a different amount of Afterburner fuel. The afterburner can be triggered by tapping the accelerate button twice and holding it.

The interesting menu system works suprisingly well. The X button gives you a list of ships in your area. By holding X and pressing A, you can target the closest enemy or use the Dpad to scroll through a list of opponents. Holding X and pressing Y gives you a list of your pals. The other menu, the Y button, allows you to turn on/off special equipment, allows you to strafe and roll, and order an attack or request help. This is very innovative, but there is a BIG flaw in gameplay.

What's so bad? The targetting system. While good, it has flaws. In certain missions, you must protect your large ships from torpedoes that are launched by the Coalition. While not a hard task, trying to target them is frustrating. Most likely, you will target a fighter or capship and NOT a torpedo. By the time you find the torpedo in the list of enemies, there will either be MORE torpedoes heading your way, or they have hit their target and GAME OVER. Luckily, not every failure will lead to an early end. It will just end with a bad report and less promotions. But this flaw will make you repeat missions over and over again.

Another bad thing about the game, you have TOO MUCH RESPONSIBILITY. The first few missions, everyone has an equal job to do. But as the game progresses, you will realise that you are the only one doing the dirty work and you're not even their leader! In other words, what the heck are your wingmen doing? It seems that your Leader will blurt out orders and expect YOU to do them. In my personal experiences, I'm surprised that they could even score kills. This is just slack. I've only seen them take out a few fighters. And I THINK they took out the torpedo bombers while I'm BUSY TRYING TO PROTECT THE FRIGGIN SHIPS FROM THE FRIGGIN TORPEDOES THAT ARE COMING AT ME LIKE THERE IS NO TOMORROW! Either that, or the bombers flew away. Man, even typing this review is more work than they do.

The Graphics are excellent. The space backdrop is extremely detailed, and the special effects (especially when cloaking) are amazing. Nothing much to complain here.

SOUND 8/10
Again, I have nothing much to say. All the transmissions from your wingmen are very realistic, and your cocky co-pilot really has an attitude (''Hey, who are YOU calling ROOKIES?'' ''Hey, delivery boy! If it weren't for us you would've joined them!'')The only flaw is that only one speech can be played at a time. Often the death-screams of an enemy fighter will delay the speeches of various cutscenes.

STORY 7/10
Though action packed, it soons starts to get very linear. Almost every mission you do will go wrong and you have to compromise. However, it is still outstanding. The introduction of different characters and their smart-alec attitudes really give this game a push.

This is where the game falls short. The targetting system is terribly with torpedoes. Not only that, during cutscenes you can still be targetted and shot down (though not likely). Also, your co-pilot won't repeat the same thing twice in a row. (eg- I am being targetting by a weapon that can kill me in one hit. My co-pilot says ''Watch out! The blah blah is targetting us!'' OK, so I avoid it. Then it targets me again and he doesn't say anything and I die. He also remains quiet when I AM being locked on, and says stuff when I'm NOT. Very frustrating.) You'd be better off using a different camera angle (the Chase View) so you can see what's around you instead of the HUD display...

This game will keep you hooked for a while, and there is an elusive extra mission that can be obtained. Be prepared to stay up late for a while.

Rent or buy?If you don't like shooting/ Flight sims, then this game isn't for you. However, if you DO like them, or you just play any type, rent this to see if you like it, then buy.

The Nerd has spoken.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 01/11/01, Updated 01/25/01

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