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Star Wars, Episode One: The Phantom Menace
Platform:  Playstation
# of Players:  1
Developer:  Lucasarts, Big Ape
Publisher:  Lucasarts
Features:  
Ratings:  Everyone
Memory Req.:  
Info:  http://
I want to kill Jar-Jar Binks. It's as simple as that. I found his idiocy tolerable in the movie (as I'm sure most die-hard Star Wars fans did), but having to protect his life is intolerable. How I long for the day when I can hack off his big, dumb Gungan head.

Now that I've said my peace, I want to say that Star Wars: The Phantom Menace is by no means a bad game. What SW: TPM is, is a Star Wars game. It's obvious from the start that this game is nothing exceptional. There are no groundbreaking play mechanics, graphics tricks, etc. It is, in short, a Star Wars game. A game that relies immensely on its license rather than its execution. You will find no true innovation or anything deserving superlatives. To reiterate: this is a Star Wars game.

Spawning straight from the major, major motion picture, SW: TPM was first introduced on the PC where it found a welcome home among the more technologically advanced sound cards and 3-D graphics accelerators. The game is played from an overhead perspective not unlike that of Loaded or Future Cop LAPD. You take control of one of four characters: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn, Queen Amidala, or Captain Panaka. The game follows the basic plot of the movie from fighting it out with battle droids on the Trade Federation's starship to escorting Queen Amidala out of the war torn streets of Theed. You get the picture. Unless you were brought up in a Skinnerbox, you know the story so I won't go into that.

As with most PC to Playstation ports, the graphics have lost a great deal of their original attraction. The smooth, curved models of the PC have given way to jagged, chunky edged characters and environments that more or less resemble a Lego playset. The opening real-time cinema almost hurts to watch. Thankfully, the overhead view hides any draw-in or polygon warping. The lighting affects for the lightsabers and blasters are great, however. And while the graphics aren't mind blowing, you do feel as if you were in each of the levels. That's required in a game of this sort.

Has anyone ever heard bad music in a Star Wars game? Honestly! Anyway, you can always expect a great LucasArts soundtrack when it comes to this series. Plus, as an added bonus LucasArts has added the Duel of The Fates music video. I think that all other games should be judged according to the sound effects in SW: TPM. Lightsabers and laser blasters have never sounded so good. There's only one thing that I don't understand. Why in god's name did they replace the voices from the movie? They could have at least gotten the original cast from the movie to do the voice over for the game. They did keep Ahmed Best as Jar-Jar Binks. I'll give them that.

The game plays a lot like Loaded at its heart. While an overhead view offers some interesting gameplay elements, it can cause a lot of unneeded deaths. Not being able to see your enemies causes a lot of frustration. On the other hand, the view allows the battle scenes to move incredibly fast and smooth. It also makes it easier to use a Jedi's lightsaber to block and knock back laser fire to wipe out your enemies wave after wave. This one element is so freakin' cool that it is almost the sole reason to buy the game. When you use guns though, expect to have a lot of hand cramps from doing a lot of jumping and rolling to avoid being killed. The only gripe that I have is for the jumping which can be difficult for the casual gamer to master since the characters have no shadows. This cuts out a great tool that many could use to see where theyıre jumping.

If you've ever played any of the SNES Super Star Wars games (Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi), then you know what to expect from an action-adventure Star Wars game. There will be points where you'll be awestruck and saying to yourself, "This is the coolest game in existence." Other times, you'll be tearing your hair out screaming, "WHY GOD?!? WWWWHHHHYYYYYY?!!!?" Okay, it never gets that bad. If you're expecting what many were expecting of the movie; an amazing, groundbreaking, testament to the ills of society and man's inhumanity to man, blah, Metal Gear Solid killer blah, blah. It's not. IT'S STAR WARS!!!! That's it.

Robert Cirkeljirque


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