LGR – Star Wars X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter – PC Game Review

[music: “Luke’s Theme” from “Star Wars”]
Ahh! “Star Wars!”
TIE fighters!
Jar Jar!
Aw, crap! I shoulda
quit while I was ahead.
[whoosh, glass breaking]
Yes, a new “Star Wars” movie is
about to blast us all in the face
with its hot, geeky film
juice in December of 2015.
That means it’s time to
talk about something related
in order to maximize YouTube profitability.
And I figured it’s about time I talk about
the very first “Star Wars” game I ever
installed on my PC back in the day:
“X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter!”
Developed by Totally Games
and published by LucasArts in 1997
for Windows 95.
Now, of course I played “Star Wars”
computer games before this,
like “Dark Forces” and of course
“X-Wing” and “TIE Fighter,”
but those were over at my friend’s place.
“X-Wing *vs.* TIE Fighter” was different!
It was at MY house.
And on MY hard drive!
Although, it still wasn’t MY game,
as it was one that I checked out from the
local library’s computer game section.
Yes, we had one of those and it was awesome.
As soon they got this one in,
I snatched it up and couldn’t
wait to get home to play it.
I mean, if the huge “Star Wars”
logo didn’t have my attention,
these screenshots on the back certainly did.
I loved flight simulators
and having one set in space
in a galaxy far, far away
and yet right in front of me
in my computer screen? Aw!
Seemed like a perfect experience.
Inside the box was just as promising,
with the game on *two* CD-ROMs,
which meant it was twice as
good as games that weren’t.
And it also had this
extensive full-color manual,
filled with luscious facts and
figures for the game’s features,
ships and weapons.
And then there was this flier.
[booming echo]
“Playing LucasArts Games on the Internet”
The Internet?
I dunno, man. I’ve heard there’s
some weird people on there
that put razor blades in
your candy or something.
Anyway, let’s give the game
a look through the eyes of ME
as I first played this.
[R2-D2 beeping]
[higher-pitched LGR]
Aw, dude! Yes!
“Star Wars” is on my computer!
Look at these graphics!
This is better than the movies!
Because it’s on my computer!
Wait, what do I do here?
Why can’t I fly all these ships?
What’s TCP/IP?
Which one of these missions comes first?
Why do I keep dying so fast?
Why does it run so badly,
even with my Voodoo2 card?
This game sucks.
I’m taking it back to the library
and getting a Garfield book.
[normal LGR voice]
And thus ended my initial
experience with the game.
What I didn’t understand about “XvT”
is that it’s designed as a multiplayer-
focused game first and foremost.
I just thought it would be like LucasArts’
“X-Wing” and “TIE Fighter” games mixed together.
Hence the name.
Nope. It’s more akin to games
like “Quake III” and “Unreal Tournament”
in the way that it technically has a
single-player mode against AI opponents,
but it is in no way a replacement
for a proper story-driven campaign.
Even though I was initially disappointed that
you couldn’t fly a Star Destroyer or a Dreadnought,
you do have an array of classic
starfighters to choose from.
Mostly an assortment of X-wings
and TIE fighters, as expected,
but also things like the A-wing,
the XG-1
and the Z-95.
Each of these have a customizable payload of
lasers, torpedoes, missiles and countermeasures,
and depending on which side you play as,
you’ll be able to do battle
against the Imperials or the Rebels.
The actual flying around and
combat is pretty much on par
with the previous “X-Wing”
and “TIE Fighter” titles
by Totally Games.
So that’s totally awesome.
You’ve got a 2D cockpit to look around in,
third-person perspectives and computer
imagery of your opponents to strategically utilize,
and a map that helps out with locating
waypoints and other pilots around you.
Almost every key on the
keyboard does something
which is a fantastic feeling indeed.
It really makes you feel
like you’re piloting something
that’s simultaneously
under your control
and totally beyond
your comprehension.
Also, playing with the joystick is a must.
I mean it too! The game
won’t even start up
if you don’t have a joystick
plugged in and configured properly.
So, whip out the old Logitech
WingMan and get to shooting.
And dying.
And dying and dying…
Good grief. Why is this game so hard?
Even on Easy, “XvT” is no joke,
especially if you’re in one
of the flimsier spacecraft.
And what are TIE fighters even made of?
Aluminum foil and Scotch tape?
Still, once you get the hang of it
and really come to terms with
the targeting, the weapons systems,
ship energy resource allocation and
space dogfighting techniques,
this a whole lot of fun to play.
Especially with that phenomenal
John Williams soundtrack going,
which helps make even the most mundane
escort mission a thrill to complete.
[pilot chatter]
[laser cannon fire]
[pilot chatter]
However, it’s still a just collection
of skirmishes against bots
unless you play online.
Back then, it was a problem for me
because I only had AOL dial-up
for a handful of hours a month
and using that precious time
to play games was a no-go.
And today it’s a problem because
unless you’re playing over LAN,
you have to use some
external programs
and schedule a time to find
some people to play against
because there’s no match-
making or anything like that.
Now I know some of you might be
watching this with fond memories
of playing this on MSN Gaming Zone
or something, and that’s great!
I’m sure it’s a lot of fun multiplayer.
But I never had that pleasure back then
since I couldn’t play online
and today I can’t really be
bothered with setting up
Hamachi, Voobly,
GameRanger, Vienna Sausages,
or whatever it takes to run this thing online.
Thankfully, that’s where the
“Balance of Power” campaigns come into play.
This was an expansion pack sold
separately the following year
and actually came packed in with
boxed copies of the game later on,
like this one I have here.
This adds a ton of awesome stuff,
most notably a story-driven campaign
for both the Rebel and Imperial sides
featuring 15 missions each.
Not only that, but it includes flyable B-wings,
new offline missions against bots,
and support for those new-
fangled 3D accelerator cards
from 3dfx and PowerVR.
Yeah, back then, and even now, it takes
“XvT” from being a slight disappointment
to being a pretty awesome entry in the series,
at least for the features that I look for.
The story missions are far
more complex and varied
compared to the fake-feeling
death matches of the original game.
And I’m still an excitable dork
when it comes to patching games
to work with Voodoo graphics cards
like it allows here.
The combat also seems a tad
more forgiving on Easy mode,
with your lasers actually making contact
with your targets more frequently
and enemies not instantly ripping you
a new one as soon as you spawn in.
Quite simply, “Balance of Power”
is a balance of gameplay,
taking the already enjoyable multiplayer parts
and adding something for us
single-player gamers to enjoy.
You can also grab it DRM-free and patched to
work on modern PCs from gog.com nowadays,
so go ahead and give it a shot.
It’s an oldie but a goodie
and if anything, it’s already a step
ahead of the new “Star Wars Battlefront”,
since it includes space battles, am I right?
Heh heh.
Ah, gamer jokes.
[scream and explosions]
[orchestral music]
Well that was a video.
If you liked it, that’s great.
You can click some of these and watch more.
Or subscribe to watch more in the future,
which is weird.
I’m talking to the future right now.
Not sure what to do about that.
I should be doing something responsible.
Drink your Ovaltine.
And if you’d like to do social things like
Twitter and Facebook, you can do it.
As well as Patreon, if you’d like to support
the show financially and see videos early.
And as always, thank you very much for the Force.
Oh, that was trying too hard.
Insert “Star Wars” references here.

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