I cannot tell you how long I have been waiting for this game. I am what you would say a complete Star Wars fan, watched all the movies (many times), got a few posters, a collection of figures and vehicles, talk about it a lot, read the books, Hate Star Trek because its genuinely crap, etc, etc.
Now in a complete new for Star Wars games you actually get to build installations & vehicles and get our your conquering boots to eliminate the other players on the map. Also known as the strategy game, in this case a real-time strategy game!
In this game you get to play as the 'Evil Empire' (that's good because I like the empire) or the Rebellion. At your disposal you have a number of vehicles and troops to attack the enemy with. You get to build AT-AT's and Speeder Bikes, Storm Troopers and AT-ST's, Snowspeeders and Y-wings, gun turrets, installations and a nice array of other units to help you on your way to victory.
The campaign game starts you off with a few short tutorials, which I must say are quite essential, the tutorials teach you about selecting units, grouping, adding waypoints and using the camera in the 3D environment. Not much you might say, but it's always good to get the feel of a game before diving right in, anyway you can't skip it, so live with it :]
The other game is a skirmish game, where you can choose to dive right into the action minus the plot and the tutorials, a good place to go if you want a quick start.
The feel of the game takes a while to get used to, the main problem being the camera, which is very movable but its fixed axis means it can take a while to get used to moving it about. But it won't be long before you will be flying across the map in full control looking exactly at what you wanted.
The game interacts really well and the user interface is simple, we explained and not muddled with hundreds of options and buttons. If you ever do get stuck little pop-ups will appear telling you what that button does.
Despite the fact that you may think that this kind of game can get very complex its actually very simple. To build something you just need to click on the build icon and choose what type of building you want, most of the selections only go down to a second level so you can never get lost. Once you have chosen what you want to buy or build you just point to the map until a green icon appears and then press the right mouse button and within a set time the vehicle/s or buildings will appear.
There are a few buildings that can only be placed next to your HQ and these will be placed once you have decided to order them, these generally allow you to upgrade you units speed or firing rate for example. Or to allow you to buy new buildings or vehicles.
Everything in the game is bought using command points, you can get command points for every enemy unit/building you kill or every enemy/neutral building you capture. The number of command points you have is always displayed on screen so you can always till if you have enough command points to buy a particular building or unit.
The in-game graphics are not too special, the landscape is very bare at times with very little on screen bar a small hill or bunker. Many of the maps are quite big and you spend most of the time finding the enemy but when you do the battles are full out war with laser fire and mines being lobbed everywhere. There are some nice explosions with real-time lighting but really that's the best bit about the graphics. Except for the menus of course.
By the later stages of the game you get to play with the large vehicles, which really get stuck in and before you know it your completely lost in the battle watching people get killed, vehicles get blown up and you really wonder what you need to do next before it all goes to pot. But don't get me wrong all this is the fun part of the game :]
The in-game sound is nothing special. The usual unit responses are there, the gunfire and explosions are all there, pretty much standard stuff. The music on the other hand is great and keeps you going at times when you feel all is lost, the rock SW theme is great... if only we could put it on tape and sell it, hmm!
A great addition to the SW list of products, let down a bit by the graphics the game still comes through to provide great gameplay and some good level design means that you could be playing this for a while.