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Star Wars: X-Wing

Entry updated 19 December 2017. Tagged: Game.

Videogame (1993). Totally Games (TG). Designed by Lawrence Holland, Edward Kilham. Platforms: DOS (1993); rev DOS (1994); Mac, Win (1996).

Star Wars: X-Wing is the first in a series of Space Sims set in the Star Wars universe. Written by developers who had previously worked on World War Two aerial conflict simulations, they present space combat as primarily a form of dogfighting between single pilot starfighters, as do the films they reference. X-Wing and Wing Commander (1990) popularized space combat as a game form, one which perhaps reached its apotheosis with Freespace (1998). The games are well crafted, with diverse and challenging mission designs and entertaining gameplay. Their linear plots are integrated into the timeline of the original Star Wars trilogy: Star Wars: X-Wing takes place during Star Wars (1977) and Star Wars: TIE Fighter during Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983), ending before its final battle, while Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance is also set during episodes V and VI, but on the rebel side. The atmosphere and style of the films is conveyed with skill.

In X-Wing the player adopts the role of a pilot for the Rebel Alliance. The game's missions are split into three tours; in the third the player mysteriously takes Luke Skywalker's place during the final assault on the Empire's Death Star at the end of A New Hope. There are two expansion packs, Star Wars: X-Wing – Imperial Pursuit (1993 TG, DOS) and Star Wars: X-Wing – B-Wing (1993 TG, DOS), covering respectively the retreat from the rebel base on Yavin after the end of A New Hope and the arrival of the eponymous new Alliance fighter. Star Wars: TIE Fighter (1994 TG, DOS; 1997 Mac; 2001 Win) designed by Lawrence Holland, Edward Kilham refines the gameplay while interestingly inverting the premise; the player becomes a pilot for the Empire. While there are some amusingly melodramatic moments between missions, the game is reluctant to place its players in truly evil roles; the majority of the story concentrates on the destruction of pirates and rogue Imperials rather than the Rebel Alliance. This game is often considered the best of the series. It had one expansion pack, Star Wars: TIE Fighter – Defender of the Empire (1994 TG, DOS), which continued the first game's story of a war against a Grand Admiral who has rebelled in the hope of gaining personal power. The plot was concluded in Enemies of the Empire, a campaign included in the 1995 Collector's edition of TIE Fighter. Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance (1999 TG, Win) designed by Lawrence Holland offers a stronger storyline than the previous games, as well as the chance to fly larger ships. The player character is the youngest son in a family of interstellar traders who sympathize with the Alliance; eventually he joins the rebellion, taking part in a series of missions that end with Return of the Jedi's climactic Battle of Endor.

Related works: Star Wars: X-Wing vs TIE Fighter (1997 TG, Win) designed by Lawrence Holland is primarily intended for online competitive play, though it has a limited plot; it remains popular today. Star Wars: X-Wing vs TIE Fighter – Balance of Power (1997 TG, Win) added some new ships and a single-player storyline focusing on the struggle between Empire and Rebel pilots in a remote sector of space. [NT]

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