By Marc Saltzman
Gannett News Service
Set in time between "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi," LucasArts' Star Wars Demolition challenges players to compete in heated vehicular combat contests, organized by the infamous (and gluttonous!) crime boss, Jabba the Hutt.
It seems the Empire has outlawed pod racing (featured in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace), so demolition has become the new spectator sport of choice amongst intergalactic gamblers. Quite simply, the goal of this futuristic sport is to drive, shoot and destroy.
While this Sony PlayStation and Sega Dreamcast game proves to be fun for a while, Demolition fails to live up to fans' lofty expectations.
Let's first cover the essentials.
In a galaxy far, far away, gamers must first choose from one of many characters, such as the human Wade Fox, Quagga the wookiee or a dug named Pugwis. Each character drives a unique vehicle with one special weapon. For example, Boba Fett uses a deadly disintegrator, while Aurra Sing – a mysterious character first introduced in The Phantom Menace movie – has access to a powerful sniper rifle at her disposal.
To add some extra verve to the battles, each of the many arenas are peppered with weapons, combat droids and bonus power-ups such as cloaking devices and deflector shields. Vehicles drive over these extras when possible for an added advantage over the competition.
One of the most memorable locations is the Great Pit of Carkoon, where competitors not only fight each other, but must avoid being eaten by the giant Sarlacc beast.
The game features a large number of solo and multiplayer game modes. "Battle Mode" allows players to practice their moves against as many as four opponents, and the game is won after all other vehicles are destroyed. The meaty "Tournament Mode" is a four-round fight against one enemy, then two, then three and four.
To unlock new vehicles, a minimum of 10,000 credits is needed (and keep in mind, armor repair will cost you, too). The "High-Stakes Mode" is a neat idea where the player must bet credits before each battle, and the "Hunt-A-Droid Mode" is a timed round against computer-controlled droids.
Each of the game modes can be played via split screen with two players on the same TV.
Star Wars Demolition falls short in a few areas.
For one, the graphics are quite weak, especially on the aging Sony PlayStation system. Naturally, the newer Dreamcast makes the game prettier but it's noticeably inferior to other Dreamcast titles such as Shenmue or NBA2K1.
Second, the game bears close resemblance to Activision's Vigilante 8 demolition game, also developed by Santa Monica, Calif.-based Luxoflux, so seasoned players may have a sense of déjà vu here, and may quickly grow tired of the game play.
At best, the game is a good weekend rental or worth a test drive if you can find it for $20 or so once it's been discounted.