Action Review
Star Wars: Battle for Naboo
Not even the Force can save this woeful console escapee
Publisher: LucasArts
Developer: Factor 5
Posted: 4/18/2001
Written by: Adam Fleet

Like a harbinger of horrors to come, the first character to defile your screen when you fire up Star Wars: Battle for Naboo is none other than Jar Jar Binks. He runs out and is cutely squashed under the Star Wars logo. Perhaps this was included as a last warning—something along the lines of "abandon all hope, all ye who play this game." Or maybe it was just a Freudian slip on the part of the programmers. Either way, it is somehow fitting that one of the most widely hated characters ever to come from the Star Wars universe is the first thing you see in one of the worst games to ever use the Star Wars license. Watch your back, Force Commander—the competition has arrived.

Here you must save your moronic Captain from certain death. Get used to it... ...because you'll have to save him a lot. Nice tree. Is that supposed to convince us this is really a swamp? Yeah, right.

If you fail to take the hint and continue to play the game, you'll find that the events occur around the same time as the Star Wars: Episode I movie (the now famous Star Wars scrolling-yellow-text-across-a-star-field shtick fills in some background information for all of those who didn't see the film). You play the role of one Gavyn Sykes of Naboo's Royal Security Forces, who must have done something very bad to pull duty starring in this game. The evil Trade Federation—the decaf non-fat latte version of the much feared Empire—has attacked the peaceful planet Naboo, and while the Queen runs off to get help from the Galactic Senate, you get left behind to build an army of rebels and fight the invaders. Before long you'll wish they'd just sent you to peel potatoes instead.

The mission-based action gameplay takes you from the streets of Naboo's capital city out into the countryside, to swamps, mountains, and several other poorly rendered venues. With graphics featuring some truly bland textures and sad-looking 2D sprites, the total package is uglier than Chewbacca on a bad hair day. You scoot around this low-resolution playground in the game's half-dozen or so vehicles. Some hover close to the ground, others fly around, but they're all basically the same. They all have similar primary blaster-type weapons and secondary missile-type weapons, and each handles worse than a three-legged AT-AT. Your enemies are all manner of droid-craft that you're forced to chase around in circles; a task made frustratingly difficult by a radar display with no height indicator and a pitifully short viewing range that causes enemy vehicles to pop into existence much closer than you expect.

The 15 or so missions themselves are fairly similar and largely uninspired, and would be mostly harmless if not for the fact that almost every mission is instantly lost if any of your incredibly stupid allies succeed in getting themselves killed. And they want to die—you can tell. You can almost hear them cry out, "I can't take being in this game anymore. Please, let it end!" as they go speeding off into a hail of blaster fire. In true console fashion you can't save during missions, so failure to protect your foolish allies means starting from the beginning of the mission again. Your only incentive to fulfill anything other than the bare minimum requirements for mission success are a couple of lame technology enhancements for your vehicles. Once you've played through one of these torturous missions a dozen times just to get it right once, however, do you really want to try to do it again just to get enhanced shields? Is this really somebody's idea of fun?

You'll see this screen a lot, and you won't be happy about it. Mountains, swamps, and plains: one set painted a couple of different colors. The space battles are some of the most frustrating.

LucasArts has made some smart moves lately, hooking up with proven winners such as BioWare for their upcoming Star Wars RPG, Ensemble for the real-time strategy game Star Wars Battlegrounds, and Verant for the massively multiplayer Star Wars Galaxies. Unfortunately you're stuck with Star Wars: Battle for Naboo in the meantime. It's ugly, it's frustrating, and in case you're thinking it would be a good game for the kids, it's not. There's no difficulty setting, and the protect-the-stooge missions are grossly un-fun. To get an accurate sense of what playing Star Wars: Battle for Naboo is like, find a heavy object and bash yourself over the head with it. Repeat this procedure every time you think about playing, buying, or having anything to do with this game, and like the rat that finally learns to avoid the electrified cheese you may be spared the horror of this miserable console reject.

At least it doesn't crash...

...but you kind of wish it would; bad graphics, bad controls, bad game

Pentium 233, 64MB RAM, 3D Accelerator None

©2001 Strategy Plus, Inc.
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