Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace is an action, sci-fi video game released by LucasArts in 1999 after the release of the movie of the same name. It is based on the film Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
The player can play as several characters in the movie. As a jedi (Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan) you can go around the many levels of the game and help, although, it’s free roaming and non-linear, thus, you get to make your own choices (this includes killing anyone at will). As a jedi, you have the ability to use your lightsaber, a blaster, a thermal detonator, and the force. As a regular person (Such as Padme), you can use a blaster and detonators. On any level, you can talk to and interact with anyone, you can even chose what to say to them and they respond. Throughout Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace you will battle the sith Darth Maul several times, battle droids, the Trade Federation, Droidekas, Tanks, Vulture Droids, and more.
Film and game plot differences
Much of the game’s plot is significantly different from the plot of the film. Many sections will force the player’s character to work alone. This is most evident in the first four levels, where as Obi-Wan, the player is either cut off from other characters (the player is cut off from Qui-Gon at the start of the first level and only regroups with him at the end of the second mission, albeit with Jar Jar Binks) or sent to perform tasks alone. The third mission in Otoh Gunga sees the player travel through the underwater city and try to rescue Jar Jar. Similarly, the fourth mission is based around events which did not occur in the film (a bridge to Theed is destroyed and the player must fight through the Gardens of Theed to re-group with others). Some missions make the player escort a non-player character (NPC) though a level: in the aforementioned second level (the Swamps of Naboo) the NPC is Jar Jar and in missions five and nine it’s Queen Amidala.
Additionally, in the final duel between Obi-Wan and Darth Maul the latter can be defeated by using the Force or a different weapon than the lightsaber.
Numerous subplots are available for the player to play through which are never even mentioned in the film. One such side-quest sees Qui-Gon free a boy named Tomo from the bondage of Captain Neg (two characters who also only feature in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace) in Mos Espa. Also, Qui-Gon has to make a deal with Jabba the Hutt in order to get the money he needs to wager in the Podrace, while in the movie, Jabba merely watches the race, representing the Hutt control on Tatooine and had no influence on the movie’s plot whatsoever.
Several Dark side acts can be committed in this game without the player turning to a Sith. For instance, Qui-Gon can kill large amounts of the population of Mos Espa, including many children though if he murders too many innocents he will gain a reputation as a “murderer” and Anakin will refuse to help him. Also, when you talk to Padme, she will say that there is a murderer in town, not knowing it is Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan and other players can also do this.
Obi-Wan can kill the entire population of Otoh Gunga (except for Jar Jar and Boss Nass), and can similarly massacre all civilians in Theed. As Captain Panaka on Coruscant it is possible to kill people rather than trade with them, and on the final levels as Queen Amidala it is possible for the player to kill almost all of her allies.
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace starts off promisingly. You are in control of the young Obi-Wan aboard a Trade Federation ship. You run around, fight droids, and push buttons (in later levels this list of requirements will include pulling blocks and jumping). The game looks good, with lots of color and nice lighting effects. It sounds good as well, with the original film score and solid voice acting that sounds enough like the real actors to be convincing. In the early levels, you only face a handful of enemies, and the game seems like it may be a simplified Jedi Knight-like escapade.
With the second level, though, The Phantom Menace‘s faults begin to show – and it isn’t just the introduction of Jar Jar Binks. You begin to see that being a Jedi, at least in this gameworld, is not all it’s cracked up to be. Sure, you can roll side to side and do back flips, but that doesn’t do you much good when your acrobatics and lightsaber are no match for a row of shrubs. And your only real Jedi power is the force push, which lets you knock down close-by enemies. Clearings full of droids are waiting for you, but the combat (which mostly consists of you hitting the fire button repeatedly or just holding it down when you’re tired) is disappointing.
Enemies can hit you from offscreen, when you can’t even see them. Your ability to deflect blaster shots is a great idea, but it feels ineffectual – like you are at some crazed batting cages where all the machines are set on high and pointed straight at you. In fact, the lightsaber seems incredibly weak in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, especially considering how fun it was to wield it in Jedi Knight. Here, it’s about as elegant as a lead pipe, and as you repeatedly bang away on droids and Tusken Raiders, it’s hard not to wonder why it only took one hit to take out Obi-Wan in the original Star Wars. The other weapons are standard fare – blasters, a rocket launcher, an assortment of grenades – but the lack of an auto-aim function (as in Heretic II and Tomb Raider) is a problematic oversight. As is the lack of an always-run option, which forces you to continually hold down the shift key while moving.
While levels have some interesting elements – such as leading another character to safety or solving some peripheral task within – too many problems face you at every turn. Characters whom you are supposed to protect will follow for a while, only to stop at predetermined points – usually in a swarm of enemies whom you’ll then have to attack. Sure, there are plenty of indoor areas that are absolutely safe, but why should they miss all the action just because they don’t want to help? And often they won’t follow you even after you tell them to, so you’ll run to a safe spot only to find they’re still in the midst of the mayhem.
The level design sets up some nice action sequences, but Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace just isn’t up to the task. A horde of droids is ahead, manning a gun turret under a bridge. You can just run up some stairs, flip off of the bridge, take out the gunner, grab the turret, and have at it. Which would be incredibly fun, except for the fact that there are more powerful enemies behind, you can’t turn the turret around, and you can’t see under the bridge while you’re fighting.
|Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace|
|Developer(s)||Big Ape Productions|
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