Rebel assault. (computer game) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by Rick Broida
If Origin's Wing Commander knocked your socks off, LucasArts' Rebel Assault will leave you with nothing but your skivvies. This CD-ROM sequel to last year's X-Wing represents a colossal achievement in game software. Never hs the compact disc so flawlessly delivered digital animation, sound effects, and music--and never so beautifully.
Indeed, Rebel Assault is no less an achievement than Star Wars was in 1977. I was nine, then, and I feel as much like a kid after playing this game as I did walking out of that movie theater over 17 years ago.
Set in the Star Wars time line, Rebel Assault casts you in the role of Rebel Alliance newcomer Rookie One. Though eager to tackle the Empire, you'll need to survive three training missions before earning an X-Wing. First, you'll pilot through Tatooine's rocky Beggar's Canyon to get a feel for ship controls (they're simple: left, right, up, and down). Then you'll navigate an asteroid field, blasting ice chunks in your path and dodging the rocks. Finally, back on Tatooine, you'll guide an A-Wing through an obstacle course.
These missions provide a good taste of what's to come, and it's a bit unnerving. Rebel Assault is not an easy game. Not only is joy-stick control difficult to master (almost too difficult), but the foes you face are out for blood.
The fourth mission, for instance, pits you against no less than a star destroyer, which didn't get its name for being friendly. Subsequent missions vary in content, but all are challenging. There's a land run on Tatooine against Imperial Walkers, a chase through planet Hoth's ice caves, a blaster-to-blaster confrontation with Stormtroopers, and the obligatory Death Star trench run, among others. Changing perspectives add variety: Sometimes you pilot a ship from a third-person perspective, and sometimes from inside the cockpit. As with a true coin-op arcade game, missions are linear; you finish one and go on to the next. Lose all four lives, and the game's over.
John William's thrilling Star Wars score permeates the game and adds remarkable flavor. At first glance you'll say the graphics make Rebel Assault great, but it's the music that does it.
Still, the graphics merit attention, you'll see full-screen, full-motion video taking directly from the movie, along with professionally created add-in scenes and perfectly integrated game animation. Ultimately, the game must be seen to be believed. These are the most stunning arcade sequences ever seen on a computer screen. Unlike other graphics-intensive games, CD-ROM or otherwise, Rebel Assault doesn't suffer from jerky animation, poorly synchronized sound, or lengthy pauses between scenes. Everything about the game is remarkably fluid--almost cinematic.
At what cost? Another surprise: Rebel Assault runs perfectly on a single-speed CD-ROM drive. Beyond that you'll need at least a 386DX/33 processor and 4MB of RAM.
People will be talking about Rebel Assautl for a long time. I recommended that you rush out and pick up a copy and find out why.