With Star Wars currently having a bit of a revival at the moment thanks to the DVD box set, I thought I'd talk about one of my favourite PC games of all time - TIE Fighter. While X-Wing was the original space combat game, TIE Fighter improved on it in may ways, with better visuals, sound, slightly easier missions and a more varied structure.
The biggest change of course was that instead of fighting for the goodie-goodie Rebellion, you played the game as a TIE pilot for the mighty Empire. Initially you were at a disadvantage when you went up against X-Wings and other rebel starfighters because basic TIE's don't have any shields. As the game goes on however you get to take control of TIE Bombers, Interceptor's, Advanced and Defender's, each better than the last.
The great thing about the X-Wing/TIE Fighter games if you ask me is the amount of strategy that the missions involve. They're not just straight forward shoot 'em ups, but instead you have a wide range of keyboard controls for juggling shield, engine and laser settings. You have to trade one off against the other - if you want fast shield regeneration you will have to suffer a reduced top speed or slower laser rechage. Then there are all the different wingman commands you can use to order the rest of the fleet to defend you, attack your target, etc.
It's a shame LucasArts stopped making these games just as 3D acceleration was catching on in home PC's. X-Wing Alliance is the most recent offerering and is also a very good game, but I can't help but wonder what a proper X-Wing sequel with all of todays bells and whistles would look like. I think it would be amazing, and a darn sight more playable than any of the recent Rogue Squadron series. Hopefully Totally Games will go back to the series after a long enough rest and dazzle us with their game design. Maybe they could even create a new story instead of reusing set pieces from the original story, or perhaps use Timothy Zahn's trilogy of books as the basis?
You can find the X-Wing Collector's Edition package if you look around on the net. Not many shops sell it new anymore but it should be around on ebay. You get X-Wing Collector's Edition, TIE Fighter Collectors Edition, and a cut down version of X-Wing VS TIE Fighter. The B-Wing, Imperial Assault and Defender of the Empire expansion packs are also included. This is vast amount of game to enjoy. After that little lot, you could also go for X-Wing Alliance, also still available second hand quite often. Until a new game comes out, TIE Fighter will remain my favourite of the series - I still have fond memories of being Darth Vader's wingman toward the end of the game. Note: The closest thing to a new game in the series is Secret Weapons Over Normandy - it's by the same team, but of course it's not quite the same because it's World War II rather than Star Wars.