Squadrons is perhaps not the dreamed of triumphant return of the Lucasarts X-Wing and Tie Fighters that revolutionized the scene in their day, but it is a hopeful display of intent.
There are few of us who spend our adolescence (and not so adolescence) glued to the screens at the controls of that “space flight simulator” called X-Wing, its sequel Tie-Fighter, the multiplayer version X-Wing vs Tie-Fighter with its Balance of Power expansion and the culmination of the tetralogy: Alliance.
It was for quite some time the dream come true of fans of the original Star Wars trilogy and a breath of fresh air in a world where flight simulators were something much more serious. Well, that was more than 20 long years ago. Electronic Arts and Motive Studios pick up the baton from LucasArts and present Star Wars: Squadrons, spiritual and plot successor to the mythical collection from the 90s, updated for the first time in the 21st century. And although the general feelings are quite positive, the global count has been a bit far from the excellence that most of us expected. It’s a good start, we hope, of what the full space cockpit experience may look like, but not yet at least for now.
A new hope
It is important to separate several factors when gauging what Squadrons means to the average player; you have to isolate the nostalgic factor from the equation and the Star Wars fan factor. Because as soon as you like simulators or flight arcades and cannot alienate yourself from any of these factors, the game will excite you. But that is probably due to how much the player puts himself before what the game offers itself, with which we have had to strive in that sense because in this house we are fans of the arcades, we are fans of the Star Wars and we have such nostalgia for the flag that we even have a retro podcast. And even moving away from everything, trying to give the less visceral opinion, we can say that we are facing a good title and, better still, before the foundations of a platform that can become something great.
Of the three main game modes, two online multiplayer and the campaign, let’s start with the latter. Squadrons puts us in the shoes of a new rebel recruit and an imperial pilot and during the plot we will embody both during almost a fortnight of missions. We will not play the same games from both sides but the consequences of what we do with one we will live with the next, but it will always be the same story. Between missions we can get to know the rest of our squads while they have conversations, or rather monologues, giving more volume to the plot spectrum. The fact that our protagonists have names but are silent is something that seems very inaccurate and takes away a lot of immersion; I wish they had chosen to make it more interactive and more personal. And also, why not, a little longer. It is one of those times in which we go from absolute unknown to essential in just an hour and a half; Although Bioware is in its low hours, EA could have observed the way in which it gets its characters to interact in its games and thus increase the final value of the product by giving more depth to what is being told and who is telling it, but it has not been the case. Ace Combat 7, to cite another example, also has a silent hero but manages through many more lines of dialogue (during missions) to color the protagonists a little more, even those who say nothing.
During the missions we will have the possibility of being in command of most of the iconic ships of the franchise (Xwing, YWing, AWing and the UWing support for the rebel side; Tie-Fighter, Tie-Bomber, Tie-Interceptor and the imperial counterpart. support). There are some concessions in the campaign to the “lore” of the ships in favor of the gameplay but in general we have felt very comfortable at the controls of all of them. Each one has particular characteristics and plays a different role in the squad, and can also customize their equipment as we see fit. It must be said that the missions are good but they are nothing that has blown our minds and although there are certain moments that have their epic, in general some are quite low profile.