Star Wars : Shadows of the Empire Review

Old game. But there’s been quite a few mixed reviews for SOTE (Shadows Of The Empire) and I thought I’d try and clear a few things up by writing this review. Hope you enjoy it.

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 GRAPHICS :

Ahh yes, the eye-candy. We all love it, whether we admit it or not, graphics are one of the most important elements of any game. Wave Race 64 has some of the best, Mario 64 has some of (if not the best), and now SOTE steps in to take a shot at creating new killer graphics for display on the “3D Powerhouse”….the N64. Did it make the leap that Wave Race and Mario did ? No. But that doesn’t make it bad. You see we’ve been spoiled by the graphics of some of the games available and now are standards are so high that we’re BOUND to be disappointed.

Anyway, let’s start with the negative side of SOTE’s graphics. Perhaps the worst and most noticeable flaw is the fogging in the Doom style levels. It’s just too damn close to the action and gets annoying after awhile. I guess it’s there to keep the framerate silky smooth, but I mean most of the enemies aren’t THAT detailed, and the architecture isn’t THAT sophisticated, so why does the fogging have to be THAT close?!? In some of the darker levels, you could just look ahead and the fog would light the way for you in front. It would show the enemies clearly in the fog so you could shoot them, and perhaps hide some doors or ramps until the last second when you’ve almost walked by them. 

Also, I have a complaint about the darkness in a few spots. Obviously in some levels you have to have dark rooms and corridors, but the lengths that LucasArts went to in a few spots are just unbelievable. They made it pitch black in some corridors. PITCH black. If the corridor was long enough, the fogging could sort of light the way for you, but when you are working in close quarters…..it’s just plain frustrating! Good thing that only happens in a few spots.

Now onto the positive aspects of Star Wars’s graphics. The space levels are nice but nothing too fancy until the last level when you fly by the deathstar freely and fly in and out of a space station to destroy the reactor core. The first level is impressive with all sorts of baddies flying around. Lazers are blasting everywhere, you’re using tow-cables and blasters to destroy the Imperial buggers. There’s great explosions in that level, with enemies falling down in fire and rubble….it’s just plain impressive. 

On the up-side, the Doom style levels are large and complex with great looking bosses and some okay enemies. They could be more detailed but I guess the frame-rate factor kicked in again and designers decided not to go the extra distance. 

Perhaps one of the most impressive things in my opinion was the underwater sequences. In the Imperial Sewers, you can go underwater and it is VERY realistic looking. It’s murky, green, and somehow manages to capture that underwater feel better than Duke3d, Mario 64, or Quake did. The swimming isn’t very well done (in fact there’s not really any swimming at all) but the underwater sections are impressive nonetheless. 

One final downside before I move onto the next section. I very VERY much dislike the manner in which the cutscenes were done. Stupid comic book style drawings mixed with 3D elements (such as spaceships) just look awful. I was really disappointed with the cutscenes in general. The style is just NOT effective at all.