(This is part of my journey going checking out X-Wing. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)
X-Wing’s approach to immersion is a mixed effort, I find. On one hand, after three or four tour missions, there’s barely enough story here to qualify as a passing anecdote. On the other hand, the game provides so many neat little touches between logging in and getting to the actual mission that it still feels like you’re a pilot making his or her way to the battlefield.
I will concur with those who say that the only way to play this game is with a joystick. A mouse just doesn’t work and ends up being a much more frustrating control scheme as you try to flip around and keep track of enemy targets.
The low resolution is a strong drawback as well. Unless I’m literally on top of an enemy target, it’s so hard to make out what I’m seeing in the distance. Several times I’ve been elated to find a target and fire away at it, only to discover that this particular blob was an ally who is now quite perturbed with my combat skills.
The MIDI music, the HUD shortcomings, and the incredibly annoying juggling of shield/engine/laser battery power (especially in my case on a laptop keyboard) help matters not one bit.
However, there’s a lot that still works — very much so — with X-Wing. The sounds are spot-on, from the whump-whump-whump of your cannons to the TIEs screaming by. It’s so dang satisfying to nail an enemy fighter and see it break apart and explode.
Mouse aside, the feel of flying the X-Wing (and company) is terrific. There’s some good speed to be had and I love sending the ship into a spiral.
I think what impressed me most is how much is going on in the battlefield. Sure, it’s mostly scripted, but ships are popping in and out of hyperspace, capital ships trade fire, and you feel like you’re in an actual struggle instead of a rote dogfight.
For my final moments in the game, I charged the star destroyer, firing madly. It rolled and I saw the launch bay in its belly, so I aimed for that and saw two TIE bombers landing there. Right before I smashed into the wall, I blew them both up and cemented my legacy.