A long time ago in a galaxy, far far away…..
Of any license that developers could possibly use the StarWars-universe is probably one of the most popular ones avalaible these days. Whereas official games are quite easily granted a StarWars-license the exact opposite is the case for the products sprouting from the dedication and fertile minds of gamers who intend to create their own mods. LucasArts has always been very conservative about allowing these projects to continue (they stoppwed a mod for Starcraft in its tracks etc) because “these projects would ruin the continuity within the StarWars-setting”.
Those of us who have had the questionable pleasure to play atrocious StarWars games such as “The Phantom Menace” and “Force Commander” know better. LA is just afraid to see free games being made that are actually better than the officially released games.
But enough of this ranting, Galactic Conquest (GC) is still here to stay so let us have a look at this mod and see if it is worth your while enough to justify a hefty 230 mb download.
In terms of the graphics this mod is quite good. The available vehicles are still somewhat limited as this is the first Alpha-version but what is available, such as the Snowspeeders, AT-ST’s, the YT-1300 “Millenium Falcon”, TIE Fighters and TIE Bombers, look very well done as they are all nicely modelled and skinned.
The level that comes with this first release of the mod is the famous setting of Hoth which pits Imperials, trying to capture Echo Base, versus the Rebels who must use the stationairy defences aswell as their other abilities and vehicles to stop the Imperial warmachine in its tracks.
The layout of the map is well done with vast planes of ice and high mountains. Also, there are some nice touches to the map such as the trenches near Echo Base, two AT-AT’s that are scattered on the battlefield, where one of these behemoths forms one of the five capturable flagpoints, Rebel stationairy defences such as turrets and lasercannons etc.
However, there are also flaws in terms of the graphics. Most noticable is the lack of texturing inside Echo Base which causes the inside of the base to look quite bad. Also some of the weapons used by the classes are still lacking somewhat in overall detail or otherwise need some improvements. The Rebel soldiers, when tossing grenades, don’t actually hold the grenade. Instead it is floating about 10 cm to the left of the hand-model. Also, the weaponmodel of the rocketlauncher as weilded by the anti-armor class is a bit on the large side taking up almost half of the player’s viewscreen.
Final score: 15/20. By the looks of the nicely modelled and skinned vehicles already in this first release aswell as the many nice aspects and touches on the Hoth-map the team definitely has the skill to improve upon the number of graphical errors still present.
When playing the release I immediately noticed that some things concerning the gameplay still need some work. Most noticable of a number of flaws in the first release is the lack of balance. To make things more structured a number of things I’ve seen while playing are displayed below.
1. The Snowspeeders are nearly as fast and manoeverable as the Imperial TIE Fighters and significantly faster than the Imperial TIE Bombers. Furthermore they can hold two people which makes them ideal for pickups and subsequent flagcapturing by dropping of these people.
2. TIE Fighters and TIE Bombers are too slow in terms of their speed when in flight and and taking of with these craft is a problem: taking of horizontally causes them to often stick to the icy surface whereas taking of vertically makes them spin out of control on many occassions.
3. AT-ST’s, which are meant to be used on the assault, have so many bugs and weaknesses that in the current version they are nearly useless: they are too slow as far as their top speed is concerned, cannot fire accurately when moving, fire to slowly to stand a fair chance against incoming Snowspeeders and don’t have the amount of armor they need to survive long enough. Also, they suffer from a number of bugs of which the armor bug is the most annoying. This bug basically means that when getting shot at from the back or side, so where there are no openings, the driver gets killed even though the AT-ST itself is still intact.
4. All classes have their pros and cons apart from the heavy infantry which seems to have no real purpose. Their weapon is fast firing but very inaccurate, even when prone, which makes them unsuitable for long distance engagements and as such they don’t have the accuracy needed to kill enemy soldiers or shoot down airtargets.
Final score: 25/40. The gameplay is already quite promising on some occassions and there is still plenty of room for great ideas but the flaws in the balance of units and weapons takes away some points from the final score on this segment.
Ease of use:
The file comes as an executable and is thus easy to use. The menu structure of the game is the same as BF1942 be it with edited buttons. The only downside is that the animation of a TIE Fighter together with the Millenium Falcon and the Deathstar, which is running in the background of the menus, uses quite a large amount of memory/cpu power. The standard BF1942 menus run fine but when GC is activated the menu swapping etc becomes considerably slower.
Final score: 8/10. The animation on the background looks nice but could use some more optimisation.
Documentation and support:
The new patch doesn’t come with any direct documentation but the map itself clearly states the objectives that need to be fulfilled by both sides. Also, there was an issue with the Millenium Falcon which was resolved by a quickly released patch.
Final score: 10/10. Nothing to complain about here, hence a full 10 out of 10 points.
The Wild Card:
Galactic Conquest is a mod with a lot of promise. The vastness of the StarWars-universe grants a lot of opportunities for new maps, vehicles and features. If the team is able to iron out the bugs, edit the graphical flaws and better balance out the different vehicles and classes GC can be among the top 10 mods for Battlefield 1942.
Final score: 15/20. An enjoyable mod even though it’s in its first Alpha-version.
The total score comes to 15 + 25 + 8 + 10 + 15 = 73%
Suggestions and comments:
- Classes and vehicles could use some more balancing. - The AT-ST bug needs to be fixed. - The TIE Fighter and TIE Bomber could use an increase in their top speeds. - Echo Base needs some texturing corrections.