A long time ago â€“ actually, it was only about 1999. But I digress; a few years back LucasArts released Star Wars Episode 1: Racer. At the time it was well received by fans and critics alike, praised for its speed and its ability to capture the magic of Star Wars. Now, eight years later, LucasArts have re-released Racer for a whopping $15. And the best news is that unless your computer is older than time itself, youâ€™ll be able to play it with the settings at maximum! But how does it hold up against todays latest and greatest?
If youâ€™re a graphics whore, youâ€™re going to want to bypass Star Wars Episode I: Racer. It had its graphical blemishes back in its day, but now it looks plain ugly. Worse, it doesnâ€™t support widescreen resolutions, meaning that on modern monitors and laptops, everything is going to seem stretched. However, graphics arenâ€™t everything, and provided youâ€™re not a shallow gamer, youâ€™re probably going to find Racer to be worth the $15 or so it costs.
For those that donâ€™t remember the game from when it was originally released, Racer is based on the famous pod racing scene from Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. While Lucas only blessed (or cursed, depending on your point of view) us with the Boonta Eve Classic, Racer fleshes out the pod racing concept with a variety of tracks across eight exotic worlds.
Players will be able to pick from a variety of racers and pods â€“ although racers are tied to specific pods â€“ and race in tournaments that consist of four or more races. The races themselves manage to capture the sense of speed that one would expect from pod racing, something that apparently only aliens and the Chosen One can do. Some of the later races become difficult due to distinguishing the track from the background, especially after being used to modern day graphics, but on the whole the game is an enjoyable racer.
The game is best played with a joypad, although it can be played with the mouse if you turn the sensitivity down. It even supports force-feedback peripherals. Playing with the keyboard is an absolute nightmare and it totally spoils the elegant simplicity of the game, thus neutering any speed-induced adrenaline rush.
Racer doesnâ€™t really stand up next to the racing games of the present. Where it shines, however, is in capturing the magic of Star Wars. Providing you use your imagination a little to get past the archaic graphics, Racer really does allow you to feel as if you are part of the Star Wars universe. The soundtrack and the sound effects also help create the illusion that you are racing a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away . . .
And did I mention itâ€™s $15?
There hasnâ€™t really been anything like Star Wars Episode I: Racer since it was released in 1999. If you loved the game then, or if youâ€™re a Star Wars fan that missed out on at it at the time â€“ perhaps your computer wasnâ€™t up to the task â€“ then you might want to check it out now. However, if youâ€™re one of those people that like your games to be cutting edge, you might want to look for something a little more recent. Itâ€™s good, but it hasnâ€™t aged all that well.