Star Wars Galaxies: Jump to Lightspeed Review
By Adrienne Dudek |
Saying a quick farewell to my trainer, I get into the pilot's seat of my trusty Koensayr BTL-V8 Y-Wing and launch into space. I've loaded her up with the choicest components, from sweet reactors looted from enemy ships to reliable countermeasures bought at the galaxy's bazaar. From the orbital space station outside of Yavin, I head to the waypoint and await a rebel cruiser carrying precious...well, whatever it is, I'm sure it's precious. Listen, I don't escort cargo if it ain't precious.
After the transport arrives, I follow it to its new departure point and protect it from enemy attacks made along the way. TIE Fighters swoop in constantly, attacking in force and often backed up by more powerful TIE Interceptors and Bombers. As they make passes on the Rebel smuggler, I fall in behind them where I can and unload an assfull of laser on them. New enemies swarm in as the old are defeated until, eventually, the smuggler's ready to jump out of the system. My mission done, I head down to the Labor Outpost near Yavin to get new orders from my Rebel contact.
This is a typical experience in the first Galaxies expansion, Jump to Lightspeed and if that type of mission sounds fun to you, you're in luck; Jump to Lightspeed is going to give you the chance to play it all night long. In fact, often that's all you'll have the chance to do until you amass enough experience points to move on and repeat the process all over again with a new set of tougher challenges and more distant rewards.
While the addition of space combat is a welcome addition to the series (at least for anyone who isn't currently longing for the ground combat revamp), the biggest problem with this expansion is that it takes far too long to reach the higher skill levels. Now I'm all for increasing the thresholds at which you get new skills but the ramp up here is so steep that you'll find yourself playing for hours and hours trying to get enough experience points to earn that new level. And once you get that level you have to play for hours and hours and hours and hours to get the next level.
Admittedly, one man's bread is another man's excruciatingly monotonous crawl towards the next skill level, but even players who are already satisfied with the pace of character advancement in Galaxies may find that the space encounters are much less varied than the encounters you could have as a scout or marksman. On that topic, there are some space missions that require some ground-based adventuring for certain pilots.
Many of the pilot missions are endlessly repetitive. I appreciate the fact that there are missions that you can jump in and out of at will: hunting fighters is fun and profitable no matter how little or how much time you have to play. But after you've spent four or five hours hunting the same ships, or after you've run the smuggler escort missions three or four times, you start to yearn for something new, something less generic. If you train a new skill, you may be rewarded with a new storied mission but then it's right back to the grind again.
To compensate for these shortcomings, there are a few practical conveniences that pilots enjoy. To begin with, piloting skills don't eat up skill points. This leaves you free to develop as a pilot without the fear that you're using up valuable brain space. (The shipwright functions as any of the other artisan professions and does require skill points.) Once past the initial levels of their profession, pilots can also use hyperspace-enabled ships to travel from one end of the galaxy to the other completely free of charge.
I've already talked about the excitement of combat in our First Impressions of the game. What I said then about the combat being faithful to the universe and well-designed is still true. The best thing about the expansion is the combat. Even with the problems with the content and challenge level, I think that the combat has a real visceral appeal. Playing with the joystick is the way to go for me, but the mouse and gamepad support should allow you to remain competitive no matter which controller type you prefer.
Though this is an action-oriented game, ships are limited by the components you have installed. Sure, reactions count for something but a good player can only make up so much for having a crappy ship. There's a very broad range of components (not even including the custom jobs that shipwrights can create), so you'll be able to make your ship exactly the way you want it.