Based on the movie of the same name, “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” closely follows the film’s story while expanding on certain (minor events), which may have been cut out from the final film, as well as present them from different character perspectives.
While the environments of “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” may appear extremely diverse, the overall visuals aren’t that impressive. Characters appear somewhat blocky and certain details in the backgrounds are difficult to distinguish. The camera may prove to be another issue. Clearly, the developers didn’t have a good handle on proper third person perspective viewing as the positioning of the camera is approximately 90 degrees above your character, making it sometimes difficult to see what’s in the distance. The good thing I can say about this game’s visuals is that the cut scenes are excellent.
In “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace”, you play as four characters over the course of the game, these include Obi-Wan Kenobi, Queen Amidala, Qui-Gon Jinn, and Captain Panaka. The game spans 11 levels, many of which involve the situations as depicted in the actual movie. The foes you face here are quite varied, ranging from battle droids, goons on Tattoine, to Darth Maul himself. Weapons come in variety as well, ranging from lightsabers, thermal detonators, blaster rifles, to proton missile launchers. As the Jedi, you’re probably going to want to use the lightsaber the most.
As I mentioned earlier, the game follows the plot of the film with a few differences. For instance, when Qui-Gon makes the bet with Watto in the movie, he must come up with the money from Jabba the Hut in the game. There’s many more instances like this involved, including escorting the Queen on Coruscant and killing a bounty hunter. There’s a bit of dialogue interaction involved as well, not as advanced as say “Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic”, but well enough. Therefore, it’s important that you say all the right things to to the right people in order to obtain whatever you seek without having to resort to violence.
My only complaint about the gameplay is that the developers could have altered the finale a little bit. In the film, Lucas cuts back and forth between 4 different conflicts (the Naboo space battle, the Jedi fighting Darth Maul, the Queen and her posse taking back the palace, and the Gungans fighting the droids). Unfortunately, the game follows suit with this, with the exception of the Gungan battle though. This is somewhat of a big letdown as the game switches back and forth, especially for the big lightsaber duel with Darth Maul, one of the most anticipated parts of the game (and movie if I might add).
“Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” features your basic third person control functions, there’s a button for every indication including weapon select, fire/action, jump/flip, and so forth. There’s an extra option for lightsaber use as well. The controls operate pretty smoothly for the most part and using your lightsaber is just as fun as it should be.
I’m not the first to say it but “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” is not the best ‘Star Wars’ game out there. It’s only purpose is to make you feel like you are apart of the movie, interacting with all that you had witnessed on the big screen. While video games are highly capable of this, “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” lacks the level of immersion which ‘Star Wars’ games like ‘Rogue Squadron’ and ‘Jedi Knight’ have. Not to mention, the annoying camera angle coupled with the less-than-stellar graphics don’t help this game too much. On a separate note, it would have been preferable if the game version was entirely different from the film, plot-wise that is.