This is the fourth (and final) game in the X-Wing space simulator series created by Larry Holland and LucasArts. Like the two other games in the series that I played (X-Wing and Tie Fighter) X-Wing Alliance (XWA) can be a lot of fun but very frustrating as well. This game consists of 53 missions divided among 7 parts of a single player campaign. One of the interesting changes in this game is that you are from a merchant family that becomes involved with the Rebellion and the Empire. As such, there are several “family” missions, some of which are related to the main story, that have a story all their own.
Like the previous games you fly a variety of ships, but you don’t work your way up to better ships as you progress. You are provided with a ship appropriate to the mission, but sometimes you can choose a different ship to fly. The ships you fly include the Z95, X-Wing, Y-Wing, A-Wing, B-Wing, and a few Corellian transports, including the Millenium Falcon.The best ships are the X-Wing, B-Wing, and Correllian transports (because they have a sweet auto-fire cannon in addition to your regular weapons). One thing that is difficult is having enough speed, ammo, and shields. I ended up turning on Unlimited Ammo from the options which helped a little. At least that let me leave my weapon recharge at maintenance level (even with unlimited ammo you can’t fire if your weapon energy goes to 0). On some of the harder missions I even turned on Invulnerability which allowed me to move all shield power to engines.
Some of the things about the games that could annoy you start with no in-mission saves. You either win a mission or you lose and play again. Some of the missions are very difficult and losing becomes very frustrating. The game does let you skip up to 3 non-family missions if you lose; it would have been nice if they would have let you use that option for any number of missions or at least after you failed 3 times. On some of the later missions I couldn’t beat I tried to use cheat codes but couldn’t get them to work. I don’t know if it was the version I was playing (2.02) or what. I finally found a trick to skip missions by editing the mission.lst file in the mission folder. After making a copy of the file erase the 3 lines of the mission you are on that you want to skip starting with the mission number. When you re-enter the game you will be moved to the next mission automatically.
Another annoyance was not knowing how to finish certain missions. Sometimes you have to pick up an object and it’s not obvious how to do it. In another missions I had to dock with a station. Well some places tractor beam you in (you press space bar when the message pops up like returning to the Liberty) and others require you to dock (SHIFT-D). One mission I could not figure out what to do; I finally docked and waited about 30 seconds for someone to get off or board my ship. This is another case where having an in-mission save would help a person experiment a little more without having to play the whole mission again.
All in all XWA is a good game, probably the best in the series. If you can live through the difficult missions, you’ll have a lot of fun with this game.