|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Ubi Soft Montreal||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubi Soft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov 2006||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1 - 6||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|Review by Cole||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Cole Smith
Theres been some real Star Wars duds released for virtually every other system but at least Lethal Alliance is definitely pointed in the right direction for its debut on the handheld. It does feel a bit generic both in terms of gameplay and storyline. There are a few technical problems such as the auto-targeting system and the skittish nub that prevents the game from breaking free from the gravitational pull of mediocrity where it can soar to the outer reaches of gaming immortality. Even though there is a multi-player option its the single-player mode that will give you the best run for your money.
Lethal Alliance can be challenging despite its shortcomings and there are plenty of moments of pure gaming entertainment. While the game is primarily a third-person shooter, there is a decent variety of other elements including collecting, upgrading, puzzle solving, stealth, hacking, on-rails shooting and one of the games best features, the interactivity between you and your droid partner. This form of co-op play is restricted to the single-player mode and is not featured as a multi-player option. The multi-player component is basically a Deathmatch that is almost identical to the single-player mode. So much so in fact that it even suffers from the same control issues. The multi-player mode can only be played via the ad hock wireless system and should not be a deciding factor in whether to purchase this game or not.
Events in this game take place between Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Episode IV: A New Hope. Theres no new story ground being broke here. Its just a period of time where things happen, and whats happening here is some action between members of the Rebel Alliance and the Empire. The hero, or heroine, is a particularly skilled acrobatic mercenary named Rianna Saren. Shes accompanied by a guardian droid named Zeeo who comes in useful for a variety of situations. He can be used as a weapon, gadget, shield and vehicle. The level of interactivity between these two characters is what really gives this game an identity. Rianna will throw Zeeo into a crowd of enemies to knock them out, upon which he will immediately return like a boomerang. He can also be used as a shield to protect her from enemy fire, or to transport her to hard-to-reach platforms.
The levels are linear and take place in various futuristic corridors and warehouses. Exactly what you would expect from any shooter. Because of the acrobatic female character that is able to somersault, tumble, twirl and jump from point A to point B, comparisons will be made to both Prince of Persia and Tomb Raider. Not bad comparisons for any game, but this isnt any game. Its a Star Wars game, one of the most popular franchises in the solar system. Aside from a few cameo appearances from major Star Wars characters, the only way youll be reminded of the franchise is the presence of the Stormtroopers that youll do battle against. You dont even get to use a lightsaber for crying out loud.
Rianna is a very capable mercenary. Shes skilled in ranged and melee combat. Ranged combat involves various weapons such as a sniper rifle, blaster and various other space-age weapons. Melee combat can still be fun even without the lightsaber. In place of it youll use the Thorn of Ryloth which is a form of the lightsaber. Its an energy blade that can be used by non-Jedis such as Rianna. The blade can be used to hack and slash enemies as well as obstacles and to break into data ports for information such as door codes. Another borrowed gameplay element is bullet time that takes place during combat. Sure its a great feature for the player but it does nothing to establish the games originality.
The lock-on targeting system automatically targets enemies and allows you precision aiming while performing the most unrealistic maneuvers. The AI will duck, hide and peek but they arent very aggressive and even when they do attack they dont inflict much damage. Like the thugs in the 60s Batman TV series, they are easily dispatched. The problem comes when you are flanked and you have to change your lock-on targeting system. This is fine when you want to target another enemy because you just cycle through them with the push of a button but there are times when you will have to target an inanimate object like the aforementioned data port. When you shut the auto targeting system off, youre at the mercy of the nub which can be touchy. You have to place the character in the right position in order to steady your aim, and that can eat up precious time when youre faced with the threat of multiple enemies.
Rianna will ride Zeeo during some on-rails shooting. These segments are fun and challenging and are not entirely hampered by the control system. You will steer the droid around obstacles while you shoot at anything that moves. Theres a great sense of speed to these levels. Youll also have to control Rianna as she will have to balance herself atop the droid while rolling from side to side to avoid obstacles and enemy fire. Another fun component of the game is the turrets. When in control of turrets the game will switch from third to first-person perspective. Youll have a long enough view distance to keep on top of things. Thankfully you wont be attacked by unseen, offscreen enemies. In that way the game plays fair.
It would be easy to dismiss some of these problems as inherent when porting a game to the handheld but Lethal Alliance is not a port, it was designed specifically for the handheld market. Perhaps because it was also designed for the DS some compromises had to be made. Graphically its a good looking game and even though the gameplay is largely predictable, there is enough variety to keep you interested and motivated. The environments arent overly detailed but when filled with animated characters such as droids and Stormtroopers, youll be thankful for the extra space which allows you to better maneuver Rianna. The voiceovers are professionally performed but there is a lot of overlapping dialog which is awfully distracting, to the point that I wasnt paying attention to what they were saying. Musically the game is excellent and if theres one thing that all Star Wars games have in common, its equally excellent sound effects.
Lethal Alliance may not be worthy of a purchase but its certainly worth a rental. While this game takes place between the last and the very first Star Wars episode, I was expecting a bit more revelation in the storyline, instead it only reinforces what we already know. Theyve made sure theyve played it safe and I would advise you to do the same and rent this before you buy.
CCC Senior Writer