Star Wars: Lethal Alliance Review
Star Wars: Lethal Alliance box art
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
Star Wars: Lethal Alliance is a little bit better than your average Star Wars videogame but it’s a few light-years away from perfection.
by Cole Smith

There’s 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 it’s the single-player mode that will give you the best run for your money.

Star Wars: Lethal Alliance screenshot

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 game’s 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.

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Events in this game take place between Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Episode IV: A New Hope. There’s no new story ground being broke here. It’s just a period of time where things happen, and what’s 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. She’s 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.

Star Wars: Lethal Alliance screenshot

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 isn’t any game. It’s 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 you’ll be reminded of the franchise is the presence of the Stormtroopers that you’ll do battle against. You don’t even get to use a lightsaber for crying out loud.

Rianna is a very capable mercenary. She’s 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 you’ll use the Thorn of Ryloth which is a form of the lightsaber. It’s 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 it’s a great feature for the player but it does nothing to establish the game’s originality.

Star Wars: Lethal Alliance screenshot

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 aren’t very aggressive and even when they do attack they don’t 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, you’re 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 you’re 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. There’s a great sense of speed to these levels. You’ll 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. You’ll have a long enough view distance to keep on top of things. Thankfully you won’t 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 it’s a good looking game and even though the gameplay is largely predictable, there is enough variety to keep you interested and motivated. The environments aren’t overly detailed but when filled with animated characters such as droids and Stormtroopers, you’ll 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 wasn’t paying attention to what they were saying. Musically the game is excellent and if there’s one thing that all Star Wars games have in common, it’s equally excellent sound effects.

Star Wars: Lethal Alliance screenshot

Lethal Alliance may not be worthy of a purchase but it’s 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. They’ve made sure they’ve played it safe and I would advise you to do the same and rent this before you buy.

Features:

  • One-of-a-kind collaborative fighting: Combine the elite weaponry and acrobatic skills of Rianna with the multifunctional defensive and slicing support of Zeeo to create a formidable team. Only by working together can you complete perilous missions and ultimately steal the plans for the Death Star.
  • Epic gameplay and cinematic action: From the chaotic planet of Coruscant to the dusty, dangerous alleys of Mos Eisley, Rianna and Zeeo must use an arsenal of tricks to complete their mission.
  • Set up holographic disguises to fool Imperial guards, commandeer gun turrets, master death-defying flying escapes and battle carnivorous beasts.
  • First original Star Wars game built exclusively for handhelds.
  • Multiplayer modes enhance collaborative gameplay while taking advantage of the unique capabilities of both the PSP system and Nintendo DS.
  • Iconic environments and characters: Your mission takes you to classic destinations such as the Death Star and Tatooine, and allows you to discover never-before-seen locations on Despayre, Danuta and Alderaan. Each new environment offers encounters with unforgettable Star Wars characters and species, including Boba Fett, Kyle Katarn, Princess Leia Organa, Darth Vader, Imperial officers, Rodians, Quarren and stormtroopers.

    By Cole Smith
    CCC Senior Writer

    Rating out of 5
    Rating Description

    4.2

    Graphics
    Not amazing but certainly worthy of praise. The Stormtroopers continually remind you that you're in the Star Wars universe.

    3.6

    Control
    The nub is touchy and the auto-lock makes things too easy until you take it off when it makes things difficult.

    4.8

    Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
    Excellent Star Wars audio from the voicework to the sound effects.

    2.5

    Play Value
    The linear nature of the gameplay will not help expedite your return.

    3.5

    Overall Rating - Good
    Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
  • Screenshots / Images
    Star Wars: Lethal Alliance screenshot – click to enlarge Star Wars: Lethal Alliance screenshot – click to enlarge Star Wars: Lethal Alliance screenshot – click to enlarge Star Wars: Lethal Alliance screenshot – click to enlarge

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