Content of the article: "I Finally Finished TIE Fighter!"
I played through TIE fighter back in the 90s.. probably the floppy disk version. I owned the DOS-CD and Special Editions, but never actually played them all the way through (also haven't finished XWA yet, sssshhh!).
So I've had the game in my To-Do list for… 25+ years now. At first I was too busy with other games, then eventually I didn't have a computer with a gameport for my HOTAS setup anymore.
In December I finally splurged on an X52 Pro HOTAS (disclaimer: I can't recommend it. You should get something else). Then I stared at it for five months and finally forced myself to start playing on May 5th. Revenge of the Fifth. I decided to make a let's play of it, to keep myself from quitting mid-way through, or from turning on the cheats, or from playing on easy… but mainly to stop myself from quitting (it's a 90s game, after all. I expected it to be hard).
And BOY! I didn't remember almost ANYHING! I remember feeling like I was a tiny cog in the massive machinery that is the Empire. I remembered fighting mainly the Rebel Alliance, Pirates, and other dissenters.
None of that is true. The game starts just after the Battle of Hoth… you're on cleanup duty, essentially. and you have a ton of wingmen. it feels great. However, as you progress in the ranks, you are given more advanced ships, the Gunboat, TIE Advanced, TIE Defender and Missile Boat… and to balance the gameplay out, they have to make it so you're mostly alone… and either make your wingmen die real quickly, or just script them to straight up leave in the middle of the mission… I don't care if your targeting computer is busted, I'm flying without RADARS here!
and yet… that last bit? is actually pretty cool. Because you are flying an experimental ship at the time. it's bound to run into technical issues… and you're behind enemy lines trying to get back to Imperial controlled space.
Anyway, my biggest concern is that the last 7-8 battles (or the last 40+ mission) are fought almost exclusively against other imperials, not the rebel alliance. Which again I can understand to a certain extent. You have such overpowered ships compared to the rebel scum that it becomes kind of laughable. Even though I spent the majority of my time fighting other TIE variants and Gunboats.. Y-Wings are still my most-killed targets (111 killed, with A-wings being second at 69 (nice!)). Oh, and Advanced Missiles can go jump in a well. It only takes two to kill you, except if you're in a Gunboat, then two will 'merely' remove all your shields and damage 2-3 of your systems… and some capital ships can shoot a new one at you every 10-20 seconds if they want.
Anyway, I started playing the Collector's CD version of the game. Better music, arguably better-aged graphics, and better voices. but it also has some things wrong with it. Such as: Joystick drift. If you want a high framerate, then stations and capital ships will not fire their weapons… So I switched to the Special Edition and upgraded its graphics, resolution(1440×1080), music, voices, and got 60FPS. There are still some wonky things like the aspect ratio in certain sections of the game being squished… but I can live with that.
There is one mission in the Special Edition version that is entirely bugged, and that is Battle 13: Mission 5. In the DOS-CD/collector's CD version, 16 Muurian Transport spread out to attack 4 weapons platforms, but in the SE version they all gang up on one single platform. it melts before you've even managed to deal with half the transports. ALL the platforms MUST survive to clear the mission.
You can clear it on Easy… OR you can do what I did and get one of the old mission editors and fix the bug so that they actually do spread out (in the mission structure, 12 of the MUTRs are supposed to attack Able 1-3 and then if they kill their first target, they go for Albe 4. but in-game they start with Able 4. so.. I just removed their extra goal of going for Able 4 entirely. because it doesn't matter. if Able 1-3 dies, the mission is a failure.)
while I recommend playing through this classic, the difficulty curve is all over the place. So if you do want to play or replay the game, I'd suggest playing on Medium for the main story (Battles 1-7), and switch to Easy for the Expansions (8-10 + 11-13)… and if it takes you more than 5-6 tries to finish a mission, turn on either infinie warheads or even invincibility. Some of the missions took me 12-13 tries to do, and I had to give up on some secondary and bonus goals… or be stuck on that mission forever. All in all, it took me 4 months and 2 weeks to finish the game.
I love the game, I love the aesthetic, I love the sounds of just flying a TIE Fighter, but man am I glad I'm done with it. and just in time for a small break before Star Wars: Squadrons too! Was thinking about starting on X-Wing Alliance, but… I need that break.
Thank you for reading.
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