Star Wars Galaxies: Jump to Lightspeed Preview

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Publisher: LucasArts
Developer: Sony Online Entertainment


Platform: PC
Official site: starwarsgalaxies.station.sony.com/expansions.jsp

When Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided (SWG) launched on June 26 of last year, fans bemoaned the lack of spacefaring vehicles. Come this fall, with the release of Star Wars Galaxies: Jump to Lightspeed (Lightspeed), players will be able to hop into an X-wing or TIE fighter and leave the confines of planetary gravity for the open reaches of space.

Projected Release: Fall 2004

Kyle Ackerman


When you actually see Lightspeed in action, you begin to understand why it has taken this long for the game to launch into space. Lightspeed is an expansion to SWG, but comes across as an entirely new game. Where combat in SWG doesn't require honed reflexes, Lightspeed is fully real-time, requiring twitch abilities in fast-paced 3D combat. And it's exciting to take your same character, developed through countless hours of play, into raging dogfights in space. How twitch is twitch? The team is planning on supporting joysticks and gamepads in addition to the usual mouse and keyboard combo, but those twitch skills will be bolstered by better equipment and character advancement.

At launch, there should be at least fifteen ships available to players, including the aforementioned X-wings and TIE fighters, as well as the YT-1300 transport (the hull that served as the basis for the Millennium Falcon). You'll be able to explore or fly those ships into combat. And combat isn't just between players aligned with the Galactic Empire and the Rebel Alliance. There will be AI-controlled ships of both factions as well as mercenary craft, such as "Hutt fighters." You'll even be able to fly against massive AI-controlled capital ships. While fifteen ships might sound like it could make space monotonous, those ships will be deeply customizable, from the weapons and engines to the paint jobs and decorative trim.

Player-controlled ships can also be cooperatively run by multiple characters. One can pilot, while another explores the interior of the ship or even hops into a turret and takes aim at pursuing craft. At launch there are ten sectors through which you will be able to travel or battle, each of which can include hazards such as asteroid fields and nebulae (which can host dangerous electrical charges) that will transform combat. The developers hope to get a couple hundred players into a single zone simultaneously, with something like five AI-controlled ships per player, meaning that there should be hundreds or thousands of ships in one zone, with the potential for some impressive and cinematic sorties.

Lightspeed seems so different in gameplay (albeit in the same Star Wars universe) from current SWG play that you might be wondering how the expansion ties in with the core game. As with SWG, you'll be able to hunt and destroy enemies for experience, but combat and missions will be heavily loot-driven, as each encounter has the potential to provide you with new equipment that can be used to upgrade your vessel. To use that loot, you'll have to return to the ground and hire a skilled player to equip the new hardware or just repair your hull. Even new ships will need to be acquired from the players that can build them.

Since Lightspeed is an expansion, it will add both new professions and new player species to the game. The four new professions will include the shipwright and three piloting-related professions. There will also be two new species, with more details to be released later. Fundamentally, Lightspeed promises to add an incredibly cool-looking space combat and exploration component, while still remaining tied into the original, ground-based game.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on June 9, 2004 6:03 PM.

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