Star Wars: Trench Run review

Reviews Damien McFerran 14:10, 17 Nov 2009

We review Star Wars: Trench Run for iPhone to see if its recreation of the classic Death Star scene is enough to keep movie nuts happy

For those of you that have seen the original Star Wars – and let’s face it, there are indigenous tribes in the Amazon that are able to recite entire scenes from George Lucas’s magnum opus, so that’s pretty much everyone – the key scene isn’t Obi Wan Kenobi’s death or Princess Leia’s daring rescue – it’s the epic trench run at the film’s climax.

The experience of piloting an X-Wing fighter down a narrow corridor, avoiding barriers and taking out gun turrets is one that is perfectly suited to the world of video games, which is why we’ve seen numerous recreations on a wide variety of formats, stretching all the way back to Atari’s legendary wireframe coin-op of the ‘80s.

The iPhone is the latest platform to replicate this classic slice of cinema thanks to Star Wars: Trench Run. With a title like that, you’re left in no doubt as to the subject matter, but it’s actually quite misleading as there’s more to this game than just attacking the Death Star.

You can also engage in thrilling dogfights with TIE Fighters above the space station’s surface, twisting and turning in an attempt to take down as many enemy craft as possible. In many ways, this portion of the game is the most enjoyable, although it does get a little samey after prolonged play and the challenge is almost non-existent.

The trench attack section is obviously the main draw of the package, and for the most part it’s an exhilarating ride that manages to convey the tense excitement of the scene that inspired it.

Using accelerometer controls you must guide your fragile spacecraft through a series of obstacles, including narrow apertures, low beams and of course enemy gun emplacements, the latter of which can be vaporised with your lasers.

Your main objective is to reach the end of the trench and deposit a torpedo into the Death Star’s exhaust port, thus tearing the station apart from the inside and putting an end to the Galactic Empire’s evil plans.

To make your task easier you’re able slow down time by tapping the left-hand side of the screen. Using this nifty feature – which no doubt comes as a valuable side-effect of being at one with The Force – you’re given more time to take out targets and perform evasive manoeuvres.

From time to time you’ll need to avoid the unwanted attention of Darth Vader’s TIE Fighter, which appears behind your craft. During these sections the action is viewed from Vader’s perspective as he attempts to bring your ship within his laser sights.

This portion of the game is especially challenging as you have to navigate your ship through obstacles as well as keep it out of Vader’s crosshairs.

All of this interstellar malarkey results in a game that is incredibly exciting to play, but there are some annoying quirks which sour the overall experience.

Firstly, the accelerometer control is a little twitchy and the automatic calibration seems to present issues. We noticed that during some games our craft would refuse to pitch up and down, but as soon as we died the controls were magically rectified.

Mercifully, this is a minor issue and when things work they work very well, and we imagine such negligible inconsistencies will be addressed with future updates.

The second issue is stability. Not only did the app force-close on us a couple of times, it also suffers from choppy movement in the opening few seconds of each trench mission. This can be frustratingly disorientating and can even cost you a life or two.

We can only assume it has something to do with the level of data being loaded. Thankfully it doesn’t take long to settle down, and again it’s a problem that’s relatively easy to live with.

The third and final dilemma is loading times. Star Wars: Trench Run takes ages to load each mission. It’s hardly a game-breaking situation but it’s annoying all the same, especially when all you’re after is a quick blast in-between meetings at work or on the bus ride home.

Despite these problems there’s no denying that Star Wars: Trench Run is very successful at replicating that seminal scene from everyone’s favourite space fantasy flick. The addition of online high-score tables helps to augment the challenge, and the use of authentic sound effects, visuals and even footage from the film itself further enhances the appeal.

If the faults present can be solved in the near-future then Star Wars: Trench Run will become a highly recommended download. As it stands, The Force is unquestionably strong in this one, but it’s not a Jedi yet.

Star Wars: Trench Run info


Platform: iPhone

Category: Action/Arcade

Price: £2.99

Publisher: THQ Wireless

Website/Demo: THQ Wireless's website


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