Star Wars Trench Run Hands-On Preview

Star Wars Trench Run is now available on the App Store for $4.99. We think this might be a bit steep for the amount of content we saw when we played it a few weeks ago, but hopefully fans of the movies will feel like they’re getting their money’s worth. Is it as good as X-Wing vs TIE Fighter? We’ll let you know soon in our review.

The climactic Death Star battle from the end of the original Star Wars still gets Jedi wannabes pumped up. Some of us still feel sad thinking of Porkins, Biggs Darklighter, and the other members of Red Squadron who died taking on the Empire’s moon-sized space station. Maybe they were just fictional heroes, but their valiant struggle is still iconic.

This is why we’re excited to see this classic moment in Star Wars history reenacted on the iPhone. In THQ’s upcoming shooter, you’ll get to fight TIE fighters with your X-Wing in open space, with hardly anything more than the Death Star or Yavin IV serving as your horizon. You’ll also go into the trenches of the Death Star, disabling its defenses so you can set up that one crucial torpedo shot.

We liked the free-flying dogfighting levels, which reminded us of the classic X-Wing and TIE Fighter space-flight sims from Lucasarts on the PC. They’re quite a bit simplified for Trench Run, though.

Instead of adjustable speed, your most helpful tool is a Force slowdown button that you can activate by touching anywhere on the left side of the screen. This makes it easy to line up your targets and take the shot by hitting the right side of the screen. You have different camera views, including one inside the cockpit, and the tilt controls seemed to work well for this simplified shooter.

Once you get down into the trench, the game becomes a bit more like the Rebel Assault games on the PC: You’re surrounded on all sides by the walls of the Death Star trench and kept on a very narrow flight path. In one level we played we had to take out turrets lining the path while avoiding obstacles, and in another Darth Vader’s TIE fighter loomed behind us, and we had to avoid his targeting system from the point of view of Vader’s cockpit.

Of course, the game ends when you get a direct hit on a particular exhaust port with your proton torpedoes, but we still want to know what replay value the game will have. At this point it looks like a simple but exciting hour or two of gameplay, and now we’re begging THQ to go even deeper with a full-on Star Wars space fighter. This may be just a taste of what’s possible when a skilled developer uses a big license to make a game exclusively for the iPhone. MTFBWY, THQ.

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