Developer: THQ Wireless
Price: $4.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★½☆☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★☆☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★½☆☆

In Star Wars: Trench Run, THQ Wireless attempts to boil down the climactic finale of the original Star Wars film into its simplest components. They may have taken it too far though, as the game suffers from an all-around lack of substance. The Star Wars license is adequately used, offering exciting glimpses of the original source material, but you’ll be paying for that window-dressing as opposed to depth or variety in the gameplay department.

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Trench run comes with two game modes, Mission and Arcade. In the main Mission mode, you play as Luke Skywalker and must pilot his X-wing fighter across 5 segments called Dog Fight, Cannons, Obstacles, Darth Vader, and Exhaust Port. The last four segments just roll up into one seamless stretch, so the game is basically composed of a dog fighting sequence in space, followed by the actual trench run on the surface of the Death Star.

The Dog Fight section presents you with a static background of the neighboring planets, and you must tilt around to track down and destroy a few waves of enemy TIE fighters. As far as dog-fighting games go, this is a fairly simple affair without advanced targeting indications, lock-ons, or aerial maneuvers. You tap on the right of the screen to shoot, and tap on the left to use the force for some useful, slow-motion aiming. You can also switch to a basic cockpit view, and can adjust the sensitivity of the tilt controls, but there is no option to recalibrate the viewing angle.

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Once you’ve destroyed all of the TIE fighters, the actual trench run commences. Your X-wing will be shown hurdling down a canyon of the Death Star, where the occasional, stationary cannon will appear for you to destroy for points or to just evade. The corridor itself will present various structures to avoid, and small openings that you need to delicately fly through. Eventually, a large targeting graphic will appear to indicate that Darth Vader is hot on your heels. You must continue to navigate the trench at this point, while also avoiding the center of Darth Vader’s crosshairs. The targeting indicator goes away after a short period, and you are then free for the stretch run. In this final portion, you just fly briefly along the trench with no obstacles to avoid while Obi-Wan urges you to, “Use the force, Luke!” One shot down the exposed exhaust pipe located at the end of the trench, and it’s mission accomplished. When all is said and done, the entirety of the mission mode can be finished in roughly 15 minutes or so. There are 4 difficulty modes available to tackle, although it would have been nice to see and to be able to select your difficulty from the mission start screen, not to mention your highscore.

When you’re done with the main mission, Arcade mode attempts to deliver some additional replay-ability. Arcade mode has two separate scenarios, Trench and Dog Fight. In the Trench scenario, you race through self-contained pieces of a Death Star trench run. Each new level increases the speed, length, number of obstacles, and number of cannons that are present. The number of cannons you shoot, and your level of accuracy, determines your score. Every fifth level or so adds Darth Vader trailing you into the mix. In Dog Fight, each level adds an increasing numbers of Tie fighters for you to destroy, and will occasionally include Darth Vader’s ship, which takes several shots to eliminate. Both Arcade scenarios are devised to see what’s the highest level you can reach, and how big of a score you can accrue in the process. Unfortunately, the leaderboards that are available only show the global top ten scores for all game modes, and give you no indication as to your best scores and where they may stand on the lists.

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Star Wars: Trench Run gets the vibe right, but the overly simplistic and repetitive gameplay is not the most compelling. Everything about the trappings of the app, from the opening cinematics to the $4.99 price tag, hints at something more meaty and exciting. The actual gameplay is too brief and simplistic, and is without the breadth of options or precision to elevate it into must-play territory. It lives somewhere between casual and hardcore, but struggles to satisfy either side of the spectrum.


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