Star Wars: X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter is the third release of the X-Wing computer game series. With its lack of story-driven campaigns, it is not generally viewed as a part of the regular series of X-Wing games, with the successive X-Wing Alliance, instead, considered by fans to be the third installment in a trilogy preceded by X-Wing and TIE Fighter.
Gameplay and features
Technically superior to its two predecessors, the game is multiplayer oriented. XvT runs on Windows, and requires a joystick (the others could be played with mouse as well). Technical improvements include: CD audio soundtrack, high resolutions, texture mapping to the ship models of the in-flight game engine, 3dfx support and a sophisticated pilot and mission selection system which tracks the points and awards the player accomplishments.
The game engine was completely rewritten. In the previous two games, the player's craft was at the center of the game grid (at coordinates 0, 0, 0) and the position of all other items was stored relative to the player craft. "Movement" of the player craft therefore meant that the relative position of all other items was altered. This approach was only possible in single player mode, however, and had to be abandoned for a multiplayer game.
An important addition is the ability to choose the squadron that the player wants to participate in (e.g. in a disable and capture mission, the player can choose between either the Y-wings that disable a ship, or the X-wings that support them), ship, and armament. Furthermore, due to the multiplayer aspect most missions featured in the game can be flown by teams of players, either together against the computer or even pitting player teams against each other.
Response to the game, on the other hand, considered it infamous for being the only part of the series designed exclusively for multiplayer and/or personal practice only. The original X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter game lacks a storyline, coherent scenarios, and cutscenes. Instead, the game only features two "Battles":
These Battles comprise eight individual combat missions each which can be played on either the Rebel or the Imperial side, either as single missions (Combat Engagements) or as a "Battle" where three successful missions are required for one side to be considered the winner. The individual scenarios grouped together in a "Battle" are stand-alone. They do not follow a storyline and have no clear chronological order.
An expansion was released on November 30, 1997 in order to fix what much of the fanbase considered missing. Balance of Power features a Rebel and an Imperial campaign of 15 missions each with cutscenes that advance the story, and a third Battle:
- Balance of Power in the Airam Sector (Battle)
The pack also adds B-wing starfighters and other various craft that were lacking from the original game.
- "Spreading the Rebellion": As a pilot in the Rebel Alliance's elite Rogue Squadron, the player participates in the evacuation of a base under fire from Imperial forces, counter-attacks against the Empire, capture of the Imperial Interdictor Cruiser Compellor, and other missions revolving around a Rebel campaign to establish a foothold in the Airam sector. The campaign ends with a battle against the Super Star Destroyer Vengeance.
- "Imperial Task Force Vengeance": Based aboard the Imperial-class Star Destroyer Rage, the player is a pilot in the elite Avenger Squadron and fights with Task Force Vengeance under the leadership of Admiral Senn. Mirroring the Rebel campaign, a series of missions depict the Imperial efforts to pacify the Airam sector and to crush the Rebel insurgence there, but the individual missions are entirely different from those played for the Rebel side. The campaign ends with the assault on a Rebel shipyard that is presumed to be their sector base.
Storyline and canonicity
The scenarios from the Battles, and the two Campaigns provided in the BoP expansion, contribute canon in a similar fashion to the storylines of previous (and subsequent) games of the series.
Although grouped together into Battles, the isolated nature of these combat scenarios makes it difficult to pinpoint when or even in which order they occurred. It seems clear that they take place prior to the Battle of Endor though, while the deployment of TIE Avengers in some missions means that these missions at least take place no earlier than the inception of this particular starfighter around 2 ABY.
Balance of Power
The third Battle, Balance of Power in the Airam Sector, and the two Campaigns presented in the BoP expansion together form the Airam Sector storyline. Based on circumstantial evidence, the timeline of events can be summarized as follows:
- Rebel Alliance Operation: Quick Strike, Mission #4: Ambush Arms Smugglers near Ytha'ac Cluster
Airam smugglers deliver stolen Imperial munitions to the Rebels, but the cargo transaction comes under attack from imperial forces bent on reclaiming the stolen goods.
- Imperial Operation: Clean Sweep, Mission #5: Ambush of Rebel Leader at Airam Platform
Imperial forces attempt to kidnap a Rebel leader after a meeting with neutral Airam.
The chronological order is unclear, but it is evident that both missions took place prior to the later Airam campaigns, having occurred during operations Quick Strike and Clean Sweep, respectively (and not during the Battle "Balance of Power in the Airam Sector"). The Empire deploys Gunboats in both scenarios, but not from Talon squadron, and TIE Avengers from Zeta squadron (not Avenger squadron) only in the former, indicating that Task Force Vengeance had not yet been formed, or at least had no part in these particular scenarios.
Opening moves Part 1
Rebel campaign missions #1 through #4 take place roughly around the same time as Imperial campaign missions #1 through #7. The Rebels retreat into the Airam sector and evacuate their outlying bases, with the Empire in pursuit. A cutscene shows the destruction of a Rebel asteroid base by a Star Destroyer following its detection by Avenger squadron. Following Imperial mission #5, the Interdictor cruiser Compellor is sent away to a repair yard in the Swellen system to have an anti-warhead defense system installed. During Imperial mission #7 the Imperial task force receives a full shipment of TIE Avenger starfighters for their elite Avenger squadron and Gunboats which are subsequently formed into the newly created Talon squadron. The new starfighters almost completely replace the previously used more common designs among Task Force Vengeance.
Balance of Power
The Rebels reconnoiter the Imperial fleet massing at a staging point in the Almaran system (Rebel campaign mission #5), then initiate the Skirmish near Almaran to draw two Star Destroyers and Interdictor Compellor (diverted from its mission to Swellen to intercept the Rebels) into an ambush that only Compellor survives (Rebel campaign mission #6). Subsequently, ISD Rage launches punitive strikes against Airam suspected of supporting the Rebels and the Empire wins the support of one Airam clan leader (Imperial campaign missions #8 through #10).
In addition, the individual engagements depicted in the Balance of Power in the Airam Sector Battle all take place during this phase, after Task Force Vengeance has received its new starfighter complement. They depict an attempt by the Empire to deploy biological weapons against Airam supporters of the Rebel Alliance and numerous small fleet engagements between Imperial and Rebel forces. However, none of these encounters yields a decisive result for either side.
Gravity well technology
Having located the Interdictor Compellor in dock near Swellen, the Rebels unsuccessfully attempt to destroy the strategically valuable ship (Imperial campaign mission #11). They later manage to capture it and, with help from friendly Airam, proceed to remove its gravity well projectors and install them on a Modified Strike Cruiser while the Empire frantically searches for their stolen Interdictor cruiser (Rebel campaign missions #7 through #9).
War of attrition
The Rebels use their modified cruiser on its maiden flight to intercept and destroy a large Imperial supply convoy (Rebel campaign mission #10) and then scuttle the empty hulk of the Compellor in full view of an Imperial battle group to cover their tracks. Subsequently, the Rebels defend their new Airam allies from an Imperial attack, resupply, capture the renegade Airam clan leader who had sided with the Empire, and finally manage to intercept another Imperial supply convoy (Rebel campaign missions #11 through #14). Meanwhile, the Empire manages to obtain at least some supplies despite Rebel counterattacks (Imperial campaign missions #12 and #13) and pinpoints the location of their secret shipyard.
The Battle of Nocto
Admiral Senn has taken a great risk in not following the Emperor's orders to the letter, and desperately needs a quick success against the Rebel Alliance. Despite being low on supplies, he opts for a gamble and launches an all-out surprise attack against the recently located Rebel stronghold, their shipyard in the Nocto system (Imperial campaign missions #14 and #15 and Rebel campaign mission #15). Both the shipyard and SSD Vengeance perish in the climactic battle; the Empire and the Rebel Alliance have achieved a draw by wiping out each other's forces.
Since the combat missions from the Battles are standalone missions that can be played for either side, the outcome of these engagements naturally depends on the actions of the player(s). While the actual occurrence of the individual mission can therefore be considered canonical, the outcome is unknown; generally it is safe to assume that a given Battle mission ended in a draw and neither side managed to fulfill their mission objectives.
This is different for the sequenced campaign missions in BoP, because all of these missions have to be completed to advance to the next mission within the Campaign. Here it can be assumed that both sides successfully accomplished their respective campaign missions. This and the events depicted in the cutscenes are thus canon. The timeline given above is based on this premise.
However, this approach creates a problem in the last mission (Battle of Nocto) because of the conflicting mission objectives: The Rebel side must destroy the SSD Vengeance and prevent the destruction of their shipyard, while the Imperial mission objectives are reversed. This can only be resolved by assuming that the destruction of the SSD Vengeance and the shipyard occurred more or less simultaneously. This assumption is supported, although not proven, by a number of points:
- It keeps in line with the approach used for the Battles to consider conflicting missions to have resulted in a draw;
- Neither the debriefing text for either side after the completion of the last mission nor the respective cutscenes rule out mutual destruction as a result (the shipyard is shown to be destroyed by starfighters and the Vengeance is nowhere to be seen; conversely, the cutscene showing the demise of the Vengeance does not show the shipyard);
- Neither Admiral Senn nor SSD Vengeance are ever mentioned again;
- The Airam sector is never again mentioned as a Rebel stronghold;
- The line of Modified Strike Cruisers manufactured at the Rebel shipyard is discontinued.
The ultimate canonical outcome of the Airam campaigns remains arguable, however.
X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter: Flight School
A cut-down version of X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, subtitled Flight School, was re-released as part of the X-Wing Collector Series, which also contained the Collector's CD-ROM versions of the first two games. In this edition, X-Wing and TIE Fighter are retrofitted with the X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter graphics engine, which uses texture mapping instead of Gouraud shading and uses XvT physics (Most notably faster 'laser' speed and de/acceleration), but omits the I-MUSE dynamic music system.
(Parentheses show craft HUD designations)
- T-65C A2 X-wing (X-W) (Player flyable)
- BTL-A4 Y-wing (Y-W) (Player flyable)
- RZ-1 A-wing (A-W) (Player flyable)
- B-wing (B-W) (Player flyable. Included in Balance of Power mission pack.)
- Z-95 Headhunter (Z-95) (Player flyable)
- TIE Fighter (T/F) (Player flyable)
- TIE Interceptor (T/I) (Player flyable)
- TIE Bomber (T/B) (Player flyable)
- TIE Advanced (T/A) (Player flyable)
- TIE Defender (T/D) (Not included, but supported by game engine.)
- Alpha Class Xg-1 Star Wing Assault Gunboat (GUN) (Player flyable)
- Missile Boat (MIS) (Not in missions, but supported by game engine.)
- Lambda Class T-4a Shuttle (SHU)
- Delta Class JV-7 Escort Shuttle (E/S)
- Delta Class Dx-9 Stormtrooper Transport (TRN)
- Gamma Class ATR-6 Assault Transport (ATR)
- Beta Class ETR-3 Escort Transport (ETR)
- Combat Utility Vehicle (CUV)
- IPV-1 System Patrol Craft (SPC)
- Scout Craft (SCT) (Not included, but supported by game engine.)
- Utility Tug (TUG)
- Heavy Lifter (HLF)
- Bulk Freighter (FRT)
- Container Transport (CTRNS) (Not included, but supported by game engine.)
- Cargo Ferry (CARG)
- Modular Conveyor (CNVYR)
- Muurian Transport (MUTR)
- YT-1300 Corellian Transport (CORT)
- Medium Transport (MTRNS)
- Corellian Corvette (CRV)
- Modified Corvette (M/CRV) (Included in Balance of Power mission pack.)
- Nebulon-B class Frigate (FRG)
- Daedlus (First appearance)
- Nebulon-B2 Modified Frigate (M/FRG) (Included in Balance of Power mission pack.)
- Passenger Liner (LINER) (Not included, but supported by game engine.)
- Carrack Cruiser (CRCK) (Not included, but supported by game engine.)
- Strike Cruiser (STRKC)
- Modified Strike Cruiser (M/SC) (Included in Balance of Power mission pack.)
- Escort Carrier (ESC)
- Dreadnaught (DREAD)
- MC40a Light Calamari Cruiser (CRL) (Included in Balance of Power mission pack.)
- MC80a Calamari Cruiser (CRS)
- Interdictor Im-418 (INT)
- Victory Class Star Destroyer (VSD)
- Imperial Class Star Destroyer (ISD)
- Super Star Destroyer (SSD) (Included in Balance of Power mission pack.)
- XQ1 Platform (PLT/1)
- XQ2 Platform (PLT/2)
- XQ3 Platform (PLT/3)
- XQ4 Platform (PLT/4)
- XQ5 Platform (PLT/5)
- XQ6 Platform (PLT/6)
- Asteroid Hangar (R&D FC)
- Deep Space Manufacturing Facility (FAC/1)
- Telgorn Shipyard (SHPYD) (Included in Balance of Power mission pack.)
- Telgorn Repair Yard (REPYD) (Included in Balance of Power mission pack.)
- Class-A Cargo Container (CN/A)
- Class-B Cargo Container (CN/B)
- Class-C Cargo Container (CN/C)
- Class-D Cargo Container (CN/D)
- Class-E Cargo Container (CN/E)
- Class-F Cargo Container (CN/F)
- Class-G Cargo Container (CN/G)
- Class-H Cargo Container (CN/H)
- Class-I Cargo Container (CN/I)
- Communications Satellite (SAT)
- Mine Type A (Mn/T1)
- Mine Type B (Mn/T2)
- Mine Type C (Mn/T3)
- Probe 1 (PROBE/1)
- Navigation Buoy (BUOY)
- Asteroid Laser Battery (LAS BAT)
- Asteroid Warhead Launcher (W LNCHR)
- Gun Emplacement (GPLT) (Included in Balance of Power mission pack.)
Notes and references
- Star Wars: X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter Instruction Manual (PDF) on The Internet Archive (content obsolete and backup link not available)
Clubs and Servers