There is little to add to the story arc as most of us are familiar with the story line of the Star Wars Universe. Star Wars Galaxies takes place during the period between Episode IV: A New Hope and Episode V: The Empire Strikes back. The Jump to Lightspeed (JTL) Expansion allows players to take command of Starships and join the many battles in space fighting for the Galactic Empire, the Rebel Alliance or themselves.
This expansion adds many new features to the game including two new races, four new professions, ten huge space zones and more then one hundred new missions. The two new races that have been added are the Sullustans and the Ithorians. Each has a distinct bend toward being shipwrights having been given bonuses that will prove beneficial to new shipwrights. Of the races that could be added to the game this are probably two of the more recognizable races in the Star Wars Universe not previously placed in the game.
The Ithorians are also known as 'Hammerheads' by the distinct look of there elongated T Shaped Necks ending in a domed head. Ithorians are strict herbivores and come from the planet Ithor. They travel on giant herd ships and have used their knowledge to further their abilities in crafting ships. In general, the Ithorians remained neutral during the Galactic Civil War.
The Sullustans are a small mouse-like humanoid with large eyes who were allied early on with the Rebel Alliance. They are well known as capable pilots and navigators due to an innate sense of direction that allows them to remember every path they have ever taken.
You have the choice of fighting on the side of one of three factions: the Empire, the Rebel Alliance, or one of the Neutral Factions. The fight for the hearts and minds of the galaxy has moved from the ground to space. It is here amongst the stars that players take on the rolls of ace pilots for their respective factions - taking there X-Wings, Tie Fighters, and Hutt Fighters against their enemies and eventually each other. This added component allows players to fly some of the most popular spacecraft in the Star Wars Universe including Tie Fighters, Tie Bombers, B-Wings, X-Wings, the Firespray, a variety of Hutt Fighters and even a YT-1300 (Millennium Falcon).
The space zones added are huge and very impressive with nebulas, asteroid belts and many other astronomical features. Traversing from one end of a zone to another with out a hyperspace engine can be a daunting challenge, taking quite a bit of time and energy in itself. And, with many enemies lurking out in space, it can lead to adventures all its own. One of the more amazing features of JTL is the zones. They are beautifully laid out with many places to explore and sites to see. It is a unique experience for any massively multiplayer game to date to go from a fully functional ground game with multiple planets and environments and jump in to space with a similar number of areas and environments to take on and explore. This is perhaps what truly makes Star Wars Galaxies and Jump to Lightspeed an impressive game.
Game Play: Piloting
Each player, when joining a faction, is granted a spacecraft of the most basic design. This spacecraft is more then enough to get a player though the early missions alive. Making the choice of who to fight for isn't easy for many. Do you fight for the Empire and help defend the PAX IMPERIALS? Do you fight for and seek out one of the Bolt holes of the Rebel Alliance and help them Overthrow the Emperor? Or Do you help one the neutral Factions, CorSec, Naboo's Royal Security Force, or for the Infamous Hutts? Each faction has a unique story. As each unfolds, you gain access to new ships, new components and eventually even new areas.
Once you choose your profession you are sent on a series of quests that showcase the various types of missions that you will be sent on. This quest is detailed below as I ran it with my Imperial Pilot, if you don't want any spoilers I suggest you skip this section (Most of the missions for the other Factions follow a similar pattern):
After several seconds of travel I was in front of the Imperial Naval Recruiter and after debating what Imperial Wing to join I decided to work with the Imperial Inquisition on Naboo. Heading to Kaadara as instructed, I went to see Lt. Barn Sinkko of the Imperial Navy not far from the Starport. Several seconds later I was off on my first mission - a patrol around the Naboo Sector. Flying along and getting a feel for my new Tie Fighter, I was suddenly ambushed by a group of X-Wings. After a fast and furious battle, I managed to take down the rebel scum and find my way safely back to Naboo.
This first mission was fairly simple and straight forward. After launching from the Starport, I had to follow a number of waypoints. As I went further in I was attacked by a small group of X-Wings. This mission was a great way to learn the controls for my new starfighter. The combat, however, can come as a surprise to many who are not ready for it. But, having talked to many friends who have completed this initial mission I found no one had any real trouble.
Spending a short time on the ground I was off again with my next mission to find and eliminate a group of several rebel cadets. Flying after this scum was easy; they were no match for the might of the Imperial Navy.
This type of Mission can be tough for many; several friends had a hard time dealing with multiple targets attacking them at once. This can be tricky if any of the enemies get behind you; while this step can be short it is very important as you will have to learn how to take on multiple enemies.
I was quickly dispatched by Lt. Sinkko on another mission this time to escort an Imperial Agent through the system while he collected data on the Rebel activity in the area. This was a difficult mission. Once I located the agent and started to escort him, I came under almost immediate attack by X-Wings and Z95 Headhunters. Fending of the first attack I managed to come out nearly unscathed neatly isolating the attackers and destroying them one by one. However the next wave proved more difficult with one X-Wing managing to hit me hard, nearly taking out my armor. I quickly targeted the scum that had damaged me sending him to join his ancestors but not before my armor was nearly destroyed. Wave after wave kept coming. Just when I though they would never end we reached our destination and the agent jumped to hyperspace leaving me to limp my way back to the space station for repairs.
Escort Missions are one of the more common types of missions that you will complete as you progress in the game. They are fairly straight forward: you rendezvous with the target and escort them to a set point in space while fighting off small waves of 2-4 enemies. However, these are my least favorite missions as it is easy to lose sight of the ship you're escorting during a dogfight.
After Landing and heading over to see Lt. Sinkko, I was informed that my Imperial Flight Suit was ready for me. After dawning the sleek black armored flight suit, I was off to hunt down the leader of the Rebels in the sector to finally remove this infestation of vermin from the worries of the peaceful people of Naboo. Launching into space, I soon received a transmission from Imperial Control telling me that the X-Wing Squadron Leader was trying to escape in to hyperspace. Heading toward him at full throttle I was soon in a dogfight for my life! Coming in behind the squadron leader, I managed a lucky shot taking down his engine and stopping the scum cold. Returning to Lt. Sinkko, I was soon rewarded with a Custom Tie Fighter Helmet and a hearty congratulations on a job well done.
This final type of kill mission is another you will become very familiar with. It is simple waiting for identification of the Squadron Leader's location to be shown, then using waypoints, and finally heading him off and destroying him. This is perhaps my favorite type of mission as it's a straight up fight for survival and is very similar to the kill missions you gain on the ground.
These early missions - while having some tough spots - are a lot of fun and have some good story to them. They go a long way toward assisting players in learning how to play the game. One thing I did find frustrating early on was the dearth of experience that you received from kills; this means a long process of needing quite a few kills in order to advance through to Tier 2. One thing I did like about these missions is, if done properly, at the end of the missions you do walk away with your skills for half the first tier completed.
There are many types of spacecraft available to players - some of the most vaunted ships in all Sci-Fi. Players now have many choices of ships; they come in three distinct categories, Single Player, Two Player and Multiplayer. The personal favorite of most players seems to fall into this first category. These single player ships include the very well known X-Wing, but also includes the A-Wing, B-Wing, Tie Fighter, Tie-Interceptor, and the Firespray (Bobba Fett's Slave ship - I was a Firespray). It is a real thrill to take the seat of a Tie-Fighter or X-Wing for the first time this is what Star Wars Galaxies is all about. There are only two space frames available in the two-player design - these are the Empire's Tie-Aggressor and well known Y-Wing Fighter of the Rebellion. One of the coolest additions to the game are the multi-player ships, Each faction has a ship that can carry a group. For many Neutral factions it's the YT-1300, best known as the base of Han Solo's Millennium Falcon; for the Empire it's the VT49 Decimator - this Assault Craft is heavily armed and armored and is ideal for planetary assault; For the Rebellion it is Gallofree Yards YKL-37r Nova Courier built for the Rebellion as blockade runners - these craft have a deserved reputation as fast, maneuverable and capable of dodging Imperial Patrols. These Multi-Player ships comparable to flying housing in the Star Wars Universe. They can be decorated and crammed full of furniture.
The Space Expansion added travel between starports and the planets - something asked for by players but previously unavailable. To make the leap from the ground into hyperspace is core to the Star Wars Universe. While Spacecraft are large money sinks it was a nice touch for developers to add some savings for pilots in to the game. There are many unique experiences in Star Wars Galaxies that make it a unique game, but to now be able to leap in to the space above Naboo or Yavin IV and fly where the heroes of the Republic, Rebellion and Empire flew gives an amazing feeling.
Game Play: Crafting:
Of the professions added with JTL is one of the more important to the game, the Shipwright class. This class keeps pilots supplied with space frames, components, weapons and armor. While pilots are supplied with there initial spacecraft it is very basic and can't be upgraded in any way shape or form. This means that if you want to gain any new craft, regardless of faction, you'll need to approach a shipwright as some point or another for their many needs.
Shipwrights are like many other crafting class finding, their basis in the Artisan class requiring Engineering IV as a prerequisite for entering in to this profession. Once entering this difficult and perhaps most expensive in both resources and money of the crafting professions, you will find yourself on the road to creating both the chassis and components of some of the most famous ships of the Star Wars Universe.
The shipwright skills, while being extremely important to the game, are very slow to build up. Many of the components that you are creating are very resource intensive and this means a lot of added expense for a shipwright over many of the other crafting classes. This however is tempered by the fact that every pilot needs your skills so you have a large pool of potential clients. New components and chassis are always in demand by players as new ones enter and old ships decay from punishment taken in the battles of the Galactic Civil War.
However having not played much as a shipwright I will leave others to tell you about the highs and lows of playing the class. I will just state that if you can foot the bill, the shipwright is perhaps one of the more profitable and rewarding classes in Star Wars Galaxies.
Sony and Lucasarts have done a great job keeping the requirements for the Jump to Lightspeed the same as for An Empire Divided. These requirements are still pretty light in the minimum specs, and all current players will be able to enjoy the expansion. Even without any major upgrades to the graphics or the engine the game still looks amazing and is ready to compete well into the future. The views and places to go and explore in the space environments are amazing some of the images are quite spectacular.
One of the more important and popular features of Jump to Lightspeed is the ability to use a joystick for space combat, which allows a distinct advantage over a mouse. Having played with both a joystick and a mouse, I have found that while the joystick is advantageous in many situations it can be a hassle to switch between mouse and joystick, especially when trying to type.
Jump to Lightspeed has added something not tried before - the equivalent of a fully new game added to the original. This expansion has added many innovative new features enabling players to take on the rolls of Naval Pilots, Smugglers, Raiders, and many other archetypes. This expansion has really made this the most complete Star Wars game to date, the true ultimate experience for the Star Wars fan. Here players can interact with major characters from the original trilogy, take to space with their own Tie-Fighters, X-Wings and many others. Players are left to write their own chapter in the Star Wars universe and now with more areas to explore and discover than ever before, they can choose many new ways to affect that universe.