Mini-review: Star Wars Rebels

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Take a traditional 2D running and jumping platformer, add RPG elements and a genuine story that's on rails but does its damnedest to disguise it, then add lashings of Lucas Arts Star Wars production values, artwork, special effects, sound and music. Then monetise it with a free download followed by simple one off in-app-purchases that won't break the bank (unusually, for the modern mobile world) and you've got what should be a hit game on Windows Phone. This is (Star Wars) Rebels.

From the Store intro:

Take on 4 FREE levels of battle against the Empire as Ezra Bridger, dodge TIE fighters, blast Stormtroopers, and drive an Imperial AT-MP. With in-app purchases, wield a LightsaberTM, fight Star Wars™ bosses, drive an AT-DP, and unlock 30 more levels and 50+ unique challenges. Customize and expand a secret Rebel Haven where heroes can hide out and rescue citizens. And, interact with characters like Zeb the muscle of the Ghost team, Hera the pilot, and even Chopper the grumpy Droid™. 

 Fight to save citizens of Lothal and restore hope to the Star Wars Rebels universe by joining the rebellion today! The game features enhanced shading and dynamic visual effects through Metal support, which gives players a truly unique Star Wars Rebels, experience

For Everyone:

  • BATTLE against the Empire as Ezra Bridger, the street-smart hero, and dodge TIE fighters
  • DRIVE an Imperial AT-MP and activate boosts to take down the Empire’s legion
  • COLLECT Hope and gift to citizens to earn boosts
  • CUSTOMIZE your secret Rebel Haven with rewards like living units, towers, building mods, and art 
  • DISCOVER secret rooms, Stormtrooper helmets, and play to earn rewards from Chopper

With In-App Purchases:

  • UNLOCK 30 additional levels, with more Empire enemies, boosts, secret rooms, and rewards to expand your Rebel Haven
  • BATTLE STAR WARS BOSSES including TIE bombers, AT-DPs, and TIE fighters
  • WIELD a Lightsaber as Kanan Jarrus, the cowboy Jedi, and battle with your twin-blaster as Sabine Wren, the explosive artist

So, essentially all casual play here is completely free, while those who want to take the game further pay the £3 or so needed to unlock the rest. An eminently sensible system - you can tell Gameloft are nothing to do with it!

Expecting a freemium horror, I was pleasantly surprised at every single turn. Here's my walkthrough of the first half an hour or so. [There's an awful lot of running and jumping and blasting and then again and again, but having seen many a teenager addicted to LEGO Star Wars or similar on consoles I can see how this would work in the same way... I've tried to show some of the set-up and atmosphere shots below as well as those with action - for that, see the promo video at the end.]

Screenshot, Star Wars Rebels

An action shot from the promo series first, to give you a flavour of the main gameplay mechanism; you use left/right taps on the bottom left of the screen, along with a control in the middle to jump - and that's it... apart from the shooting, of which more below.... Note the 'hope' circles that you move over to collect as you traverse the levels...

Screenshot, Star Wars Rebels

The game starts with an optional cinematic animated video sequence - very impressive indeed.

Screenshot, Star Wars Rebels

Tutorial levels teach you the basics of what to do (moving, jumping), including firing here. Cleverly, this is done by tapping and holding while dragging in the direction in which you want to fire - the system works brilliantly once you get the hang of it - a nice innovation.

Screenshot, Star Wars Rebels

Each level is cleared with from one to three medals (not stars, oh no, this isn't Angry Birds!)...

Screenshot, Star Wars Rebels

The basic level structure is linear, though in the pseudo-3D game world it's all linked seamlessly - you don't really need this traditional representation of progress.

Screenshot, Star Wars Rebels

But on with the action, backwards and forwards, running and jumping onto obstacles (you can't go 'round' anything, this is a 2D world, despite the 3D 'look', battling stormtroopers along the way, as you struggle to reach a citizen or other goal. Luckily your hero can absorb substantial impacts and laser fire before dying!

Screenshot, Star Wars Rebels

Rescuing citizens is your main task, and you get to talk to them along the way too, eventually bestowing your collected 'hope'...

Screenshot, Star Wars Rebels

Along the way you'll unlock better weapons for your hero too....

Screenshot, Star Wars Rebels

Challenges are accepted and completed during the course of normal play, at least if you're good enough!

Screenshot, Star Wars Rebels

The in-app purchases are sensible and don't come into play unless you're a serious player trying to get hours into Rebels - and even then the amounts are affordable, with no silly 'click carelessly here and regret it' options, as per other freemium offenders.

You can grab Rebels in the Store here. Note that it's a half Gigabyte download, and needing over a Gigabyte when installed, so best to install the game to microSD if you have the option. It seems that 512MB RAM phones can still play Rebel, thankfully. 

PS. As a bonus, here's the official promo video:

Source / Credit: Windows Phone Store