Welcome to my new series “Squadrons Revisited”. A couple of years ago, I did something similar with Star Wars Battlefront II, running through each mission in the story. In that game, we were introduced to a new military unit in Inferno Squad, well now I’m back looking at Squadrons, which also introduces two new units in the Imperial pilots of Titan Squadron and the New Republic pilots of Vanguard Squadron.
Why am I doing this? Well first of all, it’s a canon story that could easily overlooked, due to just being on a video game. But it is also a fun chance to look back at a game itself, and potentially some of you who read this may decide to try the game for yourselves. I will warn you though, there will be spoilers for the story.
Each article will cover a mission in the game, I’ll talk through any cutscenes and conversations that we can have, talk through how the mission basically plays out (including my thoughts on the gameplay and highlighting some achievements available and the “medals” you can earn on each mission—this will be my second playthrough, having smashed through the story in a couple of sittings when the game first came out but then not really touched the game much since) and finishing each article with something you may be used to from my reviews: “Moments in canon”, anything that I have picked out that can tie into other stories within the Star Wars universe.
Today, we will be looking at the first half of the Prologue: Lord Vader’s Command
Everything begins with a quick cutscene and voiceover from Darth Vader, a command that he is giving to the Imperial Navy. He tells us that Alderaan chose destruction by inciting rebellion, but that there are still survivors from the planet’s destruction who are spreading dissent. The fleet is tasked with finding these survivors until the destruction of Alderaan is complete.
We now go into a cinematic cutscene, finding ourselves with an Imperial fleet led by the Star Destroyer Vigilance. On board the Vigilance, Commodore Rae Sloane is briefing Captain Javes on his new assignment: tracking down a group of suspected Alderaanian refugees, who are heading to the space station Fostar Haven, and destroying them. While Javes accepts the mission, he looks uneasy as he walks off. Reaching the hangar, Javes speaks to his second-in-command, Lieutenant Terisa Kerrill, who apparently has no qualms about the mission, as she reminds Javes that he taught her to ignore propaganda during the Iskalon uprising. The rest of the unit—Helix Squadron—arrives in the hangar, including our protagonist Vash Exalta, and we make our way to our fighters. However Javes has decided that we will fly “old school” for this mission: with him in a TIE Advanced v1 and the rest of us in standar TIE fighters.
And so, we exit our cockpit and prepare to start flying. And let me take a moment to say how wonderful the cockpits look in this game. I’ll say it just once here rather than each time we get a new ship, but I love how each variation of TIE (bar the Reaper, which understandably looks very different) has a cockpit that looks very similar, but with slight differences, while all of the Rebellion/New Republic cockpits look incredible too!
We fly out of the Vigilance‘s hangar and join formation with the rest of Helix Squadron. Of course, as the prologue is also the tutorial, we need to be introduced to the controls and our systems, and this is done narratively in a clever way of the squadron making a flight around the fleet to “calibrate” while a Gozanti-class cruiser is prepared for us (as the basic TIE models do not have hyperdrives). The fleet itself looks incredible and feels so real, with the Vigilance as the flagship surrounded by Gozanti-class cruisers, Arquitens-class cruisers, Quasar Fire-class cruiser-carriers and Raider-class corvettes, with Lambda-class shuttles flying between ships and fighters patrolling and practicing formations, while the fleet is also growing in size, with Kerrill noting the return of the forces who went to Malastare. With the basic flight controls covered, we link with our Gozanti and make the jump to hyperspace, reverting to sublights and detaching from the cruiser once we reach Fostar Haven. And (I’m saying it again) but I love how this looks, with the station apparently built into an asteroid, while the space lanes are busy with a variety of different transport ships.
As the fleet begins to arrive and create a blockade around the station, Javes leads us closer in and we begin scanning the transport ships looking for the
refugees traitors. This soon leads to one transport trying to escape, but it quickly stops and submits to scanning as we test out weapons on it, revealing that the transport is smuggling weapons and spice. As we prepare to continue our hunt, the stationmaster, unhappy with the disruption being caused to all of his clients, activates the station’s defences.
Now we really do have something to shoot at, and something that will shoot back, as Helix Squadron makes taking out the blaster turrets look easy. As we finish off the last one, Helix 4 notes a potential hiding spot for the rebels, and we prepare to follow Kerrill to investigate, only for a squadron of rebel X-wings to fly out and attack us. This is where the fun begins, as now our targets will not just shoot back, but try to evade and chase us. However the fighters are no match for our skills, even though we are using only our primary weapons. With the fighters taken out, Kerrill makes for the tunnel they emerged from, withus in support. Entering the tunnel, we soon catch site of a convoy of 3 transport ships trying to escape, but before be can engage, both of us are disabled by some form of ion attack from behind.
Our assailant is quickly revealed as our own commanding officer, Lindon Javes! He explains that he did not sign up to kill refugees, so will instead protect the convoy, even if that makes him a rebel. As Javes flies away with the convoy, Kerrill and I successfully bypass some of our fighters’ systems, allowing us to chase after the group, avoiding some obstacles that Javes creates in the narrow passageway, while Kerrill contacts the Vigilance with an update and request for reinforcements. Eventually, Javes manages to cause a blockage in the tunnel that stops us following him and the convoy, who make it out the far side of the asteroid field… only for the Vigilance to arrive with a second blockade that stops their escape.
Moments in Canon
- This sees the first on-screen appearance of Rae Sloane, who is a key character in the Aftermath Trilogy of books and the novel A New Dawn. She was also name-checked in the Star Wars Battlefront II story as being the one to order the retreat at the Battle of Endor
Thanks for reading. Red Five, standing by.