Rise of the Empire is a rollicking ride through the original Star Wars trilogy. Having just finished the game on the new Infinity 3.0, I found it to be even better than Disney’s first Infinity foray into this universe – Twilight of the Republic. Twilight offered fans a brand new story during the Clone Wars era with the added bonus of being able to play multiple characters from across the Star Wars timeline in the original adventure. It was fun to be able to play as Kanan Jarrus from Star Wars Rebels in the Clone Wars universe, plus the added coolness factor of playing the only Jedi who is equally proficient using a blaster or a lightsaber.
But playing Rise of the Empire was even more fun than Twilight of the Republic. While the story wasn’t an original adventure, it did bring me back to my childhood as I got to play with all of the classic characters like Luke, Leia, Han and Chewie. And like Twilight, you can play multiple characters from across the timeline in Rise. Rise is an adventure that takes players through all of episodes IV-VI in the Star Wars timeline. You get to fly down the Death Star trench and fire the shot that destroys the Death Star. You get to face off against an AT-AT attack on the Hoth base and single-handedly take one of the metal beasts down. And you get to take down the shield generator on Endor and also fly into and destroy the second Death Star. I like that there seemed to be more space adventures where you got to pilot a starship and battle Imperial forces or pilot a snowspeeder and use your harpoons and tow cables to help bring down those AT-ATs. There seemed to be an even bigger variety of mission types available in Rise of the Empire. There also didn’t seem to be as many superfluous mini-missions (like “go and find three tiny creatures and bring them back to me one at a time” – not a big fan of those).
The Star Wars purist might be disappointed in the game since the storyline takes liberty with cinematic history. In this adaptation, Han, Luke, Leia, and Chewie all venture through the entire story together. All four of them are present at the beginning of the game when the Imperials take the Rebel Blockade Runner, where in the movies only Leia was on board. In every significant instance where only one of the characters was found in the movies, they can be found together in the game. And of course, there are some scenes that are missing or differently interpreted (for instance it isn’t Obi-Wan who cuts the power to the tractor beam – it’s YOU). But only for the Star Wars stickler will these prove to be distractions. The game itself is fun with missions that vary in difficulty depending on how you approach the game. If your goal is to maximize your characters and achieve the maximum number of stars on every mission, then you’ll have to conquer the game at the hardest levels. If you simply want to complete the missions and see the action unfold, you can do so without as much effort (but still have it be challenging enough to make it feel like an achievement).
This game isn’t Star Wars: Battlefront. It’s not meant to add to the canon of Star Wars history. Every map of every planet isn’t supposed to be an exact replica of the places you’d find in the movies. Instead it’s meant to be a fun way to use some of your favorite characters from the Star Wars universe and explore the different worlds they inhabit. It’s also a great way to continue to add even more cool stuff to your Toy Box. So if you don’t mind that quite a few liberties are taken with the storyline in Episodes IV-VI, Rise of the Empire is packed with challenges and missions that are fun for every Star Wars fan. Best thing about the game? You find out the ultimate fate of Jar Jar Binks!