Graphics and Sound
Thresh's comments in BLACK
CalBear's comments in BLUE
The graphics for X-Wing Alliance were excellent, and showed lots of ship detail even when up close. With new colored lighting effects, lens flares, and detailed texturing, you're going to feel right in the thick of things while you're dogfighting. The backdrops of space and nearby planets were pretty good, and added to the atmosphere. I also liked the shield effects when you shoot another ship - probably the best thing about the graphics is how much damage feedback you get, provided you're close enough to the other ship.
Another aspect we noted was the sense of scale. Doing flybys of space stations or Imperial Star Destroyers, you really get a sense that they're big, but not quite as big as they should be. Some space combat games can take the size realism to too far of an extreme, and you end up dogfighting with mere specks in the distance when going up against other fighters. X-Wing Alliance doesn't suffer from this problem. The lasers on your fighter craft have a range of around two kilometers, and as you close in on your enemies you can still get in a good look at them and not feel like you're shooting at dots. The beautiful texturing and modeling of the fighter craft aren't wasted, and you're sure to admire the beauty of your targets before you blast them into next year with laser fire. Looks like the designers made a good compromise between realism and fun here.
Light speed to Endor!
Getting an earful
The sound effects in X-Wing Alliance were some of the best I've heard in a long time. The audio in the game is so good that I'd put it up there on a par with Thief and Half-Life. If you don't have a modern generation sound card like a SB Live or MX300 you may want to consider getting one. We appreciated how configurable the sound was - you can turn on 3D sound, choose how many audio channels you want to use (may bog down framerate), and how much speech you want to hear from other pilots in the single player game. All the familiar Star Wars sounds are there, from the low "quack" of X Wing blasters to the high pitched shriek of a nearby Tie Fighter's engines. The only low point is that the 3D sound seemed kind of buggy - The MX200 in my work computer didn't work with 3D sound enabled (sound would cut out in gameplay), while my MX300 at home seemed to work just fine.