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The enduring popularity of Star Wars amongst videogame players has created a legacy of computer and video game titles spanning back over three decades. From the superbly atmospheric Star Wars arcade game to the more recent online roleplaying games, the conflict ridden fantasy universe has always served as a great background for game playing. LucasArts’ 1997 game, X-Wing Vs TIE Fighter, allowed Star Wars fans to play as either a rebel or an imperial TIE fighter pilot and duel with other players in deep space. The original version of this game was, unusually for the time, a multiplayer only title. With the slower internet speeds of the time, it wasn’t long before a singleplayer expansion was released. Called “Balance of Power”, it is this version of the game we will be focusing on here.
Like many old LucasArts games, X-Wing Vs TIE Fighter has a 16 bit installer. This means that, if you are running a 64 bit version of Windows, it will be impossible to install the game normally. Thanks to the work of Markus Egger, a replacement installer has been produced. However, even with this replacement installer, installing the game is still a little fiddly. Because of this, we’ve created our own installation script that will take your X-Wing Vs. TIE Fighter files, prepare them for installation, then launch Markus’s replacement installer (which we’ve included without modifications, as per Markus’s terms and conditions). All you need to do is insert your Balance of Power CD and then your X-Wing Vs. TIE Fighter CD when the installer prompts you to do so. You can download this replacement installer here (link broken? Let me know here).
If for any reason you don’t want to use our installer, you can find Markus’s original installation instructions here. If you have difficulty using our installer, check that you have all the prerequisites listed on that page too.
Running the game
Once installed, X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter should run without any compatibility options set. Before you start on your career as a brave rebel pilot or devious imperial soldier, you will probably want to change the visual settings for the game.
Tweaking visual settings
Balance of Power supported both 3DFX and DirectX graphics cards. On modern machines, you should simply set all options to on or full. You can access the settings from the main menu by clicking on the “Config” button near the top right of the window. You should then select Single Player Flight Engine and Multiplayer Flight Engine by using the small icons at the left of the screen. The screenshot below shows the optimal configurations.
X-Wing Vs. TIE Fighter originally required the player to possess a specialist flight simulator compatible joystick. If you have such a controller today, then undoubtedly this is the definitive way to play the game. If you don’t, it’s still possible to play the game with an Xbox 360 or similar controller. Savingcontent.com have compiled an excellent guide to configuring the 360 controller for use with the game. You can find the guide here. For reference, the controls are:-
Joystick Button 1: Space – Confirm critical orders
Joystick Button 2: E – Target closest fighter targeting you
Joystick Button 3: Alt-3 – Roll/Target ship in sights
Joystick Button 4: T – Next target
Joystick Button 5: W – Cycle weapon settings
Joystick Button 6: Alt-2 – Fire weapon
Joystick Button 7: F8 – Cycle Beam Settings
Joystick Button 8: B – Beam On/Off
Joystick Button 9: Enter – Match targeted craft’s speed
Joystick Button 10: Backspace – Full Throttle
Joystick POV U: X – Cycle Firing Settings
Joystick POV R: S – Cycle Shield Settings
Joystick POV D: F9 – Laser Recharge Rate
Joystick POV L: F10 – Shields Recharge Rate
You can set these options by clicking the Config button and then selecting Joystick options from the small icons on the left of the screen.
The main problem with using an Xbox 360 controller with the game is that X-Wing Vs TIE Fighter was designed around a joystick with a sliding throttle control. On a controller like this, when you throttle all the way back, the throttle control is at zero. On an Xbox 360 controller however, when both the left trigger and the right trigger are released, the throttle control appears at around 50% to the game. In other words, if you want to come to a stop, you have to keep the left trigger pressed down. The only workaround to this is to use Xpadder. Open Xpadder and click on the left trigger, then use the “Advanced..” button. The picture below shows the configuration we used:-
The first icon is a “release zone”. This tells Xpadder to perform this action only when the button is released. The second item is a delay, this is optional, but it seemed to make the control a little smoother when it was there. With this setup, your engines will power down every time you press and release the left trigger on the pad. This isn’t ideal of course, since the engines should only stop if you fully throttle down then release the trigger, but it’s better than nothing. Remember that to fly at full speed, you will need to hold the right trigger down.
X-Wing Vs. TIE Fighter was designed as a multiplayer game and so has extensive multiplayer options that still work today. Discussing all the possibilities for multiplayer sessions would be an entire article in itself. If you are interested in competing with other intergalactic aces, check out this page.
Missing 3D objects – If, after starting the game, you cannot see any 3D objects in space, you may need to turn off 3D acceleration in the games options. This does of course mean the game will use lower-detail models. We tried numerous suggested workarounds to restore 3D models in the game, from unofficial patch utilities to hacked versions of DirectDraw, but unfortunately we were not able to get 3D acceleration working on our test PC.