It captures the feel of the movies, but SOTE's gameplay issues and difficulty keep it from being total greatness.
Simply put, the game's story takes place between the events of "Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi". The game's main hero Dash Rendar is on a mission to help Luke Skywalker save Princess Leia.
The gameplay has a couple of styles going for it. One is the fantastic space battles where you fly around and blast at everything. The battle on Hoth is the most recognizable example of this. The control is great, the action is awesome, and it you really felt like you were reenacting the scene. On the other hand, we have the clunky third-person ground battles. The control here is more slippery, causing you to fall of the edge of a level more times than necessary. The camera can also be a major issue, especially during the boss battles. The camera tends to never give you a clear view of the action at points, and it doesn't help that enemies like to shoot at you off screen a lot.
The game also has issues with being able to save your progress. The problem comes from the fact that these ground levels are very long and drawn out and that checkpoints are scarce. It can take one up to thirty minutes just to finish a level. Another issue comes from the game's difficulty, mainly from the game's boss battles. These bosses not only take a lot of gunfire to take down, but they can take away large chunks of your health, as well as constantly firing at you not being able to give you the opportunity to try and find health, ammo, or just a safe spot. Dying sends you back to the menu where you have to repeat those thirty minutes again. However, despite these problems, when the game decides to work it can be pretty fun.
For an early title SOTE has some pretty good technical qualities. Some textures are better than others, but overall the game looks pretty good and the game retains that great Star Wars atmosphere. The sound effects are great and the orchestral soundtrack is what you would expect from the series.
To sum things up:
-Excellent sounds and music
-Fun flying missions
-Retains that great Star Wars vibe
-Slipper ground controls
-Very hard boss battles
-Frustrating checkpoint placements
-Long, drawn out levels
Shadows of the Empire is an ambitious attempt to create a successful game based off of the movies. But the game's overall lack of polish in its core gameplay is what really prevents this game from reaching its true potential. Thankfully the Star Wars games on the N64 that proceeded this have had much better reception and managed to improve on where SOTE messed up. This game is mainly recommended for the big Star Wars fans. For everyone else, it is not really recommended.