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One of the reasons I love the original Battlefront is because you’re just a small part of something bigger. You’re a soldier of war. You’re not a Jedi or a Sith or any character with a lot of power or influence. Star Wars: Battlefront is a multiplayer-focused title where you take on the roles of various characters or character classes from different factions in the Star Wars universe, specifically the original and prequel trilogies, and battle it out. You get to participate in some of the major battles seen in the films and engage enemies on the ground and in the skies. The game was followed up by Star Wars: Battlefront II which took the original formula and expanded on it even further with more features and game modes. Developed by Pandemic Studios and published by LucasArts, Star Wars: Battlefront II was released for PlayStation 2, PSP, PC, and Xbox in November, 2005. For this review, I played the PC version.
Battlefront II’s story centers on the 501st Legion. The campaign plays out in battles or missions with cut scenes in between each accompanied by narration from one of the veterans of the Legion. The campaign spans across the two eras; starting in the Clone Wars and ending during the Galactic Civil War. If you’ve seen the films, there’s nothing really new here but it’s interesting hearing from the point of view of one of the veteran troopers. You’ll get to participate in many of the battles seen in the films and missions will have you completing one or multiple objectives. Unfortunately, unlike the Xbox version you cannot complete the campaign cooperatively with a buddy. At least not without mods.
The campaign is cool but I would say the real meat of the game is every other mode; Galactic Conquest, Instant Action, and multiplayer. The Conquest game type returns but now there’s additional ones like XL, assault, hunt, and capture the flag. When starting a map, you can select a faction to join then choose one of multiple characters or character classes. Some characters need to be unlocked by meeting specific requirements during the match and each one has different abilities and equipment. For example; Clone Engineers and Rebel Smugglers can repair droids and deploy turrets and Wookie Bowcasters can deploy recon droids. Some characters can throw down health and ammo items, some characters are snipers, others wield rocket launchers, and sometimes you’ll be able to play as hero or villain character. Most characters can run, sprint, crouch, jump, and lock onto enemies. Heroes and villains like some of the Jedi and Sith can move faster and jump higher. They wield unique weapons like lightsabers and can utilize force powers. Depending on the game mode, the hero and villain characters need to be unlocked and you can only play as them for a limited time. But you can increase the time by killing enemy units. Depending on the character and/or mode of transportation, you can play in first-person or third-person and switch between them at the press of a button. There are command posts peppered throughout the maps and these do act as spawn points so if you die, you can respawn at any of the command posts your team controls. You can also change your character at command posts.
The biggest difference between the campaign missions and the game types in every other game mode is that the campaign missions have you completing objectives like killing specific enemies and retrieving items. There’s also space battles you can participate in during the campaign and these can be skipped. I found a good chunk of the campaign to be easy but it does get more challenging as you progress and in my opinion, it can get downright frustrating later on. There are several missions where you have to engage and/or try to avoid multiple Jedi and these are just not fun. They often feel cheap. The Jedi Temple mission on Coruscant is one of the worst offenders. You have to defend bookcases which the Jedi are trying to destroy and can easily do so. And that’s just one of multiple objectives, another having you kill three of them. At that point, you can play as Anakin/Vader but if you die, you’re stuck playing as the regular troop characters which makes completing this objective more difficult. Several of these missions are just very trial and error. It wouldn’t be so bad if your AI teammates were more competent. The problem is you basically have to do everything while also having to deal with numerous overpowered enemies trying to kill you. Plus, failing a mission means you have to replay through it from the beginning. It can be aggravating.
Two of the game’s stand-out features are the space battles and playing as hero and villain characters. Space battles have you flying around space destroying the opposing team’s ships. You can get into dogfights and pilot many of the ships seen in the films like X-Wings, TIE Fighters, Y-Wings, and other starfighters. The objective of these battles is to destroy the opposing team’s capital ship. You can destroy the ship’s systems from the outside or inside which I think is really cool because you can actually board the capital ships and destroy some of the systems on-foot. I found controlling the ships with a keyboard and mouse to be better than I thought it would be and who doesn’t like flying around space getting into dogfights? The heroes and villains consist of Jedi and Sith characters, Jango Fett, Chewbacca, Princess Leia, and Han Solo among others. The Jedi and Sith characters feel overpowered mainly because of their ability to use the force. The other special characters have their own unique abilities and even weapons. I was never fan of the hero and villain characters because I prefer the focus on the regular troops and you can turn them off outside of the campaign.
Galactic Conquest is similar to its counterpart in the previous game but more fleshed out. The ultimate goal is to take over the galaxy. You first choose the conquest or galaxy map and then you and the opposing faction take turns moving around the map. You move your fleets around the map and try to take over all of the planets. Once all of the planets are under your control, you win. When your fleet meets up with an opposing faction’s fleet, you’ll have to engage them in a space battle. You’re rewarded with credits after battles and the credits can be used to build additional fleets, buy additional units or characters that can be used during battles, and buy bonuses that can aid you during battles. For example, the leader bonus enables the hero or villain character for your faction. The combat shielding bonus gives your units extra health upon spawning in. The garrison bonus adds additional troops to your reinforcement count. And there’s several others. The opposing faction will also utilize bonuses which can make some battles more difficult. Winning will boil down to knowing the planets or maps and what the best bonus is for the battle if you need one at all. Galactic Conquest is one of my favorite modes because there’s a layer of strategy to it.
Instant Action is a mode where you can configure a playlist of maps and game types. I assume it’s like the multiplayer except with bots. There are multiplayer games going but not every server has many players. I was kicked out of a session upon joining one, too. I spent much of my time in instant action. You can configure how many bots, time limits, point limits, and if you want heros and villains enabled. There’s numerous maps to choose from and each one comes with it’s own game types to select. You cannot play every game type in every map which makes sense for some maps but not for others. For example, assault is primarily a space battle game type so I can understand that not being available for every map. But the assault game type for the Mos Eisley map is a heroes vs villains mode called Hero Assault. But why is heroes vs villains restricted to Mos Eisley? From what I understand, Hero Assault was added to more maps in the Xbox version. The ultimate goal of the assault game types is to reach the point limit before the opposing team. The Conquest game type is just like it was in the previous game. The objective is to take over all of the command posts on the map and/or deplete the opposing team’s reinforcements. The XL game type is available in the larger maps and the objective is to reach the point limit before the opposing team. However, this mode can allow for more than three hundred units on each team so the battles can be extremely hectic. Hunt is one of the more interesting new game types. It’s another point-based game type but you can play as different creatures and the species depends on the map. For example, you can play as or hunt down Jawas, Tuskens, Wampas, and Ewoks among others. The objective of the capture-the-flag game type should be pretty obvious and it does come in two forms; one-flag and two-flag where both teams have their own flags.
There are plenty of maps to play on and each one is based on locations and planets from the franchise. They all vary in appearance, size, and layout, and several from the first game have been carried over. When enemies die, they’ll often drop health and ammo items but you can replenish these from droids that are usually found near command posts. You’ll get to utilize turrets and several maps include ships and walkers to pilot and/or creatures to ride. Playing solo can be a lot of fun but the AI is far from intelligent. I often found them standing around doing nothing. But they will run around, shoot and kill each other, throw thermal detonators, deploy recon droids, and pilot ships and walkers. You can issue a command to make your AI teammates follow you or stop following you and they will listen. During battles, you can earn medals and rewards based on your performance but they are lost when you die. The endurance medal is earned for scoring a certain amount of points in one life and the reward is faster stamina regeneration. The frenzy medal is awarded for killing a specific amount of enemies with a blaster rifle and the reward is the elite rifle which is more powerful. You must reach a certain rank of a medal before the reward is earned and reaching new ranks is accomplished by earning the medal a specific amount of times. All of the rewards are beneficial and this system is the game’s way of rewarding you for doing well in battles.
Battlefront II is filled with color and the environments are good reflections of their on-screen counterparts. The maps contain plenty of detail, the character and weapon models look good, and battles will look awesome thanks to lasers zipping through the environments, explosions going off in various directions, and ships and aircraft moving about. Space battles also look and feel cool. Starfighters will be flying around everywhere engaging each other while trying to avoid missiles and the lasers flying around everywhere and my only gripe is the lack of a cockpit view. The game includes the classic Star Wars tunes we all know and love and the weapons all sound as they do in the films, although I do think they could use a volume increase. The audiovisual presentation nails the Star Wars look, feel, and sound. On the technical side, the main menu is hard coded at the 800×600 resolution and the game crashed on me once.
Ultimately, I think Battlefront II is better than its predecessor. It takes what was great about the first game, refines some things, and adds more content. The campaign can be frustrating and the lack of a coop campaign mode in the PC version is disappointing. I know it’s available on Xbox because I’ve played it before. The more fleshed out Galactic Conquest is one of my favorite parts of the game because of its layer of strategy. I welcome the space battles and the addition of playable heroes and villains certainly makes the Star Wars experience feel complete. One of the best things about Battlefront II is the new game types. You’re not restricted to only playing Conquest. They add more variety to the gameplay.
I would absolutely recommend Star Wars: Battlefront II to fans of the first game and the Star Wars franchise. If you liked the original, you’ll like this. It’s a sequel that builds upon what made its predecessor so great and can be enjoyed solo or with others. The most enjoyable way to play is with others and there is still an active community. I know there’s a lot of cool mods out there, too. Battlefront II is easily one of the best Star Wars games available. Definitely check it out.