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Star Wars: Battlefront II

Score: 92%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: LucasArts
Developer: Pandemic Studios
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4; 2 - 32 (Online)
Genre: Action/ Shooter

Graphics & Sound:

Like its predecessor, Star Wars: Battlefront II looks great and still ranks as one of the best looking Star Wars games to date. Battlefields are big and really capture the epic feel of battles from the movies. Character models look especially impressive and animate really well. There’s even a nice bit of difference in how different troops carry themselves; something that is especially noticeable when going from a slow Dark Trooper to a nimble Jedi.

Sound is something most Star Wars games have excelled at, and Battlefront IIis no exception. All of the trademark effects are straight from the Skywalker Vaults and sound great. Music spans the entire Saga and always fits what is going on, though you may not even notice the music when the action really picks up.


Gameplay:

The prominent addition to Star Wars: Battlefront II is the inclusion of space battles, one of the key factors in any “Star Wars” movie. Space battles play out similar to most arcade-style space combat games, and have you fighting ship-to-ship either by flying in your own starfighters or by manning the cannons mounted on capital ships. Fighting in space brings with it a number of strategies for taking down capital ships. Do you take your heavy fighters in and try to take out the ship from the outside, or will you land inside the hangar and take it out from the inside? The feeling is pretty cool, though it works better in multiplayer matches than in single-player ones. In multiplayer, it is easy to pull off multiple tactics, but in single-player you’ll usually have to go on your own since ally A.I. rarely (if ever) attacks from the inside.

Battlefront II features both online and offline modes. Rise of the Republic is the main story mode and chronicles the adventures of the 501st, Darth Vader’s personal army. You’ll begin your fight during the Clone Wars and work your way through the entire Saga, all the while witnessing the clones’ transformation into Stormtroopers. Galactic Conquest adds strategy elements as you position your forces around the galaxy and try to take it over. Once you reach a planet, you’ll enter a land-based battle for control, unless your opponent has a fleet presence, at which point you’ll first need to engage in a space battle. Both single-player modes are entertaining, though they do tend to get repetitive after a while. Mission goals aren’t diverse and usually don’t go beyond “Destroy X” or “Wipe out the other army”.

Even though the single-player modes are much more complete than what was seen in Battlefront, online gameplay is the main event and the reason you’ll play Battlefront II for more than a weekend or two. The number of players per match has been increased to 32, which makes for much more exciting battles. Match types don’t really break new ground as far as multiplayer games go, but the inclusion of the Hero class, revamped normal classes and space battles go a long way in adding new strategies to the mix.


Difficulty:

Battlefront II’s difficulty isn’t as erratic as Battlefront, though it is still one of the weaker elements of the game. Enemy A.I. isn’t the brightest and will sometimes run right in front of you and not even notice you’re there (until you take a shot at them). Of course, the A.I. goes both ways – so there are times where you’ll feel like you’re the only person fighting on the battlefield. And, truly, there is likely to be at least one battle where you’re the last man standing since enemy A.I. tends to trump ally A.I. in most cases.

Online matches are all about who you play with. If you are able to get into a well-organized group, you’ll have a much easier time. This is where that nice Live Friends List comes in handy. Generally, I was able to find a decent group of players to play against, though for every good game, there was also a bad one where everyone wanted to be in charge…


Game Mechanics:

In addition to space battles, Battlefront II also brings in a number of additions to the ground game, namely the inclusion of the Hero class. After accomplishing certain goals in battle, Heroes are unlocked and available for use. Each side is limited to one Hero and once unlocked, you have to work to keep them by accomplishing additional goals and racking up high kill counts. In theory, the addition of Heroes sounds great – but in practice, it leaves much to be desired. Most Heroes are saber-wielding Jedi, so combat really just boils down to mashing the attack button and hoping others are foolish enough to get in your way. Even the non-Jedi Heroes are a bit underwhelming to use as they’re nothing more than supped-up versions of the other classes.

Other additions to the ground game are much more useful. Each faction now has an additional class, like the Clone Commander, who gives defense bonuses to nearby units or Bothan Spies, who have the ability to cloak themselves. Similar to the Hero class, these special units need to be unlocked; but the conditions are usually far less strenuous and once you have them, you can’t lose them. The returning classes have also been revamped and feel like more than the same character but with a different weapon, adding a variety of new tactics. For example, Engineers can now repair broken vehicles and droids. Also, you can now switch classes whenever you want (provided you can reach a spawn point) instead of having to die first.

All of the changes help to make Battlefront II a much more focused product than the last one. The same “troops and vehicles on a massive map” premise is there, though the things you can do during battles (mainly in the way of tactics) have been expanded.

Battlefront II is an enjoyable experience, especially if you plan on taking the game online or are a “Star Wars” fan, and well worth a look.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

Windows Warhammer 40,000 Dawn of War Sony PlayStation Portable Pac-Man World 3

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated