A Star Wars game that is fun to play? Believe it or not, it is a possibility thanks to LucasArts and Pandemic. Star Wars Battlefront brings the action filled sequences of the various George Lucas films to PC gaming systems everywhere, allowing gamers to participate in the famous fictional battles firsthand. Take on the armies made up of the Old Republic Clones, the Separatist Droids, the Imperial Stormtroopers, or Rebel Conscripts and battle it out for control of the galaxy. Or, just shoot Ewoks; it's really up to you. Look inside and read our review and discover why the Force is definitely strong with this excellent Lucasarts release.
There was no doubt in my mind from the very first glimpse of Star Wars Battlefront that this was going to be a 'must have' game. The fact alone that you get the chance to shoot Ewoks and Gungans made it a priority that I get this game loaded on my computer as soon as possibly could. And for the most part beyond that, I have to admit that Battlefront didn't disappoint. A relatively simple premise at its core, Star Wars Battlefront lets players battle it out as one of two opposing armies vying for control over a multiple planets found within the Star Wars fictional Universe. Roughly four different armies make up the mainstay of the combat forces found throughout the game, each representing the main factions from the various Star Wars big screen adventures. Half of the action found in Battlefront takes place during the prequel era of George Lucas' sci-fi universe, with the main battles pitting the forces of the Separatist Droid Armies and the Clone Troopers of the Old Republic. The other half of the game revolves around the conflict between the Galactic Imperial Army and the forces of the Rebel Alliance.
Each army provides it own version of the five mainstay character classes: standard infantry, scout, pilot, heavy weapons, and a unique specialized class for each faction. This includes the Droideka for the Droid Army, the Jet-Pack Clone Trooper (a la Boba Fett) for the Clone Army, the Dark Trooper for the Empire (as seen in the expanded universe of Star Wars), and the ever raucous Wookiee fighter on the side of the Rebellion. Each version of the character class has its own special abilities, unique weapons, and positive/negative attributes. For example, the Droideka's almost impregnable personal shield system comes in handy during intense battle scenarios as does its impressive (and highly dangerous) blaster cannons. However, its slower movement patterns can make it a lumbering and an easy target. The Jet-Trooper has an effective and manageable rocket pack system, allowing it to jump into and out of battles in a snap: the drawback is this class' main weapon system (the EMP rocket launcher) with its painfully slow reload function and low ammo pack. The Empire's Dark-Trooper has a double whammy with it: and unstable jet-pack (making it hard to control) and a blaster gun that isn't effective at medium to long distances. Our Chewbacca friend has the same problem with his bowcaster weapon as does the Dark-Trooper, but makes up for the problem with a nice supply of grenades as well as a few timed Thermo-Detonators that lay in a big bang when needed.
While vehicle based combat does exist in Battlefront, it isn't as prevalent as the infantry combat aspects of the game. Each army again has its own variation of a landspeeder, speeder bike/swoop, heavy armored/tank, aerial fighter, and troop transport. Taking a cue from the time period of the combat map, players will find themselves able to jump into an Imperial AT-AT Walker or Scout Walker, T.I.E Fighter or X-Wing, or other vehicles found in the prequel movies. While the ground based vehicles were fun to use and operate, I found the aerial ships to be complicated to fly and almost impossible to use effectively. Most of the time you found yourself crashing into the ground helplessly and generally just being useless to the ground forces. Still, the thrill of jumping onto a speeder bike and haplessly mowing over the enemy forces was definitely worth the inclusion of the vehicle combat system.
The maps found on Star Wars Battlefront make up the mainstay of the familiar locations/planets found throughout the various Star Wars films. These include (among others) the desert world of Tatooine, the icy wastelands of Hoth, the lush jungles of Endor, the floating cloud cities of Bespin, and the grassy plains of Naboo. Each planet has its own tactical advantages and disadvantages for the gameplay. For example, several of the Tatooine maps throw into the mix third party computer controlled combatants made up of angry Tusken Raiders and conniving Jawa traders that can force the two main player controlled armies to engage in three way battles. Also on Tatooine, if players are not careful about where they tread, they might find themselves stumbling into the maw of the infamous desert dwelling Sarlacc. The Endor maps, however, give the upper hand to the Imperial Forces by giving them the superior firepower of the AT-ST Scout Walkers while at the same time adding additional support to the Rebel troops by allowing them the ability to team up with the furry teddy-bear like native Ewok fighters. Each planet and map found within has its own unique set of attributes, combat scenarios, vehicles (or lack thereof), and sometimes even objectives. In the end, this really adds to the variation of battle themes throughout the game, making the game that much more entertaining.
For the most part, we found Star Wars Battlefront to be an above average PC gaming title. The graphics package was solid, the combat was fast and furious, and the replayability in the form of multiple maps, scenarios, and character classes was incredible. Hardcore Star Wars fans also get an added bonus with the in-depth aspect of the games overall theme that covers not only all of the Star Wars films but also the Extended Universe (books, graphic novels, etc.). Though intended to be a purely multiplayer game, the single player option of the game also stood up to intense scrutiny with an excellent AI system and all of the playability of the online version. Tons of servers across the net provide quite a bit of choice in your multiplayer option of Battlefront, allowing players of all levels of expertise to jump into the fray at a moments notice. All in all, this title was not only a winner for overall PC gaming, but also for fans of Star Wars as well.
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