Review by DarthMuffin
"A good game, for Star Wars fans"
When you saw the classic trilogy for the first time, it was all the space ships that hit your eye. Mighty Star Destroyers, X-Wings and TIE Fighters soon became your favourite ships, and you played the X-Wings games from LucasArts when they came out.
Then you saw the prequel movies. But it's no longer the ships that look cool. Now, it's the Jedi. Lightsabre wielding warriors armed with a mysterious power : that's quite cool. So you played games such as Jedi Knight and Knights of the Old Republic.
But you know that, somewhere deep in your heart, you've always wanted to play as an Imperial Stormtrooper, and show these rebels that the soldiers of the empire are not really dumb, and can actually be accurate when they shoot. With Star Wars Battlefront, you can.
The gameplay is quite simple. Shooters are, as opposed to RTSs and RPGs, very simple games, and it's easy to learn how to play. It's no exception here. You move your character around, and shoot stuff, occasionally lobing some grenades to wreck some havoc.
The game features 4 sides : Galactic Empire, Rebel Alliance, Galactic Republic and Confederacy of Independent Systems. Each side has 5 units : 4 common, and one unique. The common units are the basic soldier, the heavy weapon specialist (anti vehicle / aircraft), the scout (or sniper) and the pilot (technician, medic and, or course, the best guy to pilot vehicles and ships). Basically, the only difference between the sides here are the weapons. It's not a big difference, but it's fine (a blaster is a blaster, after all).
The unique units are quite interesting. The Rebels have the Wookiee smugler, armed with his own bowcaster and mines. He can also take more punishment before dying. The Empire has the Dark Trooper, a trooper with a jetpack and a "laser shotgun". The jetpack can only be used to make long "jumps" though. The Republic has the Jet Trooper. Basically, this is a toned down Jango Fett. You get a (surprise!) jetpack (you can actually fly with this one), an EMP launcher (area of effect damage versus droids) and a Commando Pistol (high firing rate). Finally, the CIS has the infamous Trade Federation Destroyer Droid, complete with it's shield generators and rolling form. In short, the unique units are great and fun to play, though you don't want to neglect the other classes (which are also fun to play, of course).
Another important aspect of the gameplay are the vehicles and ships. Each side has different types of vehicle, from speederbikes to AT-ATs. The ships include the mandatory X-Wings and Tie Fighters, as well as Republic Gunships and others. Some vehicles can be quite powerful, and maybe too powerful sometimes. Some nerfing may appear after a possible patch. The ships are quite balanced; the problem is that the maps are not very big for ships, so dogfight is very limited, which is quite sad. Perhaps and expansion pack could fix this.
When playing a game, your goal is to capture command posts and eliminate enemy troops. Each side has a number of available reinforcements. When it gets to 0, you loose. If the enemy controls all the command posts for a certain period of time, you loose. I found that this type of gameplay is actually quite fun to play.
The game features different modes : Historical Campaigns, Galactic Conquest, and Instant Action. The two historical campaigns are a series of about 8 scenarios each. You can play either the Galactic Civil War (Empire vs Rebels) or the Clone Wars (Republic vs CIS). In the course of the campaign, you switch sides one time, so you actually get to play with each side. I'll be honest : I was very disappointed with this mode. Basically, you loosely follow the movies, but the objectives are still the same : kill everybody, or control all the command points. On the endor map, it doesn't matter if I destroy the shield bunker or not. That's sad, because campaigns are usually there to make you play something different than traditional games. Anyway.
The Galactic Conquest is much like the Conquer the World campaign from Rise of Nations, if you played it. There are a couple of planets, and you choose to attack one each turn. The game then becomes the traditional "kill and take command posts". If you win, you attack next turn. If you loose, the enemy attacks, and so on. Each planet has a bonus, which you can use after controlling it. This is probably the best mode for single play. The downsides : there are few planets to conquer, and the 8 "different" maps are actually quite the same.
Instant Action is your traditional "normal game". You can queue up maps, and choose which era you want to play (Civil War ot Clone Wars). This mode is playable in multiplayer.
I give a 8 here because sometimes, you just wish there had been more objectives than the usual "kill and take command posts". The gameplay is still nice, and quite simple to get used to.
I somewhat covered the story in the gameplay section. Like I said before, I was really disappointed by the "historical campaign" missions. They only loosely follow the Star Wars story, and the missions are just like "Instant Action" battles, i.e. destroying the Rebel shield generator on hoth doesn't really matter.
The graphics are nice. Models are usually well done, and the maps are beautiful. Explosions and lasers are also nice to look at. You can also get some decently good graphics with the minimum settings, which helps if you have a low-end machine.
LucasArts is famous for their sounds. And his game has excellent sounds. Laser blasts are convincing, and so are the various vehicles and ships sounds. The music is the traditional Star Wars music, which is excellent.
Replay Value 8
I guess the replay value is quite good if you play multiplayer. On the other hand, single players might get bored of the "conquer the galaxy" games, and will have to play "instant action" with bots. So if you don't plan to play multiplayer with this one, then I'd give a 6 or 7 to replay value.
Many people dislike this game because they say it's just one of those "Battlefield" game, with a bad gameplay. I've never player Battlefield games, so I can't really comment on that. However, you should know that, for once, LucasArts did not rip an engine from another company. Of course it's similar to Battlefield, but at least they did it themselves.
Another thing you should know, is that before enjoying the game, you have to make it work. Currently (a week after release date) there is an obscene amount of bad copies of the game on the market. It is quite possible that you'll experience some bugs while installing, and you may even have to bring the game back to the shop to get a working copy. Also, you should check the system requirements : they are moderately high, and the supported chipsets are few.
While it's not as epic as Knights of the Old Republic, Battlefront still manages to do a decent job as a Star Wars game. It might not be as good as Battlefield, but then you could just be tired of WW2. Battlefront will let you live battles loosely based on the movies. I use the word "loosely" because it's the truth. I've played games that represent movies better than this one.
If you are looking for single player experience, this might not be the top choice. It is meant to be played as a multiplayer game, after all.
I would recommend this game to every Star Wars fan, especially those who like the huge battles form the movies and shooter games. If you are more single player oriented (like me) or you cannot play multiplayer for some reasons, then I would suggest something more among the lines of the Jedi Knight series for a shooter (the three are excellent), or KotOR for RPGs.
In short, Battlefront is still a great game, and manages to decently catch the spirit of the Star Wars saga. However, it's not, at least for me, the "ultimate Star Wars experience" (i.e., there are better Star Wars games out there). But with the few great SW titles out there, the competition is quite hard...
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 10/01/04
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