Review by DouglasFett
"Battlefield 1942 meets Star Wars"
Let's take a trip down memory lane to the old days of the early-mid 2000s, when PC gaming was experiencing a revolution and Microsoft's Xbox was raking in the dough. For years, the best online PC games - Counter Strike, Unreal and the like, were the norm. With the release of Battlefield 1942 in 2002, online FPS gaming was redone. Instead of simply going out to shoot other players, Battlefield gave players basic objectives - capturing spawn points. Instead of a basic score limit players had to reach (50 kills, most kills in 10 minutes), each team had "tickets." Get killed, lose a ticket. Each team had about a few hundred tickets. Whoever loses all their tickets and spawn points first, loses.
Enter Pandemic Studios. An up and coming company, who had worked on smaller titles [3DO's dying Army Men series, SW: The Clone Wars], but were destined for the big time. Already on George Lucas' payroll, Pandemic was given the task of taking Battlefield's formula and making it work for Star Wars. Released in September 2004, Star Wars Battlefront was one of the hottest online games of the 2000s.
1. Graphics/Sound 10/10: Beautiful and amazing for its day. Blasters, the crunch of the AT-AT's massive legs, TIE fighters screaming as they fire. The graphics are particularly engrossing, with an odd sort of 'gloss' over everything. It must be stated that nothing looks "blocky." Characters move and look like actual soldiers straight out of the films - rebel pilots, clone troopers, droids, etc. Environments are nicely rendered [Bespin, Geonosis, Endor, etc], and don't look half-assed at all.
2. Story: Like Battlefield, there is no real "campaign story mode" that will pull you in. The game was designed mostly for online multiplayer. BUT, while there is not a "real" story mode for this shooter [like in Halo or Call of Duty], there is a generic story mode that covers both eras of the films. The Clone Wars [Prequel Trilogy] campaign begins on the plains of Naboo [from The Phantom Menace], where you play as The Trade Federation against the Gungans. Halfway through you will then play as the Clones, beginning on Geonosis, and play up to the non-canon end of the wars. The Galactic Civil War [Original Trilogy] campaign starts you out as the Empire, wherein you begin in the Dune Sea of Tatooine [from A New Hope], and lead up through all the major battles of the films, ending with Endor [as the Rebels]. The story mode, complete with not only battles from the films [and narration by voice actors mimicking Emperor Palpatine, a Rebel commander, etc], contains original battles from Pandemic as well [Rhen Var, Kashyyyk, etc]...simply put, the two story modes serve as a sort of crash course for players to acquaint themselves with every map the game has to offer.
3. Gameplay 10/10: Here we go...
- Like Battlefield, every map has spawn points [control points, whatever] players are to capture. They are placed strategically throughout the maps, with the environments around them designed to engage players in massive battles. With more points under a team's control, that team can then flank and defeat the other team at its remaining spawn points. That said, teamwork is key if one wants to win. But there's nothing wrong with going solo. On the subject of teams, since this game's online MP is null and void nowadays, how does one play? In this case, teams are filled by the AI, with 16 AI players on each team. Additionally, up to two players can play on the same Xbox together. There is also system link play of up to 10 players.
- Like in Battlefield, there are character classes to play as, all with different weapons and abilities. Soldier [blaster rifle and thermal detonators], demolitions [bazooka and mines], marksman [sniper rifle and drone], pilots [shotgun, health/ammo drop, and a repair tool. also have the special ability to automatically repair vehicles while piloting them], and a unique class for every faction. The Rebels have Wookies, the Imperials have Dark Troopers, the Droids have Droidekas, and the Clones get Jet Troopers. It should be noted that the game by default is a third person shooter, but can be switched to first person if so desired. Lastly, each faction has a Jedi/Sith hero, controlled by the AI, that can be activated and deactivated [for instant action. see below]. The Rebels have Luke Skywalker, the Imperials have Darth Vader, the Confederacy has Count Dooku, and the Republic has Mace Windu. These team heroes are impossible to kill [except on maps with "bottomless pits," like Bespin platforms].
- And once again, like Battlefield, there are VEHICLES. Tanks, walkers, and even fighters, most maps have a number of vehicles for teams to use at their disposal. It should be noted that Pandemic's previous Star Wars game, The Clone Wars, was a vehicle combat game, so they knew what they were doing in that department. Even the TX-130 fighter tank they used in TCW makes an appearance in BF.
- There are various play modes. The aforementioned story mode, instant action [pick a map to play and boom you're there], online MP [now null and void], and galactic conquest. In the latter, players fight against the AI [or another player] for conquest of the galaxy, fighting across the game's maps. Each planet, once successfully conquered, grants a bonus [health regen, faction hero, etc] to that team has it, to help in the coming battles.
Like "The Clone War" before it, Battlefront offers everything it was meant for, and doesn't fall short in any department. Online play, battles offering unique ways to play each time [whether you want to go on foot or in a vehicle, or snag an enemy vehicle, or infiltrate behind enemy lines on foot, the game has massive replayability]...Battlefront is the perfect Star Wars shooter, easily trumping the later released Republic Commando to sit alongside the "Jedi Knight" series. Pandemic, now in the spotlight of success, had found its calling. But it wasn't done yet.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 07/14/11
Game Release: Star Wars: Battlefront (US, 09/20/04)
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