Review by twwoodard

Reviewed: 11/11/05

Definitely better than the first

Battlefront 2 is definitely an improvement over the first installation, for a number of reasons. Very quickly, the introduction of Jedi and other Hero characters adds a new dimension to the gameplay experience. And getting rid of the starfighters during ground battles and shifting them into space battles was a very good move.

The graphics look good, as would be expected, especially during the space battles. The fighters and explosions in space are beautiful. Most of the troopers look good as well. Some of the Jedi characters look a little sketchy from time to time, especially when they run, but this is a minor thing and doesn't detract at all from the fun of playing a Jedi. I didn't notice any slow-downs during single player games.

Sound is everything you'd expect from a Star Wars game. There's one silly level on Instant Action where you can have all the major Jedi heroes and villains run around Mos Eisley just slashing away at each other with lightsabers, and in the background all of the major cantina songs are playing in random order, including Lapti Nek from the original unedited trilogy.

Here is where the game shines, and outshines the original. The basic controls for your troopers are pretty similar and thankfully the designers didn't do much tinkering with what already worked. Blaster rifles, pistols, rockets launchers, grenades and time bombs are all here, as are many of the favorite vehicles from the original game, including AT-STs and AT-ATs. Capturing command posts works pretty much exactly the same. There are some new planets and maps to explore, including a few that are unique to Instant Action. The new HUD takes a little bit of getting used to, but it has a few additional useful features. The game's major selling point, of course, was the addition of Jedi characters and space combat.

Space Combat: The designers did a very good job in creating the orbital space battles. They are simple to grasp, fun to play, and completely eliminate all of the frustrations involved in flying starfighters around in the first game, where you had hardly any room to maneuver. Basically, each side starts with a capital ship and one or two support ships, and your pilot spawns in the hangar of your ship with a selection of different starfighters to choose from. Each of the four factions has an interceptor (very good in a dogfight, useless against enemy capital ships), a bomber (slow but with serious firepower for taking down enemy capital ships), a fighter (balanced in speed and power, reasonably good at dogfighting and assaulting enemy ships) and a troop carrier (can take a lot of your allies into the enemy ship to board). Unlike ground battles, victory isn't achieved by capturing command posts or eliminating all of the enemy troops. In space battles, both sides essentially have an unlimited number of pilots and fighters. Victory is awarded to the first team to score a predetermined number of points. Points are awarded for destroying enemy fighters in space, killing enemy pilots or troopers onboard the enemy ship, destroying support vessels, or destroying key systems on the enemy ship such as engines or life support. There are several approaches that you can take to the battle, which range from using bombers to attack key systems from outside the enemy ship, boarding the enemy vessel to sabotage systems from inside (which can be fun, but also is often a bit tricky), and using a fighter or interceptor to keep enemy fighters at bay while your teammates do the heavy work. You also have the option of manning your capital ships defense turrets, but I have found this to be a completely useless experience and a waste of time.

Jedi: In Campaign and Instant Action, you can play Jedi or Hero characters when certain predetermined conditions for the battle map are met. (Sorry, no Jedi during space combat). In Galactic Conquest, you earn points for every victory and can use those points to buy bonuses for your next battle. You can buy a Jedi or Hero character at the start of a battle if your willing to pay a hefty price. In terms of playing Jedi, the controls are fairly simple and effective. The fire button swings your lightsaber, with the secondary fire using your active force power. Force powers are different for each Jedi but can range from throwing your lightsaber into a crowd of enemies, using the Force to push and knock them down or pull them towards you, and of course Dark Side characters can use the Force to hurl lightning or choke the life out of an enemy. Jedi and other Heroes don't have a standard health bar and can't be healed by medical droids or med packs. Instead they have a timer, indicated by a lightsaber at the bottom of the screen. The shorter the lightsaber, the less time your Jedi has left to play. Taking hits or accidentally killing allies accelerates the rate at which your timer decreases. Killing enemies gives you extra time. So as long as you can manage to continually cut a swath of destruction through the enemy without taking too much damage, you ought to be able to play your Jedi indefinitely until the end of the battle. The key to survival as a Jedi is to master blocking incoming fire with your lightsaber, which isn't always as easy as it is in some other Jedi video games.

The Jedi characters available in the game are Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, Ki-Adi-Mundi, Aayla Secura and Mace Windu on the Light Side, and Darth Vader, the Emperor, Darth Maul and Count Dooku on the Dark Side. If you count General Grievous as a Dark Jedi, he's in there too although he doesn't have any Force Powers per se. Other non-Jedi Heroes that are available on certain maps include Han Solo, Jango Fett, Boba Fett, Princess Leia and Chewbacca. There are perhaps not quite as fun as playing Jedi, but they are surprisingly effective and an interesting diversion. Han Solo is probably my favorite of the non-Jedi herores

This score applies mainly to the Galactic Conquest and Instant Action modes, as I've never been a fan of single player campaigns. There are several different modes of play, including Capture the Flag and Hunt mode, which keep the game interesting.

I traded in six of my old games, including a few fairly recent ones, to buy this game for $4 and haven't once regretted the decision or missed any of those old games. If you liked the original, you should love this one.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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