Review by Tank_Stonejaw

"Not quite a sequel..."

Any review of a sequel must undoubtedly endure comparisons between the two. However, what happens when the sequel, isn't really a sequel? Battlefront II contains many of the same levels of the first game, as gorgeous as they look now, I still felt a little cheated by it. All the new levels are based on brief glimpses from the Revenge of the Sith movie, which means that (for the most part) you lose the significance of the battles. We know the significance of the Battle of Hoth, and Endor, and Yavin IV. But, who knows what really happened on Mygeeto? Was there even a battle on Polis Massa? No, it seems that the Star Wars universe is either shrinking, or the pool of creative areas and scenarios is just getting very shallow.

Gone is the majestic feeling of the battles. The scope of these battles seems muted when compared to the first game. This is undoubtedly due to the developers wanting to put the player in the role of a Hero. Entire battles now hinge on your actions. Your AI teammates seem to be less allies, than window dressing as you run across battlefields completing objectives on your own. The actual Heroes themselves feel somewhat thrown into the game at the last minute, just for something new. Don't get me wrong, being able to force pull Stormtroopers into your path so you can slice them with a lightsaber is fun at first, but I quickly began to miss the overall faction cohesion that kept the first game feeling like a war rather than a one man battle.

Gameplay - The big difference this time around is the gameplay. Where the first game rewarded tactics and strategy, this one rewards all out, balls-to-the-wall action. Standing still in this game, to catch your breath, or admire your accomplishments, will likely result in instant death. The sniper class has suffered the most from this change. Few of the levels are sniper friendly, and the AI/enemies are much less likely to be caught standing around for you to get a bead on them. Levels like Dagobah are impossible for sniping, although those who have mastered no-sight, run and shoot sniping may not feel this is a disadvantage.

The addition of the Hero class has significantly changed the gameplay also. Those who acquire points throughout the level will be given opportunities to become a Hero. However, since the Heroes are so powerful, they quickly become the main target of most enemies. To be honest, the Heroes feel a little "cheap" to me. Any newbie can become a hero and kill 10 enemies, no problem. Just rush into a throng of enemies and mash the attack button repeatedly. Obviously, those with skill and finesse last much longer, but when you see a Hero rushing towards you with lightsaber a-blazin', you pretty much know you're toast.

It seems the developers took a lot of time to balance out the gameplay, tho. Vehicles have been toned down, and some units have been nerfed, while others strengthened. Overall, I would say the developers did an excellent job of balancing all units, unlike the first game. Balance has also been achieved on the rehashed levels by eliminating flying vehicles on ground based levels. THIS is the main contrast between BF1 and BF2. Anyone who regularly got spawn killed on Geonosis by the Republic Gunship needn't worry about that in this game. And, those who were getting 100+ kills on Geonosis using the Gunship will need to find another way to achieve this goal. It seems most people would preferred to have the balance without the missing vehicles, and perhaps there is no way to achieve this, or perhaps the game was too rushed for it to be properly done. Some people like the changes, others don't.

The "Space" levels are pretty much a letdown in my opinion. The much hyped "dogfighting" is not quite present. I've had more dogfights flying over Dune Sea in the original than in the space levels. If an enemy fighter gets behind you, you're more than likely dead, or at the very most you may be able to run from them. I won't get too detailed about the space levels, but I will say that they all look alike, and they all play exactly alike. I wouldn't be able to tell Space Hoth from Space Yavin for my life.

Graphics - Much better than the first. The rehashed levels look gorgeous compared to their BF1 brethren. It's no Doom3 in terms of visuals, but they are quite satisfactory for the game.

Sound - Well, it sounds like Star Wars. Many people have complaints about glitches with sound, though. Glitches with headphones not working, sound cutting off during the game, etc.

New Material - There are many new levels, and many locales that you will recognize from the movies. New units for all sides. New vehicles to fight in, new ships to pilot, etc.

Old material - There's a lot of old levels from the first game, with a makeover. I have heard many complaints, and people ask "Why couldn't we get Rhen Var? Why can't we play Dune Sea?" And I ask "Why couldn't we have ALL NEW LEVELS?" I don't want to play the same levels as before. That's why I have BF1.

Controls - The crouch button and roll button are the same. So, sometimes when you mean to roll away from an enemy grenade, you end up crouching and slowly walking away from it, and then KABLOOEY you're dead. At times the controls feel unresponsive. When I press the button to lay a detpack, I want to lay a detpack, not just stand there and hammer on the button a dozen times. However, the issues seem to be more unit specific than an overall control issue with everything, and I would say the controls are standard and unremarkable. Sufficient enough at most times where you don't feel like snapping the controller in half.

Online - This is obviously one of the main selling points of the game, and it doesn't disappoint. If you take the time to find a host with a decent connection, you will find the lag is far less bothersome than the first installment. The addition of a leaderboard has ensured that some of the cooperation and team-play from the first game has gone bye-bye, however it's still a good time. I played the single-player once, and have been online with it since then. The game still gets good reviews from the single player aspect, and it's much more entertaining (than BF1) to those without Xbox Live, but the multiplayer is where it's at.

Downloadable content - Well, it's an option, and we will undoubtedly see SOMETHING down the line, but I would stress that BF1 only had ONE level to download as additional content. I think we can expect one to three levels for this game, and that's about it.

In review, I have some issues with this game. It's not the same game as the first one in terms of gameplay, but there is so much old material from the first, that it can't be called a sequel either. I miss the grandiose feel of the first installment. I want the AI to be better, and not ditch me when I need them the most. I want the various glitches to be fixed, I want to be able to play with aim assist online if I so choose (it's an option, but one that can't be turned on strangely enough). And much more. However, despite all the gripes and complaints, I still find myself coming back to the game, and enjoying it immensely at times. There's a lot that can be fixed, but there is enough done right to justify my paying $50+ for it on the day it came out. If you're a die-hard Battlefront 1 fan, then be aware that this doesn't deliver the exact same experience as the first. But, it retains enough of the flavor that you will be unlikely to go back to Battlefont 1 after you play.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 11/14/05

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