Star Wars: Battlefront

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How cool would it be to play all the well know battles from the Star
Wars movies? Pick your side, choose your weapons, even hop into and
drive any of the vehicles on the field of battle. C’mon, who hasn’t
wanted to take out the rebels in an AT-AT walker on Hoth? No one,
that’s who. A few astute gamers created all new models, weapons and
sound effects a few years ago to create Galactic Conquest, a
modification to the highly addictive Team FPS Battlefield 1942. They
enjoyed a moderate succes, even earning praise from the bearded wonder
himself, Mr. Lucas. Though it was an opportunity to relive a few of
those moments, in all it had little scope and plenty of quirks to work
out before it could gain the mass MOD appeal that its cousin, Desert
Combat, acheived.

So I ask again, how cool would it be? Pretty
freakin cool, but with a couple of luke warm spots though. Introducing
Star Wars: Battlefront, a joint venture between Lucasarts and Pandemic
Games that combines the point-capture style game play made popular by
BF1942 with the grand vistas of the Star Wars universe. The games
greatest success AND greatest downfall is it’s multiplayer. More on
that in a moment.

SW:BF throws you into the greatest Star Wars
ground battles of cinematic and fictional literary history and span
both the Clone War era of the film prequels as well as the Galactic
Civil War of the original trilogy. Jumping right in, single players are
given 3 options for battle, Historical Campaign, Galactic Conquest and
Quick Action.

Historical Campaign plays out like a story mode.
Players choose either Clone Wars or Civil War era and are put onto the
team that SHOULD win, according to the plot of the films. Playing
through each of the levels and producing the correct outcome (winning
each level) will unlock bonus features contained on the disc. Bonuses
consist of still shots and concept images for the game and movies.
Interesting to watch for fans, but casual players will care less. A
teaser trailer for the upcoming Star Wars: Replublic Commando is among
the bonuese, but available immediately. Interspersed between each
mission are full motion video sequences from their respective movie
which would have been a nice touch, except they look as if they were
compressed and inserted at the last minute, creating a grainy, often
blurry image. Personally, I don’t feel the video is crucial to the game
and certainly doesn’t demonstrate the quality that is possible on DVD,
as we’ve seen on past Star Wars games, particularly for the GameCube. I
would have favored ditching the video for additional bonus materials,
unlockable levls or better AI.

Galactic Conquest adds a
slightly strategic element to the shooting. Players choose one of 8
planets, then battle for control. Winning or losing the battle and
having control of a planet determines a team bonus, such as health
regeneration or the assistance of a non-playable Jedi character for
your team. Lastly, Quick Action let’s you pick a map, a team and throws
you into the fray without any back story or consequences. Just good ol’
fashion shoot em up.

Multiplayer action is hit and miss, as
mentioned a few paragraphs back. The heart of the game is the ability
to hop online, and join a 32 player skirmish either via Xbox Live!,
standard PC server setups or PS2 online. We played the Xbox Live!
version of the game and found it pretty simple to find a server and
take my place. Each team is divided first by faction, then by class.
Each team has a pre-requisite 4 of 5 class types. Average soldier with
repeating rifle and grenades, a sniper class with a specialized long
range scoped rifle, a heavy weapons expert with a rocket launcher and a
pilot with repair and building skills. Then, each faction contains a
specialized class. For example, the seperatist droid army has the
rolling death machine, the Droideka, at their disposal, complete with
dual blaster arms and a deflector shield when deployed. The rebel
forces have wookies to assist them with a spreadfire bowcaster and time
bombs they can affix to anything, even the legs of passer-by walkers.
Players use any means necessary to take posession of control points or
just take pot shots until the opposing team loses all of their
reinforcements or spawn count. Vehicles representing the era that you
play and the side that you choose litter the landscape in places.
Tanks, speederbikes, AT-ST chicken walkers, even the giant AT-AT
walkers can be piloted by players. Sadly, the AT-AT can’t be piloted by
anyone but the Empire, and although the Milennium Falcon can be found
in a hanger on Hoth, it can’t be commendeered. This doesn’t mean that
fighting is grounded though. The air force can be as strong with Jedi
Starfighters, X-Wings, TIE Fighters and a slew of others are ready to

Sadly, when you have Halo as a benchmark for first person
shooters, especially on the Xbox, your standards for multiplayer gaming
are heightened and in the case of Battlefront, it falls short. In the
abridged words of our own Design Geek: “How stupid is this?!?!” After
countless nights of hooking up a couple of Xboxes and getting 2-4
players per box in a capture the flag match, imagine our disgust at
finding out that although Battlefront supports LAN play, it limits
players to 1…ONE… per console, per TV!!! Split screen play is only
supported locally and multiplayer as a whole offers only the
point-capture gameplay. Deathmatches and capture the flag are
distinctly missing, but this is not all that surprising when you
consider that the game is based on the BF1942 model.

I’m not
going to go heavily into the visual or audio aspect of the game.
Lucasarts is nothing if consistent in the quality of their software,
offering both excellent visuals, faithful film sound effects and the
stirring John Williams score that accompanies nearly every iteration of
the franchise. These are always a 5 out of 5 in my book with very few
exceptions, and certainly not found here.

Before passing
judgement I have to say that this game is addicting. By some odd force
of nature, or perhaps a technological stride in subliminal suggestion,
you are compelled to continue playing long into the night. It doesn’t
have the enguaging story of KOTOR or the raw firepower of Halo.
Frankly, except for the Star Wars theme, it has nothing spectacularly
new. Owning or renting comes down to a degree of character. If you’re a
gaming Star Wars fan, you MUST purchase. If you’re a hard core FPS
gamer, you should still pick up the title, especially Xbox owners since
Halo isn’t online playable and we’ve still got a month before it will
be (Halo 2). Casual fans and or gamers will still enjoy the title
immensely, if nothing else for the hours you can spend just gunning
down Ewoks, Jawas and Jar Jar clones on their respective planets.

Star Wars: Battlefront

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Bits and pieces of this have been floating around the net on LucasArts’ new game, but deatils are now available on the new first person shooter set in the Star Wars Universe.

Battlefront puts players into the boots of the galaxy’s most elite soldiers, Rebel Alliance, Imperial Army, Clone Army and Droid Army, in some of the most famous silver screen, sci-fi battles of all time. Combine the 20 soldier classes with 15 different land and air vehicles and you have a Halo or Battlefield 1942-type shooter that Fanboys are going to rush out to buy.

The game is set to focus on multiplayer combat for the PC, PS2 and my choice for it’s Xbox Live promise, the Xbox. Details here. Still I have my doubts. This game had no mention at last years E3 video game conference. Battlefield 1942 set the bar for FPS’s on the PC as did Halo for the Xbox, both offering similar style game play and fluidity. It’s hard to say at this stage though, which route LucasArts has taken. My hope is the Halo approach.

Christopher Kirkman

Christopher is an old school nerd: designer, animator, code monkey, writer, gamer and Star Wars geek. As owner and Editor-In-Chief of Media Geeks, he takes playing games and watching movies very seriously. You know, in between naps.

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