Star Wars fans rejoice as at long last, a game has arrived that pits players directly in the lines of fire of the classic film battles and beyond.
The game is Star Wars Battlefront and like Battlefield 1942 and Battlefield Vietnam, players take on the role of soldiers who must battle on various maps for control of strategic points in order to obtain total victory. Unlike the previously mentioned games, Battlefront thankfully does not have many of the issues of the previous games such as excessively long load times, difficult controls, and numerous bugs and instabilities directly out of the box.
In solo play mode; players can take on campaigns from the classic as well as the prequel series as they battle a myriad of A.I. opponents while the work with an A.I. teammates. One of my first missions had me battling as an Imperial Storm Trooper against Rebel insurgents on Tattooine.
Unlike tradition shooters, Battlefront can be played in either first or third person perspective and immerses you into the action in a unique perspective. For example, I was able to take control of a speeder bike in the mission and take the fight directly to the opposing forces. The numerous options of the game were evident when said speeder bike was met with a volley of blaster fire reducing the bike and my speeder bike to a pile of debris.
Undaunted, I was back at the respawn menu where I was presented with five different trooper options each with their own abilities and weaponry to continue the mission. I selected my player and was ready to go when an interesting opportunity arose in the form of a Tie Fighter. I slipped into the ship and in no time was flying over the enemy base unleashing volleys of destructive energy upon their location.
I figured I had the match one when a squad of enemy X-Wings arrived and changed the balance of power.
The matches continued at a frantic pace across settings ranging from Naboo, Hoth, Kamino, Bespin, Endor, and many more. The detail of the maps are amazing as they accurately portray the famous landscapes from the film but also allow players to explore the various landscapes in depth as they attempt to find more strategic locations.
Each battle in the solo campaigns was initiated with a video clip from one of the movies that helped set the stage for the action. It is also interesting to note that local and NPC characters such as Jawas, Ewoks, Gungans, and so on inhabit the maps and I must admit to a bit of pleasure at taking control of a gun emplacement and sending a Jawa running with a few well placed shots.
Multiplay fans will be delighted with the abundant number of servers that are available to play and I noted that the players were not only very friendly, but were willing to help new players learn the ropes such as how to get around the maps and watching your back.
The vast variety of weapons, units, and character classes ensures that Star Wars Battlefront will have great replay value. Multiplay mode allows players not only to pick their unit but also to take up arms for either side be it Rebel or Imperial, Separatist or Republic depending on the map being played.
NPC characters also show up during online play as fighting with and against Count Dooku and Darth Vader adds a nice element of spice to the missions.
The menu and controls of the game are very easy to navigate and use and I have been unable to find any real issues with the game other than a need for a better save system for the solo play missions.
Graphically the game is very impressive as the rich landscapes from the films are well rendered and the detail level is amazing.
What really made the game for me was the sound effects that were taken directly from the films as staring down an opposing tank is one thing but to hear the trademark whine of the laser fire is a Star Wars fan come true even if it is the last thing your players hears before hitting the ground with a loud thud.
Some people may take issue with the solo play mode as in many ways it is simply a series of bot missions designed to prepare gamers for the multiplay experience but the detailed maps and amazingly versatile gameplay will ensure hours of enjoyment.
While not as complex as the recent Jedi Academy game Star Wars Battlefront puts the focus on action rather than story and hits a homerun. If the game is supported by the mod community and Lucasarts with new maps, packs, and characters, Battlefront could be the game that could rival Counter-Strikes hold on team based shooters as it is easily one of the best games of the year.