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Star Wars: Battlefront

Friday, September 24, 2004 by Shamino

Star Wars: Battlefront
Overall: 3
Graphics: 3
Interface: 4
Multiplayer: 3
In a nutshell: Battlefront incorporates the Star Wars universe into the Battlefield 1942 style of play that many gamers have become accustomed to over the last couple of years. While not everyone was a huge fan of the Battlefield engine, adding the Star Wars theme to a similar style of engine was a stroke of genius. Coupling every Star Wars vehicle imaginable with the possibility of a large amount of players creates the best possible multiplayer environment for today’s gaming.

Single player is also available in two flavors: Historical Campaign and Galactic Conquest. The Historical Campaign is basically all of the maps with you playing against the AI. Your objectives are not entirely clear unless you really pay attention because the in game window tends to come up when all you want to do is hit the “spawn” button to get in on the action. If you know the movies however, there is a good chance that you will know what the objective is.

Galactic Conquest allows you to play out each battle in the order in which you choose. As you win each battle, you control more of the Galaxy and you can acquire bonuses that you carry into the next battle.

The AI does well enough but there were moments when I noticed a droid “stuck” against a rock or simply running in a back and forth pattern while I played “duck hunt” with them. Experienced FPS gamers will have little trouble in discerning the AI’s tactics and overcoming them after getting some game time under their belts.

Like the Battlefield series, Battlefront allows you to play one of five different classes. No matter which faction you play, you can be assured that you will be able to play any class from “assault” to “heavy assault” to “support” type classes. The idea behind these classes is to bring about a team oriented style of play that I personally did not find to work well in Battlefront. Given the relatively short time the game has been out, there are still a lot of folks out there still figuring out the game’s interface and it really comes down to a deathmatch style of play. We’ll go into multiplayer aspects of the game later.

It’s worth mentioning for the Star Wars geeks that Battlefront really does allow the player to go “anywhere” in the Star Wars universe. Players are given the ablility to play any faction from the droid army and clone wars to the rebel alliance and the empire’s Storm Troopers. Maps available put you on all of the planets from wide-open areas of battle on Naboo to close quarter fighting within Hoth ruins.

Graphics/Display:

Despite having the look and feel of BF1942, the graphics in Battlefront look good. Not great, but definitely a firm “good”. With that being said, whoever “skinned” the Wookie model, needs to be shot. It took me sometime to figure out what that brownish blob was running around with a bowcaster. Later, when I decided to select the class, I saw that the textures were horribly done. It was so bad that I did not pick that class to play because I would have been embarrassed. Seriously, someone on the dev team needs to patch that skin.

The rest of the models/skins look pretty good. From the detail of the droids to the each style of Storm Trooper, overall the devs did a nice job and you definitely feel that you are playing a Star Wars game.

Interface/Controls:

From keyboard to joystick to mouse, Battlefront is (we always say this in our reviews) your standard First Person fare. You can remap anything you want to give yourself the ability to play in your own customized way. Types of controls range from infantry, vehicle, and starfighter interfaces.

Probably the absolute best aspect of this game is the sound. From the lowest form of blaster on a soldier to the big guns on an AT-AT, the sounds are quite honestly better than what you would get in a movie, unless of course you have the home theater system that everyone on your block is envious of. The sound truly adds to the Star Wars quality of the game and leaves no doubt in your mind that you are living in Lucas’s dream world.

You also have the ability to change from first person to third person on the fly. This is helpful for those who find themselves “limited” by the field of view in FPS mode. Playing in third person is especially helpful when utilizing the vehicles. There is also a zoom feature on just about every weapon. Sniper rifles offer 2 modes of zoom but given how rapidly you can fire a blaster, aiming skill is not a huge part of this game.

Multiplayer (if any):

Multiplayer play is made simple with an easy-to-use in game menu system. You can pull up all active servers and join them by the use of a filter so that you can experience any battlefront you wish to play. The devs obviously teamed up with the Gamespy network, as they push you to create a Gamespy ID every time you browse the server listings. It is not required however and you can simply use the in game interface and get in on some “instant action”.

Given the amount of vehicles, player abilities, and large maps, the objectives for winning are generally lost to most people. Though the maps are set up for Capture & Hold style of play, you will find that most situations simply call for a Death Match style of play where large groups come together, typically in the middle of the map, and just duke it out for the most amount of kills. This is not to say that people are not capturing (and attempting to hold) but the team-based mentality for the most part is not present. We will have to wait to see if the clan community gets together on this one to see if team-based play is balanced.

The interface allows for automatic and easy identifying of targets, which is a nice bonus in multiplayer. When your cross hairs hit an enemy combatant they turn red giving you the go ahead to frag. If the target is friendly, the cross hair turns green. While it’s not an entirely realistic function (since when is Star Wars realistic anyway?) it does help to bring down the amount of accidental team killing. In fact, I noticed very little of it in my jaunts through multiple servers.

A completely useless part of the game is “Heros”. This is where AI controlled characters such as Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker join the battle with their light sabers. Best I can tell, they are untouchable and block every blaster shot. For those wondering if you get to play one of these saber-wielding players, the answer is a big “No”. It seems a bit shortsighted to have a Star Wars game without saber-wielding Jedi. After the Jedi Knight series, this is a pretty big disappointment.

Summary:

Star Wars and BF1942 enthusiasts will probably find that this is the game for them. Though still “standard fare” in the First Person Shooter genre, it is a good game that will certainly offer a decent amount of entertainment for any gamer. It’s with absolute certainty that Star Wars lovers will find everything they ever wanted in game with Battlefront.

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