Star Wars Battlefront II - Review
|2/11/2005||EA Games||Pandemic Studios||1-24||M||Medium|
It's amazing to think that it has been little over a year since LucasArts released Star Wars Battlefront on a variety of consoles and PC. Since then the title has become the biggest selling Star Wars title to date, and the news of a sequel surprised no one at all. So this is it. Star Wars Battlefront II. Is it any good? Read on to find out...
|Geonosis looks pretty special.|
Essentially this is a third person action game with allows you to experience the large scale battles as seen in the motion pictures. As well as controlling a variety of different classes of characters you can also mount gun turrets or ride around in vehicles. If you played the original title you'll know exactly what to expect so if you didn't like the first game then you won't like this - it's more of the same although there are 16 New locations such as Utapau, Mustafar and the space battle above Coruscant. In fact the similarity is our biggest hesitation in recommending this title. If you do own the original then some of it may be too familiar. The levels on Hoth and Endor for instance are almost identical to those levels in the original game.
Developers Pandemic Studios have listen to complaints from the original title and have spent considerable time and effort in beefing up the single player game. The Galactic Conquest has returned and sees you trying to overtake the galaxy. After building your fleet you move this around a map of the galaxy. Land on an enemy held planet or starship and it's time to attack. Before you enter the battle you can select a previously purchased battle upgrade be it additional troops, stronger shields, more powerful blasters or regenerating health to name a few.
|Yes, you can now take to the stars!|
While the majority of battles take place on the ground of planets you are invading or defending the developers have provided the ability to enter space combat when two starships meet in the one location. With all manner of space craft at your disposal including X-Wings, Tie Fighters, and Jedi Starfighters to name a few it's fair to say that this section plays similar to the Jedi Starfighter games. There isn't a lot of strategy required, just a lot of blasting be it against large capital ships, or small enemy fighters.
In a neat twist you can even land your craft inside enemy vessels and attack their critical systems from the inside. Unfortunately this isn't anywhere near as impressive as we would hope. The interior of enemy ships consists of little more then the hanger, a main weapons room, engine room, life support room and shields room. There's often little resistance so knocking out their critical systems becomes far too easy. Strangely the amount of damage you can inflict on the ship without taking out these critical systems is minimal, however the enemy can wipe out your fleet without touching your internal critical systems.
The Rise of the Empire mode sees you to following the fortunes and adventures of the famed 501st infantry division. This game is structured as a series of missions to be completed, many of which link in directly to the movies. For instance one mission sees you clearing the way for the Jedi to rescue Chancellor Palpatine. This is quite a good single-player mode and makes up for the deficiencies in the original game.
|Battle in the Clone Wars.|
Naturally multi-player plays a major part in Star Wars Battlefront II with both 2-player split screen modes and online action for up to 24 players online with the PS2 (the XBox game supports 32 players, and PC a massive 64!). The 2-player split screen option allows you to play the Galactic conquest or instant action and plays as one would expect. It's the online (or LAN) action that excites the most and for the most part it's a joy to play. The online game is essentially a Capture the Flag style game. Options in the game are quite varied in online battles including Teammate Damage, Aiming Assistance, Showing Player Names, Maximum Players, Minimum Players to start and whether or not heroes are permitted in the online action (typically we found it much better when they weren't to keep the teams more evenly balanced).
As expected there were some periods of lag in the online game, but that's more a fault of the poor internet connection of other players then the game itself. What is a fault of the game development is the glitches which occur during the online game. Laser blasts disappear, so do characters occasionally.
As I previously mentioned probably the biggest issue with this title is that many of the locations, weapons and characters have been seen in the previous game making it all seem a little too familiar at times. Sure, some levels have had slight alterations, but for the most part they are extremely familiar and while we have 16 new levels, many of them are set in space so all seem similar as well. CPU AI also remains rather patchy, they do some stupid things at times, and you'll occasionally even see both friend and foe get stuck on different sections of the levels and start twitching violently. There's a couple more things too. I would love the game to include an Autosave feature. Having to save after every battle becomes quite tiresome. Our final issue is that while we love the inclusion of the heroes/Jedi we found them to be overly powerful when in online battles. The team which has one on their side typically has a massive advantage over the opposition.
|Battle on Polis Massa.|
Overall presentation in Star Wars Battlefront II from the menus to in-game graphics, character modeling to short cut-scenes are all top notch. In terms of in-game graphics Star Wars Battlefront II looks nigh on identical to the previous game. The levels are quite large and superbly detailed. We still love the look of Endor, it's brilliant with lush jungles, logs to run through and of course the AT-ST scout walkers running around causing all manner of mayhem. The single player game is pretty smooth and while there's some character jumping, missing laser blasts and the odd graphical glitch in multi-player it's to be expected with so many characters running around the screens.
Audio in this title retains the typically high standards set by LucasArts. The music is taken directly from John Williams' movie soundtracks while the effects are also taken from the films vaults. With Dolby Pro Logic II support the game immerses you in the action with fairly good use of the surrounds. Occasionally the game seemed to go a little haywire with a sound effect rapidly repeating but this was rare and usually righted itself after upon your next death or major event.
Star Wars Battlefront II is a brilliant game and while owners of the original may find some disappointments with returning levels, characters and vehicles the inclusion of the Jedi and Space Battles is quite welcome. The online aspect, yet again, shines on PS2 mainly due to the number of people actually playing the game. If you like Star Wars then this is a no brainer this Christmas - an essential purchase.
Review By: Dave Warner
Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version) or Amazon (NTSC Version).
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|GRAPHICS||Almost identical to the previous game, new levels look great too.||85%|
|SOUND||John Williams' music is abundant and the speech and effects are great.||90%|
|GAMEPLAY||Quite possibly the best multi-player game on the PS2 to date.||90%|
|VALUE||If you own the original you may question the value, but we loved it.||77%|
|OVERALL||Another fantastic game in the series and while owners of the original may be disappointed by several returning levels there is a much beefier single player game here and 16 new locations to explore. Another fantastic Star Wars title.||88%|