Star Wars Battlefront II Review

Lately it has been hard to turn your head without seeing an ad for Star Wars Battlefront II. By now, everyone should know that it’s the sequel to the BEST-SELLING STAR WARS GAME OF ALL TIME, and it’s easy to see that LucasArts and Pandemic want you to know how much this title improves on the original. Does the game live up to the claims made by the advertisements? Sure. Is it the last, greatest, end-all be-all of sci-fi videogaming? Nope. Is far better than the original? Damn straight, it is. There is a fine line for a developer to walk with sequels, especially so with Star Wars Battlefront II. On one hand, Pandemic couldn’t disappoint gamers who enjoyed the gameplay of the original, and on the other hand, many gamers loathed the first installment. Pandemic and LucasArts have delivered a game that will please the series’ fans, win over many who disliked the first Battlefront, and still leave room for some gamers to play the hate game.

Star Wars Battlefront II is a fantastic shooter it’s gritty, immense, and as realistic as any Star Wars shooter to date. The story-based missions follow the tale of the 501st Infantry unit from their first days as clones on Geonosis, to the fall of the Empire and beyond. Since everybody in the unit is a clone of Jango Fett, there’s no way to tell if it’s one soldier or many different soldiers narrating the cutscenes, but the narration is done with a great deal of skill. The story only hits a stumbling point when you’re expected to believe that the 501st was magically present for every major land battle in the Star Wars storyline, even all those battles that ran end-to-end in Episode 3. Maybe I’m nitpicking, but for a game that plays so seamlessly in story mode, the expectation that the unit could move from place to place so quickly was a small detriment. A major drawback to the original was the lack of a tight story mode now, the story mode is as enjoyable as any other mode of gameplay.

Unlike its predecessor, Battlefront II is not especially easy. Laughable as the original was, the sequel will have you perched on your toes much more often – but you’re not going to struggle leading the 501st into the fray. Controls are intuitive and similar to the original. The AI has been beefed up, and experienced Battlefront gamers may have to learn some caution before jumping into the thick of battle. Strategy, stealth, and planning will deliver in this game much more pivotally than in the original. Not only will the AI kill you much faster, they’ll do it taking less damage from your blaster rifle. The enemy AI isn’t perfect by any measure, there are still moments when you can walk right behind an enemy and snap off a headshot without triggering any sort of panic, but those moments are very rare.

The Galactic Conquest mode has been enhanced, using a credit-based system to allow the player to purchase bonuses and new units depending on the result of each battle. The once-useless bonus system functions essentially the same, but allows for layering and a more strategic use of bonuses. Rather than an attack-and-defend battle system, the galaxy is only conquered as a result of strategic turn-based movements. While it lacks the narrative of story mode, Galactic Conquest mode is just as enjoyable from a gameplay perspective.

Space combat is infrequent in the story modes, but is as well conceived as any other console-based Star Wars title. It is finally possible to target a capital ship’s shield systems, defensive systems, targeting system, and propulsion drives. Not only can a starfighter wreak havoc on a ship from the outside, but an essential element of gameplay is landing in the enemy ship’s hangar and attacking from inside the belly of the mechanical beast.

We see a whole new cast of playable characters in Battlefront II, and that is where the game really shines. Bothan spies become invisible and suddenly your Stormtrooper is on fire. Space Marines carry a one-two punch of rocket launchers and blaster rifles for raids in space. Red-robed Clone Commanders blast droids into pieces with heavy-duty chainguns. Perhaps most importantly, about a dozen “Hero” characters like Han Solo, Yoda, and Darth Vader jump into battle at different points. Dream of taking the man in black along the corridors of a Correllian Corvette, hunting for Princess Leia? You can do it. Want to push Luke Skywalker through the chambers of Jabba’s Palace? You can do it. If your wish is to butcher dozens of Jedi on Coruscant as Anakin Skywalker gone bad, your wish will come true.

Very few gamers will purchase Star Wars Battlefront II solely for the single-player gaming, though it would probably be worth the price. Multiplayer is the game’s true destiny, and where the most fun is to be had. The immense replay value of this title is quite difficult to fathom. New multiplayer modes are ripe for picking, including 1- and 2-flag Capture the Flag modes, a guilty “Hunt” mode (mission goals: kill as many indigenous species as you can. Go!), and a magnificent “Assault” mode (in space: go after each other’s ships. On land: play as good and bad heroes in a massive deathmatch). There are few words that can describe the beauty of Mace Windu flying over Mos Eisley, and raining death on Boba Fett and The Emperor, while Darth Maul skewers Chewbacca on the end of his lightsaber.

In the previous Battlefront multiplayer play was plagued by frame rate slowdowns. Sadly, the frame rate still stutters when the gameplay gets especially intense, though nowhere near as often. Graphics are fantastic, not that you have a lot of time to look around while positioning for the elusive headshot. There is a grit and real war-time feel that wasn’t present in the original Battlefront. Equally fantastic is the rendering and design of the characters and ships. Each of the battle arenas have been expanded and enhanced to the point that they look nearly identical to their big-screen counterparts. There is a fog effect during the narration in story mode, however, that makes the characters look a little blocky. Also, the on-screen display is a little too busy, and can be confusing starting out.

A context-sensitive chatter system is the cherry on a delicious sound sundae. The firefights sound identical to the battles in the Star Wars films, and the cheese of the first Battlefront is lost. Stand idly by (which isn’t the smartest strategy) and you can watch your AI teammates fall and call helplessly for a medic before they fade into the force (which is how we’re all gonna explain the disappearance of bodies, okay?). Of course, backing up all the action are pieces of John William’s brilliant score. Sniping Ewoks just doesn’t feel the same unless you hear the crystal clear woodwinds of the Endor soundtrack playing vibrantly in the background.

Basically, Star Wars Battlefront II improves on every aspect of the original Battlefront. Playable hero characters are the flashiest and most memorable improvement, but the new combat modes and troop types help make this a vast enhancement over the first title in the series. There is a real gritty edge to the gameplay, all with no learning curve, thanks to a helpful training mode and a slow-starting story mode. For fans of the original, this is a must-buy title. Anybody who wasn’t totally won over by the first Battlefront should definitely check out the sequel. However, if you hated the title before, there’s too little changed in Star Wars Battlefront II to make you a fan of the series.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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