Welcome back everyone. Today, we’re reviewing Star Wars: Battlefront 2, by Lucas Arts and Pandemic Studios. An older game, to be sure, but a classic. It took the ground-breaking premise of the original game (participating in major battles in the Star Wars universe), and improved on it in every major category. I’ll be blunt: I love this game. Let’s just get that out of the way, so you can keep my perspective in mind when you read this piece. Also, I must say before we go any further: Online support for the game has been discontinued, so please keep that in mind. I personally enjoy single-player enough to not care, but I know not everyone will think the same way.
There are a few major modes. Campaign has a series of story missions, with specific objectives to be completed in each battle. Galatic Conquest has you play against the AI, taking turns moving fleets and invading planets, vying for total control of the galaxy. Instant Action lets you take a bunch of stages and game types and… well, jump straight into shooting things.
The main game type is called Conquest. Here, each side gets 150 troops (thankfully not deployed all at once), and 2-3 spawn points known as Command Posts. Having more Command Posts captured than the enemy faction causes their reinforcement count to steadily drain, which will eventually prevent AI troops from spawning. The first to run out of reinforcements loses. Some of these Command Posts are vehicles, such as the dreaded AT-AT Imperial Walker, and can be temporarily destroyed. Others, such as the Echo Base Shield Generator, can be removed for the duration of the battle.
Each Faction has some basic units that fill the expected roles in a shooter game, two special units with unique mechanics, and a hero unit that can be granted to a random (or best/worst) player, capable of dealing heavy damage to the other team. Vehicles are also a feature in many maps, ranging from airships to tanks.
There are other modes, such as Hunt (soldiers VS indigenous species of a planet), Capture the Flag, and the new Space Battles, which revolve around crippling the enemy Capital Ship. I didn’t find CTF all that impressive, but I’ve never been a fan of that game mode anyway.
Another major new feature is the concept of medals. These are awarded for impressive performance in the field, and grant special bonuses. These can be anything from faster energy regeneration (used for advanced movement such as rolls), to elite weapons. That said, they only last as long as your current life, and you need to get them a whopping 64 times for them to permanently be active on your character (at least in Single-player).
The story follows a group of clone soldiers that become Lord Vader’s elite troops, known as the 501st or “Vader’s Fist.” You do a bunch of cool missions relating to the prequel and original trilogies, and they provide a measure of fun while giving an insight into the lives of the cannon fodder of the Star Wars universe.
The graphics look a little dated by today’s standards, but what do you want from a game that came out in 2005? All the SW favorite characters and vehicles and places are paid proper respect, and the music is straight out of the movies. They even gave the vehicles logical weakpoints where explosive impacts deal enhanced damage.
All my compliments aside, the game isn’t perfect. Some battles seem pretty heavily weighted towards one side winning, like the Rebels at the Battle of Hoth, The Empire in the Endor Hunt, and Jawas in the Mos Eisley Hunt. Galatic Conquest is a nice concept, but it always feels drawn out, even when I’m playing as efficiently as possible on the tactical map. Scoring headshots on battle droids is a pain, and hitting anything consistently with the Award Sniper Rifle is impossible. Lastly, the auras you are granted for earning the Endurance/Guardian/War Hero medals are annoying and come with a grating sound effect.
So, this is the part where I say whether or not I recommend this game. You probably know my answer already, right? If not, I heartily suggest this game for Star Wars fans and shooter fans. SW BFII is available on Steam for $10.