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Star Wars: Battlefront II (PlayStation 2) artwork

Star Wars: Battlefront II (PlayStation 2) review

"With as many Star Wars games as there are on the market, it might be hard to imagine that any of them stand out. Knights of the Old Republic managed to do this with its famed openness and attention to morality, but even that title told its story through the eyes of the Jedi. Star Wars: Battlefront II breaks from the usual Jedi perspective, preferring instead to show the rise of the Empire from standpoint of a veteran clone in the 501st Legion, a division so elite that it bec..."

With as many Star Wars games as there are on the market, it might be hard to imagine that any of them stand out. Knights of the Old Republic managed to do this with its famed openness and attention to morality, but even that title told its story through the eyes of the Jedi. Star Wars: Battlefront II breaks from the usual Jedi perspective, preferring instead to show the rise of the Empire from standpoint of a veteran clone in the 501st Legion, a division so elite that it becomes known as Vader’s Fist when the Republic finally falls.

As a nameless soldier in the aforementioned legion, you’ll defend the beachhead on the Wookiee home world of Kashyyk from a massive droid invasion. In the space above many planets, you’ll destroy enemy ships with vessels of your own. On Coruscant, you’ll massacre the remaining Jedi to remove any resistance to the new Emperor’s claim to power. And on Hoth, you’ll play out the Empire’s last great victory as you attempt to crush the rebels hiding there.

Of course, your missions are rarely as straightforward as they first appear. There are often many smaller objectives to complete in a given level, all of which must be done either before your reserves run out or within a time limit. In addition to the staple capturing or defending command posts, you’ll be asked to kill a specific person or collect an object and bring it to a drop off point. In the latter case, you’re essentially playing Capture the Flag where death means loss of the artifact. During timed events, this can prove costly as going back to retrieve the item again wastes valuable seconds.

Skilled players learn how to use each of the four standard classes to their best advantage to successfully complete a mission. On the grassy knolls of Felucia, a small reserve of about twenty, including myself, had to investigate the remains of a light division sent in to ferret out the remaining droids. While inspecting the area, a small infestation of Acklay had ambushed them, destroying their vehicles and slaughtering the remaining ground forces. Naturally, it was our job to clean up their mess and finish the task they had started.

Acklay don’t play around. These massive insectoid beasts tower over the tallest of men and run just as quickly. One swat from their huge front legs results in death, and their rough hides can only be pierced with the heaviest of weapons. Knowing this, I pick the obvious class to start: the RPG-equipped heavy trooper. Seven of these ferocious beasts lurk on the field, their locations easily identifiable by their terrifying screeches. Spotting one, I fire a rocket at the thing’s chest, but it merely turns on me. I fervently retreat, waiting for a new rocket to load. Just as the monster reaches me, I fire again. This time, it goes down, and I breathe a sigh of relief knowing that I dodged death by only a few inches.

After that nerve-racking confrontation, the droids show up, as do much-needed reinforcements. Tasked with defending the downed vehicle, I switch to an engineer. With handy shotgun, I blast through the thickest of their forces, tossing life-saving health dispensers every time things get rough. Then a tank shows up. Out of health with shots whizzing around me, I dash in behind and slice into the machine with my fusion cutter, hoping to disable the vehicle and dislodge its operator. About halfway through the process, I die. Knowing only how to blow stuff up, my comrades had chucked some grenades at the tank. They exploded before I could get away.

The rest of the mission I play as a simple soldier. Capturing the droid’s main outpost at the top of the tallest tree becomes easier when you have a blaster rifle capable of firing a steady stream of accurate shots without frequent reloading. The handful of thermal grenades at my disposal easily annihilates the clusters of foes protecting their territory. Once I’ve eliminated all immediate threats, I can camp there, picking off newcomers and spawns alike while waiting for the beacon to change colors.

However, events rarely work out so smoothly. Innumerable factors conspire against you to ensure you’re dying with annoying regularity. Often it’ll seem like you’re trying to take down an entire army by yourself because rather than follow you to the appropriate objective, your squad of AI buddies easily gets distracted by the infinite waves of opposing troops. Other times, your men just get in the way, leading to unnecessary friendly fire casualties that weaken an already tiny reserve. Grenades prove just as unreliable with yours seemingly taking a century to detonate while the enemy’s give you only split second timing to dodge.

Still, I like to look at these stacked odds as another challenge, one that makes earning achievements even more rewarding. You’ll receive an upgrade to your weapon if a certain number of kills are made with it in a single life. Killing twelve people with the blaster rifle, for example, grants the frenzy rifle, capable of firing three-round bursts instead of the steady stream of single pellets. This makes the normally weak weapon virtually untouchable as each burst almost always kills instantaneously. However, chances are you won’t keep any bonuses for long because you lose them once you die.

If you feel like keeping any awards permanently, your best bet is to play around in other game modes where even more options await you. Galactic Conquest allows you to play any of the four playable factions, including the two you fight against in the campaign. Your goal here is simple: capture all thirteen planets on the space map. This is done through on-planet wars of attrition where victory lies in either eliminating all your enemy’s forces or capturing and holding all the command posts for fifteen seconds.

With its more relaxed nature, you can experiment with classes otherwise missed elsewhere. Indeed, Galactic Conquest is about the only place where the sniper class has any use, especially if you’re playing with a friend on the same team. You can hang back from the safety of a perch providing cover fire for your buddy runs in guns Rambo-style killing anything you happen to miss. You can also explore either of each faction’s two exclusive prestige classes. These come armed with mostly unique – and devastating – weapons, such as the Empire’s Dark Trooper, which blasts enemies with bolts of lightning capable of bouncing from one target to the next.

Present in the campaign as well, space battles are high-pitched affairs with ships of all kinds zooming around the map. With a fighter or interceptor, I can easily destroy other incoming ships in high-mobility dogfights that often require crazy maneuvers such as flying upside down just to stay locked onto my opponent. With a slower bomber, I can shell the enemy’s cruiser with heavy ordinance, disabling shields and destroying vital communications equipment. If so desired, I can even take a landing craft full of friendly units, drop it in the enemy hangar to wreak havoc on their internal systems, then hijack an enemy ship and continue cutting a swath of destruction from the outside.

While Star Wars: Battlefront II stands out for breaking away from the standard Jedi tradition, that doesn’t mean it does away with it altogether. You can play as a Jedi or other leader, such as Han Solo, but this is strictly optional. Furthermore, their time is brief because although they’re capable of slaying hordes of foes with great ease (at the expense of earning achievements), they’re not invincible. Once I spent a whopping three seconds with Yoda because a random droid blasted me with a rocket shortly after spawning.

Summarized succinctly, Star Wars: Battlefront II narrates the soldier’s view of films II through V, but the game is so much more than that. Even without the distinct narration, there’s a plethora of attention-grabbing ways to play and innumerable challenges to complete. Even now, after owning it for five years, I still come back to this game. Because even after five years, I still get a kick out of trying to improve myself. Perhaps for you, it’ll be something else, but I know it’s there, and I know you’ll enjoy it.


wolfqueen001's avatar
Community review by wolfqueen001 (January 08, 2011)

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