To me, this is the greatest Star Wars game ever made, and that is a bold statement. There have been many different Star Wars games from Knights of the Old Republic to Rogue Squadron it seems as though the star wars universe is a rife place for game adaptations. With the newest installment of the Battlefront franchise recently released and the newest movie in the series being released this week I thought it would be an appropriate time to talk about my (still) favourite Star Wars game to date.
The campaign story of this game follows a squadron of Empire Stormtroopers, the 501st legion, who come to be known as ‘Vader’s Fist’ as the old republic falls and the new Empire begins to rise. The game follows the timeline starting at the Clone Wars and ends at the Battle of Hoth during Empire Strikes Back. While the campaign is really a tutorial mission that extends itself to include a story and get you used to all the units and controls it is extremely interesting to see the story of Star Wars from the perspective of the simple lone trooper squad. It is even more interesting to see how they transition from the Republic into becoming the Empire and seeing the moral dilemmas that they must face when seeing what acts they are committing. While none of the characters in the story may really grab you (I don’t think I can remember at heart any of the troopers themselves) the story is instead told through each of the missions and the objectives you have to complete as the campaign takes you to a lot of moments throughout the movie series. It really helps to put into perspective the universe you are in as you experience it from a soldier’s viewpoint and helps to drive the story which, while maybe not compelling, is at least interesting.
The presentation is this game is absolutely gorgeous. While being for the PS2 era of games to our standard it may look rather blocky but it is unmistakably Star Wars. Troopers from all across the series look as they should, blaster shots are distinct and will spark memories of the film and of course the soundtrack, oh the soundtrack. Using the original Star Wars soundtrack in this game was a superb choice as it really helps to give the game some unforgettable moments when the music kicks in at the right moment and you run off into battle and you start humming along to the soundtrack. If I did have a problem with how the game is presented however it is that the animations are a bit dodgy on some models. Characters seemingly have super-spines and can turn their bodies in ridiculous ways and the death animation seems to loop and becomes a bit tiresome after seeing your character die in the exact same way from loads of different kinds of explosions, ragdoll physics would have been amazing for this game.
The main positive point for Star Wars battlefront 2 though is of course the gameplay. There is only one simple way to describe it, ‘War Simulator’. A combination of both First and Third person shooting combat combine with a unique class system that gives you different kinds of units depending on what faction you play as. The game brings you to a huge variety of locations from the Star Wars universe across the entire timeline like Hoth, Tatooine, Jabba’s Palace etc. It brings you back into the movies and will invoke plenty of nostalgic moments. There are hundreds of NPC soldiers that fight alongside you as you attempt to capture command posts around the map in order to gain more reinforcements. Along the way you will of course use various iconic weapons and soldiers from the series and even pilot various vehicles (depending on the map of course). What is amazing however is that this is only one of the game modes on offer! Space Battles task you with flying back and forth to take out an enemy frigate or even boarding it and attempting to destroy all it’s systems from the inside which is perhaps one of the best alternate game modes. Galactic Conquest is a turn based style campaign completely separate from the story campaign in which your faction travels around planets, conquering them and then gaining new tech or soldier types for use in future battles. There are of course the slew of standard game modes like capture the flag and such but also there is Hero Battles in which you control one of several important characters from the films and duke it out. These characters are of course available in the standard game modes as rewards for good performance but I feel they are a bit overpowered and break the floe of gameplay too much. Overall I find that Star Wars Battlefront 2 is perhaps the best simulation of large scale sci-fi war. With so many NPC’s fighting alongside you and your contribution being small scale to the overall battle yet it makes you feel like a proper solider in this war and I couldn’t praise it hard enough. This of course combined with the huge amount of game modes on offer for both multiplayer and single player experiences mean you will certainly have a lot to do in this game.
There are of course flaws with the game. As I mentioned the animation quality with some of the characters is shockingly bad and effectively breaks you out of the simulation immersion if you focus too much on it. The general AI also, while plentiful, is sometimes incredibly simple and dumbed down. It’s understandable for having so many units to take into consideration at the same time but it means that if you become a hero unit you can consider pretty much a quarter of the enemy team gone as they pose almost no threat. Also some game modes, while appreciated that they are there, are not really played much and aren’t as good as the simple conquest mode which the game is entirely based around. It would be better if more modes with a very different playstyle were introduced like vehicle only combat or something like that.
In the end however this game still provides so much to do and still has some of the best gameplay in a Star Wars game to date. It’s relatively old now but it still holds its own and I would consider it even better than the current iteration of the series. It should be relatively cheap now so if you get the opportunity I would highly recommend getting it and finding out just how good a Star Wars Battlefront experience can be. Now I think I shall go be The Emperor again… so OP…