Star Wars: Battlefront Review

Star Wars heads to the Battlefront!

Review by Darren Cartledge
Published 11th October 2004

Star Wars: Battlefront

  • Developer: Pandemic Studios
  • Publisher: EA Games
  • Release Date: 24th September 2004

The latest Star Wars game has arrived and this time we’re not reliving action scenes from the movies or setting out on missions set in between the films, no we’re going head to head with other Star Wars fans in massive Battlefield style multiplayer battles.

Star Wars: Battlefront lets you take part in some of the most famous battles from all the Star Wars movies, such as the Empires attack on the rebel base on the planet Hoth that featured in The Empire Strikes Back and the rebel assault on the shield generator bunker on the forest planet of Endor as seen in Return of the Jedi.

The game plays pretty much the same as other multiplayer shooters such as Joint Operations and the Battlefield games. The game supports battles with 32 players plus AI controlled units shared between two teams which battle for control of key areas on the game map known as command posts. When a team controls all the command posts on a map then victory is declared and the game moves onto the next battle.

In the game, players can play as a member of one of four factions; the Rebel Alliance, Galactic Empire, Republic Clone Army and the Separatist Battle Droids. Battles in the game are however restricted to each era, for instance you can only play with the Empire Vs the Rebels or the Republic Vs the Droid army which is a shame as it would have been nice to be able to have battles in which the Republic take on the Empire and so on.

Each faction is made up of four classes of units with each faction having a fifth unique unit. Each faction has a basic infantry unit, a demolition unit that is armed with an anti vehicle weapon, a pilot that specialises in piloting vehicles but also acts as a medic and an engineer and are able to supply team mates with additional ammo. The final class is the scout or sniper who is armed with a highly accurate long range blaster.

Both the Republic Army and Empire’s special unit are storm troopers equipped with a jet pack that lets them fly in short bursts. However, the Republic Troopers jet pack last longer and allows them to travel further, although the Empire’s Dark Troopers have a much more effective weapon in a shotgun like blaster. The remaining two unique character classes include a Wookiee smuggler for the rebels that are armed with a powerful bow blaster, grenade launcher and time bombs. The Separatist Battle Droids unique class is a Droideka, one of those rolling robots from Phantom Menace, these come equipped with powerful blasters and are able to generate a protective shield around them. However, once their shield energy runs out they are extremely vulnerable.

The game features 17 maps spread throughout the Star Wars universe, many of which will be very familiar to fans of the films. In general the maps are varied and well designed allowing for all kinds of attacks and ambushes on enemy command posts. Some of the games maps have also been designed to favour certain factions and the use of vehicles while others are for infantry only battles.

As with other multiplayer shooters Star Wars: Battlefront lets you take control of a wide range of vehicles. Some of the best known vehicles from the Star Wars universe are present in the game such as the AT-AT, X-Wing, Snow Speeder, Speeder Bikes, Republic Gunship’ and Tie fighters.

Despite the appeal of getting behind the controls of some of the vehicles, the developers haven’t quite got things right. For instance infantry are pretty much useless against vehicles, especially the Empires heavily armoured AT-AT and the Republics LT-AT which seem to absorb both grenade attacks and blaster fire. This can lead to a player in a good position wracking up large numbers of kills as one blast from a vehicle weapon is enough to kill off infantry units. Another problem is with the size of some of the maps which are extremely cramped and if you are piloting a fast moving fighter such as an X-Wing or Starfighter you could easily find yourself getting shot down for deserting the battle field due to restricted amount of space on some of the game maps.

Despite being multiplayer focused, Star Wars: Battlefront also features several single player options. A couple of historical Star Wars campaigns that see you taking part in some of the most famous battles from the Star Wars movies are present. One campaign spans the original movies while the other focuses on the newer movies. In each campaign you will often switch sides as you progress through the story of the films. For instance in the Clone Wars campaign you could play a mission as the Separatist Battle Droids then the next as the Republic’s Clone Army.

The game’s other single player mode is Galactic Conquest; this mode requires you to use strategy to take over planets and gain control of a system. In Galactic conquest you take turns in picking a planet to attack before battling for control with your AI controlled team mates. Each planet in the Galactic Conquest mode gives what ever side that controls it a bonus; these are quite varied and include things such as an extremely powerful Jedi Knight, reinforcements and Bacta tanks.

As with most multiplayer shooters Star Wars: Battlefront also features an Instant Action mode where you can play in quick battles with AI controlled players on any of the games maps. This mode comes in extremely useful when you want to get some quick practice in before tackling real players online.

As with most Star Wars games, Battlefront looks spot on, environments are instantly recognisable from the films while characters feature a good amount of detail and are accurate representations of their on screen counter parts, as are the vehicles. Animation is fluid and the games frame rate manages to stay consistent no matter how frantic action become. Rag doll physics are used for characters death animation and although this usually provides some realism it can be a little over the top if you get blown up by a grenade. Weapons fire and explosions both look good with traditional looking Star Wars weapons fire and some great looking smoke and fire effects. There’s also the odd bit of film footage in the single player campaigns that is used to progress the story of the campaign you are playing.

As we have come to expect from games based on Star Wars, sound is excellent with sound effects and music being taken straight from the movies. Voice acting is pretty good too but with a limited number of phrases available things do get a little repetitive.

Overall Star Wars: Battlefront offers a good playing experience for both fans of Star Wars and multiplayer orientated shooters although it doesn’t really offer anything we haven’t already seen from the likes of EA’s Battlefields games or Novalogic’s Joint Operations, if you fancy a change of scenery from the normal Earth based battleground then you may as well give the game a try.

Review Score: 8.4/10

Please note, this review was scored using our old system. For more information please see our review policy.

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