Star Wars Battlefront II - DiscGolfDiver
Published by: DiscGolfDiver on 2006-03-14
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THE SHORT: The structure of the gameplay is the same as it was in the original game, which means this one's still fantastic for pick-up-and-play as well as long sessions of war. The main feel of the game has hardly changed, which is good, but there are some new optional enhancements that some like me appreciate, while others think there should have been a much bigger change. This game is better than the first
THE LONG: In some reviews, this game was given an apparently lower score than it could have had because it hadn't changed enough or improved enough from the original. The word Halo was then instantly dropped half a dozen times in comparison which isn't fair at all. The bottom line is this: If you liked the original, you'll like this one because it plays the same and is like getting a whole new roster of maps to conquer.
The game does add a few new things though- playable "Hero" characters as well as Space Battles, and reaction ranged from liking the new options to others thinking they should have been better.
Here's the deal: Battlefront 2, just like the original, is still all about you taking control of one of the Rebels, Empire, Clones or CIS (droids) as you spawn and keep respawning until you've either defeated the other army or lose all your own. It's all about action, with even more selectable troops than before, each with their own unique weapons and skills. The joy of the first game remains: Play as a grunt and fire your blaster rifle down hallways, from behind obstacles, and while storming command posts, or be a sniper and camp or take control of one of the many vehicles and just destroy. It feels and looks almost identical to the original game, but with a dozen new maps, many of them fantastic. You can now also greatly increase or reduce the number of troops per stage, so battles can be about as long or short as you want.
New to the game are almost every important 2 legged character from all 6 of the films. You'll find everyone from Anakin to Luke to Grievous to Darth Maul, and the only ones that seem to be missing are (sadly) Qui-Gon Jinn and Lando Calrissian, possibly because they just didn't have 2 more villians to stick in to keep balance.
These characters, "Heros" as the game calls them, are great fun. I recall asking if you could play as these guys (and gals) in the original game, and was met by angry fanboy complaints of "It's all about the infantry, these characters would RUIN the game! No Jedis, that would be LAME!" Yet, as I visit Xbox Live, it seems these are the only characters people ever want to use. Funny.
I can't entirely blame them though, these characters are handled quite well. Far from being invincible, they're just stronger, faster, and have the Force with which to do things like throw their Sabers and Force-Choke from afar. And in an expert move, the programmers made you, the player, entirely in control. Set up the options to have the characters in every battle, all the time, set them up to appear only when certain time or scores are reached, or just turn them off altogether. You can go through this game using almost nothing but the Heroes or never using them at all. It's up to you. My only complaint about this addition is that continuity-breaking is NOT up to the player. Every stage has 4 specific Heroes to pick from (2 for each side, 2 for each era) and they're correct to Star Wars history. You won't be able to, say, put Luke against Han Solo on Geonosis for example. As to why that is I don't know, I mean it makes story sense but who cares if I mess up the story all alone in my living room. I want to play how I want, and this lack of complete control over the game is the only thing that bugs me. Still, there's always at least one character per stage that's fun to use. Besides, there's a stage (quite a few stages if you download the Xbox Live bonus content) where you have an all-out war with nothing BUT every Hero character, which is a rumble of fun in itself.
Using them is a varied opinion of fans as well. The controls feel a little sloppy when using Heroes- they move faster, jump higher, and have powers that aren't entirely balanced. True to the characters, you'll see Yoda jumping 30 feet in the air and then tearing through five soldiers at once with his green Lightsaber. It's all fun, but some have complained that it's too "crazy" to use these characters. I don't think it's too bad, but it does come across as awkward sometimes- it just feels a little less natural when using the Heroes, though I still insist that it's quite fun.
The other hanging point is the addition of space battles in this game. I've never really understood why people didn't like it, just that a lot didn't- without really saying why. Don't expect the level of depth of an actual Star Wars space game, of course, but I still think it's handled quite well. Each faction gets the proper choice of ships, which respawn just like you do. It's all about coming out of your hangar, jumping in a ship, and going after the enemy. Chase after their dogfighters or shoot out the life support systems on the major warships, or even land on their deck and try to disable their shield. You have complete freedom of movement, with no restriction of gravity, direction or perspective, and it's a little disorienting at first. Personally I find it fun, but if I had one complaint it'd be that I was led to believe that when you land on an opponent's ship, you could run around deep inside it, like a regular ground level of the game. You can't- each mothership only goes a few small rooms back from the deck, leading to the shield generator, there really isn't anything to explore.
SO that's the bulk of the new stuff, but there are two very important changes to the original game still left: the single player campaign and the improved Galaxy Conquest. In the single player, you take control of a Clone general starting early in his career, the battle of Geonosis. Through mission-based objectives, you'll fight through a dozen stages playing the course of the Clone Trooper's life. We who have seen where the Clone Troopers started and where they all wind up, will enjoy playing through the life of one of these guys and experiencing a fun (if a little shorter than deserved) trip through the chronology of all 6 films. It's a welcome addition in that it finally gives something with specific goals and experience to someone who wishes to play the game without others.
The Galaxy Conquest is improved in that your goal is still like a board game- look at your map, seeing all the planets, with the goal to eventually to conquer them all for your side. This time you amass points for each victory and use it to buy special bonuses such as more troops or a Hero character, as well as space fleets (since you now also fight in space in Galaxy Conquest). It's much more fun than before, less linear and a bit more difficult. And with space fleets, Hero characters, and half a dozen different timelines (and matching planet layouts) there's a lot more variation to the mode this time. It's fun, and takes as much as 2-6 hours to go through just one of these, which of course you can do whenever you want. Fun stuff.
Lastly I'll mention the Xbox Live content: It's actually fantastic. If you can sign up for Xbox Live, it's worth doing so for this game because not only does it add two new Hero characters (Asajj Ventress and an overpowered Kit Fisto) but also half a dozen of the best maps from the first game including Cloud City and both Rhen Var maps, all of which now allow the Hero rumble mentioned earlier. And once downloaded, you can log off and enjoy the new goodies on your own without having to ever connect again. It's a great addition that should have been included to begin with.
SO there you have it. Whereas the first game was just a great, easy to get into addictive shooter, this time it's the same but with even more stuff, all of which is your choice to use or not. Add to that a decent sized single-player game and improved Galaxy Conquest, and you have a game that's fairly improved over the first. If you liked the original, I can't imagine this one would be disappointing. Just don't be like those goons who want it to be just like that OTHER famous shooter- it's not supposed to be. Instead just sit back and, well, I'll use the cliche- let the Force be with you. Have fun.
Related Link: Official Lucasarts Website
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