Star Wars: Battlefront II Review
Star Wars Battlefront’s Battlefield 1942 style gameplay was an instant hit with fans, but the game had some glaring omissions – it lacked space-based battles and the heroes and villains of the Star Wars universe were completely absent from the game. Well these omissions are omissions no more with the release of Star Wars Battlefront II, and Star Wars fans will finally get the chance to pilot an X-wing or wield a lightsaber while battling online.
First let’s cover the basics for those of you new to Battlefront. Think of this paragraph as the scrolling backstory that opens each Star Wars movie – except I can’t seem to remember the HTML tag that does that so you’ll have to read it in the conventional way. Anyway, Battlefront II is primarily an online shooter played as battles between the Rebels and the Empire or as the Separatists and the Republic. The maps are drawn from locations appearing in the movies such as Mos Eisley and Hoth, and are dotted with special control points. Each control point serves as a spawn point for the side that controls it and generates a steady stream of tickets that can be used to respawn dead players. Capturing enemy control points not only cuts back on their tickets, it gives them one less place to spawn. If a side runs out of tickets or no longer holds any control points, the other side is declared victorious.
Things are a bit different when you battle on one of the new space-based maps. In these games each side is given a capital ship and players begin the game on their side’s ship’s flight deck. Players can then hop into X-wings, TIE bombers, Droid ships, and the like and take off into space, or they can man their ship’s defense turrets. In addition to the pilot class that allows players to man the ships there is a marine class. Marines can land on the enemy’s flight deck and battle their way to the ship’s core to plant explosives and take it out from within. They are also useful as ship defenders to prevent the enemy from doing the same. If you manage to land a troop transport on the enemy ship it will serve as a spawn point to help ensure that the shipboard battles are hard-fought affairs. Pilots that get past the enemy defenses and land on the enemy flight deck can even commandeer the enemy’s ships, so a TIE Bomber pilot may find himself under fire from a Rebel-manned TIE Interceptor. The overall goal of the pilots is to take out the enemy’s capital ship by hitting it in its designated weak points while preventing the enemy to do the same. While there is only a single pilot class, coordination in space is key to victory as fighter pilots will need to defend their capital ship from incoming enemy bombers while making sure that their own bombers are kept safe. Overall the space maps are a lot of fun to play despite the fact that there is very little variety to them. You don’t really notice the lack of scenery or other features when you’re trying to shake a TIE Interceptor off of your tail.
The planetary maps are also class-based affairs, and each side has the equivalent to the standard infantry, engineer, and assault type classes. Each of the game’s four factions (Empire, Rebel Alliance, Republic, and Separatists) gains a new class in Battlefront II like the Rebels’ Bothan Spy, a class armed with a flamethrower that can cloak itself. Probably the most anticipated new class is the Hero class that lets you fight as Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker among others. Before you get too excited, all the heroes are not available on all of the maps, and there can only be one hero player on a side at the time. Once a team does well enough to collect special hero points the top player will be offered the opportunity to play as a hero character. If he or she refuses, then the next player down the ranking list is offered the opportunity. As the hero you’re compelled to attack enemies and protect yourself from harm by a special hero bar that will drain to zero if you aren’t doing well in the hero’s role. The heroes are all pretty powerful, but not so much so that they can’t be defeated by the concentrated efforts of the enemy. There is definitely a certain degree of coolness to walking the battlefield as Yoda, but the hero classes are not necessarily that exciting to play as their attacks amount to button-mashing melee strikes albeit done so with a lightsaber. If you’re not good enough to get the opportunity to play the hero online, they’re also available in the single player game too.