In a time of empires and rebellion, when mighty machines tore worlds asunder and great fleets traveled the stars, vast armies fought to restore and maintain order. From the decisive battle on Genosis, to the final battle on the Forest Moon of Endor, each victory changed the face of the galaxy. Now relive those battles, change their outcomes and change the fate of entire worlds. Will the Empire triumph? Will the Clone Wars end in a Republic victory? Choose a side and determine the fate of the galaxy.
Developed by Pandemic Studios and published by LucasArts, it's quite obvious that Star Wars: Battlefront is a multiplayer-oriented title. Offering Xbox Live support for up to 16 players per match, and offering a variety of battlefields across various worlds, four different factions with a wide selection of weapons and vehicles for each, Star Wars Battlefront should provide players with not only an enjoyable gaming experience, but also high replay value. So does Star Wars Battlefront live up to these expectations? The title offers a third person team based shooter, unlike the first person squad based Republic Commando. Also, Battlefront wasn't designed with graphics and details in mind, so while the game's overall appearance is nice, it lacks the detail that other Star Wars titles offer. Also, Battlefront is designed primarily as a multiplayer game, while Republic Commando had a single player gaming experience in mind. All comparison's aside, let's move on with the review.
As mentioned previously, Star Wars Battlefront is primarily a multiplayer game. When playing the game it is hard not to notice the features which have been altered for the single player offering. For example, every character on the battlefield besides the player is a "bot". In the option mode, under gaming difficulty, you can determine what level you want the "bots" to be. Performance wise, it is easy to see the where Pandemic altered aspects of the multiplayer game to give players a decent "offline" option. Although not the strongest of modes, it does offer a slight enhancement to the gameplay.
Visually, Battlefront won't impress the large crowd, but that doesn't mean the graphics aren't well done. Pandemic Studios has done a great job with the character and vehicle models. In combat players will actually feel like they are battling the Galactic Empire, especially when they come face to face with some of the bigger vehicles, like the AT-AT Walkers. The environments are also well done, and offer the player a unique look at the Star Wars Universe. With that said, there is a lot of room for improvement. While efforts were made for giving a sense of ambience, they seem token efforts at best. More fine detail, especially on the smaller objects and NPCs which are scattered all over the battlefields would be an asset. While the Jawas on Tatooine are fairly impressive, the trash and broken vehicles in the streets don't measure up. Some areas could have used more detail of this nature, especially since many of the buildings (temples, huts, etc) seemed devoid of any signs of life. Overall, Pandemic has done a fairly good job on the visuals in Star Wars: Battlefront, but there is still room for improvement.
Audio is a strong part of Battlefront; Pandemic has put a lot of focus into this aspect of the title. The music is performed by orchestra as with the previous Star Wars games. It is nice to have John Williams' music playing during the battles, offering players a more traditional Star Wars feel. It is very enjoyable to running along the battlefield with the Imperial March playing. Battlefront also offers a wide array of sound effects, one example being the sound of blaster fire as it varies from weapon to weapon. This is very helpful when trying to figure out who is firing at whom in the confusion of battle. Other sound effects such as vehicle explosions, the destruction of droids, the death of troops, and the explosion of grenades are also superb. All in all, these sound effects were well done and really help bring Star Wars: Battlefront to life.
Another very impressive aspect of the game is the voice acting. Pandemic should be applauded for gathering such a solid set of voice actors. Every time a command post is captured or falls to the enemy, the player is updated by an officer. This aspect really gives the game life, and adds to the realism of the title. Not only do the humans and droids have lines, but many of the aliens also have a few things to say. It is amazing to run through Mos Eisley and hear Jawa chatter, or to sneak through the forests on Endor and listen to the sounds of Ewok battle cries. While some players will notice a weird glitch involving a wookie's voice, there isn't much else that hinders the audio performance.
In Battlefront, gameplay has to be broken down into sections. For starters, although the single player and multiplayer modes are very similar, the gaming experience is very different. The AI in single player plays off a simple plan. In every stage, there is one command post which the AI is programmed to capture. The battle revolves around capturing and maintaining this one command post, and after a short while this becomes very repetitive. For example, in the first stage on Bespin, the entire battle revolves around the central command post. In multiplayer, this is very different as players multiple strategies can be used to gain an edge. For example, on Bespin, instead of staying around the central command post, players might take a ship and capture command posts around the edge of the map, and surround the enemy. Simply put, multiplayer offers more of a strategic experience then single player.
The next breakdown would have to be between controlling soldiers and controlling vehicles. Battlefront isn't a complex third person shooter, as the combat system is very simple and offers players a fair bit of options. While you do have two weapons and two grenades to choose from with each character class, players cannot pick up the weapons of fallen enemies. This is a little upsetting, especially after playing third person shooters like Namco's Kill Switch. Much like Kill Switch, players have the ability to dodge from side to side, which does help avoid weapon fire. Taking a soldier into combat is fairly enjoyable, but Battlefront offers vehicles as well. While some vehicles are enjoyable to pilot, others simply aren't. In multiplayer, the bigger vehicles are much more enjoyable, especially with friends. One player can man the guns, while another pilots the machine. Unfortunately, fighters like the X-Wing are Tie Fighter don't offer the same level of enjoyment. As a fan of the Rogue Squadron series, I was very disappointed that the star fighters are overly frustrating to fly. Players will find themselves spending half their time in the air keeping the fighters from crashing into the ground. The gameplay model may its flaws, but it is still very solid overall, as taking the guns of a tank and firing into a crowd of enemy soldiers is remarkably entertaining.
Star Wars: Battlefront offers a lot of replay value, but it still has room for improvement. The single player mode offers hours of gameplay, but besides completing the campaigns and unlocking the concept art, it doesn't offer much depth. Its repetitive nature will probably turn you off before you finish the campaigns anyhow. Multiplayer is highly entertaining, but like the single player mode, over time it becomes stale as well. Even with all the character classes and vehicles available, there is only so much that can be done. Play a stage through once as a soldier, then play it again as a sniper, a pilot, or a heavy weapons expert, and the player gets a different experience each time, although in the end it really is all the same.
Overall, Star Wars Battlefront is a solid Xbox Live title. Visuals are quite solid, and the audio is even better. The single player mode is a bit on the dull side, but multiplayer offers many options and for players to explore. If you don't have Xbox Live, this one is probably best suited to a weekend rental, as it is primarily a multiplayer oriented game. If you've enjoyed past Star Wars titles, or are a fan of the movie series, Battlefront offers a highly entertaining experience and unique perspective into the Star Wars Universe.