Great Games: Star Wars: Battlefront
Sending you to the frontlines of your favorite Star Wars movies
I may not like the Prequel Trilogy, but that era of Star Wars films (1999–2005) produced many fun and memorable games, like Knights of the Old Republic and Lego Star Wars. Among these fun games was the original Star Wars Battlefront released for the Xbox, PS2, and PC in 2004 by Pandemic and LucasArts. The appeal of Battlefront is that you can play through the many famous battles of the Star Wars films as a Stormtrooper, a Wookie, or even a Droid.
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Pandemic Studios began work on Battlefront in November 2002. According to the game’s executive producer, Greg Borrud, their aim was to create the “ultimate Star Wars fan’s dream”, where you would be able to do “everything and anything that you had seen in the movies, from fighting in the trenches on Hoth to manning a Republic Gunship on Geonosis.” A lot of technical work was spent on properly immersing the player into this experience. For instance, John Northan, the lead programmer for Battlefront, wrote about how the A.I. for each of the soldiers were all given unique behaviors to follow: “there will be trooper soldiers directly engaging the enemy, sniper soldiers staying hidden at the periphery of the battle, assault soldiers attempting to outflank and destroy enemy vehicles, and repair soldiers busy healing the wounded.”
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While previous Star Wars games, like Shadows of the Empire, let you play through certain scenes, Battlefront was the first to give you such a wide selection of battles across the six films to choose from. You can also choose what side you want to be on in any given battle. Join with the Imperials on Endor or with the Separatists on Geonosis. Great care was also taken to ensure that the look and sound of everything replicated the original films, from the music of John Williams to the Cantina bar in Mos Eisley. Jango Fett actor, Temeura Morrison, also shines as the voice for the clone troopers.
The object of each fight in Battlefront is to capture all of the posts on the field. At the start of each battle, some belong to your side, some will belong to the enemy, and some will be neutral. To claim the post for your side, you need to stand around it until it changes color, which may prove difficult if you come under a lot of enemy fire. You can also claim victory by eliminating all enemy forces, which can also prove tricky in certain instances where you are at a disadvantage. The Separatists, for example, have a natural advantage on Geonosis, which will make things difficult if you are a clone trooper.
The single player and multiplayer modes are both fun. In single player, you can either select a series of stages to fight through in Instant Action, play through the Clone Wars and the Galactic Civil War through Campaign, or conquer various planets through Galactic Conquest. The multiplayer version is great, of course, and if you had the Windows and Macintosh versions, you could play with up to 64 players.
Battlefront is terribly addicting due to how conveniently and quickly you can jump into the fighting. It’s versatile enough that you can do a quick battle before lunch or a marathon with your friends past midnight. The battlefields all have plenty of variety, so it’s hard to get bored. Whether its fighting through the streets of the labyrinthine Theed city, sneaking through the thickets of Yavin 4, or enduring a crowded passageway I call “the road of death” on the Bespin platforms. Battlefront also introduces the snowy ruins of Rhen Var, which had never before been seen in any of the films, and we even get an early glimpse of a Episode III’s Wookie planet of Kashyyyk. Of course, there are also plenty of vehicles that one can use to turn the tide of battle. My favorites were the towering AT-ATs and the powerful Republic Gunship.
Of course, Battlefront has some rough patches, which makes sense given that it was the first game in the series. The AIs could sometimes be worthless, some of the vehicles (like the X-Wing) could be clunky, and the Endor level in Galactic Civil War is near impossible to win. Granted, most of these issues were later fixed in the superior sequel, Battlefront II, but they remain a minor annoyance nonetheless.