Imagine taking the most iconic battles from the beloved Star Wars franchise and letting players experience them for themselves? Seems like a genius idea that would have been repeated numerous times. Well, it never happened in video games until 2004, when Pandemic Studios developed Star Wars: Battlefront that was published by LucasArts for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. How would everyone’s favorite galaxy far, far away play in massive battles?
There’s not much of a plot to Star Wars: Battlefront for the single-player campaign. Instead, you will relive some of the most famous battles from the first five films. (Episode III had not been released yet) That means large battles like the Naboo grassy fields, Geonosis’ red sand, Hoth’s icy grounds, and Endor’s large forests are all on full display as you battle your way across the maps.
Star Wars: Battlefront offers players a few different modes. If you’d like to play a single-player mode you have three different options. The historical campaign will put you in the shoes of soldiers fighting in the forefronts of the Clone Wars and Galactic Civil War. You’ll fight battles as the Republic, the CIS, the Empire, and the Rebels. In the historical campaign you don’t choose who you fight for but instead are assigned which army you are fighting in.
Each army has five different soldiers you can choose from depending on your style of play. My favorite soldier was the basic “gunner” who has a repeating blaster rifle and is good in any fight. You can also select soldiers that are snipers, bazookas, mechanics, and heavy-hitters like the super battle droids or Wookies. It’s fun to try them all out but I stuck with the basic soldier and mixed in a few times when I was a sniper. Each soldier class has its pros and cons. As you progress through the timeline of the historical campaigns, you’ll be treated to movie footage from the Star Wars series with shots from the battles you are about to enter. There are a few battles that aren’t in the movies that you still participate in which is fine by me.
So how do you win these battles? There are two different ways to claim victory in Star Wars: Battlefront. The first is defeating every soldier in the opposing army. Usually, each army will start with between 150-250 soldiers and if you deplete their army down to zero, you win the battle. The second way to win a battle is by capturing all of the bases on the map. Each army starts with two or three bases on the map where their soldiers respawn. You can take over a base by clearing out any enemies and standing around the marker for about 15-20 seconds and continuing to defend it. You can capture it and turn it into your own base! If you capture all bases on the map then you claim victory even if your army is losing in the soldier count.
Every battle is exactly the same as far as goals. The gameplay will never change and so it can get very repetitive. The maps change, but the goal remains, capture the bases or clear out the soldiers. It may sound boring on paper but it is a very fun task and the developers came up with a few ways of trying to keep the battles fresh for different maps. Obviously, the environment changes as battling on Hoth is not the same as battling on Tatooine. There are some third-party support or enemies that you’ll face depending on what army you are in. You’ll see Jawas, Sand-People, Ewoks, and those stupid winged geonosians. Some maps also come with vehicles and ships that you can fly! You’ll be able to take control of X-Wings, Y-Bombers, Tie-Fighters, Tie-Bombers, a few different tanks, AT-ATs, and plenty of other star crafts that you see throughout the movies. This is all really cool but man, they control like shit. Stay away from the ships that fly as you’ll be shot dead within ten seconds and the controls seem rough. You will be so tempted to jump in those ships and fly but believe me it’s a death sentence. If you really want to pilot something stick to vehicles that stay on the ground.
There are two other modes for single-player that include galactic conquest in which you try and take over the galaxy planet by planet. Each planet has two battles and if you win both you control the planet and obtain a bonus. It’s a good mix up from the historical campaigns that offers a slightly different feel. The final mode in single-player is instant action where you can make your own battle schedule and pick the era and maps you play. It’s a great way to waste an entire day if you want to just sink into a Star Wars day. There’s an option for multiplayer where you can play against a friend or with them in co-op. It’s a lot of fun to do either.
The more you play Star Wars: Battlefront the more unlockables you can obtain. You can unlock storyboards, drawings, and costume designs from the movies and view them in the special features. It’s a cool little nugget if you are a big Star Wars geek. The game also gives plenty of fan service with the music and sound effects. All of your favorite tunes from the series play depending on what planet you are on and every laser or creature sounds just like it did in the movies. It was a treat to walk through the Endor forest and listen to the birds chirp or hear the speeders zoom by.
Oh man, I love Star Wars, well I used to. The new movies are so terrible and the characters suck so bad. But I adore the original three movies and even the prequels are better than the new movies which are saying something. Anyway, as a kid, I always dreamed of living those battles on Hoth or Endor and I finally was able to do it when my dad bought me Star Wars: Battlefront. I loved it a ton and played hours of it. I think I was a little disappointed in the lack of story in the single-player but the battles are very fun even if they get repetitive. I have another friend who is even a bigger Star Wars fan than I am and he played it just as much. I visited him a few weeks ago and we busted out this game and played it for a few hours. It was so much fun and made me nostalgic to play it again myself which I did for this review!
Star Wars: Battlefront is a wonderful idea that grants every kid’s dream and puts them into the shoes of the soldiers on the front line in Star Wars. The gameplay can be repetitive and there’s no real plot, but the game is dream come true for Star Wars fans back in 2004. There’s tons of fun to be had with or without your friends.
Star Wars: Battlefront scores an 8.7 out of 10.
Do you remember when Star Wars: Battlefront first came out? What was your favorite battle? What was your favorite map? What soldier class did you choose? Let me know your memories and thoughts, I’d love to read the comments!
If you’d like to own a copy of Star Wars: Battlefront, you can purchase a used copy of it for PS2 from eBay for around $10.