“Now in space!”
One year after the release of the original Star Wars: Battlefront, developer Pandemic Studios, and publisher LucasArts followed it up with the release of Star Wars: Battlefront II for PlayStation 2 and Xbox in 2005. The second game in the series would introduce content from Episode III as well as allowing players to take control of famous characters from the Star Wars universe like Yoda and Darth Vader.
One thing that Star Wars: Battlefront didn’t have was a story or focused single-player campaign. Star Wars: Battlefront II introduces players to the elite 501st Legion of the clone troopers in the mode “Rise of the Empire”. You’ll play through epic battles from the viewpoint of elite soldiers that are taking orders from the Emperor. Before each mission, you’ll hear an audio log entry of a soldier discussing the upcoming mission and the emotions that the 501st was going through at the time.
The plot plays out right before Order 666 as a few missions in Episode III are featured before becoming the actual Empire. It was interesting to see and hear the perspectives of the elite soldiers. They gave some insight into their relationships with the Jedi and certain characters adding a bit of context to their emotions. You’ll play as the 501st up until Episode V in the Hoth invasion. Some of the missions are from the films, while some were fictitious like capturing the new Queen of Naboo and killing her.
In the first game, the object was to decimate the opposing army by killing all of the troops or capturing all of the command centers. Battlefront II expands on the gameplay and gives more objectives during missions. For example, you’ll still be capturing command posts but now you’ll be tasked with recovering important data plans or destroying specific equipment to turn the battle in your favor. Some battles allow you to play as recognizable characters from the films after you’ve achieved a few tasks. For the Republic/Rebels you’ll play as Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, Obi-Wan, Yoda, Mace Windu, Ki-Adi Mundi, and Aayla Secura. For the Empire, you can play as Darth Vader, the Emperor, Boba Fett, Anakin Skywalker, Count Dooku, General Grievous, Darth Maul, Jango Fett, and Darth Sidious. These characters are extremely powerful and can clear most mission objectives once you unlock them. These heroes/villains can kill enemies in one hit, survive massive damage, and use force powers or other unique skills.
Another huge inclusion in Battlefront II is the advancement of space battles. In Battlefront I, players can take control of land vehicles and have the option to fly X-Wings or Tie Fighters but around a battlefield. It honestly didn’t work very well and felt claustrophobic but Battlefront II gave spaceships their own battles making it easier and more fun to fly around. You can fly ships from both eras but I’ll always prefer the original trilogy ships to the prequels. The ships control fine and you can perform tricks to avoid missiles. The sound effects are superb making you feel that you are right in the cockpit of the fighters. Flying around space and blowing up parts of huge ships is addicting. I loved taking out the command bridge, engines, gun turrets, and everything else. Sure, you can cripple a ship but it was a surprise when you could land within an enemy ship and sabotage it from the inside out. Once you land inside a ship, you can exit your fighter and make your way to the command center disabling controls and generators that further cripple the ship. It’s a great idea and it works fairly well.
Something that bothered me was the glitches. Both A.I. and enemies would get stuck next to objects and start to shake violently as they freed themselves. It would ruin a great turning point in a huge battle when I rushed into a hallway and saw fighters from both sides stuck to a wall and shaking for a few seconds. Enemy A.I. isn’t the brightest either. There were times when I’d stand next to a box and they’d be inches away from me searching or doing nothing with their gun as the tip practically points at my head unable to detect me. It was strange, and it’s essentially how I beat the Hoth mission by standing next to a box where enemies ran right by me as I launched rocket after rocket at the shield generator.
I thought at first that Battlefront II was easier because during the first mission I killed 42 droids and didn’t die once. I mean yes, I am a stud but I didn’t think it’d be that easy. Missions did get harder but rarely did I fail a mission as most of them I beat on my first attempt. Some missions gave you numerous objectives to achieve within ten minutes. I liked these as they felt like they were the toughest missions. There was a space battle that I had to cripple numerous parts of a ship, destroy ten space fighters, and do a few other things. I completed my tasks with 40 seconds left so ten minutes is the perfect amount of time to complete these longer mission objectives.
Other modes from Battlefront I return like instant action where you can create numerous battles and decide what maps you want to play. This can easily take hours to complete and is a great way of killing a Saturday. Galactic Conquest returns too as that was the single-player mode from the first game where you take over the galaxy planet-by-planet.
I got Battlefront II when I was in ninth grade. I loved the space battles and mastered the controls quickly. When I played Battlefront II for this review I was rusty and needed to reeducate myself. It took a few tries but I was soon blowing up ships again and wiping galactic scum off my windshield. I have tons of fond memories playing both Battlefront I and II for the PS2 and to be honest, they have aged wonderfully as the gameplay is just as fun as I remember. I was such a huge Star Wars fan growing up and having these games were awesome to relive the battles.
Star Wars: Battlefront II lets you play as your favorite characters as you wield force powers and lightsabers in battle. Space battles were a much-needed inclusion and refreshing flight controls help it shine. Poor A.I. and glitches spoil some battles on the ground but overall Pandemic made another solid homage to Star Wars lovers.
Star Wars: Battlefront II scores an 8.8 out of 10.
Do you remember when Star Wars: Battlefront II first came out? What did you think of the space battles? Who was your favorite hero or villain to play as? Did you like the 501st Legion plot? 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 II, you can purchase a used copy of it for the PS2 from eBay for $15.