Star Wars: Battlefront 2 – Retro Review
With the fast approaching release of both The Force Awakens and Battlefront 3, I thought now would be a good a time as any to dive into a retro review of one of my favorite PS2 games. Star Wars: Battlefront 2 is a first and third person shooter developed by Pandemic, it was first released physically in 2005 for PS2, Xbox and PC. It has also been released since then on Xbox 360, PSP and on Steam.
Battlefront 2 borrows the class based, control point focused gameplay of the Battlefield series. Upon jumping into a game, you would be forgiven for thinking that this is just a reskinned Battlefield 2. However as you keep playing you will quickly realize that this isn’t the case. Unique vehicles and guns help the Battlefront distance itself from other similar games, and the Star Wars themed classes vary the gameplay in a way you will never see in a Battlefield game.
Being tied to the Star Wars universe, it is obvious that Pandemic weren’t able to create entire new worlds or planets for their game. They were however able to borrow from the established Star Wars lore and made a large number of maps which stay true to the feel of each planet. There was a large amount of variety in each map, from the frozen tundras of Hoth, the dense forests of Endor or the fiery volcano planet Mustafar. You always felt like you were playing in a completely different environment each time you jumped into a game.
Given that they were limited in what they could do with these settings, they accomplished a lot from a level design viewpoint. Most of the maps were well balanced and provided the players with several different pathways and routes to take. The game contains a good range of level sizes, you could choose the tight corridors of Polis Massa or Jabba’s Palace where shotguns and close range weapons rule. Or you could opt for a larger and more open area like Hoth or Kashyyyk, which provide a whole different set of challenges such as avoiding snipers and having to cover a lot of ground every time you spawn.
Galactic Conquest was probably my favorite mode in Battlefront 2. It combines a high-level strategy game with the instant action battles, and makes for a truly epic war which could last for a long time. This game mode allows you to take control of a fleet of spaceships, and strategically move them between planets in order to defend or conquer the galaxy. When your fleet comes into contact with an opposing fleet or planet you are thrown into an instant action battle to determine the outcome.
As you progressed through the war and win battles you earn credits. You can then spend them to unlock different troop classes and buy bonuses which you could use in a battle to give your side a boost. These boosts range from sabotaging enemy vehicles, providing reinforcements to your troops or even giving you a Hero unit to use during the battle. These additions provided an extra level of choice to a rather simplistic strategy mode, and gave the feeling that your high-level choices actually affect the battles you are fighting in.
The Space Battles were a great addition to the second game of the series. Taking to the skies in an X-Wing or Tie Fighter was one of my favorite parts of the original game, even if the amount of airspace was extremely limiting. The movement of the ships feel good, and the variety between the several different spaceships you can pilot is very evident from the moment you take off in each one. Having several ships to choose from gives the player a choice as to whether they want to spend the battle dog-fighting other fighters, bombing the opposing capital ships or transporting troops.
Although the area on each capital ship was pretty small and the combat wasn’t particularly well balanced, it was still great to be able to land on the enemy cruiser and take out their systems from the inside. This was especially fun in multiplayer games where you had to choose between staying to defend your ship from invaders, or attempting to board the enemies ship and sabotage their vital systems.
The soundtrack of Battlefront 2 is quintessentially Star Wars, the music invoked memories of the famous John Williams score for the original movies. Other sound effects throughout the game were spot on as well, blaster and vehicles sound just like they do in the films. Everything helps to make you feel like you are inside the Star Wars universe.
Another step up from the original game is being able to take control of the hero units. It is so much fun to jump in and control one of your favorite characters from the movies. Most of them feel appropriately powerful, you are able to cut a swathe through a group of troops with relative ease (as you would expect from a Jedi or a Sith).
Star Wars: Battlefront 2 was a good iteration on the original game. It added several new modes and features while maintaining the core gameplay which made Battlefront such an instant success.
If you are a fan of either shooters or Star Wars, this game is worth a go. The variety of Star Wars planets, vehicles, races and weapons all stay true to the universe. The gameplay is fun and gives you several different options for how to play.