Instead of controlling noble Luke Skywalker or a ruthless Sith Lord, Star Wars: Battlefront lets you take a different perspective on the well-known Star Wars canon: an opportunity to play as a rank-and-file Imperial Stormtrooper or rebel soldier. You'll participate in some of the most memorable large scale battles from the movies, from the frozen wastes of Hoth to the steamy jungles of Endor. Although Battlefront feels epic and exciting at first blush, the repetitive battles and average AI make for a curiously empty experience, resulting in an enjoyable albeit mindless, first-person shooter.
The story's the thing when it comes to the Star Wars franchise, and this is an area in which the game is sorely lacking. The campaign mode, which is the main single-player experience, merely throws you into historical battle after historical battle, increasing the number of reserves the enemy has while decreasing your own as you progress. Battlefront trades entirely too much its Star Wars pedigree, and doesn't add anything new to it in the process.
In the course of an action, you're ostensibly given objectives, such as "Protect the shield generator!" or "Gain a foothold on Yavin 4," but they're essentially meaningless. Controlling one side or the other, the only way you finish a mission is by completely exhausting the enemies' reserves or capturing all of their command points, resulting in a tedious slog through map after map. Maps hold large numbers of bots (or players, if you're playing multiplayer), sometimes as many as 30 on a side, with hundreds of troops in reserve. In the course of a battle, you can play as various classes, from pilot to soldier, which provides some variety as each class has different weapons and specialties. However, an option to play Capture the Flag or missions that required you to actually complete an objective would have been a welcome change.
The best part of Battlefront is its superior control and gameplay, balanced factions, and all of the little details that go into making an authentic LucasArts Star Wars game. Controls are clean and crisp, and running and shooting is a breeze. You're also given the opportunity to pilot several famous Star Wars vehicles, such as the ponderous and powerful AT-AT walker on Hoth, or the landspeeder on Tatooine. These handle about how you'd imagine they would. The AT-AT walker, for example, is ponderously slow and yet unstoppable -- a perfect symbol for the Empire. Presentation-wise, the game gets the graphics and sounds just right, from the sound of the blasters to the little bleeps and whirrs that come from medical and ammo droids.
Battlefront may have succeeded in presenting the life of a frontline soldier in war a little too well. Once you get past the glamour of those first few battles, all that's left is more of the same, battle after battle, war after war.
Graphics: Well-done graphical representation of the Star Wars universe, although characters within the game can look slightly blocky from up close.
Sound: Nothing beats a stirring John Williams soundtrack and the whoosh of blaster fire rushing past your head. Nothing.
Enjoyment: Great fun for a while, but then becomes tedious once you've mastered the maps and controls. Multiplayer can a blast with enough players, however.
Replay Value: The campaign is bland and forgettable, not worth replaying. However, instant action and multiplayer games are always compelling in short stints.
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Star Wars: Battlefront II, Star Wars: Republic Commando, Star Wars: Dark Forces, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron 3D, Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces 2, Star Wars: Rebel Assault, Star Wars: Starfighter, Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds
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