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Star Wars Battlefront

2004

So, let me get this straight--a Star Wars video game that mixes scenes from the movies with gameplay from my favorite PC game of all time, Battlefield 1942???  This one's a no-brainer!

Well, not quite.  In theory, this is genius, but the final product is merely good because much like Enter the Matrix, Star Wars Battlefront looks like a rush job on a number of fronts; from the menu system to a poor Xbox Live front-end integration to one of the shittiest single-player experiences in history.

Serving as a soldier for one of the four main factions in the game (Rebel Alliance, Empire, CIS or the Republic), you can choose between five different character classes before rolling out from selected bases on large-scale maps trying to take out the opposing faction while capturing bases all over the grid.  These maps, of course, are what will either bring you back again and again or make you throw the game out the window, and thankfully, the maps in Battlefront are mostly solid and they bring back the moments in the films from Hoth, Endor, and Tatooine brilliantly by allowing you to take part in the action at key moments throughout.  Even though there have been a dozen "Star Wars"-themed games over the years, it's always fun to hop into a snowspeeder and take down an AT-AT for the good guys.

The game also does the war thing better than any other game available, especially on Xbox (since PS2 has the Dynasty Warriors series); in multiplayer over Xbox Live, there can be up to 8 human players on each side plus eight more computer-controlled characters around; so, for 16-on-16 action, it's quite a sight trying to gun down Stormtroopers or taking out baddies with a TIE Fighter or a Y-Wing.  Open-field battles really feel like battles, so that sense of sheer chaos is fantastic in Star Wars Battlefront.

Sure, of the 20 available player types, three of them are ridiculously more powerful than the other 17; two have a jetpack and a one-shot-kill sidearm, and one of them, a Terminator-like battlebot available on the CIS faction, has a 50-shot clip, thick armor, a rocket launcher and can run nearly as fast as any human; I have been seeing more and more human players stacking up with that character type and taking out a sick number of people.  And, the first two weeks playing Battlefront online led to a number of laggy server experiences; it's a ton better now, but again speaking to the rushed nature of the product, Battlefront should have been tested a bit more than it was to give the people a better experience, not just something warm and fuzzy.  And, while the Heroes function is a great idea--allowing characters like Luke Skywalker to show up every so often and kill nearly everyone in his path--in practice, you can never use it because Luke and his buddies are indestructible, so they can deflect rockets with their lightsabers.  Uh, yeah.

With Halo 2 looming less than a month away, Star Wars Battlefront is a solid offering to keep things steady until November 9th.  I just wish the developers had done a little more work to make Battlefront great, not just good enough.

Rating:  $40

 

Feedback?  Comments?  Salma Hayek's digits?  justin@bellviewmovies.com

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  Buy this game right away, and don't ask me any questions as to why that's a good move.  A game experience that will almost guarantee repeated controller abuse, lots of ManScreaming and high resale value, you will assuredly play this bad boy for months on end. 

"$40":  Usually after games have been out for a while, they drop in price slightly, or can be bought for slightly cheaper in combination with other new games.  Usually, that's about $40.  You'll feel good getting the game for this price, since it isn't quite run-out-and-get-it-right-now good, but it has enough game in the box for a few weeks' worth of enjoyment.

"eBay":  This game is not too bad, but you'd be better off buying it used from either half.com or eBay.  You also might let a friend buy this game, let s/he beat it, and then try to buy it from them to make them feel better.  Yes, this does tend to feel like "Sloppy Seconds."

"Rental":  Like my cousin Ron, you should always rent games that you aren't sure about first, to make sure that your $50 is going towards something worthwhile.  For games in this category, this is the maximum amount of money ($5) and/or time (3-5 days) you'll need to either gain satisfaction from the game, or beat the game in its entirety.  Rental-rated games are also sometimes perfect for a weekend when you are going to be at home on your ass, with some time to kill.

"Dogshit":  Games like this should have never been released.  If you play this game for any reason, you will regret every second of the experience.  Further, if you can get this game for free, don't do it, because even for FREE, it will still be a negative experience for you!

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09