‘Battlefront’ Puts Gamers Where the Action Is

El Vaquero Staff Writer

“Star Wars: Battlefront ” makes reliving Episodes I and II bearable and the original trilogy more of a treat. Online play, however, is sluggish for this first-person shooter game.

Depending on which militia one is a part of, up to two players can lead other storm troopers, rebels, battle droids or Gungan soldiers (Jar-Jar Binx’s species) onto the frontlines of the most famous battles from the movies. This includes “The Battle of Geonosis” (from “Attack of the Clones”) and “The Battle of Endor” (from “Return of the Jedi”).

The strategy is simple: shoot as many enemies as possible in defending a command post (a red or green marker) from the enemy or capture one of them, like “Counter Strike” with a George Lucas twist. A mission continues until one side’s reinforcements are depleted or until all posts are successfully captured. Players can choose to be standard soldiers, snipers or pilots.

As the game progresses, so do the enemy’s tactics, which include dodging blasts by rolling out of the way, ambushes around every corner and heavy grenade use. When a grenade goes off, a soldier is thrown realistically into the air like a rag doll only to land as a corpse. The best way to avoid this is to keep advancing, not be retreating when someone yells “heads up!”

Being a maverick in the earlier missions is hard to resist, but team cooperation is the only way to overcome such obstacles later on in the game. This is especially true because enemy soldiers work together to hunt down those who are causing them the most trouble. Making oneself a target by going at it alone is not a good idea.

Moreover, there are added bonuses like being able to commandeer armed hover vehicles on Tatooine, swoop bikes on Endor and X-wings on Hoth. On a few missions, players even get to fight alongside “Star Wars” familiars like Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker or Mace Windu. Though, when they are on the opposing side it is almost impossible to kill them, so do not even try. But if it is too tempting to pass up, try launching a grenade in their direction if near the edge of a platform to blow them off of it.

When playing for the Empire in “Galactic Conquest” mode, players get to use the Death Star to blow up a planet after successfully conquering a couple of others. The location of the rebel base would make the most strategic sense to eliminate first.

Game play is simple; players just have to get accustomed to continually adjusting their shooting perspective with both analog sticks. Pushing in the one designated for the right hand serves to zoom in on a target. There are only a few things wrong with this game. First, playing online via X-box Live is a waste of time because battles are paused every five seconds or so.

In addition, mission briefings prior to the start of each level only serve to skew the main objective: to capture or defend a command post. Though, they do include clips from the movies accompanied by the voice of your commanding officer — sometimes this can be the Emperor himself or Yoda.

With “Battlefront,” exclusively for the X-Box, Lucas Arts continues its tradition of producing fun and challenging games jam-packed with visually stunning locales from the “Star Wars” saga, a recipe for success that should seem hackneyed to gamers by now, but is not.
Other promising “Star Wars” game titles to look out for include “Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords” and “Republic Commando.”

Rating: * * * 1/2 (out of 4).