Movie Tie-in game time… again! There are a lot of Star Wars games out there. I mean, the movies have been around since 1977. Surely in all those decades a video game or two have been made? Yeah, plenty more than two.
But I don’t want to go over all of them, especially since many of them have existed much longer than I have. I’m going to focus on three specific ones, ones that made it into a ‘fan favorites’ collection, that was later split into two parts, for… well money probably.
Star Wars: Battlefront (PS2, Xbox, PC 2004)
Star Wars: Battlefront is one of my favorites, and I’m glad it was returned to shelves in the fan favorites collection. It takes a really interesting angle on Star Wars games. Most are made to tie directly into the movie, and usually follow the main characters — sometimes only the Jedi. This game focuses not on the heroes, but on the soldiers and the battles themselves. The closest a Star Wars game has come before to this level of focus on a nameless soldier was probably in the Rogue Squadron series, or other such piloting games.
But the thing about Star Wars: Battlefront is it plays and feels a lot like a Battlefield game, especially the debut game in that series, Battlefield 1942, which came out two years before Star Wars: Battlefront. Players pick one of two sides (axis or allies replaced by the “good side” or “bad side” of both Star Wars trilogies,) and a specific class of soldier in those armies. The main goal is then one of two things: capture all the ‘command posts’ and hold them for about twenty seconds, or deplete the enemy’s tickets. Tickets essentially being the price of a respawn.
This game does feature three different ways of stringing these battles together. First is campaign, which does its best to fit battles together in chronological order based on the five movies released (this game did come out before Star Wars Episode III.) There is also galactic conquest, where the two sides play a kind of “Risk” game, trying to lay claim to as many battlefields as possible. Then, there is instant action, which allows the player to pick from all the maps and put them together as they see fit.
I really enjoy Star Wars: Battlefront. It is a very refreshing angle to take, and it is at least as fun as Battlefield 1942. The only thing that might be a problem is that the CIS (best known as the droids or Separatists) has a really unfair advantage in the Droideka unit — it would have worked best to try and balance that out and give the Repbulic’s clone army really powerful guns. So gameplay can be really unbalanced at times. Still, when the sequel comes around, it is still good to have this one as well, Star Wars: Battlefront II is very different.
Star Wars: Battlefront II (PS2, Xbox, PC 2005)
While keeping a lot of the same features, battlefields, and other such things, Star Wars: Battlefront II makes itself drastically different from its predecessor. One of the major things that does that is the playability of heroes.
In the first, each side had only one hero who functioned as an unstoppable NPC (non-playable character), Star Wars: Battlefront II changes the role of heroes to a ‘super class’ only unlockable for doing really well on a map. Heroes don’t have HP, like the other units, they instead have a time limit. The limit rises if the hero defeats enemies, but lowers every time the hero takes damage.
While they do have a wide variety of heroes, this whole addition changes the dynamic. It is no longer about playing the average Star Wars soldier, it is now about playing the average soldier just long enough to unlock the hero.
An even better addition though is the space warfare. Each faction is provided with different classes of ships, which must be used to destroy the enemy’s fleet. It is hard to say what I feel about the space warfare itself; I like the concept, but the execution I might not. I say might, because I’m still unsure of it. Dogfighting is nigh impossible, so most of the fun is had circling around the enemy’s flagships, taking out their services one by one. Or most interesting: piloting a ship into the enemy cargo bay and undoing everything from the inside. It can be fun, but it can also be quite boring — the playability doesn’t stack up to other aerial assault games like it.
Still, this version is the better one to some, others still prefer the original. I’m sure I’d pick one if I was coerced, but until that point I’ll say I love them both equally.
Star Wars: Republic Commando (PC, Xbox 2005)
This game is a real treat. There are just so many things done right with this game, it is hard to pick somewhere to start. I guess a synopsis then.
Republic Commando follows Delta Squad, an elite force of four clone commandos sent in to tackle the most difficult jobs. It functions as a first-person shooter, and characters play the role of RC-1138 (better known as ‘Boss’) who is the leader of the team. Joining him is the demolitions expert RC-1262 (Scorch), the whiny hacker RC-1140 (Fixer), and the sadistic sniper RC-1207 (Sev). I think one of the things that makes this game stick is that level of characterization. Most first-person shooters make the player character silent and blank, in order for the player to project onto them. Republic Commando goes the complete opposite way and load each character with personality, even the player character. Sev is a master of gritty, Tarantino-esque humor, Scorch has a fun quip for everything, and Fixer… is easy enough to ignore.
The other thing that makes Republic Commando stand out from other first-person shooters is how well each character works together. This game is focused on the single-player story, and your ally NPCs can be commanded to do various tasks: revive, heal, snipe, throw grenades, place demo charge, among other things.
But what really makes a difference is that they do their job well. Going into some fights without characters fortified in a sniping position can mean instant death. I watched a ‘making of’ video for this game and saw that they even brought in real military personnel to explain the process of performing a door breach. These guys did their homework.
But, nothing’s perfect. Even this game has its problems. The story comes to an upsetting end, and while the characters are all portrayed as being specialists, each can do any job just as well as the others.
Super Battle Droids are the most difficult standard enemies in the game, and your most effective weapons are the pistol and the plasma claw. Seriously though, your standard gun is not powerful enough and runs out of ammo. The pistol is very effective in certain instances, only ever needing to recharge. Then your bayonet, the plasma claw as it’s called, is the second most fun weapon — the most fun weapon being the concussion rifle (think giant, laser air-zooka). It is always great to sail across enemy units, slicing and dicing.
Really, there are lots of little things that make Republic Commando great, but to try and list them all would push me well over three-thousand words — neither of us want to sit here this long, I’m sure. I love this game, and I especially love that fans recognized it well enough to get it bundled with two of my other favorite Star Wars games. The only problem is that I haven’t seen either Part I or Part II of the Star Wars Fan Favorites out on shelves, but I’m sure they’d be easy enough to find on Amazon. Or maybe Gamestop would have some of them.
But did I mention there’s soon to be a Star Wars: Battlefront III?
Photos via: Google