Star Wars: Battlefront Final Hands-On
We get hands-on with the final version of Star Wars: Battlefront.
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Today, LucasArts officially shipped Star Wars: Battlefront, a team-based shooter set in the venerable Star Wars universe. Battlefront takes many of its cues from 2002's Battlefield 1942, with the inclusion of vehicles and two warring factions fighting for control of "command points" scattered across a vast map. Unlike its forebear, however, Battlefront allows you to switch between first- and third-person modes whether you are on foot or in a vehicle. We have the final version of Battlefront in hand and have some early thoughts based on our initial play tests.
Thus far, we've primarily played the game's single-player modes, as there hasn't been much opportunity for online multiplayer testing yet. Battlefront ships with three single-player game modes: historical campaign, galactic conquest, and instant action. There are two historical campaigns. One is the Galactic Civil War, which is the struggle between the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire depicted in Episode IV, Episode V, and Episode VI. The other allows you to fight in the Clone Wars, depicted in the more recently Star Wars films, Episode I, Episode II, and Episode III. Each campaign includes eight maps, played in a linear fashion.You'll switch sides back and forth throughout the campaign, and the game presents you with a short clip from the film relevant to the battle in which you're about to engage. The first mission of the Clone Wars campaign has you leading the vast droid army against the Gungans on the plains of Naboo. Like any red-blooded Star Wars fan would, we immediately selected an assassin droid and proceeded to snipe as many Jar Jar Binks look-alikes as possible. You'll fight in a number of other familiar places in the campaigns, ranging from the deserts of Tatooine, to the icy plains of Hoth, to the high platforms of Bespin.
Galactic conquest is a more open-ended mode that starts off with two sides fighting for control of an array of eight planets. Each planet affords a special bonus to the faction that controls it. There are six special bonuses in total, including bacta tanks, which allow you and your AI teammates to slowly regenerate health on the battlefield; advanced training, which makes your AI teammates more accurate; and sabotage, which causes all enemy vehicles to spawn with considerable damage already inflicted. There are eight different galactic conquest "campaigns," but in practice, they all seem to play out the same way, and there isn't much difference between them.
Each of Battlefront's four playable factions includes five classes, four of which are roughly analogous. Each side has a basic soldier, a heavy-weapons specialist who carries a missile launcher, a sniper, and a pilot. The first three are fairly self-explanatory, but the pilot is a fairly unique class that melds the capabilities of a few standard classes found in other team-based shooters. Like an engineer in other games, the pilot has the ability to repair vehicles and stationary turrets in the field. The pilot can also distribute ammunition packs and bacta tanks (med kits) to teammates. Rounding out the pilot's special abilities is the fact that any vehicle manned by a pilot will slowly repair itself over time. So instead of having to hop out of your AT-AT or X-Wing to repair damage, which leaves you vulnerable to enemy fire and vehicle theft, you can simply retreat and stay in a safe area of the battlefield in order to mend.
The fifth race of every faction is unique to that faction. The separatist droids, for example, can field the fearsome droideka. Those who have seen the Episode I film will remember the droidekas as the rolling destroyer robots that can quickly unfold from a ball and unleash a pair of rapid fire lasers from inside a shield. The droidekas in Battlefront can switch from ball mode to fire mode and can also put up a shield. To balance things out, the droideka moves extremely slowly when not in ball mode, and the shield power drains constantly while in use and cannot be activated while in ball mode. The Empire fields a dark trooper as its fifth class. The dark trooper is armed with a blast cannon and can quickly get around the battlefield using a jetpack similar to Boba Fett's. Unlike with the jetpack in the Tribes games, however, you don't have much altitude control with the Battlefront jetpack, and its fuel runs out quickly, requiring you to wait while it recharges.
Thus far, Battlefront feels like a solid shooter that should appeal to Star Wars fans who have been thirsting for a team-based game set in a George Lucas-inspired universe. We'll have a full review of the game soon.