Star Wars: Battlefront II strikes back

Sequel to Pandemic's shooter gives SW fans a new hope and marks the return of Jedi on PS2s, Xboxes, and PCs.

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The Star Wars frenzy is really beginning to heat up. With the impending release of Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith--the final movie (or midpoint, depending on how you look at it) in George Lucas' six-chapter space drama--the Star Wars-licensed games have really begun to roll in. Lego Star Wars was released earlier this month, Star Wars: Empire at War was announced early this year, and Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars Galaxies: Rage of the Wookiees will both be released in the first week of May.

If that weren't enough for insatiable Star Wars fans, LucasArts today announced Star Wars: Battlefront II, the sequel to the popular third-person shooter released last year. The game will once again be developed by Pandemic Studios, which previously worked with LucasArts on Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction. Battlefront II is scheduled to be released this fall on the Xbox, PlayStation 2, and PC.

The main draw of the original Battlefront was the frenetic action of a raging battle between the Rebel forces and the Empire--Battlefront II will be no different in that respect. Once again, the game will take place during events of all of the films in the sci-fi franchise. Levels will range from the interior of the Death Star from the original 1977 film, to the volcanic Mustafar, the setting for the final duel between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader in the upcoming Revenge of the Sith.

Battlefront II will also mark the debut of space combat in the franchise. Players will be able to commandeer various cosmic vessels. Once at the helm, they can dock with capital ships, exit the vehicle, and continue to fight on foot in the spaceship's interior. Regarding the flight system and controls, Shara Miller, a producer at LucasArts, told GameSpot, "It's more Rogue Squadron style than X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter."

Gamers eager to use the Force will be happy to know that the mighty lightsaber-wielding Jedi are now playable, though it isn't yet clear how they will be incorporated into the balanced roster of characters.

Pandemic has also added a more extensive open-ended mission-based single-player mode spanning 12 locations. The online portion of the game has been taken up a notch as well. In addition to new modes, the multiplayer portion supports up to 24 players on the PS2, 32 on the Xbox, and 64 on the PC.

For more information on Star Wars: Battlefront II, check out GameSpot's previous coverage, which includes a first look at the game, as well as an interview with producer Shara Miller.

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