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Star Wars Battlefront Xbox

Published by LucasArts
Developed by Pandemic
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £39.99

Be honest most of us love a good Star Wars game but over the last few years only Knights of the Old Republic stands out as being a classic. The rest range from downright poor to simply OK. Why is this? Well it's difficult to say really. The prequel movies (Episode, I and II) were nowhere near as good as the original trilogy and I was angry to find that the recent DVD trilogy had been edited to help things fit in with the prequel films. Is Star Wars loosing it's magic? It probably is a little but as Knights of the Old Republic proved, with some imagination this needn't be the case. Can Star Wars Battlefront be like Knights of the Old Republic and actually be a great Star Wars product instead of an average one?

Essentially the formula for Battlefield 1942 has been taken and emulated within the Star Wars universe. Like Battlefield 1942 it's been built from the ground up with online play as the major consideration but a single player mode has been included and is certainly worthwhile for getting used to the game although it's unlikely you'll play through it once it's been completed. The game offers three single player modes, the Historical Campaign, Galactic Conquest and Instant Action. Personally I would have preferred that Battlefront had been solely based on the original Star Wars trilogy but alas the game has been split between the original trilogy and prequels. The Historical Campaign allows you to play battles from both the Clone Wars (prequel movies) and Galactic Civil War (original Star Wars worlds). You'll fight battles on all four sides (Republic, Galactic Empire, Republic and CIS) during the campaign but whilst the Galactic Civil War battles are engaging the Clone Wars are rather lacklustre. Galactic Conquest has more strategy to it and it's essentially a battle for the different planets. Instant Action is a one off battle (or series of battles) that you configure how you want to. Online 16 players can battle it out and this is definitely where the game shines. It's quite unlike any other online experience with Xbox Live. There is also support for System Link (up to 24 players) and 2 player versus and co-operative play.

Star Wars Battlefront is an easy game to get into and there isn't much to learn in the way of rules. Battles are between two teams and they are always the Rebel Alliance vs. Galactic Empire or the Republic vs. CIS. Each battle will begin with each side owning a certain amount of command posts and a certain amount of reinforcement points. To win you'll need to try and capture all the command posts (although controlling the majority is usually enough to ensure your team wins) and protect yours from being taken. Command posts are essential because not only do they provide a location for reinforcements to spawn but owning a majority will cause your opponent to lose reinforcement points. There are some exceptions when it comes to command posts. The AT-AT for instance is a mobile command post that cannot be captured and there are some command posts that can only be destroyed and not captured. Capturing a command post is straightforward and requires your to stand close enough to the command post. First of all the command post will be neutralized (will turn white) and then it will turn green which signifies that you've captured it. You'll also have droids scattered around that can re-supply you with weapons as well as replenish your health.

Each of the games four factions have different units although you can only choose from four in any given battle. The Rebels have the Rebel Soldier, Rebel Vanguard, Rebel Pilot, Wookie Smuggler and Rebel Marksman. The Galactic Empire have the Stormtrooper, Shock Trooper, Scout Trooper, Dark Trooper and Imperial Pilot. The Republic have the Clone Trooper, Arc Trooper, Clone Pilot, Clone Sharpshooter and Jet Trooper. Finally the CIS have the Super Battle Droid, Assault Droid, Pilot Droid, Droid Sniper and Droideka. There's also plenty of vehicles in the game such as X-Wing, TIE Fighter, Y-Wing and Rebel Combat Landspeeder to name but a few. Battles where you get the chance to control the various vehicles are much more entertaining. Battles where it's simply units against units usually have locations where bottlenecks, places where one side bunches up against another, occur and it all becomes a little messy and these battles can become a little irritating.

Graphically Star Wars Battlefront looks good and it helps the game to capture the flavour of the Star Wars movies. AT-AT's, Snowspeeders, Speederbikes (and many more vehicles that you can enter and control), Stormtroopers and Wookies are all here and all look as good as you'd expect from a cross-platform title. The various planets in the game such as Yavin, Bespin and Hoth all look the part and definitely give the game a certain charm. To add further atmosphere to the game you'll get film clips before each mission in the single player game which is a nice touch although I would have rather seen some original cutscenes rather than snippets taken from the films. The game can be played from a third-person perspective or a first-person perspective. I usually prefer the first-person perspective but the game feels more comfortable from the third-person view.

Star Wars Battlefront is a real mixed bag when it comes to how deaf gamer friendly it is. Most disappointingly of all is the fact that there is no options to enable subtitles. The cutscenes are not subtitled and any speech you'll receive from your AI teammates (in the single player mode) is not subtitled either. This doesn't harm the game too much (although it would have been great to have seen the speech from you AI comrades) but it's not the only issue. The game contains a range of tutorials that have designed to get you up and running with the game as quickly as possible. Sadly these tutorials are not subtitled and are therefore useless for deaf gamers. Mission briefings are given verbally whilst a cut-down version also appears in text. The mission objectives are in text though and any orders you give with the directional pad are also shown.

We said at the beginning of this review that Knights of the Old Republic is the only Star Wars game for a long time that can be regarded as a classic and after our time with Star Wars Battlefront this is still the case. That said though Battlefront can be a whole load of fun both offline and online. The game isn't totally deaf gamer friendly though and if you don't intend to play online with the game then the value for money is questionable as the single player isn't that long. Of course you can play in split-screen mode with a friend and playing the game in this way is certainly enjoyable. The game itself is easy to get into and it can be very addictive but ultimately it's at it's best when played online. It really could have done with a stronger single-player game to have made it more appealing. It's definitely worth it if you play on Xbox Live though and it's great to be able to play online in the Star Wars universe.

Overall Game Rating: 7.5/10
It's Battlefield 1942 in Star Wars guise which is not a bad thing at all. It's enjoyable offline but it can be a bit limited if you don't intend to play online. It's also a shame that the game wasn't just based on the original Star Wars trilogy as the battles from this era are much more enjoyable.

Deaf Gamers comment:
Disappointing to see the game isn't subtitled but on the whole it's not too much of a problem.