marino's Star Wars: Battlefront (Xbox) review

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If You're Not Planning to Play Online, Don't Waste Your Money

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Star Wars Battlefront is basically what you've heard it was going to be.  It's Battlefield 1942 with Star Wars licenses slapped all over it...for the most part.  It does have some subtle differences but make no mistake about it; this is an online game.  What I mean by that is that if you don't have Xbox Live, you shouldn't even bother looking at the back of the box.  It will only disappoint you.  But if you do have Live, and you're a Star Wars fan, then it's a pretty safe bet that you will enjoy this game.  The real question though is 'for how long?'   
The worlds look great, and any fan of the films is going to be immediately wowed by the environments.  The first time turn around just in time to see a massive spider droid nail you with a death ray, you might need to change your shorts.  Where the game falters is the framerate.  Having these massive maps with 16 players, a slew of bots, and a handful of vehicles seems to take a toll on the ol' Xbox.  It's not terrible but it does slow down every so often.     
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On PC, these games are a dime a dozen, but on Xbox this is game is a breath of fresh air.  The game plays a lot better than I thought it would without a mouse, but it's still not great.  Before each battle, you choose one of two sides (Rebels, Imperials, Republic, C.I.S.) and then you choose between 1 of 5 soldier types in that army usually consisting of a general soldier, a sniper, a demolitionist, and two types of specialists.  I would have liked some type of melee attack, because some of the soldiers are severely handicapped once the fight gets into close quarters.  The game is still all about capturing bases.  You have to stand near it to cause it to change possession.  Capturing all of the waypoints is not the only way to win the battle though.  Both teams are assigned a certain number of respawns (usually around 200).  If one team runs out of spawns, they lose.  So you either have to kill everyone or capture all the points and hold them for 15 seconds.  Pretty simple idea, and a common idea for anyone who plays PC games.     
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Is it possible to have bad sound in a Star Wars game?  Wait, I just remembered Jedi Power Battles.  Nevermind.  Anyway, the sound in Battlefront is quite good.  Everything you'd expect to be in there is there.  The classic themes, the sound of blasters all around you, explosions, speeder bikes zipping by, and much more.  I was a little surprised by the attention to detail such as being able to hear someone walking up behind you in a quiet hallway.  The announcements (i.e. "We've lost the [Enter Base Name Here]") get old real fast, but if you're a veteran of these types of games, you'll easily tune them out in your own mind.  In the end though, it's the theme songs that truly get you into the experience.     
Replay Value 
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As I said above, this is strictly a multiplayer online game.  Oh, it has a single player mode, but you won't want to mess with it much, if at all.  Why?  Well, for one, it's way too easy.  The single-player section has a couple different modes but the main one is Galactic Conquest where you try to capture all the planets of the galaxy by winning two different battles per planet.  After winning four, you earn special abilities such as summoning the Death Star to take out any planet of your choice, or having Darth Vader aid you on Tattooine.  The AI in single-player is really what kills the experience.  You have the ability to give the bots commands, but they don't really follow them well.  My advice would be to just stay away from it and enjoy the online experience.  The only problem with that is there's only one type of game online.  Nothing like CTF, mutators, or anything.  It's just waypoints.  And there really aren't enough maps either.     
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While the game is limited, the small amount of game you actually get for your $50 is indeed fun.  The Xbox version features up to 16 players in each battle but it feels like a lot more due to the heavy amounts of bots populating the maps.  On some maps there is a third faction (i.e. Tuskans on Tattooine, Wookiees on Kashyyyk, etc.) who will defend their homelands (waypoints) from everyone.  The vehicles seem to be few and far between, but once you find one you're going to want to hang onto it as long as you can.  The reason being the vehicles are extremely powerful.  If you are lucky enough to grab one of the heavy assault vehicles like a AT-ST or a spider droid, you can potentially annhilate the opposing force single-handedly.  On foot the characters feel a little slow, but with the help of vehicles and jetpacks, that's not really a problem.  Overall, Star Wars Battlefront is a fun game that is probably worth it to major Star Wars fanboys, but with the amount of incredible games lined up between now and...the forseeable future, I can't recommend it to the average gamer.  The game just doesn't offer enough for your $50.     
*** This review was written for shortly after the release of the game. ***

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