Battlefront includes 16 different maps, spread out over 10 different planets that range from the dusty landscape of Geonosis to the forests of Endor to the rain-swept oceans of Kamino. As in Battlefield 1942's conquest mode, players must capture specific spots on the map called "command points." Your team spawns at command points, as do vehicles, so it's important to protect the ones you control and capture the other ones away from your enemy. The team that controls the majority of the command points at any given moment causes the other team's score ticker to count down; once one team's countdown hits zero, the other side wins. Control all the points on the map for 20 seconds, and your team will automatically win.
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When Star Wars: Battlefront was announced a year ago, the premise excited many fans of George Lucas' sci-fi franchise, if only because it just made so much sense. Battlefront would take some of the ubiquitous characters, vehicles, and weapons from Star Wars and incorporate them into a Battlefield 1942-style team-based shooter, featuring large maps, dozens of players, and plenty of drivable vehicles, in addition to on-foot shooting. Now that the game is finally available, we can confirm that Battlefront delivers this experience--no more and no less. It's a solid multiplayer action game on its own merits, even if the premise is familiar. As such, how much you'll finally end up liking it will probably depend on how much you like Star Wars and how much Battlefield-style gameplay you've already been exposed to.
Though Battlefront is a multiplayer-focused game, it has a single-player component in which you can fight with and against computer-controlled players (also known as bots). Aside from an instant action mode, the game offers two different single-player modes. One is the historical campaign, which includes two linear campaigns that follow the story arcs from episodes IV through VI and episodes I through III of the films. You'll be treated to a short film clip prior to each map, but you won't be given any choices as to which side you can play, although you will be switching sides over the course of each campaign. The battle maps are populated with bots, which exhibit a respectable level of artificial intelligence. You'll see friendly pilots tossing you ammo and health when you need it, and you can even issue simple commands to nearby teammates. But overall, the AI shouldn't pose much of a challenge to experienced players.
The other mode is galactic conquest, which is a more open-ended campaign that allows you to choose the order in which you attack enemy-controlled planets. Each planet you control offers a different special bonus for subsequent battles. These bonuses range from "sabotage," which causes your opponent's vehicles to spawn in with heavy damage, to "Jedi hero," which allows you to fight alongside a nearly invincible computer-controlled Jedi like Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Mace Windu, or Count Dooku. In practice, the galactic conquest mode doesn't play out all that differently from the regular campaign, and even though there are eight galactic conquest campaigns, there really isn't much difference between them.
Battlefront includes four playable factions. These include the rebels and the empire from the galactic civil war depicted in the late '70s and early '80s films, as well as the republic clone warriors and the separatist droid army from the newer films. In some sense, however, this really feels more like two pairs of factions than it does four separate ones--the reason for this is that you're never allowed to pit factions from different time periods against one another. In any given map, it's always rebels versus empire, or republic versus droids; you're never allowed to mix it up and have the empire fighting against the droid army, for example.
Each of the four factions has five distinct character classes. All have a basic soldier that can carry a rapid-fire blaster rifle as well as grenades. There's also a heavy weapons class in each army that wields rocket launchers to take out vehicles. Then there's the obligatory scout, which carries a sniper rifle. Rounding out the list of standard classes is the pilot, which is an interesting class that melds the capabilities of the engineer (repair and resupply) and medic (healing) commonly found in other team-based shooters. As the name suggests, though, the pilot is also the class best suited to vehicles, as any vehicle with a pilot in it will slowly but automatically recover from any damage taken in the course of combat. Superficial differences do exist between each faction's basic classes. For example, the rebel vanguard's rocket launcher can lock onto enemy vehicles and fire two rockets at a time instead of just one.
Each army has a fifth specialized class that helps differentiate the four factions. The rebels can field wookiee smugglers armed with bowcasters, mortar launchers, and time bombs. Bowcasters can be charged up to fire a large spread of powerful bolts. The wookiees can take the most damage out of any infantry class. Both the empire and the republic field soldiers are equipped with jetpacks that allow them to get to high places or just travel a lot faster. The republic jet trooper's jetpack lasts a lot longer than the empire's dark trooper's jetpack. But the latter's shotgunlike blast cannon is arguably a better weapon than the jet trooper's EMP launcher. Rounding out the specialized classes is the droid army's droideka. Those who have seen Episode I will remember the droideka as the rolling destroyer robot that wields rapid-fire blasters and a personal shield. Droidekas in Battlefront can roll quickly about the battlefield and they can more than hold their own in a standoff while outnumbered. However, they're also very easy to destroy when their rechargeable shields run out of power.
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