Monday, September 14, 2009

Star Wars Battlefront II

I have to admit, I wasn't fully right about FPS's. Before Team Fortress 2, I had only played the Metroid Prime series, which is more a First Person Adventure game, where you happen to also shoot things, rather than specifically a First Person Shooter, and a few multiplayer games against people who really knew how to play on consoles, where I wasn't really interested in the first place. Halo and CoD didn't really interest me all that much. I was able to watch people play FPS's, including some who really liked playing them, so it wasn't that I was just completely ignorant. Mostly, I just didn't see the point. Then, along came Team Fortress 2. I've talked about TF2 before, but basically, it is a simple multiplayer FPS that is incredibly cartoony. It also is hilarious and on a weekend, TF2 went on sale for $10. I wasn't really that interested at first, but looked into it a little, discovered the "Meet the " videos, and fell in love with the game. Trying to be more instinctive than usual, I got the game and installed it. It turned out it was really fun. Unfortunately, over the summer, I wasn't able to play much, mostly because I had a lot of work, and then after work, no really good place to put my computer to play. The main point though is that I finally bought an FPS and really enjoyed it.

This year at school, my suitemate got Star Wars Battlefront II, a Star Wars FPS, where you can be with one of four teams, the CIS (droids), the Galactic Republic (the clones), the Rebel Alliance or the Galactic Empire. Each has regular units, that use rifles and pistols, heavy troopers, who use rocket launchers and pistols, snipers, who use sniper rifles and pistols, and engineers, who use shotguns and welding tools that allow them to put up turrets, fix vehicles or break into enemy vehicles. Each team also has two special units that are unique to that team. The Rebels for example have Bothan Spies and Wookie Soldiers, whereas the CIS has Droidekas and MagnaGuards. Each team also has heroes that are units that instead of having health, have time, where they don't die, but instead just run out of time to help you and leave (therefore Yoda doesn't die helping the Wookies on Kashyyyk. For space battles, there are also regular pilots that can fix their ship in flight (which is handy, as you can just fly away to fix your ship), and troopers that are meant for landing parties, with better weapons for fighting and blowing up equipment in person.

The first person campaign follows the 501st, the elite group of troopers that became Vader's fist, his personal stormtroopers. It starts out with them as Clone Troopers, serving the Galactic Republic against the Trade Federation during the Clone Wars. After the war, they help the Galactic Empire build and help fight against the Rebels (along with squashing a few Clones and droids that were anti-Empire). In the campaign, you have a limited number of troopers to help you finish a certain objective. If you ever run out, you lose. The enemy has an unlimited amount of guys (lots of fun, let me tell you), but can only win if they kill all of you. You get more guys after completing each objective, and once you complete all of them, you beat the mission. It allows you to see the Star Wars universe from the perspective of grunts, which is interesting. For example, you see them take on CIS droids in space after Palpatine was kidnapped, as they stall for Anakin and Obi Wan to get there. Also, you see them and their feelings when the Rebellion blows up the Death Star (they killed lots of my friends and are anarchistic nutjobs) and when they take Hoth (the Rebellion is pretty much finished, only a couple of ships got away).

You can also do instant actions which take place on a specific planet and you and the enemy fight it out. In Conquest, you get equal amounts of troopers and you fight for Command Posts. If you ever capture all the Posts and hold them for 20 seconds you win the game. If you kill all the enemies, you also win the game. Also, the AI is horrible, and you do feel like a main character, the way you go around killing so many people, but usually, the teams remain balanced, as the enemy AI is just apparently better than your team's, as you can get 50 kills (out of 150) and still lose badly. There is also Capture the Flag, which is what it sounds like. A favorite is Hunt, where you choose a planet where natives are (Endor has Ewoks, Hoth has Wampas, Tatooine has Jawas, etc.) and an enemy (the Empire against Ewoks) and see who can win. I have to say, killing Gungans over and over is incredibly satisfying. Also there is Assault, which takes place in Mos Eisley, where you count to 180 points, as you go around as heroes or villains, killing each other with lightsabers (or guns in the case of the Fetts, Chewie, Han Solo or Leia). I have to say that General Grievous is pre-Episode III Grievous, with 4 lightsabers that all do the same amount a single would. So, if you go up against, say, Obi Wan, Ki Adi Mundi, Aayla Secura and Yoda, if you are just swinging all your lightsabers (which is just mashing the first mouse button), you can take them all out. In Space Assault, you are trying to see who can get to 180 points first, where you can get points by killing enemies, blowing up ships and taking out key components on the enemy ships (like engines, bridge, sensor relay, life support). Different things are worth different amounts of points, so while in the same time you could blow up some fighters, you could also destroy the engines, the engines might get you more points all in all.

There is also Conquest mode, in which you choose a side and face your rival, conquering planets. You start with only a few planets where your enemy starts with many more. You also get a fleet, and some credits. Every turn, you can buy bonuses or units (you only start with the basic trooper) with your credits, you can construct a fleet (which costs 1000 for each fleet you own, and only over a planet you control), and then you move. If you move into contact with an opposing fleet, you have a space battle with that fleet. If you are over a planet that you don't own, then you assault the planet with what is your typical instant action, and you fight it out over the Command Posts. If you are over an enemy planet and a fleet is over it, you have a space battle to determine if you have a regular battle. After winning a battle, you get credits, which you can spend at the beginning of your next turn. You also get credits, less credits, but whatever, when you lose. You win if you capture all the planets, which is difficult, as it requires not only winning on every planet you didn't get to begin with, but also fending off attacks, and losing means even more fighting.

Now, what makes Star Wars Battlefront II fun to play? Well, I haven't even fought against any of my friends in multiplayer yet, but I still enjoy just blowing up guys. I enjoy killing Rebels as Stormtroopers, and using droids to kill clones. Plus, it actually is challenging. While it doesn't seem challenging in the sense that you can easily get 10+ kills per life, it is challenging in the sense that the enemy AI is often better than your AI. If you sit somewhere and do nothing the entire time, your team will most likely lose, not just because your team is down one guy in fights, but because the team in general isn't as good. While not all places are as fun to fight for (stupid Yavin 4 and the team starting in the back at Polis Massa), in general, it is a lot of fun to go around the Star Wars universe, shooting Rebels, Stormtroopers, Clone Troopers or Battle Droids. It's also fun to get into an X-Wing and start shooting down TIE Fighters, or getting into a TIE Bomber and bombing Mon Calamari ships. The thing that makes the game most fun for me is the atmosphere. It really feels like you are a trooper in the Star Wars universe, visiting locations like Mustafar, the Death Star, Coruscant, or the Tantive IV. The game is also incredibly balanced, in the sense that no one group is better than any other. In general, you all have the same type of troopers (with the generic Super Battle Droid being the biggest in difference with a mini-rocket launcher as opposed to a grenade), that can do the same things. The heroes are all vastly overpowered (but not used often), but that isn't surprising. The game is fun for Star Wars fans who like thinking about the generic troopers and their battles, or for people who like having big battles in FPS form.

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