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News special: Star Wars Battlefront

Bounty Hunter? Starfighter? Er... Super Bombad Racing? Pah. Now here's a Star Wars game worth getting excited about. Imagine a 60 player online FPS, where everyone plays a different classic Star Wars character, and can jump between vehicles - yes, including the TIE Fighter - at will. Sounds good, no? Welcome to Star Wars: Battlefront...

"Everyone knows the Battle of Hoth," enthuses Producer Jim Tso. "What we're doing is providing the scenario, but the rest is up to the players. You and I could hop into a snowspeeder. I could pilot and you could be the rear gunner, firing the tow cable. Together, we're re-enacting the scenes from the movie."

The game's based on EA's revolutionary FPS Battlefield: 1942, which is rapidly replacing Counterstrike as the multiplayer online game. On a quiet day, you can expect around 300 servers online, each hosting 60 odd gamers, driving Tiger tanks, piloting Spitfires, and captaining enormous battleships in one glorious war. Battlefront takes this template, rips out the WW2 shtick, and replaces it with Speederbikes, X-Wings and - yes - AT-ATs.

Stop. Think about that for a second. It's a virtual, Star Wars battle re-enactment society, with all the vehicles and weaponry you'd expect. Skirmishes will erupt across the galaxy, from Naboo to the forest moon of Endor. You'll be taking control of AT-ATs as they attack the ice-base of Hoth, or wrapping tow cables around their legs and piloting X-Wing's and Tie-Fighters. Oh, and expect some old friends to help, including Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker.

We don't know how PS2 will cope with the online data but this is genuinely stirring. Start saving for a late 2004 release.

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