Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron

First-look at multiplayer with ground, air, and space battles

The PSP’s controls don’t hamper air combat, though. Maps seem to have more ground and air vehicles this time around. That’s a good thing, because hopping into a ship and quickly flying past the crowds to capture an ignored control point for your team feels great. Strafing ground units and taking down enemy ships also worked smoothly.

You can also hop into a star fighter and take the battle to space. These transitions between ground and space combat are masked by a brief cutscene. While in space, your main objective will be to destroy or take over the enemy’s capital ship. Ion cannon bursts from ground forces help a lot with this, but you can also go on torpedo against capital ships, dogfight with against other players, or try to launch a boarding run by landing in the enemy ship’s hangar bay. You can even head to the belly of your own capital ship and launch orbital strikes to bombard ground control points held by your enemy below.

Above: The transitions between ground, air, and space combat work great

Our brief time playing 16-player multiplayer matches in Elite Squadron left us with mixed feelings. As big Battlefront fans, it felt awful controlling ground units with anything less than a traditional console controller or keyboard and mouse. Jumping and rolling haphazardly with our auto-lock on to win strafe-offs felt a little cheap, and hero Jedi units just weren’t as intimidating as they were in the console versions. Still, despite our gripes, we had a great time, which may be more of a testament to Battlefront’s great control point gameplay.

Above: Stormtroopers get ready to go to work

In a single life, we spawned inside our capital ship, fired off a few orbital blasts against our enemy’s control point on the planet below, and boarded a Tie fighter. On our way down to the planet Hoth, we barely dodged a missile as we entered orbit. While in the air, we strafed the ground and managed to take out a Rebel turret before finding ourselves under fire. After circling around the map a few times, we landed our craft in a remote corner of the map, where we grabbed an ignored control point for the Imperials. Then, we charged towards the ion cannon, hoping that we’d be able to capture it for our team and fire off a shot at the enemy’s capital ship. And then we died. It was a glorious, yet typical, example of how so much can happen in a just a few brief moments in a single Battlefront life. Expect more details on the pros and cons of Star Wars: Battlefront Elite Squadron, when it releases in early November.

Oct 16, 2009

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