Star Wars Battlefront II review

  • Kick-ass online multiplayer action
  • Excellent single-player modes
  • Finally, you can play Jedi and fly X-Wings
  • Computer allies tend to be rock-stupid
  • Vehicles lack oomph
  • Wow, Hoth? Never seen that before

Of the following, which best defines Star Wars? Is it the stormtroopers? The Ewoks? The low-flying skirmishes on Hoth? Or is it guys with laser swords fighting wars in space?

If you picked that last one (or any of the others, really), then you’ll be glad to know that Star Wars Battlefront II features everything you’d expect from a Star Wars game. Like the first Battlefront, the game lets teams of players shoot it out in sprawling, open battlefields as soldiers of the Republic, the Trade Federation, the Empire or the Rebellion. But in addition to the military-style shootouts, it’s now possible to hop into a TIE fighter, an X-Wing and numerous other starships for small-scale dogfights.

And if you play your cards right, you can tear a swath through your enemies as Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi or 15 other nigh-invincible heroes and villains.

The meat of Battlefront II is still on-the-ground, third-or-first-person multiplayer shooting, although it feels much more responsive and fine-tuned than the last game. Here, players pick a soldier type (engineer, stormtrooper, smuggler, etc.) and compete for flags or territory while blasting as many of the other team as possible.

The battlefields are littered with vehicles just waiting to be commandeered, ranging from speeder bikes to gigantic walkers and low-flying aircraft. Of course, nobody plays Star Wars games because they want to pilot tanks, so these rides pale in comparison to the ones available during space missions.

Depending on which "era" you're playing in, you'll have access to droid starfighters, Y-wing bombers and even those cool TIE fighter-looking things from Episode III.  The "wow" factor battling other players in these things is almost enough to distract from the ships' floaty controls and insubstantial feel.

But while getting out and dog fighting is fun, the best part is crashing it into the hangar of your opponents' capital ship and then wreaking as much havoc as possible, preferably in a group. Survive long enough, and you might even get to steal one of their ships and make a getaway.

The biggest improvement in Battlefront II is that there's much more to the game than just multiplayer. There's Galactic Conquest mode, a single-player strategy/board game that lets you move around on a galactic map and fight battles on various planets. This is neat, but it's a throwaway extra compared to Rise of the Empire, an unexpectedly poignant story mode that unfolds from the perspective of a clone trooper. Taking players from the Battle of Geonosis to the Empire's last stand at Endor, this mode features far more complex missions than the multiplayer game and stands on its own as a great action experience.

The differences between each version of the game are largely cosmetic, although the PS2 supports fewer players than the Xbox version, which in turn supports fewer than the PC.

Star Wars Battlefront II is a fun romp that stays interesting no matter how you play it. It has its share of flaws, but for fans, this is the first Star Wars game to have it all.

More Info

Release date: Nov 01 2005 - Xbox, PC, PS2, PSP (US)
Available Platforms: Xbox, PC, PS2, PSP
Genre: Shooter
Published by: LucasArts
Developed by: Pandemic Studios
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Language, Violence


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