IGN Review of Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron
When Star Wars: Battlefront was released five years ago, it revolutionized the way that players looked at the Star Wars universe by placing them directly in the boots of the foot soldiers of the Republic and Rebel Alliance. Since then, LucasArts has been trying to recapture that magic with the franchise, expanding to new battlefields, fleshing out the action with story driven missions, but frequently falling short of its target. The latest installment, Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron, misses even further, with an incredibly repetitive sequence of story missions and a ton of technical and control issues that aren't appealing in the slightest.
The plot behind Elite Squadron revolves around X2, a clone of a Jedi warrior who, with his older brother X1, helped train the Kaminoan clone army for the Jedi. X2's devotion to the army and what would eventually become known as the Empire was shattered after the declaration of Order 66, the clone command to hunt down and destroy Jedi throughout the Galaxy. Joining the Rebellion, X2 fought alongside Luke Skywalker and other well known Star Wars heroes through climactic battles, including the Death Star, Endor and Hoth. However, his brother seeks to hunt him down for his desertion, and it's up to X2 to eventually confront and stop his brother before it's too late.
As interesting as the premise behind cloned sibling rivalry in the Star Wars universe could be, it ultimately falls apart in favor of stale, repetitive gameplay. Each mission within the Campaign mode involves some battle on the surface of a planet, in space or on a capital ship in some order, and you'll frequently do the exact same tasks to accomplish these objectives. After the third time, the campaign becomes extremely boring because you know you're going to do it all over again in the next mission. Even worse is the fact that the weapon loadouts are virtually useless. Players have the option to select from one of five preselected loadouts with primary and secondary weapons (as well as a set of explosives) or create their own. Unfortunately, there's absolutely no advantage to choosing one over another. For instance, you don't get a damage boost by selecting the pilot loadout and flying an X-Wing. What's more, you're frequently forced to abandon an entire loadout for a weapon or explosive that is only useful for one situation, which is truly horrible.
The campaign mode is designed to introduce the essentials of multiplayer, which allows up to six players via ad hoc and up to 16 via infrastructure. Conquest mode is a race to 1000 points or command of five ground posts and the destruction of the enemy capital ship. There are also three variations of capture the flag as well. The largest multiplayer draw, however, comes in the possibility of becoming a hero during a multiplayer match, instantly transforming your character into Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Mace Windu or other characters. This random offer to players provides powerful attacks and abilities for a limited amount of time. Unfortunately, after playing a few matches, even the draw of becoming Admiral Ackbar and taunting your friends by saying, "It's a trap" while blasting them in the face isn't appealing.
The lone mode that does slightly break the Battlefield mold is Galactic Conquest, which mixes elements of turn-based strategy in with Conquest mode gameplay. At the start of every turn, you acquire credits based on the number of planets you own and can use them to purchase reinforcements, equipment and abilities. From there, you can conquer a neutral world, attack an enemy held planet, or reinforce your territory. In some ways, this is the direction that any future Battlefield games should go because this at least provides a mild amount of strategy to the gameplay and seems more connected with why you're fighting in the first place. It simply needs to be fleshed out more, because even on harder difficulty scenarios, strategy vets will have no problem clearing this in a matter of minutes.
Players should be aware, however, that Elite Squadron is still plagued by old control issues. Players don't have any control over the camera, so you'll have to rely on a combination of awkward directional turns to see where incoming fire is coming from. In fact, if an enemy spawns close to you or enters hand to hand combat range, you'll easily lose them because of the tight zoom behind your character. Similarly, you'll find yourself forced to rely upon your target-locking to accurately blast enemies, but the auto-lock will only orient you so far, forcing you to constantly readjust to make a kill. The game can suffer from quite a bit of lag, especially during infrastructure play, which doesn't help you blast enemies. Furthermore, there are a number of dropped frames that constantly occur, such as when you're transitioning from space to the ground and the non-interactive cutscene hiccups.
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