Thursday, April 28, 2016

Star Wars Battlefront II - 4/20 hours

The PC version of Star Wars Battlefront II did not leave me with a good first impression. The problem is that the store page said this game has "partial controller support" and that left me with certain unrealistic expectations. I found myself very frustrated when I plugged my controller in and it didn't automatically detect and configure it. Then setting it manually proved to be very fiddly. Then (and this is no fault of the game, I know) Windows automatically updated while I was playing, and all in all my first hour with this was not very enjoyable.

However, once I got that out of the way, I found Star Wars Battlefront II to be pretty decent. It's not quite the addictive, jump-in-and-play shooter I remember it being, but it is perfectly serviceable. You point your gun at things and pull the trigger and they usually die, but sometimes you miss and then the things shoot back and when that happens you often die yourself. The Star Wars universe provides you with the pretext for being in the place with the things and helps determine what your enemies and allies look like, but, basically, shooting is the entire point.

I suppose, in theory, this could be a game that requires complex tactics as you attempt to control key locations on the battlefield in order to accrue advantage, but there's not much coordination to do in single-player mode. Your AI partners do whatever the hell they want and your AI enemies are not very good at reacting to it. Still, it must have been breathtaking to have a full roster of human players on both sides. I like to imagine that they were highly disciplined ballets of carnage where experienced players had to use all their cunning to secure even the slightest advantage. In all likelihood, however, the reality was the multiplayer was just as chaotic and directionless a the single-player game.

So far, all I've been doing is playing the campaign mode. The designers made the questionable choice to make the viewpoint faction be the Emperor's elite personal division of clones, but I guess in 2005 clone troopers were the latest and most fascinating addition to the Star Wars canon. I found the actual story to be pretty forgettable (the clone troopers who were bred to fight  war go to various locations and fight a war . . . with foreshadowing about Order 66). The last mission in the first chapter of the campaign has you go to the Jedi Temple and fight a bunch of Jedi, which was tactically interesting even if it played out very differently than the movies (a plot that makes you go "oh, thank goodness Anakin Skywalker is here" probably needs to be reconsidered just a little).

Overall, I'm not worried about having to play Star Wars Battlefront II for 20 hours. It may not be as good a shooter as Republic Commando, but it does have single-player random maps so its baseline adequacy means I'll never be bored, even if I'm also never especially inspired.

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