Star Wars: Battlefront II (2005 video game)
|Star Wars: Battlefront II|
|Designer(s)||Peter Dellekamp Siefert|
|Series||Star Wars: Battlefront|
|Platform(s)||PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, Microsoft Windows, Xbox|
|Genre(s)||Action, third-person shooter, first-person shooter|
Star Wars: Battlefront II is a first- and third-person shooter video game based on the Star Wars film franchise. Developed by Pandemic Studios and published by LucasArts it is a sequel to 2004's Star Wars: Battlefront and the second game in the Battlefront series. The game was released in PAL regions on October 31, 2005, on the PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable (PSP), Microsoft Windows, and Xbox platforms, and in North America on November 1 of the same year. It was released on the PlayStation Store on October 20, 2009, for download on the PSP. The PSP version was developed by Savage Entertainment.
The game features new vehicles, characters, game mechanics, maps, and missions compared to the original Battlefront. Unlike its predecessor, Battlefront II features a more narrative-based campaign, retelling portions of the Star Wars story from the point of view of a veteran Imperial Stormtrooper, reminiscing about his tour of duty in service of both the Galactic Republic and as part of the Galactic Empire. Gameplay additions over Battlefront include the use of Jedi, additional game modes such as hero assault, and objective-based space battles.
Battlefront II was well received, with the PlayStation 2 and Xbox versions scoring in the mid 80s at aggregators GameRankings and Metacritic. The PC version scored slightly lower at both sites, scoring a 76.60% at GameRankings and 78 at Metacritic. The PSP version was the worst received, scoring 70.93% at GameRankings and 69 at Metacritic. Reviewers generally praised the narrative-based story; however, some felt that the upgrades from the original were not enough to merit the price. Like the original game, it was a commercial success.
GameSpy Technology scheduled a shut-down across all titles using the service for May 31, 2014, which included Star Wars: Battlefront II for PC, PS2, and Xbox. Electronic Arts announced it would extend support for Battlefront II until June 30, 2014. The extended support ended on July 25, 2014, taking all GameSpy online video games across all platforms offline. The Windows version was added to a list of supported games on GameRanger on May 31, 2014, which allows for continued online play. However on October 2, 2017, multiplayer for the Windows version was again enabled, allowing for Steam and GOG cross-play.  As of April 26, 2018, Battlefront II is now backwards compatible on the Xbox One and has enhanced graphics for the Xbox One X.
Battlefront II is fundamentally similar to its predecessor, albeit with the addition of new gameplay mechanics. The general objective in most missions is to eliminate the enemy faction. Like its predecessor Star Wars Battlefront, the game is split into two eras: the Clone Wars, with battles taking place between the Galactic Republic and the Confederacy of Independent Systems, and the Galactic Civil War, where battles between the Rebel Alliance and Galactic Empire take place. Players have the ability to choose between six classes during gameplay. Four class types are common to all factions; infantry, heavy weapon, sniper and engineer. In addition to the four standard classes, each faction has two unique classes which unlock by scoring a predetermined number of points. For the Rebellion faction, the Bothan Spy and the Wookiee; for the Empire, The Officer and The Dark Trooper; for the Republic, the Commander and the Jet Trooper; and for the CIS, the Magnaguard and the Droideka. Battlefront II also features heroes - a special class that allows the player to control iconic characters from the Star Wars universe. Heroes serve as a bonus to players, and are unlocked by meeting certain criteria, such as earning a certain number of points. Differences between Battlefront II and its predecessor include the ability to sprint and the ability to roll forward. In addition to utilizing heroes in conquest matches, the game also features a hero assault mode in which heroes are pitted against villains in a team deathmatch format.
Whereas Star Wars: Battlefront's campaign featured missions dependent on the chosen faction, Battlefront II contains only one campaign, called Rise of the Empire, which is found in every version of the game except the PlayStation Portable (PSP). This set of missions is presented as the narration from a veteran of the 501st Legion, beginning with an attack on the planet Mygeeto during the Clone Wars and ending with the assault on Hoth as depicted in The Empire Strikes Back. There are a total of 18 missions, four of which are optional space missions.
The PSP version of Battlefront II does not feature the Rise of the Empire campaign. Instead it features three single-player Challenge modes; Imperial Enforcer, Rogue Assassin, and Rebel Raider. In Imperial Enforcer the player is sent to eliminate indigenous species on several given planets, such as Gungans on Naboo and Ewoks on Endor. Rogue Assassin requires the player to eliminate all Imperial officers on a given sets of planets. Bonus points are awarded for any other kills. Finally, Rebel Raider tasks the player with locating specific objects in a map and returning them to a designated drop point, similar to Capture the flag.
Like its predecessor, Battlefront II includes Galactic Conquest. In this mode, the player commands a fleet throughout the galaxy conquering and protecting planets, much like a game of Risk. When two opposing forces reach the same planet, the game switches to the traditional perspective, and the player must eliminate the enemy faction to gain control of that planet. Players gain credits for performing well which can be used to buy new character classes, a new fleet, or bonuses that provide additional support when attacking or defending a planet. While the PlayStation 2 and Xbox versions allow cooperative and competitive battles in Galactic Conquest mode through splitscreen gameplay, the PC version does not.
In Instant Action players can choose from any of the game's 24 maps, as well as any available eras and modes. Four other modes are included in addition to the traditional Conquest mode that was found in Star Wars: Battlefront; Hunt mode, Capture the Flag (CTF), which is available in 1-flag and 2-flag variants, Hero Assault and Space Assault.
In Conquest mode, players are required to capture and hold strategic points on the map, known in the game as command posts. Players capture command posts by standing near one until its holograph transitions to blue, indicating it is held by their forces. Players can capture both enemy command posts, which are designated red, and neutral command posts, which are white. For enemy command posts, enemy units can continue to spawn in the area until the post is denergized and turns white. When all command posts belong to a given team, a twenty-second timer begins in which the opposing team must deenergize a command post or they lose. Alternatively, if one team eliminates all opposing reinforcements, they win.
In Hunt mode, players take on the role of the species indigenous to the chosen planet, or of a faction opposed to that species. The object when playing as the indigenous species is to repel the opposition, or to eliminate the indigenous species if playing as the opposing faction. In 1-flag CTF, both teams attempt to take a common flag and capture it at the enemy's base. This mode is the only one available on ground maps as well as in space. 2-flag CTF tasks players with stealing the enemy's flag and returning it to their base for points.
In Hero Assault players control iconic Star Wars characters which are divided into two teams, heroes and villains. The sole objective is to be the first team to reach the number of required points, with each kill granting one point. Space Assault allows players to control a starfighter in order to destroy critical systems on the enemy's capital ship or destroy other enemy starfighters for points. The systems of an enemy capital ship can be destroyed in a starfighter by firing at key areas of the ship. Alternatively, players can land in the enemy hangar and sabotage critical systems internally. The game ends when one team has reached the required number of total points.
The game is told as an autobiography, with an unknown veteran clone trooper recounting the many battles of the 501st Legion. The 501st begins as part of the Republic, with the game's tutorial covering the unit's first battle against the Separatist forces during the battle of Geonosis, the very first battle of the Clone Wars. The campaign then skips to the very last battles of the Clone Wars, 3 years later.
The first is the battle of Mygeeto, where Chancellor Palpatine commands the 501st to destroy an advanced energy generator defended by the Separatist forces. In the battle, the clones are led by the jedi master Ki-Adi Mundi, who helps them significantly. However, Palpatine secretly wants them to collect the remaining samples to help power his future space station, the Death Star. Meanwhile, Palpatine is captured by the Separatists, which results in the space battle above Coruscant. The 501st clears the way for Obi-Wan and Anakin Skywalker to rescue him. On Felucia, the 501st exterminates a small infestation of Acklay inhabiting the planet and eventually eliminates the CIS presence in the area. Afterward on the planet Kashyyyk, the clones engage a huge CIS fleet in space, while planetside they defend a vital Wookiee base from a numerically superior enemy army. With the support of Wookiees and Jedi Master Yoda, the invasion is repelled. In the final mission of the Clone Wars era, the clones strike a CIS stronghold on the planet Utapau, killing separatist leader General Grievous, with the help of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Immediately after the victory on Utapau, Palpatine orders the execution of Order 66. The 501st participate in the destruction of the Jedi Order on Coruscant, and massacre the remaining Jedi knights guarding their temple with the help of the new Sith Lord, Darth Vader. With the newly established Empire in power, the 501st becomes known as Vader's Fist, Darth Vader's personal army. Under their new leader the 501st is assigned to various missions to strengthen the Empire's power. They are first tasked to force a regime change on Naboo by assassinating the Queen and surviving Jedi knights seeking protection. Shortly after, the 501st are called to destroy a droid manufacturing facility on Mustafar that was reactivated by a Geonosian known as Gizor Delso. Learning that the Kaminoans have created a new batch of rogue clones, the 501st is ordered to destroy the cloning facility on Kamino. The 501st battles the altered clone army, gaining victory with the help of the bounty hunter Boba Fett.
With the Galactic Empire firmly established in the ashes of the Republic, the 501st receive orders to be stationed on the Death Star. During their watch a prison break is initiated, with crucial plans being stolen by the rebels. Tasked to recover the stolen plans, they search a rebel base on Polis Massa, but the plans are nowhere to be found. The search eventually leads the 501st to the Tantive IV starship. Despite capturing the Rebel sympathizer Princess Leia, the plans are still transmitted, and the Death Star is destroyed with many soldiers still stationed inside. The Empire retaliates by sending the 501st legion to Yavin IV, where a rebel base is located. In the final mission, the 501st is pressed into crushing the weakened Rebel Alliance. The empire defeat the rebels and capture Echo Base, leading to the victory on Hoth. The clone narrator proudly proclaims the Rebellion finished, though the game follows the plot of The Empire Strikes Back, with the Millennium Falcon escaping Hoth.
Star Wars: Battlefront II was announced on April 21, 2005, during Star Wars Celebration III held in Indianapolis, Indiana. Developer Pandemic Studios used their in-house engine, known as Zero to develop Battlefront II. The engine was used in Pandemic's other two Star Wars titles, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and the game's predecessor, Star Wars: Battlefront. As with Battlefront Lua was utilized as the game's scripting language. Battlefront II's release date would be set to coincide with the DVD release of Revenge of the Sith, similar to how Battlefront coincided with the release of the original trilogy on DVD. An Xbox demo of Battlefront II was also included on the Revenge of the Sith extras DVD to further promote the game. LucasArts looked to the fans for inspiration for Battlefront II, browsing forums and using other means to provide feedback for the sequel. Josh Resnick, founder of Pandemic Studios noted that it was difficult to get assets from Revenge of the Sith in order to build the related in-game assets. Peter Hirschmann, vice president of product development at LucasArts, detailed the immense efforts required to get the game to a playable state on the PlayStation Portable. "It was a huge 'pop the champagne' day if you got back one whole frame a second," he stated. LucasArts Engineers working on Indiana Jones and Star Wars development teams were brought in to help optimize game code.
Bob Bergen voices Luke Skywalker, having voice doubled for Mark Hamill in previous Star Wars games such as the Star Wars: Rogue Squadron series. Voice actor Corey Burton recorded lines for Count Dooku, a role he has played in other Star Wars games as well as the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series. Obi-Wan Kenobi is portrayed by James Arnold Taylor, who played the role in the 2002 game Star Wars: The Clone Wars as well as the cartoon series. Scott Lawrence, known for his role as Sturgis Turner in the television series JAG, also returns to voice Darth Vader, a role he has portrayed since the 1990s. Other veteran Star Wars voice actors such as Tom Kane, Steven Blum and T.C. Carson also provide voice overs. Temuera Morrison portrays his signature roles Boba Fett, Jango Fett and the game's clone trooper narrator, but does not provide the in-game clone chatter as he did in Battlefront.
On February 15, 2006, Pandemic released a patch for the PC version, which included support for mods and general improvement to the game. Mod tools for the Windows version of the game were subsequently released on February 21, 2006. Included in the download were many of the game's assets, several tutorials, and the tools required to make content for the PC version of the game. A plugin for Softimage XSI included in the mod tools allows users to create new 3D models and animations for the game. The Battlefront II mod tools provide a wider range of capabilities to the end user than the original Battlefront, allowing a user to create anything from user interface changes, to additional gameplay levels, to large-scale modifications. The original assets used to build the retail version of the game were shipped with the mod tool package that was released and allowed users to either modify an existing level or create an entirely new map from scratch. Subsequently, modifications have been created which expand the game further into the Star Wars expanded universe, adding additional locales, characters, Star Wars eras, and fan-created stories.
On December 19, 2005, LucasArts released the first of two downloadable packages for the Xbox version of Battlefront II. The free content added the Hero Assault mode to Kashyyyk. Another Xbox Live download was made available on January 31, 2006, which added two new hero characters, Kit Fisto and Asajj Ventress, as well as four maps from the original Star Wars: Battlefront; Yavin 4: Arena, Bespin: Cloud City, Rhen Var Harbor and Rhen Var Citadel. In addition, Hero Assault modes were also added to Coruscant, Mygeeto, and Naboo. It sold for USD $4.99. The downloadable content is no longer available as the original Xbox Live servers were shut down on April 15, 2010. In late March 2006, the game was added to the Backwards Compatibility List for the Xbox 360, and is now playable on both the original Xbox and the Xbox 360. On May 4, 2014, it was announced that the Star Wars: Battlefront II Online servers hosted by GameSpy were closing down on May 31, 2014. The Windows version was added to a list of supported games on GameRanger on May 31, 2014, which allows for continued online play. On October 2, 2017 a patch was released for the Windows version of the game which re-enables multiplayer and allows for Steam and GOG cross play, with a second patch released on January 3, 2018, which featured minor bug fixes and performance optimizations. A Disney spokesperson told Polygon that GOG Galaxy was "handling the back end for the game’s online play, including the development of patches."
Reception and sales
Battlefront II was well received overall. The highest aggregate scored was for the PlayStation 2, which holds an 84.39% at GameRankings and an 84/100 at Metacritic. The Xbox version ranked similarly, with 83.52% at GameRankings and 83/100 at Metacritic. The PC and PSP versions scored slightly lower, with a 76.6% and a 78/100 for the PC and the PSP a 70.93% and 69/100 at GameRankings and Metacritic, respectively. It placed sixth in overall sales for 2005, according to the NPD Group. The PlayStation Portable version sold over 500,000 copies. It was listed as the second most-played Xbox title in 2007, and placed third in 2008. In 2009 Star Wars: Battlefront II reclaimed second place once more. The PlayStation 2 version received a "Platinum" sales award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA), indicating sales of at least 300,000 copies in the United Kingdom. The game's sales totaled 6 million copies by 2007.
Battlefront II was praised not only for having a much more engaging single-player storyline, but also for fixing many of the issues that plagued the original. Reviewers noted a slight improvement in the intelligence of AI units and praised new varied objectives to obtain victory. PlayStation World argued that the strengthened single-player campaign was "unrelenting" and always a good challenge. Publications found the inclusion of space battles a welcome addition; however, GameSpot argued that the addition of Jedi, though looking "good on paper", didn't end up "feeling as epic" as expected.
Game Revolution argued that if the multiplayer was taken away, even the new campaign was not enough to make Battlefront II worth the buy. IGN claimed that the game suffers from problems remaining from the original Battlefront, such as a lack of challenging AI characters in single player mode. Computer-controlled opponents and allies tend to run headlong into gunfire, wander off ledges, and walk into walls. IGN felt that these, along with redundant use of planets featured in previous Star Wars settings, were problems carried over from the original. X-Play hosts Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb gave the game a 4 out of 5, but criticized the online multiplayer.
Non video-game publications praised the quality of the game as well. CiN Weekly gave it a score of 92 out of 100 and stated that "The improved single-player games are worthwhile enough on their own, but if you can find well connected online matches, multiplayer games will keep you addicted for months." The Sydney Morning Herald gave it a score of four stars out of five, saying, "Space conflict complements ground-based action beautifully and jumping into the cockpit of an X-wing or TIE fighter is thrilling." Detroit Free Press gave the Xbox version a score of three stars out of four and said that "The graphics are pretty, the score divine, the story-driven single-player game is actually cinematic and engaging and the lag, while annoying at times online, has been greatly reduced from the original."
Following the success of Battlefront II, in 2008 the fan machinima A Clone Apart by Illusive Entertainment was released. The series utilized gameplay footage from Battlefront II and followed the exploits of Danson Delta-40, a dense, clueless soldier, as he lives through various famous Star Wars battles. The videos received coverage from Kotaku.
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