Star Wars Battlefront II PS2 Review

This should be a game nobody wants to play.

Not because the Star Wars empire is so easy to begrudge, what with the movies, books, cartoons, comics, plastic light sabers, action figures and thousands of tiny Millennium Falcons generating billions of pounds for LucasArts. Nor because, despite all that money, the more recent movies fall well short of the first low budget trilogy (which, despite regular re-releases on all formats known to the galaxy, haven’t been available in their original cuts since a laserdisc release in 1995).

No, it’s because movie tie-in games are usually just shit.

But Star Wars Battlefront II is an exception.

The training section is nicely judged. Thrown into the Attack of the Clones on Geonesis as a cack-handed foot soldier, you are taught all the basic skills and tactics you will need to work your way through the ranks until you become a Jedi, and emerge battle-hardened and ready for whatever war will throw at you.

The game controls are intuitive: once you’ve taken the necessary seconds to pick up the basics (which button is ‘fire’?), you can happily blunder your way through different weapons, bodies and vehicles as if you actually knew what you were doing.

This leaves you with plenty of time to admire the sheer scale of the battles: Hailfire tanks, Spider Walkers and AT-TEs stalk the planet’s desert plains as hundreds of clones and battle droids fight it out as a giant troopship rumbles overhead surrounded by a swarm of Starfighters. The graphics don’t let it down and the sound is detailed, with nice voice-acting and an emotive score typical of Star Wars.

The main game begins with the famous star field and opening crawl: ‘A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…’ Once the tingle has gone down your spine, you find yourself a trooper in the 501st division and must begin fighting against the encroaching might of the dark side (hoping that eventually you get to play as Darth Vader). The very next mission sees you in space for the first time, at the controls of a Starfighter, struggling with target tracking while you try to bomb the hell out of a massive CIS Cruiser.

There’s a free mode, a multiplayer mode, and a sub-game, Galactic Conquest, in which you can play at taking over the galaxy. There’s a large and active online community for some standard us-v-them shoot-em-up fun (running around with no idea what’s happening until you are mercifully dispatched by an unseen assailant and then get killed over and over again by a headshot at the spawn point, for example).

With the number of unremarkable Star Wars games reaching into triple figures, you’d be forgiven for flicking straight past Battlefront II, even at a knock-down price in the second-hand bin. But, while you’re creeping round the red-lit corridors of the Death Star, light saber in hand, thinking, ‘Whoah! It’s just like it is in the movie!’, you’ll be glad you took it home instead to spend at least a weekend making your own disturbance in the Force.