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Star Wars Battefront Renegade Squadron

 

Star Wars Battefront Renegade Squadron

ESRB: Teen - T
Platform: PSP
Category: Action Games
 
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8
7.5
9
7.5
7.75
 
Author:

Developer – Rebellion
Publisher - LucasArts

Features

1 player
Wi-Fi Compatible (Ad Hoc/ 1-8 players)
Wi-Fi Compatible (Infrastructure/ 1-16 players)

Pretty much everyone has heard of Star Wars; the franchise has been around for decades, and while the movies are now finished games based on the franchise continue. Star Wars Battlefront has been the best-selling Star Wars game in LucasArts history. In fact, the first game in the series has gone on to sell over 10 million copies worldwide. To be quite honest I’ve never played Battlefront on any system until now. Star Wars Battlefront Renegade Squadron is the next instalment in this series and it makes a return on Sony’s PSP. Developer Rebellion and publisher LucasArts tells a previously untold story about a motley crew of battle hardened do-gooders carrying out secret missions against the Empire. The more I read about the previous title, and looking at some of the storyline in the new game, the more I was intrigued. I charged up my PSP and settled in for some portable handheld fun.

Graphics

My initial reaction to some of the graphics in Star Wars Battlefront Renegade Squadron (SWBRS) was that were somewhat mixed. Some of the levels seemed a bit muddied and flat in terms of the textures used. For example, Hoth was too white and snowy everything seemed to blend into each other. Perhaps it was a bit unfair to criticize it tough as the planet is really only ice and snow with no real flora and fauna. On the flip side, Endor is very green and looks like the scenery found in the movie with all kinds of trees and surrounding foliage. My favourite level was the Valley of the Sith on Korriban – with some of the largest levels in the whole game. A gamer could lose track of where they are if they aren’t careful, and this is a testament to the size of some of the levels.

In terms of the special effectsI really liked the light saber’s visuals. They are extremely well done as they spark and buzz on contact, looking for the most part very similar to their movie counterparts. Impressive as well was the PSP’s ability to handle some of the graphic intensive scenes seamlessly from one level to the next. As the gamer it was kind of impressive. For example, in one instance you can auto-pilot your vehicle into an enemy hanger, get out and start blasting away though your enemies. This is all done on the fly without any loading or reduction in graphical imagery. It really reminded me of the battles of the big screen movies and also made me realize that the PSP can be a pretty impressive little machine.

Now with everything being said, I did find a downside on graphic abilities. While this game does look better than the first one, which I had to research given I didn’t have a chance to play it, this most recent Battlefront does seem to have some framerate issues. The framerate dips on occasion and it can be annoying. It never really gets in the way of playing the game, but it can be frustrating in the heat of battle. On numerous occasions I also found I could not get the targeting to work very efficiently as the game began to labor, and this was somewhat perplexing as the targeting system is auto locking. I’m sure hardcore players would be able to look past the sometimes inconsistent framerate now and then and targeting issues caused by it but these issues were noteworthy and I thought it was prudent to it say something.

Sound

The music in the game is typical Star Wars fair. The infamous soundtrack the movies have is present and accounted for here. A great soundtrack always helps in driving any story and Star Wars fans won’t be disappointed. All the usual sound effects present in the movies are found in this game too. Sounds like Rebel and Imperial troop’s guns and vehicles, light sabre’s buzzing, and my personal favourite, that cool Tie Fighter sound, all are well represented in Battlefront Rogue Squadron. The voice acting throughout the game is also very well done too. Overall it is very clear that great care went into creating the sounds and effects that drive this game.

One point I thought is important to mention is the PSP’s tiny speakers. The overall quality of what the gamer is hearing is decent but the speakers sometimes don’t do a great job of broadcasting it. I noticed at various points in the game the voice can be a bit muddled and tough to discern from the games music or sound effects. It really isn’t a big gripe, but it can be confusing at times. With that being said, I really think gamers should use the headphones whenever possible. The sound depth and clarity is so much better on all levels and makes for a more engrossing effect.

Gameplay

One thing I’m not used to about the PSP is the analog nub. I can never find a happy medium with the control offered. Games I’ve played using the nub always take a bit of getting used to, especially if the in game control is a bit suspect. Unfortunately SWBRS is such a game. Using the default settings, the analog nub moves your character about from a mock third person view, and with the right shoulder button you can lock on to targets. Most of your battles entail circling your enemy, holding down the X button (fire) and lobbing grenades with the square button. If you get real good you can also do simple roll maneuvers and jumps with the circle button. It can be very annoying at times because you only have one analog nub for all movement and targeting. Being used to the duel controller on the PS3 and the Xbox 360 this can take sometime to feel right.

So even though I felt hindered by the control limitations, I started to make my way through the game. It was this issue that I think a lot of the fun factor diminished for me. Perhaps using a more precise control scheme would have been in order. The auto locking system does take a bit of the suspense out of things; but a self aimed headshot is far more satisfying than an auto lock kill any day. An item of note, in the boss battles (which turn out to be famous characters from the Star Wars universe) I found it incredibly easy to defeat them in this set up. I had way more speed and tons of health, and if I did die I would re-spawn right where I left off. Not very much challenge or replay value in that is there?

There are many options to choose from in SWBRS but I like the fact I could customize my soldier with all kinds of weapons, speed, armor, etc. You essentially get around 100 points to use against your character. Any hardcore gamer can come up with a cool customized character to use.

It wasn't until I played the multiplayer aspect of this game that the it began to become more enjoyable for myself. Star Wars Battlefront II on the PSP drew some criticism from gamers for not offering online play and LucasArts were barraged with a lot of gamer’s pleas. The game ran very well via Infrastructure mode or through an Ad Hoc connection, I could see myself playing this for sometime online.
Well for this latest release they heard those complaints and they added online play which works really well. There are six different modes of play: campaign, conquest, space assault, galactic conquest, capture the flag, and instant action. I didn’t try them all, but what I did try ran at a fairly steady frame rate only lagged on the odd occasion. When I really think about it I didn't experience any noticeable lag even when maxing out the 16 player limit. Fun can be had despite the fact that there is very little teamwork in a public setting. If you have a group of friends playing at the same time this shouldn’t be a huge problem though. I did have to make a Gamespy account to join in on the multiplayer modes, but overall it was easy. Maps are interesting enough to keep your attention for a few rounds before switching up. You will find the obvious cheaters who are rampant spawn campers, but this is to be expected as it is found in a lot of online games on any console. At the end of the day Renegade Squadron becomes a much better game played with real people as this is where things get challenging.


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