Being a fan of the Star Wars: Battlefront series, I could not wait to get my hands on Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron; exclusive to the Sony PlayStation Portable. (Available in stores October 9, 2007) Not only was I curious as to the storyline of the campaign, but I really wanted to check out all of the updates to what I find to be a mind numbingly fun franchise. It should be noted that this is developer Rebellion’s first stab at the series while the previous 2 versions were brought to you by Pandemic Studios, with LucasArts of course.
I must admit to being a bit distraught at first due to a new controller configuration. (I fear change) No longer do you have full control of your X and Y axis. You control where your character moves but not where he looks. Instead, you utilize a lock on feature to target enemies. You also can no longer choose to play in “first person” mode. (Not a big deal, but worth mentioning) My worries were a bit premature for the new configuration ends up working well due to the use of a primary and secondary attack as well as the ability to roll out of the line of fire. Likewise, a lock on feature has been added to space flight that makes dog fighting a bit easier and a lot less frustrating. I had always found it easy to take down the critical systems of a Star Destroyer but lining up a Tie fighter in my sights could be a bit tedious in past versions.
Unlike it’s PSP predecessor Battlefront 2, I was quite happy to see that the Campaign Mode was extensive and a lot of fun with missions that begin with the evacuation of Yavin IV and culminate with your participation on the Battle of Endor. In this new Star Wars Battlefront addition, players play through the game as part of Commander Col Sera’s Renegade Squadron: Han Solo’s hand picked group of Rebels selected to take on some of the more challenging rebel assignments. Intermingling space combat with ground combat you get to visit worlds/moons we have come to know and love from the movies such as Tatooine, Endor and Yavin IV. What made me more excited were the new additions of worlds that I’m familiar with from the EU such as Korriban, Sullust, Boz Pity and the space over Kessel. In previous versions, you had to change characters in order to change weapons as each character had their signature pieces of weaponry. Renegade Squadron allows you to adjust your character during a battle with numerous new weapons, items and skills. You have 100 points to utilize with your character. Different weapons, items and skills cost varying amounts of points. Picking and choosing what best suits you while not exceeding the 100 point limit adds a great new level of strategy and customization to the game.
EU fans are not going to be overwhelmed with the overall story. It is fun helping out Han, Leia, Luke and the Rebellion weaving in and out of the Original Trilogy battles but there is nothing really earth shattering within the storyline. On the other hand, I did enjoy seeing Ackbar and, EU character known from the Jedi Academy trilogy and other publications, Tionne.
As fun as the campaign is, Galactic Conquest has long been my favorite feature of the Battlefront series and Renegade Squadron makes some great improvements. In previous Battlefront games, you take your troops and move them around the galaxy taking one planet at a time away from the enemy forces in a way very much like the game Risk. Renegade Squadron takes things a bit further in the Risk direction by allowing you to select how many troops you are going to risk on a battle, how you upgrade your various forces and the ability for troop movements after battles. Additionally, taking over certain sections of the galaxy will allow you to utilize various commanders to aid your side. (Admiral Ackbar, Mon Mothma, Leia and Han for the Rebellon; Vader, The Emperor, Moff Tarkin and Grand Admiral Thrawn for the Empire.) Really, the only negative to Galactic Conquest is that you do not have the choice to play as the Republic verses the Separatists as you could in Battlefront 2.
That is not to say that the Prequels are not represented. You simply have to play Instant Action, in which you can play a basic battle (Assault), Capture the Flag, or Hero Capture the Flag, where you have to take down a Hero to get your opponent’s flag. Speaking of Heroes, (and I don't mean the hit NBC TV show) numerous favorites return such as Han, Chewy, Luke, Vader, The Emperor, Boba Fett and more. That being said, you can’t have a new Battlefront game without some new ones and Renegade Squadron does not disappoint with the additions of Admiral Ackbar (who knew he was so nimble on land?), Ben Kenobi (Episode IV) (who knew he was so nimble in his golden years?), IG-88, Asajj Ventress and Kit Fisto. Heroes have been added to space battles as well with the Millennium Falcon, Darth Vader’s Tie Advanced, Slave 1 and Obi-Wan’s Jedi starfighter. Other notable vehicle additions to Renegade Squadron include B-Wings and Tie Defenders (both are great additions and pack quite a punch) as well as A5-R Juggernaughts, T4-B heavy tanks and mountable ground cannons.
Multiplayer has been expanded to allow up to 16 players to play at a time via Infrastructure and 8 through Ad Hoc. To put this in perspective, Battlefront 2 only allowed for 4 player Ad Hoc. I have to admit that I have yet to check out the multiplayer, since…well…not many people had the game ahead of the release date. You better believe I will be trying to play some multiplayer come October 9th.
Bottom Line: Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron is a great addition to the Star Wars Battlefront series that simply improves on an already winning formula. An OK storyline but with hours of fun game play, I’m already hoping that Rebellion is considering their next Battlefront title. I do think that most Star Wars fans will be quite pleased if they pick up the game, though I’d advise big time Battlefront fans to change the difficulty setting to “Elite.” "Normal" mode is great fun, but not all that challenging.
Mike's Rating: 8 out of 10
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