Replaying STAR WARS: BATTLEFRONT II - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Alexander Wallace returns to the Battlefront.
“Watch those wrist rockets!”
“The enemy has taken a command post.”
“Rebel scum!”
I’m certain a good number of us can remember far too many quotes from the 2005 game Star Wars: Battlefront II. In my youth, as it was for many people, this was a defining game of that generation of consoles (I played it on a PlayStation 2), one that gave us so much joy and on occasion so much frustration.

Replaying it today, graphically, it overall holds up, but as to be expected from a game from 2005 many of the models come off as clunky to those of us who have attenuated to the new normal; I find much the same looking at 2003’s Command and Conquer: Generals, another staple of my childhood gaming. In Battlefront II, you have some rather blocky tanks (especially those used by the Republic and later the Empire), for example, that seem to throw off your immersion just a tad. But they’re small things.
If we’re talking about the Republic and the Empire, the story is why I play this game about once a year. Star Wars, as the title may lead to you to expect, is a franchise about wars in space. However, it is rare that the franchise really focuses on the average soldier (Rogue One was a triumphant exception, as was Alexander Freed’s Battlefront: Twilight Company). Here, you have the nameless clone trooper who introduces every mission like a traumatized Vietnam veteran (an apropos way of going about it, given how much Vietnam inspired the original film) looking back on a past of which he has deeply conflicting feelings.

There are many interesting missions, some interwoven into the films. It was an inspired decision to have the story contain but not be subsumed by the fall of the Republic and the rise of the Empire. You play as someone who was ‘just following orders,’ someone who knows that it is not his to reason why, his but to do and die. As the player character says, it is eerie how quiet the fall of the Republic is, as you march on the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. My favorite of the directly film-related missions is the one where you get to be one of the stormtroopers that blasts open the door on the Tantive IV at the beginning of the original film; indeed, the decision to have you play through the original trilogy as one of the villains gives you a very interesting perspective. That perspective is a nuanced one as you are one of the ‘heroes’ of the prequel trilogy beforehand.
The gameplay itself remains a solid shooter. Weapons are variable and provide for multiple playstyles, but I found myself overwhelmingly using the standard blaster rifle. When not using those, the heroes remain immensely fun to play as; there is something so immensely satisfying about bulldozing your way through an entire enemy force wielding nothing but a lightsaber and seeing the corpses fumble about like ragdolls (it’s like a less bloody Space Marine in that regard, but in all honesty I like Battlefront II more). Hopping around the battlefield as one of the Fetts is also fun.

Battlefront II is clearly one of the great Star Wars games, and one of the best games of the 2000s, in my opinion. It shatters the stereotypes of licensed games being irrevocably bad and delivers an experience that drops you in a combat suit among the carnage in the galaxy far, far away. Any Star Wars fan who has not played this yet needs to rectify it immediately.

Alexander Wallace is an alternate historian, reader, and writer who moderates the Alternate History Online group on Facebook and the Alternate Timelines Forum on Proboards. He writes regularly for the Sea Lion Press blog and for NeverWas magazine, and also appears regularly on the Alternate History Show with Ben Kearns. He is a member of several alternate history fora under the name 'SpanishSpy.'

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