Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron Review

Star Wars Intro

Title: Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron
Developer: Lucas Arts
Game Type: PlayStation Portable
Download: 961 MB
NA Availability: Digital Download
EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: Yes

The anticipation and conflicted feelings about the new Star Wars Battlefront by EA Games has a lot of people questioning the new game while still remaining in anticipation of it.  This has much to do with certain features that previous installments had that this new installment do not.  The biggest two that have been removed are Space Battles and a Single Player/Story Campaign.  These will not be featured in the new game and many are very down about this.

This is due to the fact that Story and Space Battles were huge deals in the previous three installments of the series.  Battlefront II introduced space battles and everyone loved flying through space in an X-Wing duking it out with Tie-Fighters.  They even kept it and continued with evolving that mechanic in the “Squadron” games for the PSP.  Not to mention the story modes for those games diving deep into the mythos behind the movies and providing a lot of insight onto various things (though they’re now non-canon due to more recent changes in the Star Wars timeline).

Although the new Battlefront game isn’t coming to the PS Vita, handheld gamers and PSTV owners do have access to three Battlefront titles.  The first two I’ve already reviewed, the PSP versions of Battlefront II and Battlefront: Renegade Squadron.  To conclude the trilogy of PSP games, here is my official retro review of Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron!

Story

Star Wars Story

The plot of Elite Squadron follows the tale of X2 a clone that was made in secret during the prequel trilogy.  He and his brother were special because they were cloned from the DNA of a Jedi, rather than the host all the other Clone Troopers were made from.  You follow his own path of fighting within the Clone Wars as well as throughout the age of The Galactic Empire and after the Battle of Endor, making the time-span of this game pretty huge.  While the time span of Renegade Squadron spanned around Episodes V and VI, Elite Squadron takes place across all six movies.

The story of Elite Squadron is also much longer than Renegade Squadron.  Since it takes place in such a broad and lengthy timeline, it is a much longer experience.  One thing to note about the story is that the game directly uses crucial scenes from the movies.  If you haven’t watched them, I would stray from playing the game until you have.  Regardless, it’s an interesting story for Star Wars fans.  I would say that I liked Renegade Squadron’s method of explaining plot more, but it was still good and interesting for the mythos.

Gameplay

Star Wars Gameplay

Like the previous games, Elite Squadron is a third-person shooter mixed with aerial combat as well.  Although a few things are different in gameplay, it’s still a shooting game at heart, mixed with space combat whenever you go into a space battle.

When you go into the game, you have a few options you can partake in.  There is Single Player game modes, Multiplayer game modes, and customization options for your profile and troops within the game.  The first thing to note is that only local multiplayer is still available.  Like Renegade Squadron, the online multiplayer has been shut down.

With Single Player, you can go into Instant Action, Campaign, or Galactic Conquest.  Instant Action allows you to make your own battles and play them out, just like you can in Battlefront II and Renegade Squadron.  Galactic Conquest is also there and not much has changed since the previous installments.  The main thing that has changed, for the better, is the Campaign Mode.

In Campaign, you have 12 levels to play through, each set into eras of time.  Each of these story missions has several objectives and constant dialogue and story you go through.  Unlike the previous game, these missions are quite lengthy.  Many could take you up to 20 minutes or more to clear your first time through, making it quite a bit longer than Renegade Squadron’s campaign, and a lot longer than Battlefront II’s PSP Mission Mode.

The objectives in the missions may vary.  You may have to grab a sniper rifle and defend some troops and then go raid a building to take out power generators, among other things.  There are a lot of different objectives in each mission and you’ll need to do a lot of things, from shooting at enemies to going into space and infiltrating enemy ships.

Speaking of that, I want to talk about the most significant change in the gameplay between Renegade Squadron and Elite Squadron.  Many maps are no longer separated as space maps and ground maps.  Many of them are both.  When you’re on the ground, taking part in a planetary battle, there is also a space battle going on at the same time.  Find a starship and you can just fly up into the sky and go right up into space to take part in that battle.  Some stages even have 3 sections, like the Death Star’s interior, Space, and Planetary sections to move around in.

There are other changes to the system as well.  Enemies now have HP bars around them as you shoot at them, and enemies are generally stronger and not as easy to defeat.  This has raised the difficulty quite a bit.  A few other small changes are that you no longer re-spawn as a troop at a command post, since you play as X2 in campaign mode.  If you die, you have to restart from a checkpoint.  There are also melee weapons available for hand-to-hand combat.

All in all, I’d say it will take you about 4-5 hours to complete the game’s story campaign.  This is still pretty short compared to Battlefront II, but it’s an improvement over Renegade Squadron’s incredibly short campaign.  Add in the extra game modes, and a Star Wars fan could be busy for quite some time.

Controls

The control scheme hasn’t seen a whole lot of change.  Just like with the last game, I suggest you switch to the Alternate scheme, so you can redirect the face buttons to the right analog stick for camera control.

You can move with the Left Analog stick and the D-Pad is used for changing weapons, using sub-weapons, and zooming in and out if you’re using a scope.  R is used to fire a weapon and L is used for sprinting and jumping.  The biggest changes for controls are starship controls.  You no longer use the Left Analog Stick to move, but rather the face buttons/camera to do this.  For players of the previous games, this is a little awkward to get used to, but you’ll learn the flow quickly.

The one bad thing I’ll say here is that they still haven’t gotten rid of the auto-centering camera.  You’ll still have situations where you’ll be firing on something and the camera will move itself back to its original position.  This is just a frustrating as it was in Renegade Squadron.  It’s even more so in some of the harder campaign missions.

Presentation

Star Wars Prese

The visual presentation is an improvement and back to around the visual level of the PSP version of Battlefront II if not just a bit higher.  There’s a lot of detail in the troop uniforms and environments, especially if you decide to fly around the Death Star.

The performance is good, for the most part.  There isn’t any lag or slowdown, but they’ve brought back the longer load times.  While Renegade Squadron barely had any load times more than 5-6 seconds, there is an average of about 15 seconds for each load time in Elite Squadron.  It’s not a terrible wait, but it definitely feels like a downgrade from the previous game.

Summary

Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron is the most evolved Battlefront that you can currently play on the PS Vita and PlayStation TV.  On the downside, the camera still causes problems and the load times have gotten much longer since the last game.  Past this is a fun game for Star Wars fans to enjoy from the instant gameplay action or diving into a story that spans the entire saga. 

8/10

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