All this week, the writers of PS Fanboy will share their impressions of Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron. Make sure you come back every day, as we'll be giving away five limited edition Darth Vader PSP-2000 systems.
Having not played a Star Wars game since X-Wing vs Tie Fighter and Yoda Stories way back in the day, the Battlefront franchise has, until now, completely passed me by. As a result I had no idea what to expect when I loaded up the UMD. After beginning campaign mode I was pleasantly surprised and bltized through it almost in an entire sitting.
Which brings me to my first complaint: the game is hilariously easy. After I had worked out my personal favourite weapon set up (shotgun and grenade launcher) I never found myself changing it. Normal difficulty is ridiculously unbalanced in the player's favour.
After completing campaign mode and, sadly, lacking any form of internet access, I set my sights to the Galactic Conquest game mode. What followed was a love affair of astronomical proportions (get it? Astronomy? Stars? Star Wars? I'll get my coat ...). Galactic Conquest is a mixture between two of my favourite games - Master of Orion and the board game Risk.
While Nick has already explained how Galactic Conquest works and why it's great, I'm going to lay out the areas in which it disappoints. To begin with, however: some gushing. The premise works really well and, in terms of length, does not disappoint. I've sat down and played several games each coming to a close at between an hour and a half and two hours of game time. Galactic Conquest also breaks up the monotony of constant fighting with some tactical turn based strategy. In short, it's excellent. I just wish there was more of it.
The main problem is that the game mode feels tacked on to the bottom of the Single Player menu. The biggest tragedy being that there is no multiplayer version. Not even in Ad Hoc mode. Master of Orion 2's LAN multiplayer was excellent and that game came out in 1996. There's really no excuse.
This is just one facet of Galactic Conquest mode that feels incomplete. The map remains the same no matter how many games you play - the only thing that changes in this respect is ownership of the different planets. I would have liked to have seen several different maps rotated out, in order to keep the game fresh. Players have the option of choosing between the Rebel Alliance or the Galactic Empire but, in practice, this makes little difference. The commanders that you can hire ultimately do the same things, regardless of which faction you choose. All that really changes is the Hero that you can play as during the game.
The game map is also unbalanced. Out of the 16 available planets, only a handful require you to take part in space combat, with the majority relying on ground combat. While not necessarily a bad thing, depending on your tastes, it can become a bit wearying playing ground combat after ground combat. Sometimes space battles are nice to break up the gameplay a bit.
As for the combat itself, I'll return to a previous point: the game is far too easy. Normal mode is, seemingly, impossible to lose at and while Elite difficulty increases the challenge slightly, it's still too easy to beat. I've played several games of Galactic Conquest and have yet to be beaten at a ground combat mission. This makes the game feel more like a time waster, than an actual game. But considering the "tacked on" feel of the entire game mode, this doesn't come as a huge surprise. This problem would likely be solved by the inclusion of a multiplayer mode. Playing against another human brain would drastically up the ante and make Galactic Conquest far more exciting.
Overall, the Galactic Conquest game mode is my favourite part of Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron. Despite everything I've said so far, it is really excellent fun. It's just a shame more effort wasn't put into it. As a bonus feature accompanying the main game, it's fine. But if it were given the limelight and development time it deserves, it could be a successful full game in its own right.