|System: DS, PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: N-Space||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: LucasArts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov.3, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Caleb Newby
Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron (SWBES) is the latest title tagged for the Star Wars franchise, continuing the once console-specific Battlefront series onto the handhelds. Where the PSP version is able to power a much different experience than DS, SWBES drops the first-person perspective and adopts an overhead isometric view that should be all too familiar. But how does it hold up when Battlefront becomes an overhead shooter instead of the first/third-person game we are familiar with?
The single-player portion puts players in the role of X2, an elite clone trooper who, along with his "twin" X1, is perhaps the most decorated and adept of the clone troopers and given special missions to reflect his abilities. The saga of X2 plays out across the new and original Star Wars trilogy timelines, interwoven with the plotlines from the movies. For example, X2 does battle with General Grievous and has a role in the execution of Order 66 - the directive to kill all Jedi given in Episode II.
There's a fair amount of plot and story interwoven from the backdrop of the movies intermixed amongst the peripheral canonical material. It will no doubt be interesting to the hardest of hardcore Star Wars fans, though casuals would be hard-pressed to care solely due to the game's narrative. The focus on ancillary characters and story, particularly clones, provides a sense of giving a new story without getting in the way of "real" Star Wars tenets.
If you've played the DS versions of Ultimate Alliance 2 or G.I. Joe: Revenge of Cobra, amongst others, you'll be familiar with the essence of how gameplay works here. The D-pad controls the movement of your character while the face buttons dodge, swap and fire weapons, interact with the environment, and launch grenades or their equivalents. At various waypoints, you can change your class to harness different strengths and abilities. The heavy weapons class has an extremely powerful mini-gun at its disposal, contrasted with the spy who fires dual pistols and can sabotage turrets. The assault class is your standard balanced class and the engineer can drop mini-turrets to attack the enemies.
While all these options look good on paper, they don't make much of a difference. Elite Squadron on the DS is amazingly simple. Strategy doesn't exist, as repeatedly firing at your enemies takes them down before the auto-lock mechanism takes over and has you firing at the next poor sap to die. For sheer morbid curiosity, I decided to see how I would fare if I just remained stationary and held down the B button to fire in a perverse "go down with the ship" moment. As I was using the spy's dual pistols, I felt a bit like Woody Harrelson's character in Zombieland making a last stand.
Unfortunately, the droids were even less of a threat than mindless zombies; I barely was shot once and cleared all attackers as they marched in to their deaths. What's worse, it happened again and again and again. Wave after wave of enemies landed and I stood my ground, doing nothing but holding the B button as they fell in my wake of simplistic mayhem.
To change the pace, from time to time you are presented with vehicle missions such as piloting a fighter in a space battle. Sadly, these are no more interesting. You are only able to navigate along the X axis, so any sort of 3D space maneuvering is out of the question. Same thing applies here as on foot; line up the radar on the lower screen to the red enemy dots in the distance and keep them guns a blazin'. The strategy is exceedingly simple and the lack of a Y axis for movement totally defeats the purpose of space combat.