The Empire Strikes Back
Be it film, music or videogames, there is an infamous curse that lurks over every project. It's the curse of the sequel. We've heard bands put out horrible albums the second time around and we've seen movie sequels fall flat on their face.

But why?

Most artists, once again be it film, music or videogames, try much too hard to out do their last effort. Nine times out of ten we the consumers are left with a big heaping pile of Bantha Poodoo. This time around we've lucked out as we have both LucasArts and Pandemic Studios on our side.

A Master And An Apprentice
Battlefront II is clearly the master of its series.
With gameplay nearly identical to its predecessor, Battlefront II takes every aspect of the original Battlefront and runs with it. Instead of the streamlined "Kill Em All" campaigns of Battlefront, Battlefront II offers up actual objectives in its campaign mode. You'll be tasked with taking out shield generators, gun turrets and more, giving you much more single player content.

Needless to say, the graphics have been amped up quite a bit. Levels previously seen in the original Battlefront, such as Endor, are much more detailed and very crisp in this effort. The player models appear to be more detailed as well, from the vents on the Stormtrooper mask to the split hairs in Luke's horrible comb over. No detail is left unturned.

Red Five, I'm Goin In!
Space battle is the newest addition to the Battlefront series. I stand and applaud LucasArts and Pandemic for pulling off the single greatest space flight simulation game ever. Flying around in your brand new TIE Fighter or X-Wing might be a little awkward at first, but after the first few suicide runs you'll be unable to avoid, you'll get the hang of the controls. Once grasped, space flight will easily become the highlight of the title.

It's fast and intense, with plenty of starfighters at your gunning disposal. Careful getting close to the capital ships such as Corvettes, Frigates and Star Destroyers as they pack a powerful punch. Taking down the capital ships is an incredibly fun experience on its own. Starting off on your faction's capital ship, you can choose to be not only a pilot, but also a mercenary. You can then hop onto a boarding ship, fly to the opposing capital ship and land in their shuttle bay. This grants you access to the opposing capital ship's inner workings such as life support systems, engine coolant and more. If you can destroy all these as a grunt, victory is yours!

A New Hope
Remember the Heroes in Battlefront? You were able to get a Jedi to come into the game and wipe the floor with the opposition. Battlefront II now gives you control of the Heroes.
There's nothing quite like hopping around the map as Yoda while cutting down droids or stormtroopers. My personal favorite was floating around as the Emperor while using my Force Lightning to bring a whole squad to its knees.

Heroes range from General Grievous to Han Solo, Darth Maul to Boba Fett, all controlled by you. Each Hero comes with their own special attacks that will help to even the odds in any battle.

Your Weapons, Need Them, You Will Not
One of the absolute greatest aspects of this game: the little things. I'm sure your girlfriend has harped on you long enough about these "little things" and if you've never understood what she's been talking about, you will now. It's the little things like how Bothans are now a playable character for the Rebel Alliance. You no longer have to waste $15 a month for Star Wars Galaxies to run around as a little furball toting a blaster. It's the little things like playing the Dagobah level, starting in the Dark Cave that Luke had to venture into, and hearing Darth Vader breath down your neck. And he's not even there! Spooky!
It's the little things like the not so little Rancor hanging out underneath Jabba in his palace. And take care not to get to close to the Rancor, as I hear his belly rumbling.

Bug It!
I figure it would be nice to use my game testing experience to point out some flaws in the game. This will hopefully help you to avoid a crash or freeze during the game, or it could even be something pretty damn funny that the devs forgot to take out. First up, keep an eye out for the Rancor when you're in Jabba's Palace. When he reaches down and snatches someone up, then tosses them into is mouth, the persons hands and legs can be seen clipping through his mouth. Secondly, after the Rancor has had his fill of the victim, the player model will drop directly through the Rancor (in his backside area) and fall through the floor. It's nothing detrimental, but it does offer up a good laugh.

Here's a bug that may be localized to just my machine, but while playing the Rise of the Empire campaign, I experience multiple "random" freezes during the very first level. However, I'm able to play every other aspect of the game flawlessly. A bug? Why don't you help decide!

Battlefront II is most definitely a homerun for LucasArts and Pandemic. With plenty of maps and intriguing campaign missions, Battlefront II's replay value is already pretty high. Tack on the addictive nature of Xbox Live and we have a game that is worth every penny you dropped for it.

Battlefront was the best selling Star Wars game ever, meaning Battlefront II will easily take that title.

Preview By Gooseberry

Amid tens of thousands of Star Wars fans gathered at the Indiana Convention Center for the four-day Star Wars party of a lifetime, LucasArts revealed Star Wars Battlefront II at Star Wars Celebration III. Set for a Fall 2005 release on the PlayStation 2 computer entertainment system, Xbox video game system from Microsoft and Windows platforms, Star Wars Battlefront II takes the best-selling Star Wars video game of all time one Imperial-walker step forward with all-new space combat, playable Jedi, and never-before-seen environments straight out of the Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith film.

Fans of the original Star Wars Battlefront will also enjoy an all-new single-player experience that takes players through an epic, story-based saga where every action the player takes impacts the battlefront and, ultimately, the fate of the Star Wars galaxy. Critically acclaimed Pandemic Studios is once again developing the game for LucasArts.

"The original was a huge success for LucasArts and we plan to build on that success to make Star Wars Battlefront II exceed what we did for the first game in every measurable way," said John Geoghegan, Vice President of Global Marketing and Sales, LucasArts. "For Star Wars Battlefront, we joined forces with our colleagues at Lucasfilm to launch the game day-and-date with the Classic trilogy on DVD. Star Wars Battlefront II's campaign will be even bigger, including promotions with major national partners, as well as unprecedented in-store support."

Star Wars Battlefront II improves upon the original game's single-player experience with open-ended, mission-based objectives inspired from all six Star Wars films. The compelling storyline spans more than 12 new locations, many from Episode III, including volcanic Mustafar and the space battle above Coruscant. All-new classic movie moments complete the Star Wars Battlefront II experience, as players battle within the interior of the Death Star and visit Princess Leia's blockade runner, the Tantive IV, as seen at the beginning of Episode IV A New Hope. In addition, at certain key moments within the battles, players can feel the Force as a Jedi.

For the first time ever, Star Wars Battlefront II players can engage in space combat and, during the same battle, board enemy ships to attack from within. Starting on foot inside a capital ship, players can enter the spacecraft of their choice and travel into space to dogfight with the rival faction. From there, they can dock within the enemy's capital ship, overtake the ship's command posts, man its turrets to disable its shields and destroy it from within! Or, they can simply stay inside their own capital ship and defend it from attacks and enemy fire. The choice is theirs.

The stellar online play that marked the original Star Wars Battlefront returns even bigger and better for Star Wars Battlefront II. Players can locate their buddies and track their stats as they battle alongside more players than ever (up to 24 on PS2, 32 on Xbox, 64 on Windows).

System: X, PS2, PC
Dev: Pandemic
Pub: Lucas Arts
Release: Nov 2005
Players: 1 - multi online
Review By Devin