With EA’s new Star Wars: Battlefront looming on the horizon like a fully-powered Death Star, we thought it was a great time to celebrate the previous major-console game in the series – and explore five top reasons we still love it to this day.
It might be hard to believe, but Star Wars: Battlefront II was released almost 10 years ago now. Following the massive success of the first game, the sequel improved on the brilliance already established, and introduced various incredible new elements, creating an absolute classic.
The greatness of Star Wars: Battlefront II is, in large part, thanks to the attention LucasArts and developers Pandemic paid to fan-feedback: they browsed forums across the internet to gain inspiration from players’ views and ideas for a sequel. This helped to give both hardcore fans of the franchise and casual gamers alike an immersive, exciting experience that still holds up beautifully today.
So, without further ado, let’s dive into that virtual galaxy far, far away …
5: Fancy a Game of Wampas VS Rebels?
A new feature added to Star Wars: Battlefront II was the awesome Hunt mode. Available on only a few maps, this allowed players to step into the shoes of various iconic races from the Star Wars universe, enjoying a team-based deathmatch between two groups.
On the Hoth level, players could take on the role of a wampa and help their furry brethren wipe out a horde of rebels (or vice versa). Becoming a wampa is as fun as you’d expect: armed with nothing but their size and strength, players can perform a limited variety of punches & slams – all of which are more than a match for a blaster.
Meanwhile, over on at Mos Eisley, players can choose to become Jawas or Tusken Raiders (AKA Sandpeople): both play differently, and carry distinctive weaponry. A level based on Kashyyyk gives you the option of blasting away as either wookies or droids, but perhaps the most impressive Hunt scenario is Endor’s.
That’s right – you can become an Ewok! Using spears and rocks to take down Scout Troopers is a blast, and for dark-siders who dislike those furry little guys (how could you?!), playing as the Empire’s snipers allows you to live out your fantasies one laser-beam at a time.
While Hunt mode offered fairly basic gameplay, being able to play as so many iconic races gives the game a great new dimension, and makes for a refreshing change to the main classes on offer.
4: Space Battles Have Never Been So Epic
Playing the original Star Wars: Battlefront (released way back in 2004), one flaw that really stands out is just how limited the aerial combat is: being restricted to flying just above the map’s field makes it hard to really get the feeling that you can cut loose and soar.
For Star Wars: Battlefront II, however, Pandemic transformed the vehicular-based action into glorious space skirmishes. Taking on the role of either a pilot or marine, players can hop into one of several different types of starfighters to eliminate enemy forces: this is achieved either by shooting dozens and dozens of smaller ships down or destroying their capital vessel – or a combination of both.
While players can defeat the enemy’s fleet all from the comfort of their cockpit, a more risky approach is sabotaging their main ship from the inside: land a vessel in their hangar, shoot your way into their control room, and then take down their vital systems one by one.
All starfighters handle beautifully, with twists, turns, loops, and other moves all feeling fluid. Soaring through a debris-littered space, chasing down enemy fighters, all to that iconic music and authentic sound effects, really helps to make you feel as if you’ve stepped right into the Star Wars universe.
3: A More Immersive Galactic Conquest Mode
While the first Star Wars: Battlefront game featured Galactic Conquest, the sequel gave this beloved mode an amazing overhaul, making it feel much more like a complete game in itself outside of the other modes.
This time, the galaxy map was brilliantly laid-out, and more interactive: zoom in on planets, earn credits, build new fleets, and move your ships from one world to another as you try to conquer them all. No matter which of the four era-specific scenarios you choose to play in, you always start with just one class of trooper: from there, you can buy additional fighters, including snipers and commanders.
The bonus feature was also much improved, giving you a choice between several to give you an edge: while these were largely the same as those in the original, there were new ones too, and players could store up to three at a time, choosing one before each mission. Trying to claim one world after another made this mode addictive – and it still is today!
2: Mods Allow you to Play it your Way
Plenty of games offer modding facilities for customisation – and Star Wars: Battlefront II’s modding community has created an amazing variety of maps, characters, and modes. For players owning a copy of the game on PC, packs are still produced today offering new ways to play: you can dive into maps based on material from the former-Expanded Universe (non-canon stories across various media, now labelled with the ‘Legends’ tag) and play as more heroes and villains (including the likes of Qui-Gon Jinn and skins based on The Clone Wars animated series).
This gives creative fans of the game a great way to put their own stamp on it, and has helped to maintain a lot of people’s interest a decade after the game’s release. Not all games can claim such staying power!
1: Play as your Favourite Heroes and Villains
Many, many Star Wars games before this have allowed you to take on the role of Jedi, Sith, and more (the Super Star Wars series, Masters of Teras Kasi, the Jango Fett-centric Bounty Hunter) – but it was never as good!
Heroes and villains appeared in the original Battlefront, but as non-playable characters: instead, they roamed maps independently, slaying troops with their lightsabers, and were almost indestructible (unless you managed to send them off the edge of a high platform with a well-timed grenade or rocket). In Star Wars: Battlefront II, some of the most popular characters were up for grabs, including the mighty Boba Fett, Han Solo, Chewbacca, General Grievous, Princess Leia, Emperor Palpatine, and Obi-Wan Kenobi (to name only a few).
Each character had their own playing style and feel, with powerful moves and weapons, from lightsabers to bowcasters. Soaring over Mos Eisley with Boba Fett’s jetpack, ploughing through dozens of stormtroopers as Luke Skywalker, or destroying clone troopers with General Grievous’s four-armed flurries is still terrific – and it feels even more epic when you feel like part of a huge battle, surrounded by hundreds of allies and enemies. There was even an Assault mode, which pitted all the playable heroes and villains against each other in Mos Eisley (DLC later added it to other levels).
So, with EA and DICE’s upcoming Star Wars: Battlefront just weeks from release (and the beta available now), we don’t have long to wait to find out whether the new reboot will be the best yet. Whatever the end result, Star Wars: Battlefront II remains a stone-cold classic!
What do you think of the forthcoming Star Wars: Battlefront? Which features are you most looking forward to?