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Tycho / on Wed, Sep 22 2004 at 4:30 am

This Is Not Your Father’s Trilogy

Because I think Star Wars is a “neat” series wrapped around a single truly excellent movie, I am not the man you want to come to for the rock-ribbed enthusiast’s perspective.  Indeed, I’m more likely to suggest a comic like today’s.  I did pick up the new THX-1138 boxed set, which I like a lot, but I like any movie that implies that things could always get worse.

I bought Star Wars: Battlefront yesterday, PC version, and I haven’t quite gotten the hang of it yet. 

There are things you’ll see in this game that you desperately want to, have wanted to, for years.  You can look out across a plain of ice and see an AT-AT craning its neck down at you and disgorging bolts of energy.  Well, maybe you didn’t want to see that.  You can ride speeder bikes through the woods.  You can drive an AT-ST on Endor and blast ewoks.  I’m not partial to the Episode One period, but I’ll be damned if I don’t enjoy taking to the rolling hills of Naboo as the droid army and blasting gungans, watching them sail through the air on the shockwave from my explosive device.  It really is cathartic.  There is even a level where gungans systematically destroy your childhood memories, which is cool.

The first screens released for this game are no longer valid representations of what happens in it - they have added that light, universal glow from Full Spectrum Warrior that is actually a good cinematic match for Star Wars.  That it also softens what models and textures is another plus.  You head out to some place like Tatooine and see that softness cast everywhere on that sand and you start to feel pretty good about where graphics are at right now.  There are amazing science-fiction vistas to behold, as long as you don’t get up too close - the geometry isn’t anything to get excited about.  It hardly wrecks the impression, though.       

Sounds good so far, you’re thinking.  We haven’t talked about the AI yet.  The AI is as dumb as paint.   

The fill up the levels on or offline, making it appear visually that you are a member of a grand force.  A grand stupid force, the 433rd Idiot Legion, a futuristic jobs program for social detritus.  You can’t be proud of the shit these guys do.  You’d better run your ass right over to those speeder bikes, because one of those fuckers is already on his way and he’ll put it to no good purpose.  They don’t mind getting out if you want to get in, that’s nice.  But the all the livelong day they just do the stupidest shit, and for all the epic trappings and swelling music you are shooting fish in a barrel and that doesn’t make a person feel heroic.  When I heard about the special units for each side, the “heroes,” I think I assumed that these were player controllable Super Classes that might be earned in some way.  No, they’re just more idiots - except it’s an idiotic version of Darth Vader or something else you used to think was cool.  Darth Vader in a corner, running, forever running, swinging his lightsaber at enemies which either do not exist or are so small we probably don’t need to worry about them.   

It’s possible that there’s a server out there with No Heroes and No Artificially Intelligent cannon fodder that avoids these complaints, which would create an experience a little more like what we’re used to on the PC where there is no shortage of good capture and hold games.  I was pretty excited about Battlefront, you’ll soon see the ads I accepted for it in that idyllic period before release - I’m going to try it on one of the other platforms and see if it’s a better fit before I give up on it. 

(CW)TB out.

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