|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Rebellion||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Lucas Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 9, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-16||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Cole Smith
Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron is the follow-up to Star Wars Battlefront 2. It eclipses its predecessor like a good sequel should. Loaded with gameplay variety, it features a good assortment of modes that lets you play it as a shooter, turn-based strategy, space shooter, and as a huge multiplayer blood fest. The Star Wars license is done proud in Renegade Squadron. It's mechanically solid and void of any major technical issues with the exception of the constant loading that occurs every few minutes causing the sound to cut out intermittently. And if that's the only major problem, then you know you've got nothing to worry about.
As I mentioned, there is a huge multiplayer component that accommodates 16 players. Bots will take the place of players if there aren't enough people partaking in a particular match. They aren't as good as a skilled player, but you don't always get to play against such skilled players anyway, so it all evens out. The single-player modes are definitely worthwhile. If anything, they will get you familiar with the controls, characters, environments, and weapons. The Galactic Conquest mode is a turn-based strategy game that gives you all kinds of micromanagement options such as purchasing units, vehicles, and weapons to do battle with the rival factions. It's not the deepest of strategy games, but considering that Renegade Squadron is primarily a third-person action shooter, I don't think that this is the audience for such a game. It's a great introduction into the genre, and while it's fun to play, you can't help but feel that you're missing out on the real action in the other modes.
As a team-based unit, your missions are to capture enemy territory while defending your own. Conceptually, the gameplay is an amalgam of Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag. Star Wars nerds can try to read as much into the story as possible, but there is precious little revealed that hasn't already been divulged in the movies and other games. While you will take part in famous battles on different planets, you are playing as innocuous Star Wars characters. The storyline was written exclusively for this game and features generic, no-name soldiers. Okay, they do have names, but they are largely forgettable in the Star Wars universe. These characters are just thrust into an already existing scenario, like a ten-dollar mailbox on a $500,000 home. In other words, they are inconsequential to the Star Wars legacy. It's the action that counts in this game, and you can expect a lot of that.
To get you started, there are plenty of character customizations to choose from. You'll have your choice of four factions: The Confederacy, Rebel Alliance, The Empire, and The Republic. Customizable features include race, heads, helmets, armor, costumes, and insignias. Beginning with an allotment of 100 credits, you can further personalize your character with the purchases of weapons, gadgets, armor, power-ups, and other upgrades. Just about everything has multiple uses, so you'll get a lot of mileage out of your purchases. It's not necessary to get the most powerful weapons, but there's tremendous satisfaction in blowing apart a hovertank with a rocket launcher. Once you capture an enemy base, you can swap your weapons and other items for more useful ones. The points have to be distributed among other attributes such as health, speed and capture rates, so you have to make decisions based on your method of play. Are you risky or conservative? That will determine if you want to put more points into weapons systems or if you prefer to play a more methodical and strategic game, using special gadgets such as the jet pack.
Some of the environments that were featured in the prequel are back, but that's not a drawback. There are 15 different ground maps in all, and while some may be familiar, they all mean action. The controls are easy enough to learn. You move your character with the stick, and the L button allows you to run. Turning around is slow, and that can cost you if you're being targeting. The R button lets you target enemies. It works well for most situations but when facing multiple enemies it can be slow going to toggle through them until you reach the one that you want to shoot at. If at all possible, you will want to avoid getting flanked by multiple enemies. The lock-on is automatically disengaged in the multiplayer mode, and at higher difficulty settings on the single-player modes. Instead, the camera will lock onto the enemy, forcing you to aim the reticle while the camera is moving independently. Not always an easy task.