It seemed like an odd idea at the time (and probably still does to some people), but when LucasArts brought their massively multiplayer battle game Star Wars: Battlefront to the PSP with 2007’s Star Wars: Battlefront: Renegade Squadron, it actually worked rather well.
Now they’re hoping to repeat that odds-defying move by not only bringing the series back to the PSP, but also to the DS, with Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron. We took a very, very brief look at the game at LucasArts' booth today, and while we can’t say for sure that the game will be more fun than a barrel of Wookies, we are cautiously optimistic.
For the most part, Elite Squadron plays basically the same as Renegade Squadron. The big change is that where before you’d have some battles in space and some on a planet, now the battles take place in both places at the same time. A battle on Hoth, for example, not only has you fighting Stormtroopers in the snow, but Tie Fighters in space.
And the battle can cross those lines. You could, say, get into the Ion Cannon and shoot it up at an Imperial Cruiser, or command an Imperial Cruiser to carpet bomb the surface of Hoth. You can also run over to an X-Wing Fighter, fly it into space, land on a Cruiser’s flight deck, and start shooting up the Stormtroopers who were waiting for a ride. Granted, it doesn’t make this transition seamlessly — you have to hit a button when you get to the border between land and space — but it’s still pretty cool.
The game also covers a rather large section of the Star Wars saga, as it starts during The Clone Wars and continues on through the original trilogy and past the events of 1983’s Return Of The Jedi.
But while story is actually the same in both the PSP and DS versions, the games are not. The two versions also have some of the same battles, but each also have some that are unique to each system. Which yes, means you’re going to have to play both versions.
There are also some differences in the way the different versions work. Obviously, the DS doesn’t look as good, though it compensates by changing the perspective of this third-person game to a more aerial view, and by having the lower screen as your radar. The PSP will also only support four-player ad-hoc battles, while the PSP can handle six on ad-hoc or 16 over the Internet. The controls on the DS also seemed a little simpler and arcadey. Or at least they did for the minute I spent trying to shoot Tie Fighters above Hoth on both machines, anyway.
Even so, we’re looking to get some more time with both versions before they’re released in the fall.