Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron Review
Reviewed on PSP
Every war has its dirty secrets. Now that Emperor Palpatine is dead and the New Republic is eliminating the remnants of the Empire, the Jedi archives have been reopened, and historians are hard at work chronicling the tale of the Rebellion. While digging into the conflict, Archivist Tionne has discovered hints of a secret force led by Col Serra with the support of Han Solo and General Dodonna.
The soldiers of the Renegade Squadron were often criminals, smugglers and outcasts. As long as they hated the Empire more than they hated anything else, Col Serra was ready to take them into battle. And battle they did, all across the galaxy, to put a stop to the Empire.
Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron is easily the best Battlefront game so far, improving the formula in nearly every respect (except screen size). If there's a problem with Renegade Squadron, it's that the game is being marketed to the wrong crowd. Auto-aiming functions downplay the twitch skills that online multiplayer shooter fans worship, turning this into an action-packed game for careful strategists. If you've ever wanted to try out online multiplayer shooters but feared that you didn't have the chops, this is the game to try. If you pride yourself on cross-map headshots made with a sniper rifle at a full run, this isn't your game.
The Star Wars Battlefront games first appeared in 2004, bringing the multiplayer shooter formula that crystallized in Battlefield 1942 to the Star Wars universe. When team-based multiplayer, complete with different classes of soldiers fulfilling different roles, ebbed and flowed across familiar sites from the Star Wars films, it got even better.
Star Wars Battlefront II introduced a few new maps, tweaked the classes and (most importantly) added epic space battles to the mix, in which the bulk of the fighting was between fighters and capital ships, rather than having infantry and vehicles exchange fire on the ground. It also brought the game to the PSP. But with Rogue Squadron, the formula is nearly perfected, providing the most compelling Battlefront experience yet.
The formula is still, essentially, the same. The Empire and Rebellion compete for supremacy on various battlefields where the victor must capture points or complete specific objectives to win. There are some minor tweaks to the formula. There are more hero characters that can pop up in the middle of battle, as well as heroes' ships for the space battles. There are more maps, more ships and more... well... everything.
What makes Renegade Squadron the best game so far is that it offers incredibly customizable characters. And I'm not just talking about the ability to dress your avatar however you like (although you can do that, too). The customization is exciting because it affects each character's load-out. A point system determines exactly what you can carry. You can allocate those points however you like, but your choices remain balanced with other players.
There really are millions of possible combinations, and truthfully dozens of solid combinations – you won't see everyone simply using the same equipment. You could grab a chaingun and a jetpack and be a mobile weapons platform. Or you could become the ultimate strategic-point-capturing machine with lots of health, the ability to regenerate (yourself and others), more speed and the ability to capture quickly. Of course, with that combo you could only afford a basic blaster pistol, so you wouldn't be shooting much. Other options range from auto turrets and grenades to a fusion cutter for repairing turrets. This is the one game that lets you create a class and load-out exactly to your liking, and you don't have to win matches with crappy equipment to afford the good stuff.
Another evolutionary step that makes Renegade Squadron a colossal leap forward from Battlefront II is that you can actually play online against real people. Battlefront II was held back (more like bound and gagged) by the fact that there was no online play, and you could only play in Ad Hoc mode with four humans and an assortment of bots. Renegade Squadron lets you take the battle online with up to 16 players.
So what's the problem with Renegade Squadron? That depends on how you like to play online shooters. Playing Renegade Squadron is like riding a bicycle with training wheels. It's a shooter that takes care of aiming for you. You can hold down a button to lock onto an enemy stormtrooper, and even to cause your spacecraft to automatically tail another fighter. Essentially, it removes the twitch skills from the shooter formula. There's vast strategic potential in Renegade Squadron, ranging from your choice of equipment to how you go about battling, but coordination can't tilt the playing field to your advantage.
Renegade Squadron is a compilation of everything that was great about the earlier Battlefront games, with more of everything that made the previous games good, plus solid character customization that makes every decision meaningful. The near absence of twitch requirements will alienate a lot of gamers who have loved other Battlefront and Battlefield-style games, but Renegade Squadron is still a great game in its own right.