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Full Steam Ahead – Star Wars: Battlefront II

Time logged before Full Steam Ahead: 7 hours

In the last two episodes, we’ve covered games that didn’t work, and then did, games that were buggy, and then weren’t so bad. Because I’m an idiot, I said I had been lucky with all my games working.

Welcome to Star Wars: Battlefront II.

You’re an idiot, Alastair. A stupid, stupid idiot.

Let’s start with some background. The Star Wars: Battlefront series began in the mid 2004. The games were shooters based on the military forces of Star Wars. The focus of these games was not being a powerful jedi, or an unstoppable bounty hunter. Rather, you play as one of the hundreds of Imperial Stormtroopers, or rebel infantrymen, or clones, or battle droids that fight, kill, and die in the eponymous Star Wars. Although there have been various tweaks in the maps, classes, and graphics of the series, the core gameplay remains the same: control the battlefront’s strategic resources, or wipe out the enemy forces.

Relive dying in a hopeless battle for evacuation from a tundra planet in the comfort of your own home!

Although I’ve only spent 8 hours in this game on Steam, I’ve spent dozens, if not hundreds of hours in the first Star Wars: Battlefront. I’m a big fan of Star Wars, and the game was a well designed, fun-to-play shooter. I’ve also logged plenty of hours playing Star Wars: Battlefront II on other people’s consoles, playing with friends over the years. It wasn’t until a Star Wars themed sale on Steam a few years ago that I picked up my own copy of the game.

As I said, the core gameplay is unchanged between the first and second game of the series. Some of the maps have changed; some new locales have been added, while others have been removed. Some of the classes have indeed changed. A greater focus on space battles and ship-to-ship aerial combat is present. Perhaps the most notable change between Battlefront and Battlefront II is that when the first game was released, only two films in the prequel trilogy had been completed. By the time the second game was released, George Lucas had completed his vision for Star Wars, giving the game designers a clearer idea of what they could do with the series. However, this wasn’t the main difference between the two games I noticed.

The main difference between Star Wars: Battlefront and Star Wars: Battlefront II is that Star Wars: Battlefront II doesn’t work.

The adventure begins when the game boots up. My current computer screen has a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels. I can choose this as a resolution for the gameplay itself, but not for the game menus, so my mouse flies all over the screen like a hummingbird on espresso. This is annoying, but it doesn’t break the game.

Then, I try to launch a battle. The game automatically closes, with no warning and no explanation. I restart the game, trying a different map or game mode, only to be met with the same result. After some quick googling, I discover that, low and behold, there is a bug in the PC version that requires you to use headphones, or else the game crashes. Fortunately, I have a comfortable pair of headphones. Again, this bug is annoying, but it doesn’t break the game.

I select a few maps for my playlist and dive into instant action. All is well until I get to the Wookie planet, Kashykk. The graphics packs and textures for the game work fine for artificial surfaces: ships, buildings, droids and the like. However, something is desperately wrong with the natural surface textures. Trees, grass, sand, rocks, dirt, and water are all displayed in a light-blooming rainbow array of colours. This severely limits my ability to view the battlefield. Classes that require a high degree of visual precision, such as snipers, suddenly become very difficult to play. Again, some googling reveals that there may be a fix to this problem, but it seems like a lot of effort, and honestly, I’m losing my patience. Besides, this problem is very annoying, but it doesn’t entirely ruin the game.

Mos Eisley Spaceport. It’s a disco inferno. We must be cautious.

Then I try to launch multiplayer. I cannot locate any servers on multiplayer. The I try to launch my own server. No one can find it. I contact some of my friends who also have the game, and give them all of the information they should need to find my server, but no luck. They try to make servers, and I can’t find them. I try to start a LAN match between myself and my roommate, whose computer is less than fifty feet from my own, but nothing works. This isn’t just annoying; this breaks the game.

When I played the original Star Wars: Battlefront, it was still when I lived in rural Alberta, far from any kind of speedy internet connection. This severely limited my ability to play online multiplayer, but I didn’t mind. To begin with, I was somewhat solitary; I didn’t want to play a game against a lot of strangers on the internet. I’d rather play same-screen multiplayer or LAN games with my friends. Secondly, the game may not have had especially varied gameplay, but it did have very tightly designed and balanced gameplay. I didn’t mind sinking hours into singleplayer.

Since then, I have become a more social person. I live in a technologically advanced city in a technologically advanced country. Multiplayer appeals to me, and the single player aspects of this game do not work well enough for me to want to spend a lot of time playing on my own. At least in multiplayer we could laugh about how the game doesn’t work together. Instead, we are left disappointed. As with many of the game’s problems, there are possible fixes online, but at this point I don’t really have the motivation to try.

Maybe it’s a bit too much to ask. Star Wars: Battlefront II was released in 2005. An attempt to make Star Wars Battlefront 3 went nowhere, until EA decided to reboot the series in 2015, ten years after the last title. In 2017, a sequel, also named Star Wars Battlefront II will be released. The developers have moved on. The multiplayer servers are long since shut down. The players have moved on. Star Wars has released a number of new TV shows and movies further exploring and developing the universe of Star Wars. The franchise has moved on.

Before Full Steam Ahead, I had spent 8 hours playing Star Wars: Battlefront II. I deleted the game, presumably because I was frustrated with fighting to make it work. Since then, I’ve played and enjoyed plenty of other games. I’ve moved on.

It’s always disappointing when a game stops working. Maybe it’s because your computer has advanced past what the game can handle. Maybe it’s because the graphics cards of the future aren’t meant for the games of the past. Maybe it’s because the developers and community have lost interest or moved on to better things. Maybe you missed a patch somewhere along the way, maybe a mod somewhere has broken a specific aspect of the game, maybe your operating system is no longer compatible. Old games can open up a lot of maybes.

Maybe Yoda was the galaxy’s best dancer.

Maybe another time, I’ll have the patience to sit down and fix all the various problems that make this game a pain to play. After all, despite all its problems, Star Wars: Battlefront 2 is still a fun game. All the same, it’s time to move on. There are already several games in this series I’ve regretted moving on from too soon, but this isn’t one of them. The name of the series is Full Steam Ahead, after all, and there are other titles waiting. Fortunately, this title didn’t take very much of my time. Maybe the next one will be quick-

Next Episode: Jade Empire

… oh no.

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