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VIDEO GAME REVIEW

Battle in a galaxy far, far away

September 16, 2004|Pete Metzger | Times Staff Writer

If you're a member of Generation X, chances are that at least one time in your life, you've imagined yourself as a member of the evil Galactic Empire or a part of the scrappy band of rebels fighting it.

Simply put: The original "Star Wars" trilogy wove its way into the fabric of our childhood. So, coupled with the coming release Tuesday of the "newly remastered" movies on DVD, along comes the amazing Star Wars Battlefront, offering gamers a chance to jump into any of the battles of the "Star Wars" universe.

Besides the original Galactic Civil War era (you know, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and the Ewoks' time), controller monkeys also get to throw down in the prequels' less romantic Clone Wars era (Anakin Skywalker, Mace Windu and -- sigh -- Jar Jar Binks' time). Helping pique the interest of those who will be standing in line at the end of May 2005 to see "Revenge of the Sith" (like us), Battlefront also serves up quarrels on the Wookiee planet of Kashyyyk and the ice planet of Rhen Var, presumably two new locations for the final installment of the series.

Gameplay is simple to master and very addictive, and never the same fight twice. Players choose a location (such as the deserts of Tatooine), choose sides (such as the separatist droids or the clone troopers), decide which of the five troop types to use (such as sniper, heavy-weapons specialist or pilot) and start scrapping. Most any vehicle can be driven, any turret can be manned. The battle rages on until all of the enemy's bases are captured or all reinforcements are depleted. Did the soldier you control mess up and get too close to that thermal detonator? No worries. Spawn once more as a new fighter (again, your choice of which model) and get right back in the action. A score is tallied at the end of each round, awarding special accolades for things such as most enemy kills and longest living streak.

Controlling your soldier is easy and intuitive, and the beautifully detailed graphics immerse players in the action. Depending on the gamer's preference, both first- and third-person gameplay are available. Split-screen and online play mean that whether a friend is at your house or logged on to the Internet, a fight is never too far away.

No two ways about it, this is one Battle any true "Star Wars" fan will absolutely have to join. Just as in days past.

Details: Available Tuesday; PlayStation 2 and Xbox platforms; $49.99; rated: teen (violence).

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