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'We've captured a command post': Star Wars Battlefront's multiplayer madness

By now, Star Wars: Battlefront has spent enough time in disc trays across the world that a post like this isn't all that strange nor untimely. It's a game that most of remember as one of the better Star Wars titles to come out in the last decade. There were a lot of special things about it, but the one thing I think most of us who played the game will remember is the absolute madness and glory that was the multiplayer component.

At first, it could seem a bit overwhelming. There was certainly no shortage of things going on on the battlefield at any given time. But, as you became familiar with the game and its combat system, you learned the nuances and grew to appreciate the controlled chaos that was present in every battle. It wouldn't take long before you were able to land a Dark Trooper on a dime, knew exactly how long you had before you needed to dash away from a grenade (although the explosion radius seemed to fluctuate suspiciously), and exactly how many rocket launcher shots it took before that AT-AT would fall.

Playing multiplayer in Battlefront was to play a game whose faults and triumphs were pronounced simultaneously. The terrible ally and enemy AI, for instance, made it nigh impossible to win in any other way than playing an intense game of cat-and-mouse with your opponent. One could never rely on friendly AI to actually hold vital command posts and strategic bottlenecks; but, one could always rely on the enemy AI making it as easy as possible to accomplish your goal.

It was precisely because the multiplayer AI was so broken that the multiplayer became such an intense experience. The incompetence of the AI, the sheer stupidity of the AI, made the multiplayer battles run purely on the strategic douchebaggery and combat shenanigans of your human opponent, and that is what made the multiplayer so special. There was nothing quite as nerve wracking as finally capturing the Ice Caves on Rhen Var, only to have them swiftly taken back by your opponent who single-handedly slaughtered dozens of your Clone Troopers on the way to his objective. If you were smart you would immediately hop in the AT-TE and begin mowing down as many of the CIS forces as you could while your human opponent was distracted in the Ice Caves. I cannot tell you how many matches I had at the Rhen Var Harbor that were decided by less than 10 men.

Then there were the body-littered hallways and skywalks of Bespin's Cloud City, which is where some of the most in-your-face, brutal action in all the multiplayer could be witnessed. If you've ever wondered what it might look like if you threw a grenade into the middle of a platoon of Storm Troopers... well, let's just say that Cloud City is where dreams came true. Even to this day, I can't say that I tire of the game's physics engine.

The death pit that was the Yavin 4 Arena could turn the most fearless of players into whimpering cowards. Mos Eisley was a labyrinth of death, with every conceivable corner concealing an ambush. Kamino... ah, Kamino. Perhaps the most lopsided of the maps. Clearly favoring the CIS strategically, it was everything the person playing the Republic could do to keep the walkways and bridges clear of Droidekas. All I have to say on that particular matter is: Long Live the Jet Trooper!

It was also an important game because it showed that the Star Wars brand could do multiplayer and do it well, that the characters, the locations, the story, indeed the entire universe, actually lent itself well to a multiplayer experience. Up until then, most of the Star Wars titles had been either purely single-player affairs, or games designed with single-player as the focus and multiplayer as a bonus. And there's nothing wrong with that; but, Star Wars: Battlefront dispelled the notion that a multiplayer-focused Star Wars game couldn't be successful. To this day, there are still people playing online.

There's lots I'll never forget about this game. I'll never forget the first time I lost a Galactic Conquest and was knocked from my pedestal as the best player among my friends. I'll never forget my friend Michael running up the stairs on Naboo Theed to hide from me in my CIS AAT, and the look of horror on his face when I drove it up the stairs, cornered him and unloaded everything I had in the general direction of his face. I'll never forget the first time I was insta-killed by a Dark Trooper who was just dropping in to say hi and to put his blast cannon in my guts. Many of the most memorable multiplayer experiences I've had have been with Star Wars: Battlefront. I think it holds its own even today. Feel free to share some of your memorable moments in the comments below!
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About Jon Hamlinone of us since 4:27 PM on 03.04.2013

Recently graduated university with a degree in Chinese. Of course, I'm doing absolutely nothing with that degree and writing about videogames instead. I come from a journalism background and have always written, and I have a passion for games. My interests are tied up in game music, industry issues, and how games continue to exist in the public sphere long after they come out... their legacy, if you will.

I live in the always-exciting San Francisco Bay Area where there is certainly no shortage of freelance competition.

I'm an avid player of RPGs, racers, fighting games, and have been known to enjoy an occasional shooter.