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Star Wars: Battlefront

Not that you'd think it, but Star Wars: Battlefront is actually an incredibly simple game indeed. Draw a straight line from noughts and crosses, through Combat on the Atari 2600, taking a slight detour for a quick game of Holo-Chess on board the Millennium Falcon, and you'll arrive at here sooner than expected.

Sure, it might sound complicated - (take a deep breath) two sides fight for ownership of a vast playing field by attempting to win control of a number of Command Points, which act as bases from which troops can respawn, the battle only ending when either (a) all of the Command Points have been won by the same side, or (b) a faction has run out of reinforcements - but scrape through this thin pseudo-tactical veneer and you'll soon realise there's nothing here to overly worry your inner buffoon. Dimwits rejoice: if Knights Of The Old Republic brought the first truly great Stars War game to the polo-necked elite, Battlefront is set to do likewise for the common man in the street.

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Truth is, there's nothing particularly original here. In fact, there's nothing original at all, Battlefront being a DJ LucasArts remix of Battlefield: 1942, a PC action-strategy game that thousands of people played and hundreds modded into a string of new games. What makes Battlefront such a special game isn't the gameplay or the Star Wars licence, it's the beautiful integration of the two. In short, Battlefront is way, way, way more than the sum of its parts.

Grunt Of The Litter
Part of the genius is, you're not the hero, you're just another grunt. Were Battlefront a movie, you'd be credited as 'Tie-Fighter Pilot With Hole In Trousers'. The effect this has is to make you feel more involved at a grassroots level in the Star Wars universe than you've ever felt before. It all seems so freakishly real, from the smallest Ewok to the tallest AT-AT.

It helps massively that the environments have been splattered to saturation point in painstaking, Lucas-approved detail. Run past the bar on Mos Eisley and you'll hear the band inside working through their signature Cantina Theme; soft-trot over the wastelands of Tatooine and you'll see the Sarlacc (that giant sand-hole thing) plucking Tuscan Raiders from the air as though they were thick, black nasal hairs. Suffice to say, in Battlefront, Star Wars Stuff You'll Recognise is everywhere.

Thankfully, the maps don't just look great, they play beautifully. The most impressive thing here is the versatility - from rolling outdoor greenery-scape (prepare for a spirited bout of Gungan-slaying on Naboo) all the way round to anus-tight indoor battlefields in which the Command Points are within spitting distance of each other, Battlefront can do the lot. As with everything in-game, you'll have far more fun with the maps taken from the original three movies than you will with those from shit-arsed prequels The Phantom Menace and Attack Of The Clones. But you can blame George Lucas for that. So we do. Hourly.

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Considering this happy marriage of simple, thinky-shoot action and Star Wars mythology, it should come as no surprise that Battlefront is occasionally able to attain a Grand Theft Auto level of greatness, at which point it stops being 'just a game' and transforms into a infinitely expansive sandbox, a 16-valve anecdote generator able to pump out pub tales at an astonishing rate. "So there I was, battling four Stormtroopers in an ice-cave in Hoth, when who should I bump into but Luke Skywalker? Turns out he was flying home and decided to drop by. Anyway, he gets in a bit of trouble in combat and I end up coming to the rescue. And that's the story of how I saved the life of a Jedi, and thus the future of the galaxy. Landlord! Tizer!" No doubt about it, Battlefront is a game you'll phone people to talk about, a title with the potential to conjure up more memorable moments in one hour of play than Lucas is currently able to muster up in three years.

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