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Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron

For: PSP

A new hope for PSP?

Product: Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron | Developer: Rebellion | Publisher: LucasArts | Format: PSP | Genre: Film/ TV tie- in, Shooter | Players: 1-16 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: US
Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron PSP, thumbnail 1
There may not be any more hope for more Star Wars films, but fans should fetch their Obi-Wan robes to dry their tears because that isn't stopping the Jedi from making another return. Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron revisits the classic era, striking back at the Empire with all-new gameplay tailored exclusively to PSP.

The game drafts you into an elite fighting force assembled by legendary space pilot Han Solo. Under his orders, the squad takes on the harrowing, near-impossible missions in an effort to disrupt the Galactic Empire. The ragtag group jets from planet to planet completing missions, starting with the evacuation of Yavin 4 (as featured in Episode IV) and ending on Endor, home of the excessively cuddly Ewoks.

There's nothing cuddly about the action-packed gameplay in Renegade Squadron, though. On the contrary, this is one of the most bombastic experiences on PSP since the destruction of Alderaan. And while you won't be committing genocide, expect plenty of Imperial blood to be shed as you run through classic Star Wars battlefields gunning down enemy forces. The maps are well-built, enemies are fairly aggressive, and combat always maintains a high level of energy. In short, it's satisfying and fun.

A large part of what makes the game so enjoyable are the wealth of weapons and personalization options at your disposal. Along with the ability to tailor your avatar's appearance, you're given access to any of nearly two dozen weapons. Blasters, rocket launchers, EMP guns, and all manner of explosives can be toyed with on the battlefield. You're encouraged to change your equipment frequently – not just between missions but during them, too, using control points.

Renegade Squadron
employs a 100-point customization system that enables you to load up your character any way you want, as long as you stay within budget. Bigger weapons and greater power-ups such as increased health cost more points, so you have to be mindful of balancing your character and not overspending. You can liquidate points at any time, which is great for trying out equipment and changing it on-the-fly if it doesn't work out. By encouraging experimentation, the customization system instills variety into the action.

Unfortunately, you won't find much of this action in the Campaign  mode because it's so short. With only a dozen missions taking about 10-15 minutes each to complete, you'll burn through the well-written story in a matter of hours.

That's no disaster because, thankfully, Renegade Squadron packs in plenty of multiplayer modes and an inventive turn-based Galactic Conquest mini-game that do much to extend its value.

Both ad-hoc and infrastructure modes are supported, carrying a maximum eight and (an impressive) 16 players respectively. Three game types are offered: conquest, capture the flag (in 1-flag, 2-flag, and hero variations), and 'space assault'. The latter two options are interesting alternatives to conquest, which undoubtedly takes the multiplayer spotlight.

Conquest (a retooled holdover from the console versions of Star Wars Battlefront) is the most straightforward of the game types, with teams vying for control points strategically stationed on the battlefield. It's also the easiest to play since it parallels many of the objectives featured in Campaign. Most of the games you find while playing online are conquest-styled, and for good reason – it's plain fun.

A decent selection of game types coupled with a huge slate of maps and customization options make Renegade Squadron a multiplayer dream come true, then. This is arguably by far the most fully featured, polished multiplayer experience yet on any handheld. The focus given to crafting such a superb multiplayer component has affected the single-player affair as evinced by its shortness, but it's a caveat that remains mostly palatable.

Also making up for the limited Campaign is Galactic Conquest mode, an intriguing side-game that combines turn-based strategy and real-time combat. The single-player mode enables you to play as either the Rebel Alliance (blue) or the Galactic Empire (red) in an attempt control a 16-planet map.

You take turns against the computer moving on the map and then entering battles on individual planets in real-time. Combat follows the format used in conquest multiplayer matches, with a win awarded for either capturing all of the planet's nodes or eliminating all enemy forces. While it isn't terribly substantial – you can finish a game in an hour or two – the melding of turn-based strategy with the game's great real-time combat makes Galactic Conquest a fresh and entertaining addition.

With all of the solid gameplay Renegade Squadron has to offer, it's rather disappointing to find is presentation lacking. The audio design isn't in question – all of the music has been pulled from the films and the voice acting is terrific. Visually, however, is where the game stumbles, lacking the panache of other PSP titles. The game misses detail in its environments and characters, many of them appearing muddy and washed out. You wouldn't call it ugly, but the game certainly possesses a utilitarian look with regards to its graphics.

Overall, though, the mediocre presentation and limited Campaign are the only shortcomings in what is overwhelmingly a compelling title due to engaging action and well-designed multiplayer modes. Not quite a must-have, true, but certainly a worthy addition to the Star Wars universe.
Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron
Reviewer photo
Tracy Erickson | 11 October 2007
Great action and excellent multiplayer modes make Renegade Squadron an enjoyable experience, even if the short single-player mode and substandard visuals keep it from reaching its full potential
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