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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Star Wars Battlefront Elite Squadron PSP

I waited-- not so patiently-- for this game to finally show up on the PSN Store... it's strange how low-key the buzz has been for Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron... game sites don't want to talk about it at all. That's been the case for all the SWBF games, they don't get a lot of respect even though they get 7-8 out of 10 ratings. Despite all that, the games sell very well; there's a lot of interest in them from the public.

I think that the PS Store updates late afternoon Thursdays.... I was on there through Media Go at like 4:30PM & there was nothing, then about an hour later it was up.

I was initially underwhelmed by the demo, but I have to admit I played it a lot, and it has grown on me. The full game is basically more of the same, though oddly enough I think there's a slight bit *less* polish if that even makes any sense: specifically when you choose ALTERNATE controls the onscreen button instructions are still for the DEFAULT. Renegade Squadron knew which control scheme you were using & adjust the onscreen button instructions accordingly.... I think the Elite Squadron demo did too but I deleted it to make space so I can't be sure.

I haven't finished trying out all the game modes like Galactic Conquest, but I was struck by how the campaign mode didn't feel like a Star Wars Battlefront game; if you die the game stops & you start over at a checkpoint (luckily they're quite frequent) but that's not Battlefront at all. Battlefront is about dying, respawning & getting back in there.

The campaign feels like a mediocre shooter. The graphics & level design don't really compare to something like the Syphon Filter or Resistance PSP games. It's more clunky & slower.

But the instant action mode is very much Battlefront. It's strange because all modes use the same game assets obviously, but instant action is much faster paced & more interesting from a gameplay standpoint.

So overall, I am a bit sad to see that Elite Squadron seems rushed & not quite as solid as Renegade Squadron. But the core game concept of fighting on the ground, air & space is a really cool one. Yes, there are cutscenes between each battlefront, and it is a bit annoying to fly to/from a hanger & suddenly a cutscene pops up showing you landing or entering atmosphere rather than you actually doing it yourself. It sort of reminds me of Me & My Katamari, which would have loading to enter the second half of a level... and that was more annoying because you just basically waited. So at least the cutscenes here are kinda cool.

I updated my main PSP-2001 to firmware 6.10 & downloaded Elite Squadron to that as well as my PSPgo, and until I did, I didn't realize that on the regular PSP the game doesn't look as good as Renegade Squadron. It looks good on the PSPgo, but the bigger screen of the PSP unfortunately shows the blandness of a lot of the map details.

Another odd thing is that it seems like it's easier on the PSPgo. I've got the same difficulty settings for both games, but the regular PSP game seems a lot harder-- and not because of the controls. If anything, the regular PSP should be a bit easier because there's a cheap way to play as a jedi: use the side of your index finger to constantly hold down the UP key on the D-pad while using your thumb to move the analogue nub-- the jedi will automatically block laser fire & you can still attack. Because of the control placement on the PSPgo it's nearly impossible to hold down UP on the d-pad while using the analogue nub. Despite that I found the boss fights to be easier for some reason. So I don't know if it's just me or what.

I don't know why but I'm finding myself using the side of my index finger to press the D-pad (usually up) while my thumb is working the analogue nub while playing PSP, like for Resistance: Retribution.

The game concept is very cool & maybe just a bit too ambitious... but even though it's not perfect there's still plenty of fun to be had here. Once I get more used to where everything is I think it will be really fun.... hell, just being able to go onboard the Death Star (and fly away from it to board the enemy flaghip) is immensly cool!

The good thing about Star Wars Battlefront Elite Squadron is that there's a demo. If you don't like the demo, you probably shouldn't bother with the full game.

Today I went out & bought the DS version, even though it's a different game & more stripped down, I think it will be fun in its own way. Unfortunately I won't have a lot of time to play it, don't know why I even bought it before I went away, shoulda' just waited till I came back....


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