We may never see the full-blown glory of what was to be Star Wars: Battlefront III coming to a console, but at least the portable versions of the franchise lives on.
What Is It?
Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron will have players take on the role of clone trooper X2 who switches sides to join the Rebellion and fight his brother X1. More importantly, this Playstation Portable third-person shooter will let you battle on the ground, in the air and in space.
What We Saw
I played around in a skirmish for ten minutes or so trying ground combat, air combat and space combat.
How Far Along Is It?
The game is set to hit the Playstation Portable this fall and was about 90 percent complete when I played it.
What Needs Improvement?
Ground combat: A key issue with the game are its still-sloppy controls. Playing a third-person shooter, even with a lock-on option, on a portable is almost always a task. Rebellion should spend a bulk of their remaining time developing the game working on the precision of the game's controls.
Transitions: I'm sure this is a limitation of the platform, but it would be nice if Elite Squadron has seamless transitions instead of the little cut-scene it forces you to watch every time.
What Should Stay The Same?
Air and Space Combat: While the ground controls for the game can be annoying, I found that air and space combat was a bit easier to deal with. Maybe the fluid motion of the starcraft or the fact that you expect the controls to feel a bit different when you're in a vehicle, helped.
Ground to Space: Even with those mini cut-scenes, being able to run around on the ground shooting it out with bad guys, and then jump in a ship and strafe and finally fly up into space and take on Capital ships is pretty spectacular. It gives the game a sense of scale rarely found in a portable.
Deep Interactions: Not only can you transition between the game's three levels, what you do in one place can have a deep impact in the other. You can, for instance, shoot at Capital ships with Ion cannons from the ground and then go into space to finish off the job. You can also land in a ship and do combat inside the halls of what you were once flying around. It's pretty cool.
Multiplayer: While there's a single player campaign in Elite Squadron, this game is really about multiplayer and comes packed with modes including the routine, like Deathmatch, and the unique, like Heroes vs. Villains. Tons of replayability here.
Pre-Set Load Outs: Because mulitplayer combat is so quick it's important to be able to customize your charcter's load out without having to mess around too much. This time around the game includes a number of pre-set load outs that you can quickly swap between while waiting to respawn.
I'm a big fan of the Battlefront series of games. It's one of the shooters I enjoy playing on the Playstation Portable and this new ability to move from ground to space is a huge plus for the franchise. I feel fairly confident that the developers have the time and ability to tweak the controls enough between now and release to make it a title worth picking up.