Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron for PSP
Reviewed by Jacob Spindel, January 2008
Throughout the Rebel Alliance's struggle against the Galactic Empire, a secret group of mercenaries loomed in the background of many of the major battles, providing support to the rebels. This Renegade Squadron, led by Commander Col Serra, was crucial to the rebels' victory even though they were rarely seen or even mentioned. In the latest installment in the Star Wars Battlefront series, you step into Serra's shoes on your PSP and take on the Empire in order to complete missions. Although the game is pretty short, Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron features enough fast-paced action and intense combat to raise your levels of adrenaline.
Ace of Base... in Space
Renegade Squadron is a third-person shooter featuring team combat somewhat similar to games like Quake 3 Arena or Unreal Tournament. As Commander Serra, you lead the squadron through a series of missions, which primarily involve capturing bases and outgunning Imperial forces, in addition to obtaining or destroying specific items. At bases you have captured, you can reload or change your weapons and recharge your health. The weapons selection includes traditional Star Wars blasters as well as flame throwers and other explosives, and the game’s auto-targeting system and on-screen map assist you in aiming the weapons at your enemies.
Although most of your time is spent on foot, you will also find speeders, AT-STs, and other vehicles you can take control of temporarily. If you perform exceptionally well, the game may also offer you an opportunity to become a movie character like Han Solo or Darth Vader, for a limited time. (Playing as a movie character is also the only time when you may get to wield a lightsaber.) Ultimately, each mission ends in either Victory or Defeat, based on how many survivors are left on each side, how many bases each has captured, and other specific goals that have either been achieved or failed.
Renegade Squadron’s user interface feels more like a PC game than a standard PSP game, thanks to items like the status messages appearing at the top of the screen, which inform you of the latest developments in the battle. In another “computer-like” move, the buttons of the D-Pad are used as “keys” to control the wide variety of available functions. (The analog stick is used to control your character’s movement.) Even some of the game’s status messages, such as “Changing Map” instead of just “Loading,” contribute subtly toward a feeling that you are playing more of a computer game than a traditional video game. Ultimately, these aspects of the game don’t really have any positive or negative effects at all on gameplay, but it is certainly a different style than some PSP gamers may be accustomed to.
The battles require quick reflexes and involve almost non-stop action, which makes them a lot of fun, since the game’s targeting and mapping systems are effective enough to prevent you from feeling lost. The game’s biggest problem is that it is simply too short. The main storyline features only 8 missions, although you also have an option to play from the Imperial point-of-view, and this path has 10 missions of its own. Within these missions, if Serra dies, he will respawn at a starting point, but there is no limit to the number of lives Serra can use; in fact, the only way you can really lose is for your mission to reach defeat, which, in most cases, only happens if you play extremely poorly. Sure, it’s fun to win almost all the time, but if you finish the game within the first one or two days of playing, it suddenly becomes a lot less fun.
A game of this type is well-suited for multiplayer action, and the PSP version does indeed allow up to four people to play together wirelessly. If you have other people you can play with, this is one way to enhance the game’s depth and replay value.
The game’s graphics work well, but they aren’t groundbreaking. Gameplay takes place in a 3D space that is rendered well and has the right look overall, while story scenes display a series of still drawings of the characters that correspond to the information being spoken. There aren’t many eye-popping special effects, but overall, the graphics get the job done and are consistent with the appearance of the Star Wars movies.
Both the cut scenes and actual gameplay include frequent dialog among the characters, informing you of what’s going on, and the voices are clear and understandable. Blasters, vehicles, and other items also have their traditional sound effects fully intact. Although the game does have background music, it tends to fade into the background and is barely noticeable under all the other sound effects playing in the game. Like the graphics, the audio covers you everything you need but doesn’t have many moments that stand out as being especially impressive.
Does Renegade Make The Grade?
Renegade Squadron offers exciting missions with multiple gameplay modes, as well as a variety of characters, weapons, and other rewards you can earn. The only problem is that experienced gamers will probably finish the game while they are still just beginning to learn about these rewards, making the game too short or repetitive to provide any motivation to seek out the rewards. The game is best suited to those who either do a lot of multiplayer gaming, or don’t particularly mind a short game (or just aren’t very good at gaming), but people concerned with getting the very best value for their money might prefer to move on to other games.
-Whenever possible, remember to set up the weapon configuration you need for a mission in advance, as soon as you encounter a base, since you can’t reconfigure your arms anywhere else.
-Some vehicles, like speeders, include unlimited ammunition, so it is best to use them as much as possible when they are available so you can conserve your own ammo for later.