Star Wars Battlefront II
Developed by Pandemic Studios
Available for PC, Xbox, PlayStation 2, and PlayStation Portable
You've got to hand it to George Lucas: If nothing else, the guy knows his shit when it comes to marketing. Witness his multi-kazillion dollar empire, and his latest entry in the Star Wars videogame mega-franchise—Pandemic Studios' Star Wars Battlefront II.
At first glance, the handheld version of the game, for Sony's PlayStation Portable (PSP), is plagued with problems absent in its superior PC, Xbox, and PlayStation 2 brethren: The PSP's version has crummier graphics, excruciatingly awkward controls, no single-player campaign mode, and a lack of online play. But while the console and PC versions are undoubtedly more robust, the PSP's, rather ironically, feels the most effective.
Despite the game's sprawling levels and options (fight as a Jedi, a stormtrooper, in a spaceship... ), Battlefront—online or off—inevitably comes down to panicky, pixilated chaos. Overwhelmed by foes, you'll start spinning and firing wildly, you'll blindly toss grenades, you'll hop in an X-wing just to fight from a distance. As a prolonged console experience, Battlefront can be pretty draining—as a quick 'n' dirty PSP game, though, it's pretty much a big, nonsensical, clumsy blast.
Perhaps the most fun of the gameplay modes is "Instant Action," which lets you pick your fighters, select your battlefield, and then go and fight. Play as Rebels vs. stormtroopers, or clones vs. droids, or as The Empire Strikes Back's abominable snowman-like Wampas, who face off on Hoth against Wookiees. (Wampas kick Wookiees' asses, by the way.) But despite all the options, the simplest option again proves the most fun: Pandemic caters to embittered Star Wars fans by letting them show up on Episode I's Naboo and do nothing but assassinate Jar Jars, or visit Endor for the express purpose of exterminating Ewoks. In those moments, the PSP's Battlefront might not be the grand battlefield simulation Pandemic was going for—but it feels pretty damn close to euphoria to me.