Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron Hands-on Impressions

Yes, it’s more excitement from the recent Activate Asia 2007.

Activision went to the trouble of setting up a couple of PSPs, including those white ones you never see (well, I never see), running Star Wars: Renegade Squadron multiplayer. I had my reservations about playing Rebellion’s third-person shooter in the confines of a handheld, but I was pleasantly surprised.
Sadly, the only map I could play was Hoth, where the Rebels and Empire had to fight for capture and hold points. Tromping around with me in the barren wastes were AT-ATs and AT-STs, all big, scary and laser-y. Rebels could commandeer snow speeders – with mixed results.

I sided with the Empire, blackening what is already a rather dark evil streak in my personality, and selected a storm trooper model. I was then able to give my avatar various upgrades, including extra health and speed, and deck him out with all manner of weapons. I went with a force shield, shotgun and orbital cannon.

Yeah, that’s the stuff.

On my first play, I was a little confused about the capture and hold mechanic, and couldn’t find an ammo resupply (I later found out that points under your control serve this purpose). My orbital cannon (which was actually just a laser designator) only came with 3 or so shots, leaving me to snipe with my shotty a little too often.

Getting frags with a huge green sky beam was ace, even if I could never properly account for the firing delay.

The shield worked perfectly – I just whacked it on when I closed in, and invulnerability was mine as I cheesed my foes with buckshot.

Aiming was a little tricky. Although there was a degree of auto-aim, I found the best way to hit my target was to zoom in. Obviously this removes peripheral vision and makes manoeuvring impossible, but firing from the hip was just not killing things as fast as I’d have liked.

After coming in about the middle of the pack at the end of the match, I reassessed my weapon choices, and replaced my orbital cannon with a guided rocket launcher. That was yummy. From what I could see, it was very slow moving and went forever, making hits more frequent than misses. Reloading, as expected, was a pain.

Overall, I had fun, and was disappointed when I had to put the PSP down and step away from the table. Another map or two would have been preferable, but what can you do? Rebellion should also be commended for getting 16-player MP working on the platform, and keeping the frame rates consistently high.

Expect this gilded pony soon; LucasArts has the release date marked for September. Which is this month, amazingly.


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