Strategy & War
“A long time ago in a galaxy far far away…” Whenever one sees those famous words, they can expect a grand sci-fi adventure. Little beats the thrill of watching an X-Wing screaming through the blackness of space in pursuit of an enemy TIE-Fighter or the intensity of two Jedi Masters seeking to eviscerate each other with deadly lightsabers. Who hasn’t wanted to be Emperor Palpatine for a day? What could be more exhilarating than leading the entire Imperial Fleet into battle against the pitiful Rebel Alliance, crushing entire planets on a whim? A movie with Alanis Morissette, perhaps? Of course, but in a COMPLETELY different way… Being leader of the most powerful army any galaxy has ever seen is a unique experience. I know this to be true because I’ve had the opportunity of taking Aspyr Media’s upcoming real-time strategy (RTS) offering, Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds for a test run.
Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds is a real-time strategy game developed by LucasArts that is based on the Age of Empires engine. Just like the Age of Empires series, Galactic Battlegrounds is richly detailed, engrossing, and above all, the perfect outlet for any wannabe military strategist. Read on, Jedis & Jedettes, and find out what to expect from Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds. That’s right, I said Jedettes!
21 Things I Want in a RTSIn Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds, players take control of one of six powerful civilizations vying for either control of the galaxy or simple survival. These civilizations are as follows: The Royal Naboo, Gungans, Trade Federation, Galactic Empire, Rebel Alliance and Wookiees. Like most RTSs, each civilization has their own strengths and weaknesses.
For example, the Trade Federation boasts a highly advanced army of droids, but their workers gather resources less efficiently than those of the other civilizations. The Galactic Empire is host to powerful mechanized air and ground units, such as the AT-AT. However, the Empire lacks advanced naval units such as those possessed by the eco-savvy Gungans. These are all standard checks and balances for any RTS. Yet, in many ways Battlegrounds is unlike any RTS I’ve ever played.
First, let’s just get this out of the way right now… Anything Star Wars, save Jar-Jar Binks and Ani “yippee” Skywalker is cool. Therefore, this game IS highly cool. Unit variety is absolutely astounding. There are Stormtroopers, Rebel Soldiers, Bowcaster toting Wookiees, X-Wings, TIE-Bombers, Bounty Hunters, Battle Droids, Sith Lords, Gungan Catapults; this game has just about every staple the Star Wars universe has to offer. In Age of Empires II for example, most of the units from each civilization, from archers to knights look exactly the same. That is certainly not the case when playing Galactic Battlegrounds. Each civilization has a unique look and combat style.
Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds will feature six challenging single-player campaigns, a single-player skirmish mode, and Internet-based multiplayer action. In the campaigns, players take on the role as leader of one of the civilizations during a particularly trying time in their history. The first three campaigns are mainly Episode I-based, while the last three are centered around events that take place in the more familiar episodes IV, V & VI. Ahhhh, the sight of Darth Vader with his black battle-mask is so comforting compared to little Ani “that sure is wizard” Skywalker. Will we ever find such peace again? Campaign missions aren’t simply about resource gathering, army building and enemy annihilation. For example, one Rebel Alliance mission involves guarding bridges from Imperial destruction in true Saving Private Ryan fashion. Other missions demand that the player hunt down and kill an enemy leader or steal sensitive computer files from an enemy base. I personally enjoy playing the Trade Federation’s invasion of Naboo. There’s just something satisfying about blasting wave after wave of Jar-Jar Binks’ kin. Yes, I do have serious Episode I issues, but with the help of my psychiatrist, Dr. Joyce Brothers, I hope to move past them, but I digress. As campaign missions are completed, a bit more of the civilization’s story unfolds. I really like the Galactic Empire’s campaign, it’s narrated by a woman whom I THINK is Mara Jade. Just don’t quote me on that yet, as of writing this preview I’m not quite done with the last few missions. Furthermore, the campaigns may be completed in any order, giving players the freedom to conquer at will.