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Publisher: Aspyr Media    Genre: Strategy & War
Min OS X: Any Version    CPU: G3 @ 333 MHz    RAM: 64 MB    4x CD-ROM    Graphics: 800x600 @ 256 Colors


Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds
July 1, 2002 | Michael Phillips
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I’ve always fancied myself a galactic military strategist. If I had been at the battle of Yavin, a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, the Death Star would be intact and feared by all. Grand Moff Tarkin was a fool; I know that I could have handled those pitiful rebels! However, I’ve also been certain that I’d never get to prove myself as military leader in the blackness of space. Unlike in the Star Wars universe, we as a people can barely get a single shuttle into space, let alone conduct advanced combat sorties around Earth’s orbit or initiate invasions of other planets. Yep, my advanced galactic military stratagems seemed about as useless as Britney Spears. That was, at least until recently…

Thanks to those Mac loving Stormtroopers at Aspyr Media, I’ve been able to lead TIE-Fighters, Imperial Walkers, Rebel Speeders and even Jedi Knights into fearsome combat. That’s right, my friends, Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds (SWGB) has landed on the Mac OS. Aside from sporting just about every major vehicle and character in the known Star Wars universe, Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds promises real-time strategy (RTS) gamers intense combat on a grand scale. Yet, just because something has Star Wars emblazoned on the box, does that make it a Martha “Insider Trader” Stewartesque Good Thing™? We all saw The Phantom Menace… Does SWGB add anything new to the RTS genre? Is this game worth anything to non-Star Wars fans? As Meg Ryan said in When Harry Met Sally, “Oh yes, yes, YES!” Read on, my little wannabe Imperial Generals and learn what’s inside the shuttle bay of Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds.

Gameplay: Variety is the Spice of Galactic Domination
Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds is a definite RTS delight. It features six solid single-player campaigns, six civilizations (the Trade Federation, Gungans, Royal Naboo, Galactic Empire, Rebel Alliance and Wookies), one of the most diverse collections of units I’ve EVER seen in an RTS, a comprehensive in-game help system and INSANELY fun multiplayer action. All of these elements make for a grand RTS experience.

The campaigns are quite entertaining, especially for Star Wars fans. The first campaign is a tutorial for new comers and tells the story of Chewbacca’s father. This tutorial covers everything from resource gathering to diplomacy and combat, it’s a definite must for neophytes. The other campaigns deal with events from Episode I and IV, V & VI. For example, in the Trade Federation campaign, players control the Federation’s mighty droid army during their invasion of Naboo. Each campaign is story based, complete with in-engine scripted events. For instance, one Federation mission involves taking a small group of soldiers and a technician and infiltrating a Royal Naboo outpost for the purpose of recovering stolen data files. Campaign missions aren’t simply about resource gathering, army building and enemy annihilation. My personal favorite mission is the Galactic Empire’s attack on the icy planet of Hoth. Just like in the film, The Empire Strikes Back, players take control of a group of Imperial Walkers in order to take out the rebel shield generator at Echo Base. That mission really makes one feel like they’re in the movie. At the end of each campaign, players are treated to bonus missions. One such bonus mission is the Empire’s raid on Cloud City.

Aside from the campaigns, Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds features a single-player skirmish mode. Skirmish mode is basically multiplayer action minus other human adversaries. Players may take the helm as any civilization and do battle against multiple foes in intense free for all action. In Skirmish mode, players really get to see the depth of Galactic Battlegrounds’ combat system. For instance, I was commander of a rather large battle droid army. I had infantry, tanks, grenade launchers and Sith Lords. Sadly, I forgot all about anti-air support, thus I was decimated by a large fleet of TIE-Fighters and TIE-Bombers. Thankfully, droids are a dime a dozen, I had a fresh army WITH anti-air support and a few air units of my own post haste. The computer A.I. in Skirmish mode is also rather interesting. When in the middle of a losing battle, rather than stay until slaughtered, the A.I. will retreat and regroup. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen that in an RTS.



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