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Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds

By Fr33Lanc3r.00711-05-2013
Bis18marck70 (editor)
Bobfish (editor)

The Defence

Ensemble Studios
Release Date:

The Prosecution

Intel Pentium 2
AMD Athlon 233 MHz
Nvidia 4 MB card
AMD equivalent
64 MB
750 MB

Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds is perhaps the best known of the Star Wars RTS games. Built on the Genesis Engine (most famous for the first two Age of Empires Games), it covered a series of six campaigns surrounding the original movies, as well as Episode 1, and ranging from the Gungan resistance against the Trade Federation, to Darth Vader exacting revenge for the destruction of the original Death Star, to Chewie and Han leading a revolt against the Imperial remnant on Kashyyyk. The expansion - Clone Campaigns - added two new campaigns built around the end of Episode 2 and the Clone Wars, which were unique in that they were tied closely together by recurring characters and plot points. The campaign missions are fun, require a good amount of thought to complete, and almost every mission has some nice little Easter eggs that contain scenes from the movies, and in one case changes the mission objectives completely.

Outside of the campaign, skirmish modes exist that allow you to create custom battles on a map type of your choosing, against friends, AI opponents, or a mix of both. The usual range of AoE II game modes are available, from classic - get resources, build troops, rinse and repeat - to deathmatch. Victory options range from ‘destroy all production buildings and troops’, to the goal of building a monument and holding it for a set period of time. There are six playable races - eight with the expansion - and each have their own abilities and benefits (Rebels farm more efficiently, Imperials have cheaper aircraft, etc), along with several unique upgrade paths, and one unique unit.

Somewhere along the line, the Rule of Two was abandoned.

Somewhere along the line, the Rule of Two was abandoned.

Other than that, and the fact that units have different basic models between most races - special mention to the Gungan ground troops, who also have a completely different attack pattern - the choice of race is fairly interchangeable. This leads to some rather odd moments, such as playing the Trade Federation or Confederacy and medics are able to heal your primarily mechanical ground troops. The reverse situation is equally bizarre, Gungan ground vehicles and heavy weapons are mostly biological (any guns are mounted on the backs of animals), yet medics cannot even partially heal those.

Most of my issues with the game, however, spring from what they have done with the Star Wars lore. I know at this point that any internal consistency between Star Wars properties has gone right out the window (I mean, Luke was originally established to be one of the strongest Jedi of all time, and literally every Jedi since has left him in the dust), but once a Star Wars geek, always a Star Wars geek. The presence of rancors on nearly every planet visited, along with the three separate sarlaccs on one Tatooine mission, makes me wonder whether the creators of this game actually cared about the material they were working with. But then again, we’re talking about a game where it is possible to take the Trade Federation’s droid army, and mercilessly kill the entirety of the Gungan Grand Army with it, so maybe nitpicking based on inconsistent lore is a little harsh...

Unfortunately, like many Genesis Engine games, the art style and graphics in Battlegrounds haven’t aged well, especially when you look at similar games from the same era (Blizzard’s work is particularly of note). Although it can be said that there was never a point where it was so cluttered that it became impossible to see what was going on, and units on the whole stood out from the background elements. The soundtrack is what you’d expect from a Star Wars game, and since it’s a John Williams musical score here, I don’t think you need to be told how good it is. The voice acting is ok, but I’m still sore about Mark Hamill not making an appearance - especially since he was pretty well established as a voice actor by this point, and since Jake Lloyd came back to record Anakin’s voice work - but the people who did record lines for the game did a good job of mimicking the actors that originally played their parts.

Sadly, the Empire's efforts on Hoth were foiled by a single death.

Sadly, the Empire's efforts on Hoth were foiled by a single death.

All up, aside from some nitpicky issues that I personally have, Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds is a great game. It still plays well, if you can get past the very dated graphics, and if you’re a fan of Star Wars you’re guaranteed to get some enjoyment out of the recreations of battles from the movies, and from searching for the many Easter eggs put in the game.

Comments (9)
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Posts: 12

Love this game. I'd never heard of it before this review, but it's basically a stand-alone Star Wars mod for Age of Empires II.

Posts: 596

Man I have such great memories of this game. As well as in Empire at War with Bismarck... but sadly with Star Wars Empire at War I have one major memory with Bismarck and it wasn't a good one... disgraceful German behaviour on those damned German students' behaviour...

Posts: 3290

Pressed between the datapads of my mind

Posts: 233


Posts: 53

HAHA love the rule of two quote.

Posts: 207

Something like that....I always get it wrong a bunch of times before it appears...

Posts: 228

thatsnomoon, right?

Posts: 207

My favorite thing to this day is deciding that I'm not going to do this legitimately and summoning the Death Star directly above my objectives.....not that I did that at all for this review....

Posts: 228

Hey, it's the Space Age of Empires! I played a lot of it when I was young and some stuff irked me even back then - basically identical units, silly looking ...sprites?(see that Rebel partyvan in the last picture? It's the rebel equivalent of AT-AT) etc. And all the campaigns end at the point where you are able to build Fortresses and, with them, Air Fortresses and upackable cannons (names may change, but every race has them), basically fuck-off airmobile or ground based AoE artillery. If your Air Death cloud couldn't do it, it could at least spot for the ground cannons.

Then again, it was pretty fun, had some interesting factions (Naboo and Wookies were unexpected - yet the latter had very cool designs)and interesting campaign. I also tried messing with the map editor - it only proved that I'll never be a game dev.