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Star Wars Battlefront week: Colin's impressions

All this week, the writers of PS Fanboy will share their impressions of Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron. Make sure you come back every day, as we'll be giving away five limited edition Darth Vader PSP-2000 systems.

Like Andrew, when I first heard that the next Star Wars Battlefront title would be an exclusive PSP title, I was pretty surprised. While the PSP is a great system, the smaller userbase and the pure scope of Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron made focusing 100% on a handheld version a controversial decision. It seemed like an odd gamble for such a successful franchise, but at the time was considered a nice win for the PSP which had (and has) been lacking in solid original content -- especially from third parties. Fortunately, it looks like developers at Rebellion have come through in most regards, as our hands-on with the review code has proven (largely) positive.

At first blush, Renegade Squadron can be a daunting experience to jump into. There's a variety of different game modes, the customization options are vast and not really explained, and the gameplay itself has so many facets that it was almost overwhelming at first. Luckily there are training videos, as Andrew mentioned, and I'd strongly recommend checking them out -- especially if you didn't play the first Battlefront on the PSP.

When you first get into the game, the controls are a little obtuse. Eventually, I got used to them but I definitely had to run through a couple battles before I felt comfortable. It's not a horrible learning curve, but compared to Warhawk, getting used to the controls was a bit of a chore at first. Once I got a grasp of the different commands I felt a lot more comfortable and was able to run around blasting stormtroopers and flying around with a jetpack with no problems. Unfortunately, ground vehicles such as the tank suffer from pretty bad control and in cramped areas can frequently cause the death of you. As such, I tended to avoid driving the land based vehicles.

In fact, the one spot where there really weren't any control issues were when you were in space battles. While I was initially skeptical, flying around Star Destroyers and taking down waves of TIE-Fighters turned out to be one of the most fun and intuitive aspects of the game. Fast paced and refreshingly different, the space battles were the one part of the game that really made me feel like I was playing a Star Wars title. Additionally, fighting amongst the stars helped hide some of the graphical problems that Andrew pointed out -- there is no fogging in space and the ships themselves were satisfyingly detailed.

The real scene stealer in Renegade Squadron though, is the unbelievably vast customization system that builds the core of the title's gameplay. Supposedly sporting over one million different combination possibilities, you are given 100 credits to spend on different weapons, grenades, support abilities and special powers. If you like playing a tank, you can increase your health and grab a bunch of heavy weapons for defending a base -- or you can boost your speed massively and use melee weapons to come in close. It's a refreshing innovation on the standard class-based gameplay that is so common in these kinds of games. Now you aren't limited to what the developers thought a class should be -- you can make your own!

Though there are definitely some issues with Renegade Squadron (namely overly complex controls and some graphical nitpicking), the most recent iteration of the Battlefront series still manages to impress with its deep gameplay and expansive multiplayer options. Just the customization system alone warrants a serious look a the game and it will it will be interesting to see what powerful and innovative combos the gaming masses will come up with once they get their hands-on the game this month. While I wish the graphics and controls were a bit more polished, in the end Renegade Squadron is a title any die-hard Star Wars or Battlefront fan will want to check out.

Stay tuned for impressions of the game from the other PS Fanboy writers.

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