The Chosen One of Star Wars Video Games Has Finally Returned

20 years (and a couple of forgettable reboots) later, it’s finally time to gear up for battle again.

star wars battlefront classic collection: Hoth
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The orange Geonosis desert makes for a motivating training ground. Even as a Clone Trooper, clutching my Blaster Rifle and armored like a bug, I feel constantly exposed on the planet’s dry, open plains. Then again, this is Star Wars, and one soldier’s life (cloned or otherwise) barely matters against the scale of a massive intergalactic conflict. So I charge forward towards almost certain demise, and hopefully, victory.

Though plenty of Star Wars games have come and gone in the last two decades, no one could ever forget Star Wars: Battlefront I and II. They're similar to other classic shooters from the PS2 era, like Medal of Honor: Frontline, in the sense that they've mastered simplicity. The first two games relished in pitting good against evil, the scrappy Rebels against the fascist Galactic Empire (take your pick, Battlefront doesn’t judge). This resulted in two straightforward space shooters that offered several game mode options and (in the sequel) the ability to run alongside Darth Vader.

The First Battle of Geonosis like you’ve never seen it before.

star wars battlefront classic collection

The series was eventually rebooted in 2015 (with a sequel in 2017), but the newer games failed to capture the nostalgia of the originals — they worry more about plot and, upon launch, getting players to commit to microtransactions. It just didn't feel like Star Wars: Battlefront. To scratch that itch, Aspyr's new Star Wars: Battlefront Classic Collection now provides polished, definitive versions of both original games.

While recently testing out Classic Collection as a Star Wars noob, I noticed that the Battlefront series is better at imbuing players with a sense of urgency than immersing them in a galaxy far, far away. Outside of upscaling (which looks to have been accomplished better on Battlefront I, for some reason), Aspyr left the Battlefront games' sharp Y2K edges and porous textures alone. The few cutscenes interspersed in the games look ragged — the desert planet Tatooine appears as a pixel sandpit strained through a cheesecloth — but I'm guessing 2024 is too late to hope any spin-off media will hand feed me Star Wars lore. Plus, relinquishing my sense of direction helped me refocus all my energy on the games' expanded gameplay. This was more than satisfactory.

Protect the Emperor from those Rebel scum!


The Battlefront games are straightforward: they revolve around conquest, whether you're playing their approximately three-hour campaign modes (which loosely follows the plot of the various Star Wars movies) or Instant Action (which lets you customize a playlist by selecting maps, modes, and determining if you're a good or bad guy). Upon starting a campaign, you'll be confronted by a title card succinctly stating your objective — "destroy the Techno Union ships," "capture all command posts." Battlefront II, which puts more emphasis on racking up headshots than taking control of map points, tends to be more cryptic in its commands: "there can be no retreat," "crush the Separatists once and for all." In any case, you get to select what kind of specialized soldier you want to be — like a Dark Trooper with a soaring double-jump, or an Imperial Pilot flying through space — load into a map, and wipe out as much of the opposing team as possible.

But regardless if whether you're playing Capture the Flag on the forested moon of Endor or leading a Hero Assault slaughter (now possible on all ground maps, including the interior of the dangerous DeathStar space station) the controls are smooth and forgiving.

While not the main focus, spaceship combat plays a role in the Battlefront games.


It was easy to toggle back-and-forth between first and third-person perspectives by tapping the left joystick of my PC controller, and using my right joystick to precision aim the games' great original weapons — rocket launchers, insidious mines, sniper pistols, and more. And so I found myself hanging out on unfamiliar planets for hours, laser-focused on starry dogfights and repetitive, but instantly gratifying conquest maps.

About those maps. Classic Collection makes a few additions to both I and II, though none of them are foreign to the original games. For example, Battlefront now automatically includes the claustrophobic Jabba's Palace, which was previously only available as an Xbox DLC. Battlefront II likewise incorporates several vintage bonus maps, like Battlefront's Cloud City as well as the Xbox DLC heroes Asajj Ventress and Kit Fisto. In addition to single-player mode, and as was true for Battlefront's original PC and Mac ports, you can play Classic Collection with up to 64 online players. In addition, both titles offer Battlefront's original split-screen two person offline co-op.

Battlefront II added the ability to play as a Jedi or Sith.


As a newcomer, I didn't notice these differences while playing. I was, instead, motivated by Classic Collection's clarity. The compilation understands that a successful shooter doesn't need to try too hard. Its story doesn't need to be overburdened by tough questions, its graphics don't need to convince you that you've reached nirvana — it only needs to feel easy to control (more like holding a pencil than riding a bike), and have demonstrated impact. When I fire my Blaster Pistol at every soldier in the Galactic Empire, I should be able to watch their legs give out within seconds. That kind of payoff is internationally intelligible, whether you're a Star Wars fan or not. So I'm glad that Star Wars: Battlefront Classic Collection takes these first two installments to the top of their potential. Not for the health of the galaxy — who even knows what that means? — but for the sake of playing.

Star Wars: Battlefront Classic Collection is available now for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC via Steam.

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