The Star Wars: Battlefront series has always been known for its large-scale multiplayer battles, which makes it a strange candidate for release on Nintendo's handheld. But the latest game in the series, Elite Squadron, has indeed been released on the DS. Unfortunately, the multiplayer aspects are so limited and disappointing that the focus goes to the single-player adventure. While that campaign provides an interesting tale and a heady dose of Star Wars atmosphere, the gameplay is just too bland to be worthwhile.
These droids aren't programmed to handle X2's deadly 'strafe right and hold down the B button' maneuver.
Elite Squadron tells the tale of twin brothers X1 and X2, unique among the members of the Clone Army in that they were cloned from the genetic material of a Jedi. Initially part of the efforts to crush the Separatist forces during the Clone Wars, they find themselves on opposite sides of the civil war that follows in the wake of the Empire's formation. Star Wars purists may find the premise hard to swallow, because how could Jedi clones have played major roles in both the Empire and the Alliance without being mentioned in the films? But aside from this issue, the story does a decent job of spanning the entire Star Wars saga and beyond. The way it's told on the DS leaves something to be desired, employing nothing more effective than static character portraits and printed text, but the story it tells of brothers who take very different paths is nonetheless an interesting one.
Unfortunately, the gameplay is not so interesting. You assume the role of X2, and you spend most of your time playing from a slanted overhead perspective, charging through environments on your way to accomplish objectives and stopping frequently to mow down mobs of Separatist droids or stormtroopers. The combat is generally a simple matter of pressing L to lock on to an enemy, firing at him until he's dead while moving around to avoid enemy attacks, and then locking on to the next one and repeating the process. There's not much to it, and the game has a tendency to stop you in one place and throw a few waves of enemies at you before letting you move on, and then stopping you again, which gets old pretty fast.
As you progress through the campaign, you gain access to new classes, which lends the gameplay some variety. You start as the assault class, armed with a blaster rifle, a shotgun, and thermal detonators. But at any of the command posts scattered liberally throughout each level, you can switch to any of the other classes you've unlocked. The heavy is equipped with a chaingun that cuts down enemies effectively. The engineer uses an arc caster that can stun foes and support droids that fire on enemies. And the spy has quick-firing dual pistols and cluster grenades. Ultimately, you also unlock a lightsaber, as well as Force push and lightsaber throw abilities, which you can use with any class. Switching up your equipment from time to time can fend off the doldrums a bit, but in the end, enemy forces are easily defeated regardless of which weapons you use against them, generally making your choice of class seem unimportant.
The Great Pit of Carkoon is not the safe camping spot you're looking for.