Battlefront II sticks to a familiar formula...
While the tweaks to the single-player mode represent an improvement from the bare-bones modes included in the original Battlefront, the multiplayer aspects of the game are still the primary attraction. The game supports 24, 32, or 64 players on the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and PC platforms, respectively. While it might seem as though having twice as many players on the PC would be a huge advantage, the maps in Battlefront II don't necessarily lend themselves to having 64-player battles because of their size. In general, 24 or 32 players is enough to adequately populate the game's 24 multiplayer maps. As far as performance goes, multiplayer matches were pretty smooth across all platforms during our testing, even with server populations reaching close to the maximum on the console versions and more than 40 on the PC version. It bears mentioning, though, that if you try to operate your own server on your console using the Xbox or PS2 versions of the game, you're limited to hosting only four players. The rest of the match is filled out using AI bots. All of the servers that support the maximum number of players on the console version seem to be dedicated servers operated by the publisher. This shouldn't make too much of a difference though, as there are plenty of people online at any given time, which makes finding a match easy, no matter what platform you play on.
Those who are used to online team-based shooters on the PC, however, may not be quite as impressed with Star Wars Battlefront II. While mouse control is definitely very usable and a step up from dual-analog controllers, the overall feel of the game still seems somewhat looser and less refined than other popular shooters on the PC. In other words, Battlefront II feels like a game developed for consoles and ported over to the PC. If you're a big enough Star Wars fan or not as finicky about how your shooters feel, then this shouldn't be a problem...otherwise, you've been warned. It's also worth mentioning that the standard perspective on the PC is first person, while the default view for the console versions is third person. You can toggle back and forth on any version with the touch of a button, though.
...as well as familiar places.
What the PC does have going for it are more detailed graphics, smoother frame rates, and sharper textures than the console versions do. The Xbox is noticeably more detailed than the PS2 version of the game, but even those playing on Sony's console shouldn't have much to grouse about. The game looks great on all platforms, as do all the character models, whether you're playing as a lowly clone trooper or a mighty Jedi like Mace Windu. The console versions can get stuttery at times when there's a lot of action onscreen, but it never feels as though you're losing adequate control of your character. Battlefront II, as you'd expect from a Star Wars game, also sounds fantastic. There really can't be all that much to designing sound in a Star Wars game like this--the effects of blaster rifles, lightsabers whirling through the air, or TIE fighters screaming through space are all lifted right from the movies and used in the game. Ditto for John Williams' timeless score, which plays not only in menus, but also during gameplay to help give you inspiration.
If Battlefront II seems like it's treading over familiar ground, that's because it is. If you already played the first game, you won't be surprised to see the same maps in this one. You'll keep fighting on the icy wastes of Hoth, the steamy swamps of Dagobah, and among the buildings in the dusty town of Mos Eisley. Some incremental feature improvements, like the new single-player campaign modes, playable Jedi, and space battles have also been tossed in for good measure. While there haven't been any radical changes made since the first game, Battlefront II remains a worthwhile choice for Star Wars fans looking for a good team-based shooter.