Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds Review
By Contributing Writer Nate Pacyga
Simply put, a blind, one-armed monkey hanging from a ten cent balloon
could develop a better game than Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds. Lord
only knows what LucasArts was smoking when they released this game, but it
might have been the same thing they were smoking when they released such
Star Wars games as Rebellion, Masters of Teras Kasi, Force Commander, Jedi
Power Battles, The Phantom Menace, Demolition, Rebel Assault, Shadows of the
Empire, Pit Droids, and Yoda Stories...
Not only has every aspect of this game been done before, but it was done
four or five years ago. Apparently, the LucasArts development team hasn't
played a new game since 1996, because if they had, they would have learned
from the mistakes that others have made. This game is going to be a history
lesson for those of you who can't remember what real-time strategy games
were like before they were refined and tweaked to a state of near-perfection.
Did you forget how frustrating it was to move units in the old days? Or
how hard it could be at times to tell the difference between units? And
don't forget my personal favorite: Sound effects that are so atrocious, you
would rather shove a fork in your ear and listen to your own desperate
screaming than ever turn the volume back on while you're playing the game.
Some people are impressed that LucasArts incorporated just about every
unit, race, and universe in the Star Wars realm, but how hard is it to
modify an engine (in this case, the Age of Empires 2 engine) to your liking
and purpose, especially when you've got a huge staff? Don't geeks all over
the world do this all the time for free? Just think of all the well done
free mods out there for games like Half-Life and Unreal Tournament.
Even the sheer novelty of raising your own army of Wookies is shot down
by a lack of innovation and creativity. Continuing with disappointment, the
graphics, animations, and modified objects (such as laser beams) have all
been done with uninspired effort. When I first controlled a mounted Wookie
fighter, I was horrified to find that his firepower was a rudimentary gun
that shot out what I believe to be fire. What it looked like was a single-
frame animation of a generic yellow goo of some sort.
A lot of the structures and environments look decent, but they still look
like they were done back in the days of the original Age of Empires. The
graphics are so basic and primitive that you will often find yourself asking
if this game actually came out in 2001. Wait a minute, let me check... yep.
There it is, in black and white on the back of the manual: "Copyright 2001."
Dumbfounded, I tried in vain to find one aspect of the graphics that
inspired me to praise them. My conclusion came to me as I controlled the
Wookies, my favorite race from the movies. Chewy did look like a Chewy; in
the sense that he looked chewed up and somewhat like a brown blotch on my
screen waiting to be rubbed off. Curses! They botched my Wookie!
Have you ever been at a rock concert and all of a sudden during sound
checks, a loud burst of sound emits from the speaker and your ears are in
such a burning state you wish you could pluck them from your cranium? Guess
what? You get to experience this pure, unadulterated joy all over again
with Galactic Battlegrounds!
Just to give you an example of how unacceptably horrible the soundbites
are, clicking on a Mech Destroyer elicits a sound that actually resembles a
cow giving birth (I kid you not, because I grew up in Wisconsin and know
what that sounds like). I wish that was an exaggeration, but alas, itís not.
Also, why is it that when you decide on a building's placement, there is
a screeching sound that is just plain unexplainable and out of place? The
closest thing I can compare it to is a shrieking rat and that doesn't even
begin to describe it. The one redeeming quality in Galactic Battlegrounds
is the previously-compiled Star Wars soundtrack. However, since LucasArts
simply took the music from the movies, I really can't give them much kudos
other than a big "thank you" for not trying to compose music themselves.
I was going to write about the multi-player aspect of Galactic
Battlegrounds, but then I realized that if both you and a friend purchased
this blasphemous game, you would probably be in the hospital right now after
some sort of disappointment-induced seizure. The multi-player game isn't
any more entertaining than the single-player game, it's just two people
suffering instead of one.
Most important of all is the gameplay, and saying that the gameplay has
flaws is an understatement. Babysitting your units every step of the way
when you move them shouldn't be a requirement in modern gaming, but it is in
Galactic Battlegrounds. Units with simple commands often get stuck behind
something and totally re-rout their designated path, or they will get
attacked and not do a damn thing about it.
The same can be said of the enemy troops, who are almost defenseless if
you get in their pathway before they have arrived at their original
destination. Before they even realize what is happening to them, you will
have killed most of their force. I used this ingenious strategy countless
times, and the computer never caught on.
By the way, whose bright idea was it to set the unit limit at 75? That
may seem like a lot at first glance, but it's actually a very small amount
for a real-time strategy game. Worse yet, a large percentage of these 75
units will have to be workers/resource gatherers since there are four
different kinds of resources that you have to harvest.
I would also like to say thank you to LucasArts for messing up my Windows
toolbar scheme. That's right, when I was done playing this piece of trash
in Windows 2000, it changed all of my toolbars and drop boxes to an all-
black configuration, preventing me from reading or seeing anything other
than solid black. I have never seen or heard of this kind of problem before,
and this is coming from someone who has been troubleshooting computers for
I could go on further about the waste of time and money that LucasArts
put into Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds, but I think you get the point.
Do not play this game, do not buy this game, and much like the sun, try not
to look directly at this game if you value your eyesight.
Safety Note: The screen shots below were taken by a trained professional who
was wearing protective goggles and a radiation shield...
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