Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds: Clone Campaigns
Score: 7.0 / 10
As anyone who has been around PC gaming knows, expansion packs are hit and miss. Some are sterling examples of what not to do – take a popular game add a new feature or two, assemble a few half-hearted levels, then attempt to sell it to the gamers that bought the original. These situations can often kill interest in the original game (e.g. Star Trek Voyager’s Elite Force expansion, lamely titled “Expansion.”) But then there are expansions that get everything right – take a popular game and add plenty of new stuff that affects gameplay and spurs your desire to keep on playing. (e.g. Red Alert 2’s Yuri’s Revenge or any of the numerous Sims add-ons.) Clone Campaigns (CC) falls somewhere in the middle. (Take a minute to read our review of Galactic Battlegrounds (GB).)
There are only two campaigns for CC, but considering its inspiration is drawn from one movie instead of the four drawn from in GB, this is a good ratio. And both are freakin’ long -- at least according to me. (The plot lines are kind of interesting too.) Although my multiplayer prowess stinks (my win-loss record is atrocious), I specialized in whipping the computer AI’s sorry butt in GB. While definitely not a walk in the park, GB provided a reasonable challenge but not so much that I ever wanted to pull my hair out. But CC…
must confess, it took me – on average – more than 3 hours to
finish each level. My
record time was 6 ¼ hours (this doesn’t allow for restarts or loading
saved games). I found the
AI to be punishing (on the moderate setting).
Or am I just inept? Unable
to grasp what I’m doing? A
Well, a little of all three I suppose, but I still don’t think that had anything to do with my inability to storm through a level then onto the next. No, most times I had to resort to building a complete civilization (and some resentment) before moving on. Some might find this interesting but I found it on the boring side – having to rebuild and upgrade everything again and again. (This doesn't apply to every level.) Fortunately, the same conventions and controls have been
carried over from GB so
relearning everything isn’t necessary. (Collecting ore, nova, food,
carbon; building and upgrading various buildings; researching upgrades
and tech levels, etc.) But
there have been some additions in the obvious forms of units and
everything that shows up in Star Wars Episode II appears in CC. (Not
surprising since it takes place during Episode II.)
So expect to pit clones against drones, and vehicles ripped off
from other sci-fi sources against one another (Starship Troopers and War
of the Worlds). Overall,
the new units are balanced so you don’t have a definite edge over your
opponent – that’s up to your tactical ability, mixing units of
various types and in different formations to maximize your attack while
still being able to defend. Balancing
so many different races is a tough job but LucasArts has met the
challenge. They've actually gone back and tweaked quite a number
of elements, mostly how much units and upgrading costs, but they've also
increased the population limit and given new team bonuses.
During the multiplayer games (and skirmish modes) it’s tons of
fun to pit Clones against Stormtroopers, even when I get my head handed
to me on platter.
there have been no upgrades (aside from the new units and structures)
but you can still tell Geonosis from Eredenin.
But depending on your anal retentiveness, the lack of graphical
updates might annoy you. After
all, the Age of Empires engine, which CC uses, must be all of 18 months
old. Something that’s a
little disappointing is a lack of cutscenes.
After fighting the AI for 6 ¼ hours, even a crummy little FMV
clip would have been nice. But the intro movie is pretty good.
Audio is fine and dandy – I can find nothing to complain about, even
after so many hours of listening to it.
not confident to declare Clone Campaigns a “must have.”
At times, I actually enjoyed myself quite a bit – my army of
Jedi Masters kickin’ droid butt – and multiplayer games are a
unpredictable nature of online games against human opponents is far more
interesting than the single-player game.
However, if you’re a fan of the original game, snatch it up
because it adds lots more to Galactic Battlegrounds (including some
user-made maps) and should bring you hours of gaming. (Trust me.)
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