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Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds Clones Campaign

Developer: LucasArts | Publisher: LucasArts
Players: 1 to 8 Player Game | Release Date: 05/14/02 | Genre: RTS

So maybe the title isn't exactly true, but it almost fits. The Clones Campaign is the expansion for Galactic Battlegrounds which is a clone of Age of Empires 2--more or less (much closer to the 'more' than the 'less'). With Battlegrounds, it was easy to argue that the game could have been released as an expansion pack for AoE2, but that's an argument for another day.

First things first; this is an expansion pack, and it does require you to already own Galactic Battlegrounds. With that in mind, Clones will treat you to the things that you expect from an expansion namely: more units, more upgrades, and new features. The overall gameplay remains the same with battles taking place on land, sea, and by air. The art didn't really get any ground-breaking tweaks, but most units do look a little cleaner with the new civilizations sporting the best look out of the bunch. Adding in two new civilizations, Clones offers players the chance to play as either the Confederacy or the Republic in addition to the six previous civs. Many of the units are lifted straight from or inspired by Episode 2 to the point that you control Mace Windu or Count Dooku when playing through the new singleplayer campaigns.

Of the upgrades to existing units and structures, the giant AT-AT walkers have been given the most attention. Not only do they have the "cool factor" in their favor, but they can be upgraded to attack air units. If you played GB, then you probably know how much devastation a row of these bad boys can inflict in a short amount of time. Power cores are now more useful; they can be upgraded to shield themselves or to increase the productivity of buildings within their sphere of influence. They can also create the walking "garbage can" droids from the movies that serve as mobile energy sources.

Let's talk about new units; the game boasts 200 of them. They also receive new units that are relevant. The Alliance gets the A-Wing fighter; while the Confederacy gets controllable critters that you can plague the enemy with. The Galactic Republic has its cruisers and Jedi starfighters. All of the units are still unique to the civ in appearance, though a basic trooper is still a basic trooper no matter if he has a goofy, Jar Jar face or wearing a stormtrooper helmet. None of the units are too overpowering considering that every unit has some kind of counter unit that gets bonuses against it.

This balancing act just as in GB and the Age of Empire series makes gameplay a delicate game of chess for which you have to stay on top of your strategy. That's assuming that you like playing head-games with your opponent. The other alternative is to upgrade a couple of unit types to the max, create a horde (which can now be as many as 250 with the boosted population limit) of them and rolling over everything in your way. True, it's a strategy that doesn't always work, especially in multiplay against a skilled opponent; but it does have its blissful moments of blasters whining and lightsabers flashing across the battlefield.

What it boils down to is this: If you are a Star Wars fan and like to play RTS's (especially AoE2), you'll probably get a kick out of this. You get the opportunity to control the units that you've grown to love from the movies and blow things up. The expansion does add to the replayability in that you can go back through the original missions and use updated units to help blast your way to your objectives, plus you have the campaigns with a new secret level that can be unlocked once you complete all of them.

Polish up your lightsaber and wax your speederbike; there's a universe out there that needs conquering.

By Greg Meadors - 07/08/02
ESRB Details: Violence
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