Star Wars Empire at War Mod Review – Thrawn's Revenge

Welcome to this Star Wars Empire at War mod review, this post will cover the Thrawn’s Revenge mod for Star Wars Empire of War: Forces of Corruption, created by Corey Loses. To say that this mod is an overhaul of Star Wars: Empire at War is an understatement. This mod is nothing short than a complete re-imagining of the core mechanics of the game that not only expands on the original idea but improves it in almost every conceivable way.

To break down exactly why Thrawn’s Revenge (also known as Imperial Civil War) is such a fantastic mod, we need to explore some key elements to this project that make it worthy of a mod review here on Sacred Icon.

The Galaxy Far, Far Away

One of Empire at War’s biggest drawbacks was the underwhelming nature of the Galaxy map. Considering the fact that Empire at War is a layered game with both space and ground combat battles coordinated by a greater map screen that depicts the Star Wars galaxy, the layout was uninspired and cramped. Thrawn’s Revenge completely overhauls this by accurately recreating the Star Wars Galaxy from various Legends sources, and the mod adds hundreds of new planets, asteroid fields and other systems that can be fought over in the game. To account for this huge Galaxy, there are also multiple new factions in the game.

Control New Factions

If the mod’s two titles ‘Thrawn’s Revenge’ and ‘Imperial Civil War’ don’t give it away, this mod is set during the post-Endor era in the Star Wars Legends continuity, meaning that Emperor Palpatine is dead (for now) and the Empire has splintered into multiple warring factions. In total, the number of factions in this game varies dramatically depending on what mode you play, and there are lots of new non-playable factions that populate the updated, larger Galaxy. Playable factions include the standard Empire, the New Republic (formerly the Rebel Alliance), the Pentastar Alignment, the Greater Maldrood, Zsinj’s Empire, the Corporate Sector Authority, the Eriadu Authority and the Empire of the Hand. Needless to say, that’s a lot of Imperial splinter factions, and each one is represented by its own colour and distinctive sector of space.

However, there is a lot more distinguishing these factions than just their colour. Each former Imperial faction has its own set of specific ships and units, and with that come specific strengths and weaknesses. The Greater Maldrood, for example, lacks a large starting territory but specializes in heavy-hitting capital ships with lots of firepower. Conversely, Zsinj’s Empire starts off with a fairly large territory – as well as a Super Star Destroyer – but must rely on inferior frigates, even ex-Rebel ships, to maintain its dwindling fleet. This highlights one of the greatest strengths of the Thrawn’s Revenge mod, and that is that it encourages players to use the various tactics and strategies of their chosen faction in order to succeed. The New Republic relies on starfighters and hit-and-run tactics at first as it lacks sufficient capital ships, whilst the Imperial Remnant must cede territory and fortify a specific area otherwise it will be carved up by the greedy warlord factions.

Whichever faction you play as, you will have unique units and heroes to try out, and each faction has a different difficulty rating as some control vast swathes of space whilst others are tiny juntas holding out against the New Republic and Imperial Remnant. The huge swathe of new units and heroes added to the game make each and every faction feel unique and learning the best way to play each one is an interesting process that can make for hours of fun. Specific highlights include the Quasar Fire carrier for the New Republic, an early and somewhat costly frigate that comes loaded with starfighters, the Boarding Shuttle, which lets opportunistic New Republic players capture Star Destroyers. Add to that the huge range of new types of Star Destroyer available in this game and there is a diverse array of fleets to see here, and this is barely the tip of the iceberg.

Build the New Republic

With Palpatine dead, the Rebel Alliance has formed the New Republic and entrenched themselves in various systems across the Galaxy. One of the best things about the Thrawn’s Revenge mod is the era progression, which allows you to start out as the New Republic in its early years and claw your way to power with just a handful of systems, or start out in later eras in which the New Republic is already an established power.

If you do choose to play as the New Republic in a later era, you will see a rare example of post-Return of the Jedi Star Wars Legends content rendered in painstaking detail with high-quality custom models, including the elusive E-Wing – the replacement for the X-Wing, the Nebula-class Star Destroyer of the New Republic, and the MC80B and MC90 Mon Calamari Star Cruisers. There are also a huge array of old Clone Wars ships up for grabs in this game, as several factions rely on older warships from old Republic Venator-class Star Destroyer to former Separatist Munificent-class frigates to prop up their navies. All of these models look fantastic, and the mod itself can run surprisingly well on lower-end computers despite the extensive graphical upgrades.

Hold Out as the Imperial Remnant

Palpatine may be dead, but the Empire lives on. In Thrawn’s Revenge, you can turn the tide against the New Republic by playing as the Empire and attempt to wrestle control back from the fledgling government whilst also quelling multiple treasonous Imperial splinter factions. Like the New Republic, the Empire is capable of era-progression, and as you play through a game the era will advance when a particular goal has been achieved or enough time has elapsed. This means that the Empire can progress from old Star Destroyers to brand new ships, and over time your fleet will evolve and adapt to combat the New Republic tactics.

You can also control the infamous Grand Admiral Thrawn himself, who will aid both the Empire and the Empire of the Hand depending on the era and gamemode. Thrawn is one of the many unique Imperial heroes included in the mod, including some who have their own powerful ships and abilities. A great mechanic to take advantage of when playing as the Empire is that as you progress through the eras your cast of heroes is radically shaken up, so you can afford to expend minor heroes early on as they are gradually replaced as time goes by. Even the great strategist Thrawn himself, is not immune to this mechanic, though rumors of his death in the early-game are greatly exaggerated…

Conquer the Galaxy

One of the best things about the Thrawn’s Revenge mod is its flexibility – there are so many playable factions that you can play out your own alternate version of the events post-Return of the Jedi, and depending on who you play as there can be some interesting results. You can control on Imperial faction that would usually occupy a tiny corner of the Galaxy and make a push for the Core. Alternatively, you can play as a difficult faction like the Greater Maldrood and subvert key trade routes to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and secure a foothold.

New mechanics added to the game allow for some interesting influence over the Galaxy, from the Galactic elections that, depending on the victor, can influence what ships you can build, or the newly-added boarding shuttle system, which allows the New Republic to capture capital ships of various kinds and build a ragtag fleet of stolen ships to combat enemy invasions. Hours of fun doesn’t quite cut it with this mod for Empire at War – you can sink days into week-long campaigns and find that you have hardly even started.

Download Thrawn’s Revenge

If you’re a fan of Empire at War or even just a fan of Star Wars in general, it is essential that you give the Thrawn’s Revenge mod a go. You can download it now for free from Steam, all you need is a copy of Star Wars Empire at War: Gold Pack (which includes the Forces of Corruption DLC) and a Steam account.

Star Wars Legends – Top 5 Star Destroyers

Although the most common large capital ship used by the Empire in the original Star Wars films is either the Imperial I-class Star Destroyer or the Imperial II-class Star Destroyer, both sharing the distinctive triangular-wedge design that has become synonymous with the term ‘Star Destroyer’ for many fans of the series, there are in fact many other capital ships, both Imperial and non-Imperial, that share the classification of ‘Star Destroyer’. This blog post will explore some other variations of Star Destroyer, and to make things interesting that means that this list will not feature either of the previously mentioned Star Destroyers in the Imperial-class line. We will also not be featuring any Super Star Destroyers either. To begin, we will discuss what is arguably the second most well-known Star Destroyer to fans:

#5 – The Venator-class Star Destroyer

This ship is an iconic Republic carrier from the Clone Wars era, and despite being forced into the role of a battleship despite its specialisation for fighter-carrying, this class of ship proved its worth during the Republic’s conflict with the CIS. As seen primarily in the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, fleets of Venator-class Star Destroyers were able to defeat CIS fleets that vastly outnumbered them, due largely in part to their Jedi commanders but also due to the robustness of the ship class itself. Even when critically damaged, Venator-class Star Destroyers were still capable of performing incredibly well, and considering each individual ship is capable of carrying dozens of fighters and transports, even one Venator has the potential to do serious damage to a fleet.

#4 – The Interdictor-class cruiser

The inclusion of this warship is somewhat of a stretch – this ship is most likely a distant technological ancestor of the Star Destroyer, though the ship is not named as such. Nonetheless, from both a practical and a narrative perspective, the ship fulfils the role of a Star Destroyer – the Interdictor-class cruiser is capable of carrying fighters, troops and other equipment, and apparently possesses firepower great enough to level entire ecumenopolises. This ship was in operation thousands of years before the events of the movies, in roughly 3956 BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin) during the events of the Knights of the Old Republic series. These ships, although ancient compared to the other ships on this list, were extremely effective warships in their day, and featured a gravity well projector that prevents enemy vessels from jumping into hyperspace.

#3 – The Pellaeon-class Star Destroyer

From one extreme of the Star Wars timeline to the other, this Star Destroyer is featured in the Legacy era comics, set well after 120 ABY. Though this ship is arguably the most powerful on this list, it is included lower down as it is technically a Super Star Destroyer of its era, as capital ships later in the Star Wars timeline tend to get smaller. However, despite being smaller than the standard Imperial Star Destroyers, it possesses far more firepower. The Pellaeon-class Star Destroyer also makes use of its vertical incline, with guns placed in optimal firing positions on the front of the ship so that they can direct fire at all sides. According to Star Wars lore, this ship possesses a huge number of weapons – 50 heavy turbolasers, 40 ion cannons and 50 proton torpedo launchers, among other things – it is also capable of creating an interdiction field. This ship can also function as a carrier, and due to the more modernised starfighters in the Legacy era, the Pellaeon-class possess far more capable starfighters than the standard Imperial Star Destroyers seen in the movies.

#2 – The Secutor-class Star Destroyer

This ship serves as somewhat of a hybrid between the Venator-class and Imperial-class Star Destroyers at first glance, although its design history is more vague – it was apparently designed towards the end of the Republic era to either succeed or become a complementary starship to the Venator, although the Imperial takeover meant that the doctrine of the now-Imperial navy switched to more firepower-focused capital ships and less carriers, meaning the Secutor-class was pushed to the sidelines. However, it is known that at least some were made, and were possibly used as late as Emperor Palpatine’s return to power in 10 ABY. This ship has the carrying capacity for multiple squadrons of starfighters, in keeping with its role as a carrier like the Venator, but it also possesses significant armament of its own

Honourable Mention – The Allegiance-class battlecruiser

Although it is large enough that it could be argued that it is in fact a design of Super Star Destroyer, the Allegiance-class battlecruiser has an honourable mention on this list because it is a powerhouse. Although completely doing away with the idea of a hangar altogether, and therefore relying on support ships to be fully adaptable in combat, the Allegiance-class responds to any threat it faces with a ridiculous amount of firepower. It features a whopping 12 octuple turbolaser batteries, 3 axial gun-batteries and 6 trench gun-batteries, meaning it not only has a huge array of armament but it also has certain weapons positioned for different situations – the axial guns, for example, serve as effective broadside weapons. Although the lack of a hangar is a critical downside to this ship, the sheer amount of turbolaser fire it can dish out almost makes up for it.

#1 – The Nebula-class Star Destroyer

This ship hails from the era of the New Republic, and it essentially corrects the majority of the issues plagued by the traditional Imperial Star Destroyer. Despite their status as an Imperial ship, the New Republic made extensive use of captured Imperial Star Destroyers in their fight against the various Imperial splinter factions, but eventually a replacement ship had to be created. The Nebula-class Star Destroyer removes the exposed bridge that was a critical weakness of previous Star Destroyer designs, and due to its heavily modernised weapons, armour and technology, the ship is smaller than an Imperial Star Destroyer and yet far more powerful. Capable of carrying several New Republic starfighters into battle, the Nebula-class Star Destroyer is supported somewhat by its counterpart ship in the New Republic fleet, the Endurance-class fleet carrier, which was capable of carrying more starfighters yet also featured several of the downsides present in previous Star Destroyer models, such as the exposed bridge. As such, the Nebula-class Star Destroyer is undoubtedly the best Star Destroyer in the New Republic fleet and was one of the best types of Star Destroyer ever created.

Life, Death and the Force – The Cyclical Universe of Star Wars

“It’s like poetry, sort of, they rhyme. Every stanza kinda rhymes with the last one. Hopefully it’ll work.”

Since George Lucas first uttered that infamous phrase in the behind-the-scenes documentary of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, it has been met by a keen combination of derision and fascination from Star Wars fans. Some see this is prove of Lucas’ lazy writing, whilst others see it as the purest presentation of the creator’s intent for the universe he created.

The moment the infamous quote was uttered

The narrative of Star Wars has included elements of repetition and mirror-images since its inception, so if we dig a little deeper into what George meant by this, however, we might discover a new way to interpret how the Star Wars story is told, or at the very least learn a little more about how George wanted Star Wars to be remembered in the future.

Let’s start at the beginning – sort of. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope is not where the Star Wars story starts, but it is where the story started for many fans of the series, as it was the first film to be released. Already this tells us a lot about how George wanted Star Wars to be consumed as a medium, as he apparently had the basics of the entire saga planned from the beginning and yet chose to start with what would later become ‘Episode 4’ because he believed it was the most interesting part of the story.

Bear in mind that this has to be taken with a pinch of salt, as George has also claimed at various points over the years that ‘The Star Wars’ was originally going to be 12-parts long, or that he deliberately skipped making Episodes I-III in the 1970s because the technology to actualize them hadn’t been invented yet. Nonetheless, if we take George’s word for it, the saga was planned out to some degree before Episode IV even started production, and despite the fact that Episodes IV-VI are regarded by many as the perfect trilogy to rival The Lord of the Rings, it seems it was always George’s intention to have these three films be the middle trilogy of a much larger saga.

Things start to get interesting when you start to consider the manner in which George Lucas went about created the prequel trilogy. Either by long-planned design or spur-of-the-moment inspiration, George chose to deliberately echo the events of the original films in the prequels, to the extent that the parallels are so overt that they barely classify as subtext. The infamous ‘poetry’ quote from the start of this article was first uttered in reference to the fact that Anakin blowing up the Trade Federation ship at the end of Episode I is strikingly similar to Luke blowing up the Death Star at the end of Episode IV, but this similarity isn’t the result of lazy writing on Lucas’ part, it was intentional – apparently.

Upon realising this, one can find these sorts of similarities everywhere in Star Wars, most notably the Luke vs Vader fight in Episode V mirroring the Anakin vs Obi-Wan fight in Episode III. Delving into the Expanded Universe gives fans even more poetry to rhyme with, as we discover that the ‘New Republic’ established at the end of Episode VI only lasts for about a quarter of a decade before the Galaxy descends into chaos again. Even when Disney bought the franchise and rendered the entire Expanded Universe non-canon, they stuck with the basic story of a Skywalker child turning evil and bringing back the Empire.

The question is – why? Surely this cyclical narrative structure devalues everything that made the original trilogy so good? Surely watching Return of the Jedi will now leave a sour taste in your mouth as you know that within thirty years the entire galaxy is at war again?

Well… not really. The ending of Return of the Jedi has lost none of its impact, in the same way that the heavy-hitting ending of Revenge of the Sith is in no way impacted by the fact that the next film is called ‘A New Hope’. The reason for this is that we are already used to cyclical storytelling as humans, because that’s basically the narrative structure of our own history. One of the beautiful things about Star Wars is that it tells two important stories – the huge, diverse galactic conflict spanning dozens of planets, and the smaller introspective story of a small family and how the choices of individuals impact the wider universe.

And whilst this is as much due to a happy accident and the incredible work of thousands of talented people as it is to the scrawlings of an idealistic filmmaker in the 1970s, the end result is the same. Star Wars is a series that reflects one of the fundamental truths of life, in that whilst there are happy endings to stories, there is rarely such things as a ‘happily ever after’.

Revan, a powerful ancient Sith Lord

This is made especially clear when one delves even further into the now non-canon Expanded Universe. Did you know that 4000 years before the events of A New Hope, there was another Old Republic that had previously stood for a thousand generations, that was betrayed by a fallen Jedi, and was then transformed into an Empire only to be reformed back into a Republic by a band of Rebels? Did you also know that 120 years after A New Hope, another Sith Empire rises and has to be battled by Luke’s great-grandchildren? This is perhaps the clearest illustration of Lucas’ vision – the idea that heroes and villains rise and fall, dark and light are locked in eternal struggle, and the entire Galaxy is a stage to the cyclical ouroboros of the Force itself.

So what does this tell us about Star Wars as a whole? Have fans been barking up the wrong tree by complaining about its cyclical story structure? Is Star Wars actually a subtley veiled allegory to the vicious cycle of boom and bust in the capitalist economic system, or perhaps an illustration of the futility of warfare on a global scale? The real answer is… maybe. It is difficult to tell whether that is the intention of the filmmakers or simply coincidence that the story structure of Star Wars ended up this way, but it makes for interestng analysis. One thing that is certain is that, like all good science fiction stories, Star Wars is a parable. Deciphering its meaning is a whole different behemoth, as it can be interpreted in so many different ways – perhaps that is part of the reason why the franchise endures to this day, as its constant reinvention and enigmatic morality keep it fresh for each new generation that experiences it.

Read More

Star Wars – Top 10 Jedi Council Members (Clone Wars Era)

In the waning days of the Galactic Republic, some extremely powerful Jedi took seats on the Jedi Council, particularly as the war began to take its toll on the Jedi Order. At the height of its power, the Jedi Council counted several of the most powerful force users to ever live among their number,  and even Darth Sidious himself would think twice about taking on the entire Council at once – hence the need for Order 66. However, there was also a distinct power hierarchy among the Council, and several members had specific duties that gave them particular importance among the Jedi. As such, this list will rank the Top 10 Jedi Council Members from the Clone Wars era.

10 – Anakin Skywalker

anakin.jpgAlthough possibly the most powerful Force user to sit on the Council, Anakin’s low rank on this list is due to how little time he actually served on the Council, and justified by the fact that he would inevitably betray them and play a key role in the destruction of the Jedi Order. However, Anakin’s raw power does make him a formidable Council Member in his own right, and although he was not granted the rank of Master, chances are had he not betrayed the Jedi he would have gone on to be one of the Council’s most powerful leading members.

9 – Yarael Poof

yaraelA prominent member of the Council before the Clone Wars, Yarael sacrificed his life to save Coruscant from a dangerous terrorist group just before the conflict started, but was still considered among the Council’s greatest members even afterwards. A master of the Affect Mind ability, Poof was known to occasionally use the force in ways that other Jedi would frown upon – such as influencing the minds of bullies to make them flee in terror from their harmless victims – but was overall a great addition to the Council and a far better choice than his successor, Coleman Trebor.

8 – Saesee Tiin

tiin.jpgA powerful Jedi who would often assist Mace Windu throughout the Clone Wars, Saesee Tiin was a renowned pilot who played a pivotal role in the Space Battle above Coruscant, during which he captured a Separatist capital ship with help from a battalion of EVA troopers. However, Saesee’s downfall came at the hands of Darth Sidious, and he became one of the first victims of the Great Jedi Purge when he was struck down by the Sith Lord during their duel.

7 – Kit Fisto

fisto.jpegAppointed to the Jedi Council during the Clone Wars, Kit Fisto was a renowned duellist and his amphibious nature made him an ideal choice for defending water-based worlds such as Mon Calamari. Often deployed on dangerous missions, Fisto was one of the few Jedi to survive and encounter with General Grievous, and his lightsaber was fitted with a second crystal to refine the blade to allow it to work underwater, making him one of the key Jedi in the Clone Wars. Like Saesee Tiin, Fisto would meet his death at the hands of Darth Sidious, but of the three Jedi Masters Mace Windu brought with him to fight Sidious, Fisto survived the longest in the duel, proving his skill in combat.

6 – Plo Koon

plo.jpgA Kel Dor from Dorin, Plo Koon was known to be among the most compassionate of the Jedi in the Order, and was responsible for the induction of Ashoka Tano into the ranks of the Jedi as well as saving the lives of many Clones during the War, believing them to be people with rights rather than expendable infantry. His key achievements during the Clone Wars include the discovery of the Separatist flagship the Malevolence and the retrieval of the long-lost Council Members Sifo-Dyas’ lightsaber.

5 – Ki-Adi Mundi

ki-adi.png

A famous Cerean who was among the few Jedi allowed to take wives due to the rarity of his species, Ki-Adi Mundi was certainly one of the most powerful force users of the era and was a skilled duellist, able to hold his own against the most effective Jedi Hunter of the era, General Grievous. Although he supported the Cerean policy of isolationism, Mundi himself was happy to play a key role in Galactic affairs, provided that his people be left alone, and he would tragically die at the hands of his own Clone Troopers following the execution of Order 66.

4 – Shaak Ti

shaak-ti.jpegAmong the few Jedi to survive Order 66, Shaak Ti often played a defensive role during the Clone Wars, assigned to protect the vital cloning facilities on Kamino and then later reassigned to protect the Jedi Temple in the waning days of the war. Surviving several encounters with General Grievous as well as being among the few survivors of the catastrophic Battle of Hypori, Shaak Ti was clearly among the most powerful of the Jedi, and her activities on Felucia following the Rise of the Empire were pervasive enough to mobilise the force-sensitive natives of the planet against the Sith.

3 – Mace Windu

mace-windu_b35242e5.jpegServing as Grand Master of the Order for a time, Mace Windu was considered the most powerful Jedi by many, and used his unique lightsaber style as well as rare abilities that he could channel from the dark side to further the aims of the Light. Although Windu was certainly unique among the Jedi, he made no secret of this, even fashioning a purple lightsaber to distinguish himself from his comrades. Despite utilising several dark side abilities, Windu was seemingly immune to temptation, although his instinctive mistrust of Anakin would eventually lead to the Jedi’s undoing.

2 – Obi-Wan Kenobi

obi.jpgFamous for being the Master of not only Anakin but also Luke Skywalker, and a former pupil of Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan was an ideal choice to sit on the Council following the onset of the Clone Wars as his skills as a diplomat were legendary, leading him to be given the nickname ‘the Negotiator’, a name he would later bestow upon his flagship in the War. During the Clone Wars, Kenobi proved a key asset to the Council and participated in many battles on planets as important as Geonosis, Naboo, Coruscant and Kamino, as well as being the only Jedi who was able to defeat his former pupil, Anakin Skywalker. One of the few Jedi to survive the Purge, Obi-Wan played a key role in inducting Luke Skywalker into the frail remains of the Jedi Order, thus ensuring that the Empire would one day be defeated.

1 – Yoda

yodaThe last of the Jedi Council to perish following the collapse of the Order, Yoda was among the Jedi’s oldest members and served as Grand Master of the Order for years before the Clone Wars. Wise and powerful, Yoda was skilled in almost every aspect of the Force, from meditation and premonition to lightsaber skills. He duelled many of the most powerful Sith during the Clone Wars, including Count Dooku, Asajj Ventress and even Darth Sidious himself, and was a key strategist during the conflict. Showing a particular interest in protecting the native wildlife of worlds caught up in the war, Yoda used his friendship with native peoples like the Wookiees to ensure that the limited numbers of Clones assigned to defend Kashyyyk were reinforced against Separatist attacks. Following the war, Yoda went into exile on Dagobah and continued the training of Luke Skywalker after the death of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Once he had passed on all the knowledge and training that he could to Luke, Yoda promptly died, becoming one with the force and, as the Jedi Council’s last surviving Member, effectively ending the institution. However, Yoda’s teachings proved instrumental in allowing Luke to turn Anakin Skywalker back to the light, destroy the Sith and save the Jedi.

Read More

 

Star Wars – Battlefront II Conversion Pack v2.3 Review

Following up on last week’s article comparing EA’s Battlefront II with the original Star Wars: Battlefront II from 2005, this review will cover something slightly different but still related to the original Battlefront II. One of the major selling points for the original Battlefront II is the mods, and one that many consider essential is the Battlefront II Conversion Pack v2.3, a mod that adds dozens of new features to the game including new maps, new units, new heroes, new weapons and new vehicles. What makes this mod important is that it also adds many of the maps and features of the original Star Wars: Battlefront to the game,including the beloved Bespin: Platforms.

convbf1.jpg

What’s Old

Many of the original Battlefront’s maps were fans favourites, including Geonosis: Spire, Kashyyyk: Docks and Rhen Vhar: Harbor, and the look and feel of the original Battlefront is replicated in this mod through the use of the ‘Classic Conquest’ mode, which aims to faithfully re-create the original Battlefront, even down to removing the sprint feature. Lots of the old maps are also playable in normal Conquest mode with the new units and vehicles, but the mod also ensures to retain the original Star Wars: Battlefront II as well – playing on Conquest mode on the original maps from the game gives you the classic Battlefront II experience with no significant additions – and many of the original maps have added modes that include the new units and vehicles.

convkotor.jpg

What’s Even Older

kotor.pngProbably one of this mod’s biggest selling points is the addition of a whole new era – the KOTOR era, set four thousand years before the events of A New Hope, based on the legendary Knights of the Old Republic games. This era is included on almost every map, and even sports its own Space map, and features many units from the KOTOR era including Dark Jedi Acolytes, T3-Units, Sith Heavy Troopers and the surprisingly effective Jedi Gunman. One slight drawback with this era is the total exclusion of all vehicles on ground maps, something that makes maps like Bespin: Platforms and Hoth somewhat redundant. However, the Heroes in this mode are varied and exciting, and there is even a Hero Assault option enabled on most viable maps for the KOTOR era, meaning you can pit all the KOTOR Heroes against each other in a similar fashion to Hero Assault with Galactic Civil War. Speaking of which…

convcom.jpg

What’s New

Torrent.jpgThis mod adds a huge range of content to both the Clone Wars and Galactic Civil War eras including new units, new classes, new vehicles, new weapons, new Heroes, new modes and overall a generally improved gameplay experience compared to the standard game. Every new map now features several new classes, and as points are earned the player is ‘promoted’ until eventually unlocking the Commander class, which is a boon-focused unit with a powerful blaster and an orbital strike droid. Before that, however, the player unlocks a Commando class, and for the Clone Wars era the Clone Commando is used for the Republic faction from the game Star Wars: Republic Commando, which is a fantastic detail in itself, but the Commando class itself is perhaps the best part of the game – it completed changes the gameplay, as you get stronger and more versatile weapons to the point that it feels like you’re playing as a Hero.

convgc

What’s Even Newer

The fun doesn’t stop there, however, as there has been a patch and even a content update for this mod – the latter of which adds the ability to play Galactic Conquest in the KOTOR era, even adding the KOTOR era ships and fully integrated with the standard Galactic Conquest system of unit and bonus purchases coupled with the strategic fleet movement.
This mod also features countless other brand new features that add even more to an already bountiful mod. Hunt mode is now expanded to feature the KOTOR era and more maps, including Felucia, Polis Massa, the Death Star and even the maps from the original Battlefront. A new Order 66 mode pits Jedi against Clones on a variety of maps, and there is even a mode that pits random creature Jedi against various bounty hunters, and playing as a Jawa Jedi is hilarious.

drallig.pngNot only that, but there are several new versions of classic modes that are spread across the various maps. Trying out different combinations of modes and eras can lead to some unexpected and sometimes hilarious results, such as pitting KOTOR-era Sith against Ewoks, Mandalorians against Sith Assassins on Kamino, Clones against Acklay on Felucia or even Jedi vs Sith in the Death Star.

The best thing about the Conversion Pack mod is how much it makes the 2005 Star Wars: Battlefront II feel like a totally new game, whilst at the same time preserving everything that fans loved about the original. Not only that, but it also incorporates elements from some of the most popular Star Wars games out there, from adding the maps of the 2003 Battlefront, to the addition of the KOTOR era, to even something as simple as adding in the Commando class, clearly this mod was created by true Star Wars fans who understand what players want from a Star Wars Battlefront game.

EA should be taking notes.

Read More

 

 

Star Wars: Clone Wars – Making the Best of the Worst of Star Wars

“Like fire across the Galaxy, the Clone Wars spread…”

In the wake of the announcement that Star Wars: The Clone Wars will be getting another season before the decade is out, it seems only fitting to look back at the progenitor of all ‘Clone Wars’ TV media – the original Star Wars: Clone Wars show which aired on Cartoon Network in 2003 and was directed, produced and co-written by Genndy Tartakovsky. This series is well-known among the fanbase for famously bridging the gap between Episodes II and III before Episode III itself had even been released. It’s distinctive style and impressive scope makes this series a must-watch for any Star Wars fan, particularly those interested in the prequel era.

clone-wars-battles.jpg

The Battles

Firstly and most obviously, this series is renowned for its depiction of some of the most epic and large-scale battles of the Clone Wars. The battles on Muunilinst, Dantooine, Hypori, Yavin, Mon Calamari and numerous others were brilliantly depicted in this series, with some battles taking up entire episodes and others spanning several episodes in a sequence of mini-arcs spanning the first series. Each of these depicts a totally unique Star Wars battle in enviroments that were not explored in the main films, such as the mass-fighter space battle above Muunilinst in the first few episodes or the uniquely fought battle of the dust fields featuring Mace ‘Keyhole’ Windu and his impressive jumping and punching techniques.

A particular highlight of the series is the Battle of Mon Calamari, a plot thread that takes up only one episode yet depicts several unique scenarios in Star Wars lore – notably, the appearance of a lightsaber working underwater, how factions in Star Wars battle underwater in the first place, and more insight into how the Mon Calamari and Quarren races fight in their native habitat. The inclusion of Kit Fisto as the star of his own individual episode was a nice touch too, seeing as how he is brutally murdered in the next movie.

clone-wars-clones.jpg

The Clones

Oddly enough, one of this series’ major strengths is how it uses dialogue-less sequences with the Clones to depict plot development. A perfect example of this is the entire ARC troopers sequence, which spans several episodes, many of which are totally dialogue-free as the ARC troopers wordlessly delegate commands to each other through the visual hierarchy of the Red Sergeant and his Blue and White subordinates, all of whom work together to form a deadly and efficient squad who recur throughout the series, taking on a threats ranging from a giant cannon to General Grievous himself. Aside from the ARC troopers, the depiction of regular Clones in the Republic Army is effective in demonstrating both their tactical importance and their disposibility.

Whilst the series emphasises the true nature of the Clone Wars, the lack of respect for its Clone characters compared to its successor, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, is a major disadvantage to the series. However, whilst the Clones are not used for emotional impact, they are effective in their role as the show’s cannon fodder – in fact, the Clone death toll in this series is probably higher than any other piece of Star Wars TV media.

star-wars-clone-wars-obi-wan.jpg

The Characters

Star Wars: Clone Wars introduced several interesting characters to the Star Wars on-screen canon, particularly fan-favourites like Durge and Asajj Ventress. Both of these new characters get special focus throughout the show, but what is perhaps more important is how Star Wars: Clone Wars depicts its returning characters – and the answer is, it is spot-on. Characters like Anakin, Obi-Wan, Yoda, Palpatine, Amidala and Mace Windu seem by all accounts to be accurate depictions of their appearances in the movies, and although this show focuses primarily on combat and less on dialogue, there are still some great character moments, particularly the scenes involving Anakin and Obi-Wan.

Like the later Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the 2003 series does a great job of showing the friendship that existed between Anakin and Obi-Wan before the tragic events of Revenge of the Sith – but unlike its successor, Star Wars: Clone Wars actually shows the evolution of the rivalry between Master and Apprentice that was apparent in Attack of the Clones to a genuine friendship over the course of the series.

clone-wars-grievous.jpg

The Villains

Of course, it wouldn’t be Star Wars without the villains, and Star Wars: Clone Wars features the return of many iconic villains from the prequels as well as the debut of even more fan-favourite villains from the prequel era like Asajj Ventress, Durge and General Grievous. An interesting trend in the Star Wars prequel-era TV shows is that they use their villains a lot better than the prequel movies themselves did, and the same is definitely true of this show. A perfect example of this is General Grievous – he makes his debut in this series in one of the most epic lightsaber duels in the show, makes mincemeat of half a dozen Jedi, and then comes back for more later in the series leading up to its cliffhanger – yet his appearance in Episode III makes him seem as though in the meantime he had half of his brain removed. The show even acknowledges this by having Mace Windu crush Grievous’ chest in the finale, causing his signature cough. The character of Durge, a fascinating antagonist to Obi-Wan’s first story arc, is another example of a really interesting villain idea – without giving too much away, he finds some interesting ways to fight toe-to-toe with a Jedi despite not owning a lightsaber, and his terrifying physiology makes him a memorable character in the series.

clone-wars-duels.jpg

The Duels

Needless to say, there are some epic duels in this series. From the more literal interpretation of a Star Wars ‘duel’ involving lightsabers, such as Grievous vs Ki-Adi Mundi or Ventress vs Anakin, to the less conventional such as Durge vs Obi-Wan or Ventress vs Dooku, each and every duel in this series is truly fantastic. This is particularly evident thanks to the wide variety of locations in this series, and the duel between Anakin and Asajj Ventress that involves a lot of jumping between trees in the jungles of Yavin, for example, become immediately memorable. The previously mentioned duel between Grievous and the Jedi on Hypori is a rare example of a Star Wars duel that involves multiple combatants fighting one immensely powerful duelist, and Grievous doesn’t even make use of his four arms and yet he is still able to wipe the floor with many of the Jedi in various brutal ways. Of all the factors that contribute to what makes this series so good, the quality of the lightsaber duels is definitely one of the stand outs.

Overall, even after all this time, Star Wars: Clone Wars is still a thoroughly enjoyable piece of Star Wars media and, whilst it is certainly no Empire Strikes Back, it works wonders to redeem many of the elements of the first two prequels and paved the way for the fantastic pseudo-sequel Star Wars: The Clone Wars years later.

Read More:

 

Star Wars – Top 5 Best Rebel Starfighters

The Rebel Alliance was able to scrounge together a ragtag fleet of starfighters that would later evolve into a diverse and highly adaptable fighting force that proved more than a match for the capital-ship focused Galactic Empire. Almost every Rebel starfighter is better or at the very least technically superior to its Imperial counterpart, and although the Empire mass-produced thousands of variants of the TIE class of starfighter, the numerically outnumbered but well put-together Rebel ships eventually prevailed. However, how do these ships rank against each other? There are several factors to take into account here, not least the fact that many Rebel ships are specialised to fulfil particular roles, as well as the speed, weaponry and defensive capability of each fighter. With that in mind, we begin with:

#5 – Z-95 Headhunter

Z95headhunter_negvv.png

As snub fighters go, the Z-95 Headhunter was already considered outdated by the time of the Galactic Civil War, even by the Rebels who were renowned for making good use of otherwise outdated ships like the Y-Wing. However, facing a shortage of effective starfighters in its early years, the Rebellion did turn to Z-95s for fleet defence and occasionally as a mainline starfighter, but as the war went on and the Rebels became better equipped they would later mostly rely on the X-Wing as a mainline fighter. Nonetheless, the Z-95 is a good ship in its own right, and its light weaponry and shields coupled with its nimble manoeuvrability made it a favourite for force-sensitives in the New Republic, particularly Jedi.

#4 – Y-Wing

Y-wing.pngAs previously mentioned, the Y-Wing was considered an outdated bomber by the time of the Galactic Civil War, although it did see extensive use by the Galactic Republic during the Clone Wars. The Y-Wing was perhaps best known as the bomber that was used by the Republic to take down the Malevolence, and its practicality led to leftover craft being taken up by the Rebel Alliance to use as a mainline bomber for much of its existence, with Y-Wings taking part in many of the most critical battles of the era, including the Battle of Yavin and the Battle of Endor. The Y-Wing was capable of carrying a heavy payload of ion and proton torpedoes, and some models even featured a manned turret position, but its role as a bomber means that it is not the most nimble of craft. By the end of the Galactic Civil War, many Rebel pilots preferred other ships over the ageing Y-Wings, and their use in later battles was largely due to necessity and the shortage of prototype replacement bombers like the B-Wing. Talking of which…

#3 – B-Wing

BwingThe B-Wing was designed to fill the niche of heavy bomber for the Rebel Alliance during the Galactic Civil War, and became infamous in the Empire due to the fact that B-Wings proved to be capable of taking down Imperial Star Destroyers, and their effectiveness at that task led to many such Imperial craft meeting their demise at the Battle of Endor. Known to be fiendishly difficult to fly, the B-Wing was not common for Rebel fleets during the Galactic Civil War but when it did come into play later in the conflict it proved a valuable asset for the Rebellion that helped to solidify them as a very real threat to the Empire and not a simple ragtag band of dissidents as had previously been believed. Capable of carrying a sizeable amount of ordnance yet still retaining its agility, the B-Wing is definitely a formidable addition to the Rebel fleet.

#2 – A-Wing

A-WingHowever, as nimble goes, nothing beats an A-Wing. Known to be among the Rebel Alliance’s fastest fighters, the A-Wings filled the niche of interceptor and proved far more effective than its Imperial counterpart, the aptly named TIE Interceptor. Like the B-Wing, these fighters proved invaluable during the Battle of Endor and one was even instrumental in the destruction of the Darth Vader’s flagship, the Executor, as the pilot used the fighter’s wedge-shaped design to plow his damaged fighter into the bridge of the Super Star Destroyer, damaging enough key systems to send the ship plunging towards the Second Death Star. As far as durability goes, the A-Wing is lightly armoured and many models featured a shield generator, and its weapons are focused mainly on ship-to-ship dogfights between starfighters. Still, when coupled with other Rebel ship models, the A-Wing forms a crucial part of the Rebel fleet.

Honourable Mention – U-Wing

U-wing_SWB.pngBoth a starfighter and a gunship, the U-Wing is used primarily as a troop transport by the Alliance and proved pivotal in the ground portion of the Battle of Scarif. Though it is the slowest starfighter on this list, it does feature some heavy armaments including side-mounted weapons for in-atmosphere troop deployment and can hold a small but well-armed Rebel taskforce. Working best with other starfighters as escort in space, the U-Wing is usually sent straight to the ground to offload its troops and provide covering fire, a task which it excels in. However, the U-Wing is only an honourable mention as its use in space combat is limited, as space combat gunships were usually much larger fleet vessels.

#1 – X-Wing

RedFive_X-wing_SWB.pngRealistically, only one Rebel ship was going to take the top spot. The X-Wing was a critical addition to the Rebel Alliance’s starfighter force that became their go-to starfighter for most situations, from dogfights to fleet defence. The X-Wing is the favoured starfighter of prominent pilots like Luke Skywalker, Wedge Antilles and Poe Dameron and has seen use through the Galactic Civil War and well into the post-Galactic Civil War conflicts with minimal changes. Incorporating elements from successful Clone Wars era starfighters like the ARC-170, the X-Wing draws on the best elements previously seen designs and is perhaps best known for its role in the destruction of Imperial powerhouses like the First Death Star, the Second Death Star and Starkiller Base.

Read More: