While Star Wars: Battlefront is still quite the relevant game license these days thanks to DICE, there was one point in time when it was very dormant – although a couple of developers had big plans for it before it all went south.
A new document has appeared from The Vault Project, detailing what could have resulted in a series of Star Wars: Battlefront games from Free Radical Design, the same team behind the TimeSplitters games.
In case you might have forgotten, Free Radical had a running prototype of Star Wars: Battlefront III at one point, in the hopes of bringing the franchise back following the closure of the original development team at Pandemic. But that was just the beginning of what the company had in mind.
The document indicates that the developer had signed on for three additional Battlefront games, numbered 4, 5 and 6, respectively, with yearly installments in the series being considered. This was back in 2007, when LucasArts was still running the Star Wars franchise in the video game world (well before Electronic Arts took over).
The plot continued to thicken just a couple of years later, when the developers at Rebellion (the team behind the Sniper Elite series) signed on, taking over development for Free Radical after their deal fell through, to create Battlefront III for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, PC and Wii). However, it noted a lot of problems when it was trying to finish the project with low production costs and a deadline, and, as a result, couldn't get the job done.
As a result, LucasArts was forced to drop the main versions and instead focus Rebellion's development on handheld versions for PlayStation Portable and Nintendo DS. The game did eventually come out, though under the name Star Wars: Elite Squadron, and not Battlefront III.
So what caused the downfall of Battlefront? The issues with the console ports, it seems. Rebellion was reportedly having no problems getting the game running up to speed on PC, but the minute other hardware came into the picture, they became rampant.
As a result of memory issues and performance bugs, Rebellion looked at possibly rebuilding assets from scratch for the console versions – but that became more time-consuming than expected, and caused even more problems for the project. Hence, moving back to portable versions.
In the end, despite everything that was building up for Battlefront, LucasArts scuttled all the console ports and even the PC build, and worked instead on other projects until EA eventually attained the rights to the Star Wars series and brought back Battlefront on its own terms.
Ah, but what might have been. If Free Radical had done a Battlefront game – or even if Rebellion had finished theirs – how awesome would that have been? Alas, not to be.
(Hat tip to Dark Side of Gaming for the scoop!)