The Movie Battles mod was started by Richard Hart (online alias RenegadeOfPhunk) in 2003, with the goal of mixing the round- and objective based gameplay of Counter-Strike with the lightsaber and gun mechanics of Star Wars. The first versions of the mod were developed for Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, the previous game in the Jedi Knight series. This version already had the key elements of Movie Battles in it, such as the modified lightsaber combat and the last man standing system. The mod was later remade for Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy which is the version worked on and played today. An offspring to Movie Battles, mod titled The New Era (TNE) is currently in development for the Source engine which allows for improved graphics and a better physics engine. It was thought of as a successor to Movie Battles, but TNE is now moving into a different, more Deathmatch like genre. Many of the development team for TNE were once or are still members of the Movie Battles development team.
The mod's website was launched in 2004 and since then more builds (beta versions) have been released. The changes between versions are new maps, fixes and new features. A hotfix is also released a few days after the build to fix some of the bugs not noticed in testing. The newest version (Release Candidate 2) takes the mod out of beta development and a step further to the version one milestone. An installer which automatically updates any files needed is also included.
Movie Battles II is a team based shooter game, in which the player joins the Imperial/Separatist forces or the Rebel/Republic forces. Both teams usually have objectives which can be completed to win the round. The player also gets a number of points which he can spend on upgrades for his character.
Any players who are killed before the end of the round become spectators. They may follow certain players who are still alive or free-roam in the spectator cam, similar to other first-person shooters, such as Battlefield 2.
The lightsaber combat in Movie Battles is changed from the original system substantially. Blocking and defensive moves are favored over the unmodded game's "swing-spam". There are meters for both force pool and block stamina which deplete as the player intercepts incoming blaster and lightsaber attacks.
Similar to Counter-Strike, Movie Battles uses an objective system, where one team defends and the other one attacks one or more objectives. Objective types are usually variants on common themes, such as "slicing panels", or NPC guarding. By using such a system, it is significantly different from most Star Wars games, where the goal is often simply to kill everyone on the other team.
MBII has three game types. These are Open Mode, Semi-Authentic Mode and Authentic Mode. Depending on the gametype, the characters and features such as weapons a player can choose can be limited or not. In Open mode, everything can be chosen, while in Semi Authentic and Full Authentic, only the models that fit to the current map can be chosen, in Full Authentic, even the features are predefined.
The latest version has also introduced a new game type, the duel mode. Certain maps have been created which allow a Duel to be fought, a battle between two sides representing a scene in a film or game. Often these fights are one versus one, but sometimes the number of players differs on either side.
Players in MBII choose a class of fighter, similar to games like Battlefield 2 with defined roles. The Rebel or Republic side (map dependent) have access to a number of specific classes including clone troopers with repeater blaster rifles and Wookiees with bowcasters, as well as Jedi. The Imperial or Separatist side (map dependent) have access to a number of specific classes as well: droidekas, Super battle droids, jet pack and flamethrower wielding Mandalorians, as well as Sith. Both teams have access to the two generic classes (soldiers and elitetroopers).