December 04, 2015

Star Wars Battlefront - Review

Over the years there have been countless Star Wars games, some of them exceed expectations and become icons of the franchise and others are quickly forgotten about. Star Wars Battlefront fits into the former group as it quickly gained attention and for all the right reasons, which is why a new game in the series was something a lot of people wanted badly.

What sets this game apart from the previous games is that it is made by DICE, the team behind the Battlefield series, whose first game, 1942 inspired a Star Wars mod, which in turn inspired Battlefront, it’s a long history and it’s nice to see the team get the chance to work on the franchise. But while I say franchise, there is little here that connects them outside of the name, Battlefront 2 ended up with a wealth of extra content after its run, whereas Battlefront here comes as barebones as you could possibly expect. EA’s Battlefront does not contain a story mode of any type, which is something that some fans were disappointed about, but honestly, it is for the best. DICE have not been able to craft a serious single player campaign in all their years, so letting them skip that in Star Wars is ok.

There are single player elements, for those who want to experience the game on their own and they do offer up some variety. No matter how skilled you are at the games from the past, or others like it, the Training missions are where you need to start the game. Here you will learn how to control the heroes, fly ships, take down an AT-AT and more, each mission can grant you three stars, so for those that want to ensure they get the best rating, there is some replay value to be found. Once you have had your fill of training, you can enter the two types of solo or co-op adventures, the first is all about your ability to fight alongside AI and be the first team to score 100 points. When you defeat an enemy, they will drop a token and upon collection you are awarded points, this is a lot like COD’s Kill Confirmed mode, as you progress through the match, harder enemy types will join the fight. You can also play with the various heroes, which is the best way to learn the abilities of each, before you jump into the online multiplayer modes.

The bulk of the game comes in the form of online matches, with 9 different game types, some being variants on the standard online shooter types and others are new. Some of them will have you returning more than the others with a specific one inviting you to try it and then moving on. Blast is the one most people will start out playing as it is the Deathmatch option and it is fun, being able to explore the various locations while attempting to defeat the opposing team is, well a blast. When you start the game, you are given a partner and if you stick with them and play alongside them you are rewarded for doing so, plus you will have the bonus of not being alone when you encounter a host of enemy troops coming at you.

The games multiple game modes all take place over 4 different planets, Tattooine, Hoth, Forest Moon of Endor and Sullust, with the final one being the first time we have ever seen it in a game. Each location features a range of spaces for players to enjoy, when you are playing a game that is only 6v6, you won't be in the same space as a game that supports 20v20, but you will be able to occasionally see the other location from there. On Tattooine, there are times when you will be ducking for cover amidst a sand crawler in the middle of no where, or if the game is smaller, the cliffs complete with a Jawa village, even the ship combat spaces take place above the same areas. One area that people lament and I agree, is the lack of space, not the amount of space in a map, but outer space, being able to fly ships around the blackness of space, or around a Star Destroyer is the one thing I really wanted. The reason for this is that Fighter Squadron is the mode I was most excited for, as a longtime fan of the Rouge Squadron series, any chance to jump behind the stick of an X-Wing or the Millennium Falcon is always a good thing, but it turns out you can’t just select the Falcon when you start the match.

That is the big thing the game is doing differently, you can play as the Falcon, or Slave 1 in the middle of a match, if you find the token on the map that unlocks it for you. These tokens are not just for the ships though, in other game modes, they will net you boosts like recharging your used abilities, giving you stronger grenade types and more. This means that as you play, the game will always be changing up, based on the tokens that you find throughout the maps. Of course, as you collect the tokens, it does mean you can’t just equip some of the stronger gear before the match, in fact there are very, very few options available to you.

There are a limited number of weapons that you can choose from and the number is only set at two when you first start the game. Your skills, or other equipment max out at 24 options and you can only equip 4 at a time, so there is a management task that you need to consider, but in order to unlock these and the weapons, you need to play as much as you can. As you play, you will earn credits, which you can then use to purchase weapons, but as there are only so many, you will end up with stacks of credits left over. The credits can still be used though to unlock character skins and emotes, so if you want to have the range to select what your character looks like, you can use the credits there, but that is all you can use them for.

Of course, there are times when you can forgo your customized character and use one of the 6 available hero characters, if you had used them in the solo missions, they can be an asset in battle, but using them right of the bat, without any instructions can be quite the confusing mess. When you are using Darth Vader, his presence alone can be fun to see the reaction of other players on the battlefield, but he never feels like a real badass, force choking someone is a time consuming task that leaves you open to attack. Likewise, with Princess Leia, she is capable in a fight, her blaster can deal a fair bit of damage, but she is best used as a support character, as she can drop shields to aid her fellow soldiers. The Emperor is the weakest of all the heroes, his lightning attack does not provide any feedback that it is actually hitting its target and his weird twisted flip from episode three is just silly. Han and Luke play as you would expect, with Luke looking quite cool with the all black outfit and green lightsaber, but the hero character that everyone will want to play as is Boba Fett, he is so overpowered, that once players become him, it is quite a challenge for other players to take him down, with the jetpack and rockets as well as a flamethrower for when people get to close.

What is cool about those flames is that they look really good, in fact the entire game looks incredible, while the amount of content on offer might not be the largest, you can tell that the team put everything they had into ensuring that this was as close as to living in the Star Wars universe as possible. When you see an explosion, they look the same as the ones from the movie did and when you couple that with the look of everything else, the immersion factor is immense. When you are inside of one of the ships or vehicles, being able to go into first person mode and seeing all the details you remember from the movie, the level of attention is incredible.

What is perhaps the best part of the presentation being of course the music, there are times when the score from the movies, and pieces written for the game kick in and everything just feels like right. The best part of the score is that it is not active all the time, only kicking in when there is a need to help build tension. What part does suffer in the audio department are the voices for the hero characters, Han Solo does not sound too bad, but the villains are pretty woeful, with Darth Vader sounding like his helmet is three times to big. They are decent performances, but they do take away from the rest of the amazing presentation.

Where Battlefront suffers the most is in its lack of content and options, with only a handful of weapons available to kit out and no way of upgrading them, there is very little reason to play this game over any of the other number of shooters out on the market right now. Of course, the game is going to get some DLC down the line, which it is all too happy to promote in game, but that should be in addition to a complete game, not an incomplete one. When other games can release complete on day one, there is no excuse for a massive studio like EA to not even attempt to do the same.

Star Wars Battlefront is a game that, despite its lack of options, is still able to provide moments of fun. Being immersed within the Star Wars universe like never before is something that, every time I play a match of anything, makes me feel like a kid again.
Thanks to Electronic Arts for supplying the game for review

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