Growing up I played a lot of Star Wars games on various platforms – from Nintendo 64 and PC to PlayStation 1 and 2 – the first two Star Wars: Battlefront games being amongst my favourites.
Countless hours were spent with friends and siblings liberating and enslaving the galaxy across various platforms, in one of the most epic multiplayer experiences ever made.
At some stage, they put Star Wars games in the backseat, and fans of the franchise were left starving. Battlefront was a series that sorely needed rebooting.
Star Wars Battlefront has arrived and it looks magnificent. Hopping between Endor, Hoth, Tatooine and Sullust, prepare to feast your eyes on some of the greatest-looking interactive homage to the sci-fi epic out there.
Every surface is a highly detailed replica that paints a wonderful vision of the original trilogy.
Players wage galactic war as either the Empire or Rebels, having access to the heroes, vehicles and weapons of each side.
By earning credits after each match, you can flush out your arsenal as well as customize your player’s appearance by purchasing new models and accessories.
My short time spent with the Beta left me eager to dive into the deep-end after standing on the first step.
While I found the Beta to have jaw-dropping visuals and pleasing gameplay, I did find myself getting bored after a while, so I hoped the main shebang would not disappoint and go stale quickly.
Beautiful and enjoyable as the game mostly is, the gameplay does unfortunately sometimes end up feeling tiresome.
Running back and forth capturing flags dressed as droids or cargo soon begins feeling more like a chore than exhilaration, and I sometimes found myself glancing constantly at the clock waiting for the match timer to reach 00:00.
In essence, it is still a rewarding investment which does not require professionalism to achieve a sense of prowess. Unlike many other shooters that require much precision and delicacy, most confrontations involve overheating your blaster in a full stream of devastating beams.
Shooting does not use ammo but rather works on a red bar under your crosshair that once maxed requires you to wait for the blaster to cool down, which can be quickly done by a well-timed button press. Failure to do so will result in a nasty burn and a prolonged cool down.
Let’s forget substance for a bit and talk about fan-service. Battlefront is the most true-to-life realization of the classic films I’ve ever seen. Sound-effects like the Wilhelm Scream of a fallen soldier and the Pew-Pew of blasters, glittering stages and dented skins have all been produced as legitimately as possible.
Even if you don’t enjoy the game, you must give credit to EA DICE for spectacularly rendering such a lovely tribute to our childhood. Everything from the start screen to the soundtrack is just one big nostalgic whirlwind, with John Williams’ monumental score playing throughout.
I was hoping that this game would play out in a concurrent series of collaborative ongoing campaigns, the epic war between the Empire and Rebels depicted in the movies becoming edited according to the independent victories and losses of each side.
There would be a constant score-keeping system that would monitor which side held supremacy. This would not only create an intimate sense of community, but also have players glued to their console or PC in a constant struggle to boost the efforts of their chosen group, winning or losing having massive repercussions.
The game would feel progressive and cohesive rather than the series of individual and disjointed battles actually seen.
The game does still, however, allow you and up to forty people at a time to relive the legendary frays seen in the films and play out iconic scenarios according to the ability of your team.
There are nine modes ranging from the wide-scale domination of a planet, to completely aerial dogfights between spaceships, to fierce massacres involving heroes being pitted up against waves of grunts. In the more populated matches, there are so many lasers flying about it feels like you’re in a Japanese modern art exhibition.
PS4 currently has the most participants on any platform – reaching around 100,000 players – each game always being at its limit. The larger scaled battles feel more like an unruly death march than a structured mission, as waves of Rebel soldiers and Imperial stormtroopers rush each other without end.
This is all generally a fun affair, but the flat and linear nature of most maps and the lack of tactical sense born from many individual players without communication frantically zapping each other can lead to frustration amongst more authoritative gamers.
Luckily, each game-mode has NPC superiors barking orders at you, and there is plenty of HUD marking and direction to keep everyone flowing in a constant river of death.
Sprinting shoulder to shoulder with a dozen or so allies while trampling over the constantly-falling bodies of your enemies is enthralling, especially if Vader or Luke is leading the charge.
Add a bunch of AT-ST walkers clunking along, speeders weaving in between trees and glorious dogfights above to the party and you have complete, wanton eye-candy.
While the shooting is rather simplistic, the gameplay is augmented with the usual spaceships, vehicles and heroes, which are now all accessed by floating tokens scattered across maps, which once collected allow you to use a volatile object or transcend your mundane cannon-fodder foot-soldier self into a vehicle, space ship or hero.
The game in many ways reduces you back to being a kid playing with Star Wars toys. I often feel a brattish sense of rage whenever I’m about to grab a hero-token, only to have it snatched away by a quicker punk, my thoughts turning to “I WANNA BE LORD VADER, NOT YOU!”
More conventional item-based power-ups deploy unmanned sentry-guns, various bombs and special weapons. Using a power-up that turns you into a vehicle or hero takes a second or two to activate, so find cover before metamorphosing, lest you find yourself anti-climactically sniped.
Aerial combat (as well as much of the gameplay) is a lot like Battlefield. You move the left analog stick forwards to thrust and backwards to slow down. Whilst Battlefield required a lot of experience to be an adept jet pilot, Battlefront’s aerial combat is a lot more arcade-ish, allowing you to lock-on to targets before blasting them out of the air.
There is plenty of hilarious silliness to be had. Players are constantly kamikaze-crashing into the face of whatever map you’re on. I watched a friend playing jump into an AT-ST and stomp unchecked across Tatooine, blazing a cauterized trail of destruction free of concerted anti-tank efforts, even when he found himself stuck in a crag.
As for the heroes, provided you have the support of the team and don’t become a blisteringly-obvious target soon to be within the sights of dozens of crosshairs, you can tear the opposing team apart.
Skywalker, Vader, Leia, Palpatine, Boba and Solo are all at your disposal, each with their own tasty abilities and strengths. Earlier, I was playing when suddenly I came across a lightsaber duel between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker; one of the most incredibly cinematic things I’ve ever seen in-game.
There are many tingling episodes like this that capture the awe of the films perfectly.
The single-player is basically the multiplayer maps with bots and a survival mode that has you wiping out waves of infantry. The lack of campaign has produced a lot of flak, but it’s obvious here that most of the efforts were directed towards making the multiplayer as good as possible.
Star Wars Battlefront is an accommodating and gorgeous reboot of a timeless franchise. Its massive tribute-value tries hard to make up for a limited experience; it’s basically up to your taste to judge.
Hopefully developers will take the complaints many are publishing to heart and foster the creation of something that can stand on the same level as one of the films, in terms of value and inspiration.