Star Wars Battlefront(2015) Review: The Force is Strong with this one
If you’re like me, you probably have some fond memories of playing Star Wars Battlefront 1 and 2 on PS2. They were some of the most fun I had with any Star Wars game.With huge battles against friends, family, and others, they were the closest I could come to being part of the epic battles in the movies.
When Disney bought Lucas Arts, however, the fate of Star Wars video games looked grim. They all but shut the studio down, canceling all projects -- like the promising Star Wars 1313 -- letting 3rd party developers or Disney Interactive make them instead.
Things didn’t look any better when Disney announced that EA would be making Star Wars games, given the reception they’ve been getting in the last few years. But hope started to burn bright when it was announced that D.I.C.E., the studio behind the excellent Battlefront series, would be working on a new installment.
Here we are, two years later, with the first new Star Wars game; simply titled Star Wars Battlefront. After spending hours on it, I can say that in some ways, Battlefront exceeds its predecessors. But it also comes up lacking. Despite these shortcomings, Battlefront isn’t just Battlefield with a Star Wars paint job. It is easily the most authentic Star Wars game ever made, and is still a solid online shooter in its own right.
Beauty in Authenticity
Right out of the gate, you can tell that D.I.C.E. did everything they could to make this look and feel just like Star Wars. Everything from the weapons firing, to a TIE Fighter flying, to recreating some of the most iconic settings in Star Wars history -- all of it was on point. Battlefront nails the look and feel of Star Wars. Everything has been crafted with love and respect for the Star Wars universe. Add to it the grand scope of each map, something D.I.C.E. is known for, and each world feels like it was ripped straight out of the films. And it all runs at an excellent 60 FPS.
D.I.C.E, having done such a fantastic job of replicating the atmosphere of the films makes it all the more noticeable when something isn't right. The music -- while still featuring some of John Williams’ most iconic scores -- includes music written by D.I.C.E’s own composers that sounds so generic and out of place it feels like a pale imitation of something you'd hear in a lesser game. Also, while voice acting isn’t a huge part of the game, some of the dialog and performances you hear from the Hero Characters can range from pandering to down right grating.
Mechanically, Battlefront will feel immediately familiar to those with any knowledge of modern shooters. Aiming in first person can take a bit of getting used to as there is no Iron Sight Aiming. But even those who can’t adjust can still swap to third-person, which is my preferred position. While the lack of class types will disappoint fans of either Battlefront or Battlefield, the game does it’s best with the Star Card system; where you have types of cards that can supplement grenades and sniper rifles to grant abilities like better aiming and using a jet pack. It’s a nice way to shift your play style and the game’s level up system is a nice touch.
Lastly, power-ups can be found all over the maps, allowing for features like Rockets and Shields, piloting a space ship or an AT-ST, or summoning characters like Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, or Boba Fett. The hero tokens can be hard to come by, but when obtained, you’ll get a sense of joy when playing as heroes and villains that will take you back to when you were a kid playing with your Star Wars action figures.
Unlike previous installments, this game is 100% focused on its multiplayer. Those looking for a deep single player need not to apply. Outside of some brief tutorials that teach you the basics and some co-op missions you can play alone or with a friend or two, you’ll be playing with others online. The 8 modes of play -- with a player max of 40 people -- can range from some of the best multiplayer action you’ll play on any game this generation to a boring extra you’ll touch once and never again. The highlight of the game is hands down Walker Assault.
Walker Assault tasks the Rebels with taking control of Satellite dishes so they can call in as many Y-Wings as possible to temporarily short circuit the giant AT-AT’s shields, allowing 20 Rebels to attack and destroy them. Meanwhile, the Empire is tasked with stopping the Rebels by any means necessary, so the AT-AT’s will destroy the escapees ships. This singular mode captures the essence of what makes the Battlefront series so great, with teamwork being a necessity and tense fire fights causing chaotic destruction. It’s easily some of the most fun to be had in any multiplayer game to date.
Other modes run the gambit from fun to boring and sometimes tedious. Supremacy plays like classic Battlefield Domination; where you capture points, with the winning team being those who capture all or at least most of them. It requires a lot of team work and you can’t just wander off on your own without dying a lot. Blast is a basic team deathmatch, but it’s still fun and is a nice way to grind for XP. Cargo is a decent little capture the flag mode.
Hero Hunt is a interesting mix where the winner is decided by who kills the most opponents as a hero. The next hero is decided by who kills the last hero. Fighter Squad is a nice way to help you improve your ship skills. However, that’s where the fun starts to end.
Droid-Run could have had potential, but it ultimately comes down to the last few seconds to make or break the game, while Heroes vs. Villains is something you’ll only touch once and never again. Drop Zone can be a tense, if annoying mode where you have to capture space drops. However, I felt the mode was a bit sniper heavy and I started getting frustrated by being sniped over and over again.
While some of the modes can be dull and some presentation issues can stick out like a sore thumb, Star Wars Battlefront has some of the most fun multiplayer gameplay that can be found this year or in any other multiplayer game in the past. The excellent modes that stand out do so in a way that combined with incredible maps, frantic gunplay, and the detailed aesthetic design, helps create a sort of Toy-Box design that’s just too hard to dislike. Sure, there will be those disappointed by it not being exactly like past games, but those with open minds will be reward with a fun game to enjoy for the holiday season and beyond.