With just under four weeks until – let’s face it – the most anticipated movie of the century, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it’s safe to say that Star Wars fans are just a tiny bit excited. Luckily, getting that Star Wars fix just got even easier with the release of Star Wars: Battlefront.
Developer: EA Digital Illusions CE
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Reviewed on: Xbox One
Also Available On: PlayStation 4, Windows PC
Release Date: Out Now
For those not familiar, the Star Wars: Battlefront franchise has been around for more than ten years. Debuting in 2004 to coincide with the DVD release of the original trilogy, the first game in the series brought conquest-based gameplay to Star Wars fans in a way that hadn’t been seen previously. Despite a few faults, you couldn’t play as a Jedi for one, the game received critical acclaim and led to a sequel the following year.
Despite a few ventures into the mobile games market, the series has been unsuccessfully trying to get a third major release out for the better part of a decade. It wasn’t until Disney’s purchase of LucasFilm and the Star Wars franchise that plans for the threequel began to take shape with EA DICE acquiring the video game rights.
Now here we are, on the verge of another massive release in the movie universe and Star Wars: Battlefront has been reborn for a new generation of gamers.
Based exclusively on the original Star Wars trilogy, the new Battlefront plays on the nostalgic joys of youth, that first time you sat down to watch the Star Wars movies. The attention of detail is incredible, from the John Williams score and the distinctive blaster fire noise, to the movie-accurate environments, in sight and sounds alone it is like you’ve been thrown straight into a galaxy far, far away.
But this is a video game and even the most stunning homage to one of the most loved franchises in popular culture is ultimately nothing but a minor distraction without the gameplay to match.
Taking away the superficial glory of Star Wars and what we are left with has heavy influences taken from EA’s answer to Call Of Duty, Battlefield – well multiplayer mode at least, Star Wars: Battlefield doesn’t have a traditional single-player campaign.
Like Battlefield, the emphasis here is on the large-scale battles online pitting player against player in large open-world environments. Where the two franchises differ is in the complexity, with Star Wars taking a more CoD approach and aiming for the larger, casual gamer audience.
The simplicity is most noticeable in the upgrade system, it is much less sophisticated than hardened DICE fans will be used to. Customisation is minimal, this is no weapon tailoring, nothing to give experienced players an extra advantage from the off. What minor options are available must be unlocked as you progress through the ranks of the game. Despite leaving hardcore players with little to work with, this does mean that those Star Wars fans with little experience of the genre can jump straight in and master the basics within minutes.
If you’re not a fan of online multiplayer then no amount of nostalgia is going to make this game worth the purchase, but if solo play is an afterthought for you then Battlefront shouldn’t disappoint. The game comes with most of the modes that players have come to expect from a multiplayer shooter in 2015, some of which will seem particularly familiar to those with some Battlefield experience.
A staple of any modern multiplayer shooter is some variation of Conquest mode, capture an area either directly from your enemy or before they have a chance to, Destiny players will be familiar with the concept in team-based mode Capture and Battlefront doesn’t disappoint fans of this type of gameplay.
Supremacy, Droid Run and Drop Zone modes are all built around this simple concept, capture the points before the other team while massacring them at the same time. Where the gameplay varies in these modes is in what the capture point is, it may be as simple of a particular location, a moving target, or as the name suggests from a drop zone.
Where these modes give teams, Rebel or Imperial, reasonably equal footing in battle, the same cannot be said about Walker Assualt. Think back to the movies, when the Empire is attacking the rebel base on Hoth and you’ll get an idea of what to expect from this mode. Being on the bad-guys team is definitely the way to go in this mode as the AT-ATs come into play. As a rebel, you do get a helping hand with on-screen indications of the soft-spots to hit but however you play, there is always a sense that this is an extremely unfair fight.
Across the modes there are a number of power-ups you can collect to increase your chances in battle, one of the best bits being the ability to transform into from a simple throwaway mortal into one of the key characters from the franchise. This is definitely a highlight in the gameplay and one that is unique to the Battlefront experience, especially when you’re in the position where Luke and Vader go head to head. That said, these power-ups are so desirable that they can distract from the gameplay as a whole and your pursuit for greatness can end in continuous death.
That is until you play Heroes vs. Villains and Hero Hunt modes where the power-up premise is thrown away and everyone can play as their favourite Star Wars legend, including Luke, Leia, Han, Vader, Boba Fett and even the Emperor. Of course, if you’re looking for a challenge then you do have the option to go storming in as a regular trooper but with 30 or so force-wielding lunatics around you, is that really the right way to go.
The biggest highlight of the game, in this writer’s opinion, is Fighter Squadron. One of my favourite Star Wars games is Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, I can’t help but enjoy the thrill of flying the ships of the Star Wars universe across seemingly endless alien terrain, there’s something just a little special about the experience.
Fighter Squadron puts you in control of a TIE fighter or A-Wing in the skies above a glorious Star Wars themed backdrop. The mode sees two squadrons battle it out in for supremacy in the air. Like the land-based modes, power-ups play a big part here as well, but rather than transforming into your favourite hero or villain, the Millennium Falcon and Fett’s Slave I are your reward. Flying Han Solo’s famous ship into battle in the gloriously detailed environments of Battlefront is pure ecstasy if you’re a Star Wars fan.
Each battle has secondary objectives and game specific challenges in an attempt to vary the gameplay but unfortunately this doesn’t hit the mark. This is Star Wars: Battlefront’s biggest failure, its lack of content, most notable by the lack of a structured story campaign to take on when multiplayer gets a little samey.
Sadly, this isn’t the games only let down as despite so much effort taken to make the game look and sound as authentic as possible, the voice-over work is less than impressive. The stand-ins for Star Wars veterans James Earl Jones, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford are appallingly bad, on many occasions sounding like they’ve just given up trying. Thankfully this can be drowned out by the superb work of John Williams.
Overall Star Wars: Battlefront is a frustrating experience for Star Wars fans, the time and effort that has gone into making the perfect homage to the beloved original trilogy is shown throughout but the gameplay is lacking.
Visually, this game is stunning in every way, every pixel used to great effect to create the ultimate virtual Star Wars universe. There are easter eggs aplenty throughout and as a Star Wars fan, you cannot help but admire the game for this.
The content of offer here is fantastic, it is great fun to play and realise that childhood dream of being part of the war in a galaxy far, far away but there simply isn’t enough of it to justify a full price game.
The biggest issue with Star Wars: Battlefront is that in trying to open up the game to as large an audience as possible, the developers has simplified the gameplay to the point where experienced gamers will lose interest far too quickly. Sadly, the game is far too easy to bore of and eventually you’ll reach a point where it becomes only worthy of short bursts of gameplay rather than something you’ll commit to for an entire evening of gaming.
- Very easy game to pick up and play with no genre experience
- Gloriously stunning recreation of the Star Wars universe
- Fighter Squadron and Walker Assault offer fantastic and unique experiences
- The game options are too simplistic, no customisation and minimal upgrade options
- The voice-over work is appallingly bad
- There is simply not enough content to give the game longevity