The Force is Weak With This One.
The original Star Wars trilogy has always been one of those pure forms of Western entertainment that’s seemed to flawlessly carry over from one generation to the next. We all remember the first time we were exposed to the cast of epic Star Wars characters and the indescribable feeling of vicariously living through those heroes and villains on the silver screen. For me, the original Star Wars trilogy is quite possibly the purest and most innocent form of Hollywood entertainment to ever be produced. Developer DICE promised the Star Wars fan base that it would preserve that guarded purity and provide a gaming experience that would not only rival the big screen but also add to the overall nostalgia and love of the brand. Thankfully Star Wars: Battlefront does just that, but where its strong points are clearly capitalized on, its weak points shine through like Anakin Skywalker in Episode 2 and 3 .
My initial reaction to the game was cautiously optimistic, as I could feel my inner Star Wars fan desperately struggling against my will as a righteous game reviewer – it felt like an epic battle between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader for the prize of an honest review. With that being said, the title as a whole looks absolutely stunning in just about every regard. Everything from the weapons to the beautifully replicated planets, the carefully sculpted landscapes, the spot-on character models, and even the authentic trilogy vehicles took me right back to days of my youth. The controls and core gameplay mechanics are very similar to that of Battlefield 4 in they feel a bit heavy and unrefined at times, but they still manage to get the job done. The sounds of laser weapons firing and bombs exploding off in the distance perfectly complement the wonderful aesthetics, and seeing your favorite Star Wars characters trek across the multiplayer maps is definitely cool.
Traditionally, the Star Wars: Battlefront games have been known for their strong multiplayer modes, and this year’s version is no exception. The game is essentially broken up into two separate parts, online multiplayer and local missions mode. The multiplayer offering houses nine separate game modes such as dog fighting, big 40-player battles, and even a few smaller offerings for variety. The local missions mode provides players with four separate offerings including training missions, one vs. one battles, hero battles with up to six players, and a survival mode, which sends approximately 15 waves of enemies that include everything from AT-ST’s to probe Droids and Tie Fighters.
The multiplayer maps are gorgeous and flawlessly blend weather conditions with the peaks and valleys one might expect from being in a galaxy far, far away. Every map contains some unique aesthetic from environmental conditions, to crashed vehicles with over grown vegetation, to even a clear picture of what’s off in the distance. At one point, I kept getting killed by enemies simply because I was marveling at map details and terrain renderings. Yes, it looks that good. The overall map layouts, however, ran from average to above average with a few tweaks needed in spawn locations and battle hot zones – I found it difficult to stay engaged as the zones continually changed without any rhyme or reason. However, this is to be expected from a completely new offering and I have no doubts DICE will address these issues going forward.
Walker Assault is by far the best multiplayer option, which pits two teams of twenty players against each other, all while AT-AT’s, AT-ST’s, X-wings, and Tie Fighters rain death from above. It’s pure madness and chaos is literary unfolding right in front of you. The goal for the Imperial forces is to protect the AT-AT walkers and blow up the Rebel bases while the goal for the Rebel forces is the opposite. If you’re going to buy Star Wars: Battlefront , it’s certainly going to be because of this mode in particular – I can imagine spending hours on end engaged in this epic gauntlet of destruction.
Fighter Squadron was probably my second favorite game mode as it closely replicates a few of the ridiculous space battles seen within the original Star Wars films. The goal in this unique dog-fighting mode is to destroy as many ships as you can and rack up enough kills to give your side the victory. This particular game mode looks stellar, but the controls are what keep it from being a truly superior offering. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot of fun to take the skies with twenty-plus players. However, the ships are clunky and tend to over or under-steer as you’re chasing down opponents – and the general concepts starts to become repetitive over time. The fun factor is present but certainly has its noticeable flaws.
Speaking of flaws, Star Wars: Battlefront contains a few of those. The problem with the game is that it lacks substance and depth. Depressing, I know, and it strains my Star Wars fandom to admit it, but the game needs work. Yes, all the old intangible parts are alive and well in Luke Skywalker dashing across the battlefield with his green light saber and the Millennium Falcon wagging war in outer space as it avoids enemy fire, but that’s just about it. The game doesn’t follow any type of linear path and most game modes, character unlockables, and general gameplay mechanics need to be learned on the fly rather than explained – the tutorials just don’t cut it. I found myself wondering what to do first following the opening credits and the booming of the Star Wars theme song. After playing through a few rounds of each offering, I quickly felt the letdown I was desperately trying to avoid. Battlefront feels like a series of mini-games that can be picked through until the awesomess of seeing Vader fighting Rebel forces wears off and you’re bored 10-20 hours later and move onto something else.
That leads me to the game’s overall direction, or lack thereof – it’s definitely the weak point for Star Wars: Battlefront . I’m still a bit perplexed that DICE meticulously slaved over this project with a rather large team and an even larger budget, not to mention the scanning of actual film props and dubbing genuine sound effects, and decided to leave out a campaign story mode. This is where the game ultimately leaves Star Wars fans hanging. The infrastructure is clearly present to support a story mode, and a potentially epic one at that, but it’s absent for whatever odd design reason. Yes, Battlefront ’s predecessors never really had one either, but is that really a reason to make the same mistake a decade later? No, it’s not, and that ideology should never be applied to the gaming platform or any other form of interactive art, for that matter.
When all is said and done, Star Wars: Battlefront is a game that provides some much needed Star Wars nostalgia on the cusp of the franchise’s latest theatrical release. Unfortunately that’s all this game provides, with the exception of a few high points in the beautiful visuals and the Walker Assault multiplayer offering. Ultimately, it doesn’t capitalize on the phenomenal infrastructure DICE created – weapons, vehicles, planets, landscapes, and the resurrection of everyone’s favorite cast of characters is all lost without any sense of direction. At times it feels like a Battlefield 4 mod while at other times it feels like you’re navigating through the actual trilogy films from the ’70s and ’80s. Needless to say, the force is weak with Star Wars: Battlefront .
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 5.0 Graphics
I’d give it a 10.0 if I could – this game is stunningly beautiful. 3.5 Control
Piloting ships is clunky, controls feel heavy at times, and basic moment feels like something from last decade. The only thing saving the controls are the spot-on aiming mechanics. 5.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Star Wars sounds are alive and well with this one and weapons, character voices, and vehicle sounds mirror that of the actual trilogy films. 2.0 Play Value
Lack of depth for game modes and the absence of a story mode hurts the game’s overall play value. 3.4 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best