Star Wars is one of those phenomenal cultural icons that hits people across the spectrum, and interest is spiking again this year as we all await Star Wars: The Force Awakens to hit theaters in a month from now. Naturally, this would be the time to resurrect the franchise on game consoles. On the current generation we only had Disney Infinity 3.0 to go to for our Star Wars fix outside of PC. Now EA and DICE, the people behind the Battlefield franchise, trade in the machine guns, jets, tanks, and RPGs for blasters, X-Wings, AT-ATs, and light sabers to deliver a first and (if you so choose) a third person shooting experience in a galaxy far, far away. But did they succeed? Or is this merely Battlefield wrapped in a stormtrooper’s armor?
To be fair, it’s not Battlefield, especially in terms of destructible environments. And Battlefront lacks a campaign, much to the surprise (and dismay) of many, as the last game in the series, Battlefront II, had a fantastic campaign. Despite the lack of single player content (there is some, but it’s merely okay-more on that later), there is some fun to be had here. And that is what you want from a Star Wars game- to have fun. And some fans will have plenty here, as the sights and sounds of Star Wars are recreated faithfully (the dialogue, not so much). This is a beautiful game to look at, from the dust whipping along the canyons on Tatooine to the deep snow fields of Hoth to the bubbling sulfur springs on Sullust to the lush forests on Endor. Each weapon, suit of armor, vehicle, and even some races are brought to life here in spectacular fashion. And complimenting those great visuals are fantastic sounds, whether it be the shot from a blaster, the hum of the light saber, or the whine of a TIE fighter overhead. And the music echoes John Williams’ iconic score, making this feel like the most authentic Star Wars game out there. Until those iconic characters speak. While the voices sound close to that of the characters from the movies, the dialogue they speak is definitely of a lesser quality. In fact, some of it is downright cringe worthy, seeming to be more prequel trilogy than the original trilogy. It’s too bad the writing wasn’t better, but when your game is primarily a multiplayer shooter experience, it’s obvious that DICE and EA weren’t too concerned about that aspect of the game.
The game at launch contains 12 different modes of play (nine multiplayer and three solo/co-op affairs) with 12 maps covering four planets- Tatooine, Hoth, Sullust, and Endor. Six iconic characters are available to play, with Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, and Han Solo on the heroes side and Darth Vader, Boba Fett, and Emperor Palpatine representing the villains. Ten vehicles are available to use through power-ups found on the maps, and include X-Wing fighters, TIE Interceptors, AT-ATs, and speeder bikes, and you even have the Millenium Falcon and Slave I to take to the skies with. All aerial combat takes place in a planet’s atmosphere and not in space. This too has led to some disappointment among fans. The multiplayer is divided into nine modes- Supremacy, Cargo, Droid Run, Walker Assault, Blast, Fighter Squadron, Drop Zone, Heroes vs Villains, and Hero Hunt. For those who prefer playing solo or at least co-op with a friend three modes are available. These include Training, Battles, and Survival. It would have been great to say that all of the content is great and makes this worth the price of admission. Sadly, that’s not the case. Only four are great to play (Supremacy, Drop Zone, Walker Assault, and Blast). These four are undoubtedly where most will spend their time, and they bring out the Star Wars feel better than the rest of the game. Fighter Squadron is good, pitting you in dogfights above the planet’s surface. Survival and Battles are decent enough for single player action, though once through per map in each mode may likely be all you want to do, as the gameplay can be quite repetitive, with only the environment changing. Titling these modes under the heading reading Missions is a bit misleading, as Survival is merely a Horde mode and Battles a Deathmatch with a timer and a top score to hit. Training is just what it says, a mode to familiarize yourself with the controls. It’s very lackluster, and as such, many may ignore the mode all together or only play it once and done. The lack of a campaign, even a short one similar to that found in Titanfall, really stands out here.
But this is not a game you buy for single player. This is a game to pit teams against each other, the Rebels versus the Imperials, and doing what you can to emerge victorious. This is where the game shines brightest, and truly feels like a Star Wars experience. Supremacy pits teams of twenty against each other in ten minute rounds, where each time tries to control a point on the map, with victory going to the team that controls most of the map. Walker Assault pits Imperial forces guiding two AT-ATs to their objective, while the Rebels try to defend their base. Blast is a fun, fast paced Team Deathmatch mode, and Drop Zone pits 8v8 as each time tries to secure pods that drop randomly across the map. These modes offer the most fun, and give you the chance of having the most variety in combat, as you can get power ups for vehicles or Heroes/Villains, enabling you to take combat to the enemy in a different way. Cargo and Droid Zone are both Capture the Flag variants, with neither one being all that interesting. Heroes vs Villains is decent, making up two teams of 6, having three Heroes or Villains and then three rebel soldiers or stormtroopers. The mode is one by the team with the last Hero/Villain standing, and is played over 5 rounds. Hero Hunt is less successful, pitting 7 players and a Hero/Villain, with whoever kills the Hero/Villain with the final blow takes on the next character until the timer runs out. It just never felt very satisfying to play, with the characters feeling a bit overpowered. In all modes, spawn points can be a problem, as there are limited places to put them and in some cases you’ll spawn right into a line of fire. A cushion really was needed, and hopefully will be addressed in a future patch. But for now it can be an issue.
Star Wars Battlefront could have been a fantastic game, but instead comes across as one lacking in content (especially in comparison to the other two first person shooters released in this final quarter of the year, Halo 5: Guardians and Call of Duty: Black Ops 3). When it fires on all cylinders, like in its visuals, sound, and modes like Supremacy and Walker Assault, it’s fantastic and one of the best Star Wars experiences to come along in recent years. Sadly there isn’t enough of that. Lackluster modes give rise to doubts as to whether the game will have legs beyond the next month, even though there are four DLC packs planned, which are said to contain four new modes of play, more maps, and more characters. Hopefully they will beef up the single player side of things, as it’s hard to see what new types of multiplayer modes could be introduced that would feel fresh. There is a lot to like for Star Wars fans here, and some will absolutely love this. But for others, even fans of the franchise, may come away feeling like there should have been more.
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