It’s crazy to think that in the past few years, I had all but forgotten that such a game as Star Wars Battlefront ever existed as a franchise. That’s especially surprising to those who know me personally, as I basically live and breathe Star Wars. In fact, I think I can say with some confidence that the last time I touched anything related to the Battlefront series was my PSP copy of Battlefront 2…and that was when I had a PSP. Which I sold when I got my Vita in 2012. Yeah, it’s been a while.
Fans have been clamoring for Battlefront 3 for quite some time, and while what we get here is not so much a Battlefront 3 as it is a reboot of the BF series, it is at least a fairly decent game in its own right. Notice I said it was “fairly decent” and not “ZOMG GREATEST THING EVER!” or “Worst. Game. Ever.” There’s stuff I like about it and stuff I dislike about it. Yes, I’m aware of all the accusations pointing to EA in recent news, but that’s not what my review (or any review, for that matter), should be about. This review is strictly about the game itself, and nothing extracurricular. I’ll let all of you deal with all the other stuff separately in your own way, and whether or not you decide to purchase the game based off of marketing decisions on EA’s part is your call.
The best way i can describe Battlefront in a nutshell is that it’s a Michael Bay film; huge explosive effects filled to the ears with pure spectacle, and not much more in terms of depth. Battlefront is beautiful to look at, it FEELS like Star Wars, and it gets old really quick. Now I admit, part of that (a BIG part of that) is my dislike of multiplayer shooters in general. I never found the appeal in deathmatch after deathmatch, and that’s no different here. Know that with Battlefront, you are only getting multiplayer. Yes there are single player modes, but these function as not much more than an expanded tutorial mode of sorts, existing only really to familiarize you with the different game modes and vehicle controls.
I do have to tip my hat to DICE for throwing a few different styles into the game to try to mix things up. Between your traditional “kill everything on the opposing team (Blast)” and CTF styled modes (Cargo), you have Fighter Squadron (essentially deathmatch in a X-Wing), Walker Assault (which was highlighted during the beta), an incredibly awkward and clunky Hero Battle (where each team gets three Heroes and everyone takes turns being one), and my personal favorite, Supremacy. Supremacy is all out Star Wars warfare; it brings every aspect of the game together into one giant cluster of action. In Supremacy, each team vies for a series of control points. However, unlike a traditional “capture control points” where ownership of each point can swap back and forth between teams, once your team has captured a control point, you move forward to other control points. You’re always moving forward in Supremacy, and combined with the ability to use Heros and vehicles, it’s the closest thing we have to a complete, all out war.
While we’re on the subject of vehicles, I want to point out that they aren’t used in the same way as previous Battlefront games. In Battlefront 2, for instance, if you see a vehicle, you can control it. Run up to an X-Wing at any point and jump inside with a simple button press. Here it’s a little bit different; there are certain modes where you can use vehicles, but the ability to pilot one is dependant on your ability to find the appropriate power up. Yes, you can only jump into a vehicle if you find the power up associated with it. It’s not the end of the world; I mean, at least you can still jump into a TIE Interceptor during a Supremacy match. It’s just breaks things up a bit when you have to go out of your way to search for a TIE power up as opposed to just running into a hangar bay and jumping in one. Of course, if piloting ships is your idea of a good time, you can always spend all your time in Fighter Squadron, which is my favorite game mode. It’s basically the same handful of maps and doesn’t offer as much variety as Walker Assault or Supremacy, but 1) I get to fly X-Wings and TIE fighters all day, and 2) I seem to be WAY better at vehicle to vehicle combat than I am in traditional FPS PvP.
Graphically, there’s not much to say about the game other than IT’S GORGEOUS. This is one of those games where if my dad were to ask me “So why is a PS4 better than a PS3?” (or in his case, a Nintendo-station), I would pop Battlefront in and let the visuals speak for themselves. The environments are simply breathtaking; often bordering on photorealism (or at least, cinema CGI-realism). Each rock is meticulously detailed, each explosion is a blinding show of effects, and each puddle looks just like…well, a puddle. Running through the boulders on Tatooine will kick up puffs of dust, whereas running the the snowy hills of Hoth, you’ll see the snow pack and unpack as you step through it. Nearly everything about this game is drop dead gorgeous, and the only real weakness I’m seeing is in the character models. They’re not the best looking but you rarely ever get a chance to really study them since we’re all running around trying to avoid death at all times.
It’s interesting because if you were to look at Battlefront from the surface, it looks exactly like everything a AAA blockbuster should. It has the big, bombastic effects, a “can’t lose” licence, and some of the best graphics I have ever seen. It’s made by the multiplayer masters as DICE, and has the entire EA marketing juggernaut behind it (for better or worse). It seems like everything that you would need for some good video game fun. Dig one layer deeper, and Battlefront still basically resembles everything a AAA hit should be; tight gameplay and some truly exciting game modes in the way of Walker Assault and Supremacy.
Beyond that however, there’s not much more to do. Once you’ve played through Walker Assault and Supremacy (and Fighter Squadron for me), you’ve essentially experienced the best that Battlefront has to offer. Maybe there’s something new and exciting down the road via DLC, but that’s part of the backlash against the game (and really, any big release these days). The two major modes I spoke of earlier are fun, and they’ll definitely give you hours of playtime, but is $60 really worth it for two game modes? That’s not to say that others won’t find something like Cargo or Droid Run entertaining; I just don’t see the remainder of the game modes really making people think to themselves “Man, $60 was TOTALLY worth it for Cargo!”
With that being said, Star Wars Battlefront is a beautiful, action packed game with some truly exciting events, but suffers from issues with longevity. AAA developer and licensing aside, the game offers a handful of truly fun modes, with the rest being made up of the same multiplayer filler we’ve seen time and time again. Die hard Star Wars fanatics will get a kick out of living their greatest Star Wars universe fantasies, but those that are looking for a capable multiplayer shooter might want to wait a bit.
More information on Star Wars: Battlefront and special editions can be found at participating retailers like Amazon.com.