Star Wars Battlefront Review
Microsoft Xbox OneAlso available on PC and Sony PlayStation 4
More on Star Wars
For any self respecting Star Wars fan, Battlefront back in the day (2004) was the pinnacle of online shooters. Mixing the beautiful Star Wars universe with the mechanics that were often reserved for military shooters and other sci fi franchises, fans rejoiced, only to be let down by the power of the consoles at the time and more importantly the internet connections available at the time (a 2MB link made you the envy of all your friends here in the UK). George Lucas is gone, LucasArts similarly; now Disney have control of the Star Wars franchise - a new movie on the way which isn’t written or directed by George (praise the lord) and Disney have employed Battlefield veterans DICE (via EA) to attempt to bring forth the Battlefront game that fans have been begging for ever since the original launched.
When you first boot up Star Wars Battlefront the feeling of authentic Star Wars will completely wash over you - from the pitch perfect music to the gorgeous graphics, as a fan it absolutely hits home, striking every chord that is remembered from the original trilogy. It looks beautiful when static, even better when it’s moving and absolute chaos is happening all around, it sounds authentic and is quite easy to pick up and play.
As you begin what is essentially a simple fan service shooter you will soon realise there is no core single player component, something which is often a turnoff for gamers and with good reason, it’s safe to say here that it is missed. One can understand the desire to focus on the online side of things a la Titanfall but it would have been special to be able to play a fleshed out Star Wars story, pre-film, using this gorgeous graphics engine (Star Wars 1313 demo firmly in the mind). Alas though it is not to be and what we have is a series of one or two-player horde modes, a smattering of simple training exercises which help with flight and hero control as well as what initially looks like a wealth of online multiplayer modes. Blast is a simple enough deathmatch mode for all to cut their teeth on, along with your standard capture mode, drop zone (seen in the beta), as well as Cargo which is a standard capture the flag mode. These skirmishes are small affairs, don’t include vehicular combat and usually ranging from six to ten players a side on tight maps strewn across familiar landscapes. To mix things up a tad and to introduce a less grindy fun element to proceedings there is also fighter squadron which is exactly what it implies along with two hero based modes; hero hunt sees team chase down a hero to defeat them and heroes vs villains which of the silly modes is arguably the most fun. Here you have six players a side, three of which are selected to be heroes for the round - kill all opposing heroes and the round is won. For anyone looking to pick up the game this also looks like the best mode to rank up quickly and generally ranking up is painfully slow.
To say that the game feels like a grind is a pretty big understatement as levelling is so very slow throughout, worse so post level ten. Unlocks are naturally tied to levels in true FPS fashion and the unlocks themselves are purchased with in game currency, derived via a random calculation of your XP. You are afforded three slots within which to apply grenades, shields, rockets and various other buffs. The reward never really feels like it was worth the time it took to get it though and it is the combination of this grindy feeling along with only twelve maps and nine modes that kills any early enthusiasm within a few hours.
The larger more epic in scale battles are arguably more fun, pitting twenty against twenty in a walker assault or supremacy battle showcasing the game engine, score and graphical prowess in huge spaces, along with access to all manner of vehicles, airborne and on the ground, as well as the chance to become one of the great heroes or villains of the original trilogy. These modes really are the showcase modes with massive battles pushing and pulling for easily thirty minutes plus, often resulting in a tense climactic finish. It is within these modes that the game shines and along with the authentic sounds and score, the nostalgia washes over you and it is glorious.
The core criticisms are around the way in which the package is put together. Lacking that single player component is fairly unforgivable given that the multiplayer component only ships with those nine modes and twelve maps (no doubt plenty more to come if you fork out for a season pass), and these grumbles are re-enforced by the killer grindy feeling that the game gives off at every opportunity - all in all it really puts a dampener on proceedings especially if you are some-one who will play an online shooter excessively (like the COD crowd).
What Star Wars Battlefront does well is it appears to know its core audience. 70’s and 80’s kids who have grown up admiring everything about the original Star Wars trilogy and by this point, all in their mid 30’s with families and limited game time. It’s not a difficult game by any stretch and has a very pick up and play feel about it, this along with the fact that it is best enjoyed in short bursts lends itself wonderfully to that older gamer who grew up on Star Wars because that guy (or gal) only has an hour a night. Giving that guy/gal the option of a few rounds of modern warfare against this and it’s a no brainer, Battlefront wins everytime. Whilst it is very easy to bemoan the lack of modes and/or maps, both of which are legitimate complaints, for a game to be this Star Wars, that few hours a week is a delight. If however you are fairly hardcore and wish to reach max rank as quickly as humanly possible, there is a good chance that you will get bored along the way - the longer you spend with Battlefront the more the flaws become apparent and the scarcity of content shows itself for what it is.
Battlefront is a fantastic game for a certain type of person. Its dip in, dip out accessibility, matched with the obvious lashings of love and detail from a development team that clearly respect the franchise and its fans - it is absolutely perfect for fans of the original trilogy who these days have limited game time. It won’t please every-one and rightly so mainly due to the lack of any single player component, the slow ranking up, the lack of weapon variety as well as the general lack of content and as a result cannot be scored that highly.