After playing Star Wars Battlefront for its first month, does the game hold up to the Star Wars hype?
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Release Date: November 11, 2015
If you are to know anything about Star Wars Battlefront, then it is best to know that it is a sterling achievement in sound design and iconography. There will likely not be anything else to make you feel so intently into Star Wars until the movie comes out. The passion of the game developers in recreating the landscapes, the vehicles, and the people lends itself into putting what is an otherwise rather by the numbers shooter through much larger paces.
Let’s begin the full review with the good things in the game:
As stated in the preamble, there is nowhere you will find outside of the Star Wars movies themselves a more well-crafted sound design implementation. The “pew pew” of the lasers are all distinctive to their individual weapons. The screaming sound of the tie fighters shooting through the sky. Imagine if you will, listening to John Williams’ soundtrack to open the game, throughout the matches, and even the triumphant horns of victory play when you win a match.
You cannot top what has been done here. Where other games excel at the feel of the game utilizing strong mechanics, Star Wars Battlefront’s achievement in design is practically unparalleled in this year’s gaming output.
Sporting a wide variety of character faces (you can even be an old woman!), Star Wars Battlefront lets you truly take your rebel soldier or your empire storm trooper to great heights. Using maybe the best storm trooper design ever seen in video games, Star Wars Battlefront’s only failing in terms of character design are the limited nature of the custom designs you can add to your character. You truly can only unlock new character and facial models by leveling up in the game. This gives you something to level up for, but little outside of that.
The greatest aspect of Star Wars as a movie is the way in which it takes you deep into this space universe and not just with alien races, but in terms of the weapons, vehicles, and people you run into. All of this is captured to the fullest in Star Wars Battlefront. The X-Wing, the A-Wing, the Millenium Falcon, Tie Fighters, Tie Interceptors, etc. you name it and there is an opportunity for you to use it in this game. The same goes with the guns featuring classic weapons like the DL-44, though some do at times appear a bit overpowered.
The levels are quite obviously meticulously crafted with large levels for the Walker Assault and Supremacy battles featuring some of the biggest large-scale combat I have seen. This, however, is where some of the magic begins to peter out. In the movies, the Battle of Hoth is but a moment from something on a grander scale coming next. In Star Wars Battlefront, you play missions on Hoth for longer than you have ever experienced them in Star Wars movies.
This would not be a problem if those larger maps were portioned out into smaller maps, but instead when playing the smaller maps, you are essentially stuck in the same loop of maps between each stage. One small section of these larger landscapes is put into the gameplay loop of stages and given the larger size of these levels, it felt like such a waste of the vast spaces they built to confine the game to so few smaller spaces in these maps. Even with fewer people on the levels, utilizing more of the spaces could have added to the spice and variety of the game’s interactions.
Single Player Modes
Star Wars Battlefront features a good variety of modes. There is a single player/co-op mode named Survival. This mode will test you and your friends heavily, especially on the highest level difficulty. As a plus, you can also play this mode in split screen, which is great if you want to share the game with friends at your house. Utilizing the power ups on the battle field, protecting special drops, equipping the proper star cards are all important factors in success in these missions.
Additionally, there is a hero battle mode in which you and a team of your rebels or storm troopers take on the opposite foe. You play as a Hero, whether it be Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker or one of the others available in the game, and your team goes up against the other to see who can win the most rounds of combat.
Fighter Pilot Modes
You can use the various flying arsenals in three different modes: Walker Assault, Supremacy, and Fighter Squadron. Walker Assault and Supremacy are 40 v 40 contests wherein both sides are fighting to gain territory using a mix of land and aerial assaults. Fighter Squadron is a 10 v 10 mode aimed at protecting escorts in their travels and features the game only extensive Tie Fighter vs. X-Wing battle sequences.
The actual flying in this game is actually not too advanced from some of the mechanics you may have seen in Star Fox 64, even then there were some mechanics like the barrel roll in Star Fox that is not as widespread in this game. For a fantasy flying epic, the game stays really true to aspects of Star Wars which are less fantastic even when it would have livened up much of the fanfare surrounding the game’s implementation of these classic vehicle designs.
You can play as heroes on many different occasions in the Star Wars Battlefront: Hero Hunt, Heroes vs. Villains, Supremacy, Walker Assault, Fighter Squadron, Hero Battles in Single Player battles. Your heroes include Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Emperor Palpatine, and Boba Fett. You do not get to choose who you are very often in these matches, however, many times it is picked for you who you are to be.
This limitation in choice works to make it more thrilling when you do get the character you want, but also makes it pretty frustrating when you get a character you dislike. On top of that, moving around with characters without jetpacks or Force abilities is much less mobile as your heroes can barely jump. This puts the rebel Heroes at a distinctly more grounded vantage point as they take on the likes of the two strongest forces in the empire and the bounty hunter Boba Fett. Do you still win? Yes. Is it more to play one side over the other? Absolutely.
The game, nor this review, would not be complete without mentioning the standout modes that exist where you do nothing but plays as rebels or storm troopers. Outside of the previously mentioned, you get modes such as Droid Run, Drop Zone, Cargo, and Blast. Cargo is your usual Capture the Flag mode wherein you grab some cargo and attempt to take it back to your base. Blast is your Team Deathmatch mode. Droid Run is a variation on command and conquer modes of other games. Drop Zone takes the command and conquer concept and gives it a twist, now you must capture areas all over the map and not just in a couple isolated areas on the page.
These modes, especially Drop Zone and Droid Run, are absolute standouts in this game. Their faster paced action and the way the game rewards your involvement in the objectives of the game as much as your ability to shoot others is a gift to those players whose main role are to provide support to the main shooters. As you cycle through stages in the different modes, you see differences in them as well. Again, this makes it all the more a shame, that more of these stages weren’t used outside of individual modes.
The overall gameplay in this game is extremely satisfying at times and incredibly frustrating at others. Where the sheen and polish on the game puts a nice veneer on the exterior, there are inner systems that eat away at the foundation.
You equip Star Cards to provide additional weapon options as opposed to a one weapon loadout. This can be an upgrade to the blaster, grenades, homing missiles, your jetpack, etc. A lot of these gadgets do not open up until higher level, though. Just think, you have to be level 13 before you can use a jetpack. In the beta, you had to get to level 5 and that seemed like too long to wait to add more variation in how players crossed terrain.
When moving with a player, your ability to jump is extremely limited. It’s not by the effects of gravity on each planet or anything like that. Your character just sucks at jumping. Additionally, the movement of player whether as a hero, soldier, or as the fighter pilots, it can feel extremely dated in the way you move. Features that are ubiquitous in games like Destiny, Call of Duty, or Titanfall, such as sliding behind cover, double jumps, and the immediacy and feel of the impact as you shoot weapons is not found in this game.
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I would say if you have played any other shooting game this year, especially if you have played Destiny: The Taken King, then you have already played a better shooter than Star Wars Battlefront. There is a level of polish in the particulars on Star Wars Battlefront you will hardly find elsewhere though. Just look at the way the snow glistens as you play the Hoth maps. The sound design, the visual flair as the AT-AT takes down a fighter jet, The AT-ST’s getting crippled by an ion grenade, and other aspects that are so uniquely Star Wars still help this game stand out from the rest of the pack in terms of what it offers to you, the player.
The more uniquely crafted gameplay experience of Star Wars Battlefront could have used some of those tighter mechanics and controls of a game like Destiny, though. With so many aspects of the game being rooted so far in nostalgia, embracing some of the forward thinking of other shooters would have brought Star Wars Battlefront from a galaxy far, far away into the current reality of video games a bit. I look forward to them utilizing this game’s assets in future single player Star Wars campaigns and seeing what life the planned free, and the unfortunate reality of the season pass, DLC will bring into the game’s atmosphere. Until then, Star Wars Battlefront is a great experience for the Star Wars fan inside of you and your friends, but do not expect it to win you over if you weren’t already a fan.
A copy of this game was provided to GameSided for the purpose of this review. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.