Review: Star Wars Battlefront
A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, players worldwide turned their nose up at the stars. LucasArts development studio bid its farewell to the public, under the buyout of Disney. The sky darkens for fans of Star Wars, until publisher Electronic Arts, best known for its FIFA games, Need for Speed and Battlefield make the world know his ambitions: to develop and edit a new Star Wars Battlefront, while a third episode was expected for years by increasingly nostalgic players.
It is now 2015, and this year will be marked with a hot iron by the return of the most powerful license of all time, namely Star Wars. With a new film, The Force Awaken, and a new game, Star Wars Battlefront, the world of George Lucas gets a facelift, first drawing a line under the expanded universe that was created nearly 40 years. Almost a reboot, necessary for Star Wars fans and newcomers to discover the magic of the Millennium Falcon, TIE fighters, orange combination suits of X-Wing fighters… and Battlefront is in this logic as it disregarded episode I, II and III, preferred to rely on movies that everyone loves. With no doubt, Electronic Arts and DICE are betting on it to sell the game in loads, with a title that will inevitably be one of the giants of this end of year, because it has qualities… but also many small defaults.
If you are one of the many that tried Star Wars Battlefront beta, including the PC version, you already know that DICE’s work is sumptuous. This is the first one of its strengths, as rarely a Star Wars game have benefited from such graphical and technical work of art. Textures are extremely precise, almost photo-realistic, and the modeling of different vehicles, characters and weapons are close to perfection and true to the lore. During my test, I’ve tried Star Wars Battlefront on Xbox One, and inevitably, the result is less impressive than the PC version, but still pretty solid. The draw distance is lessened, clipping is particularly visible when piloting some vehicles and I saw some micro slowdowns, although not that crazy to make you stop playing. There is also some aliasing tears, visible on several occasions, and despite these small differences, DICE’s title amazes your eyes, loyal to the universe created by George Lucas and his teams.
So we can always point the finger at certain gross errors (like Luke’s lightsaber being Obi-Wan’s, unlike the green blade we know he use) but between the stages, graphic rendering and especially the soundtrack, it is enough to make any Star Wars fan drool all over his controller. The soundtrack is perhaps what is most impressive in Star Wars Battlefront, and I feel that a real work has been done on this level, especially when it comes to sound effects like explosions, screams of TIE fighters, blasters shots… everything is perfect. Really. And it would frankly wish that this wonderful setting was at the service of a less lazy play session.
During the beta of the game, the playable game modes felt uninspired, except Assault Walker which was rather amusing. At launch, Star Wars Battlefront is divided between Multiplayer and Missions; nevertheless, the latter is quite misleading because it merely allows you to learn the basics of the game through different tutorials with the help of bots, which can be put into practice in two types of missions: Battles and Survival. If survival is a bit boring, Battles are the most interesting because they allow you to play with a buddy and embody the various heroes of the game. But we quickly forget this part of the game and eventually start hating the faulty AI bots.
In different game modes you’ll have the opportunity to play Star Wars Heroes: Darth Vader, the Emperor and Boba Fett on the Empire side, or Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Leia Organa if you pick the Rebellion. All have a consistent life bar and can kill in grunts in a wink, even if some seem more powerful or interesting, especially Luke and Boba Fett. The way you incarnate one another, is a pleasure, especially as the music intelligently mark their interventions. But it is only in multiplayer that Star Wars Battlefront really makes sense, which, from the outset, will be a problem for many players: if you are not an online shooter enthusiast, with everything that implies in this title, there is little chance that Battlefront will deceive you.
Throughout the game, I quickly found that DICE was a bit stuck to define and create these different modes of play, and the player quickly ends up doing the same thing, regardless of the type of party. Ultimately, Race Droid, Supremacy, Dropping Zone (or famous Dropzone) and Cargo are confined to taking point in a single position: just go to a place, find the release module, the droid, etc. , press Square or simply stay in the area to win (crossing fingers that your team manages to recover other points before the other team do as well). Sure there are some variations since Dropzones alter throughout the match, while in Supremacy, they appear all at once at the beginning of the game. But the difference is really thin.
Nevertheless, some game modes stand out among the list. Supremacy, with nice size maps, vehicles and heroes offer the full experience for players to move and act in harmony, to take control of different key areas to win the match. Fighter Squadron has also huge potential with huge air battles, which you can easily switch between cockpit and “third person” view , to prove you’re the best pilot in the galaxy. Same goes for Walker Assault or Hero Hunt: the first lets you relive the famous attack on Hoth-AT, or on other planets, with a main objective to destroy the AT-AT with the use of Y-wing Bombers. The second is between two teams, each led by three heroes: thus, led by Luke, Leia and Solo, the rebels must defeat three opponents hero (Vader, the Emperor and Boba Fett) before they do exterminate their armies. These are the moments that Star Wars Battlefront offer to any fan of the movie, and that’s where the title ultimately crashes, because without ever being really bad, some fault prevents it from reaching the greatness to which it seemed promised. The question is whether you are primarily a gamer or a fan of Star Wars, as this balance will depend on your ability to accept the many small flaws that undermine this new Battlefront.
My main issue is the way weapons are handled in this title. Although this issue occurs in many FPS of our time, most have the good idea to offer at launch some alternate choices to the primary guns, and especially allow you to switch between a primary and a secondary weapon, leaving the opportunity for players to create an intelligent loadout. Throughout your first couple of games, you’ll notice that some advanced players will have a distinct advantage, especially when they pick the effectiveness of the T-21 and its twin, the T-21B, one can easily imagine that some gamers will give up the game before even dreaming of unlocking them.
As a loadout, you can create a “hand”, in which you can place three cards. These cards are actually items or skills to activate once per respawn. As weapons, they are unlocked gradually as you climb in levels, and may be purchased with currency that is gained by each party. Once used, the card (which may be a thermal sniper rifle) is subjected to a slight cool-down, which varies depending on the power of the card. A fun addition, but reminds me of Titanfall’s cards as well.
But if this balancing problem was limited to the weapons, it would be a lesser problem. Unfortunately things are more complicated when you get deeper in the game. Assault Walker is really difficult, and Rebels trying to destroy these AT-AT will soon face the Empire much greater firepower. Some will say “yeah but it is more realistic,” but let me remind you that we are in a video game and the teams are expected to be on an equal footing. The AT-AT shield is incredibly strong, and even when a flight Y-Wing has managed to temporarily cut off the shields, all the rebel firepower is not enough to drop them. The only time you have a chance to win is on Endor, where the Rebellion has the forest hindered visibility that affects AT-AT and AT-ST movements. This balancing problem is the same with Hero Hunt. As much as I love Han Solo and Leia as a character, they don’t really stand a chance against the Empire, since it’s a 1v2 melee lightsaber fight in the end, between Luke and Vader/Emperor.
But inevitably this rigidity, or burden, has an impact on the fighting, but fortunately, it depends on maps and weapons you pick. Running in the forest of Endor with a DL-44 in hand is gratifying! Some weapons provide great sensations, but one cannot help thinking that DICE could’ve widen the scope when designing them: the arsenal includes the archetypes of the FPS genre, which is a shotgun (CA-87), a machine pistol (SE-14C), the Famas (EE-3), the low rate rifle high-precision / high damage rifle (T-21 ), and even a Magnum / Desert Eagle (DL-44) … in short, not that original, and reminds us that in the old days, Jedi Knight II had been able to offer gamers a lot of guns that were fun.
Nevertheless, all these imperfections might not bother you, as you may not be playing for Star Wars Battlefront for its seriousness , counting your frags, calculate your ratio. And you would be right to do so, even if the game takes pleasure to highlight at the end of each game, the player who had the most kills (whether after winning or losing the map).
Star Wars Battlefront was reviewed using an Xbox One downloadable copy of the game provided by EA Games. The game is also available on PlayStation 4 and PC via Origin. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published
• Visually stunning
• Incredible Soundtrack
• Relatively faithful to the original trilogy
• A lot of game modes
• The card system is rather smat
• Some game modes are uninspired
• Some balancing needs to happen
• Really few maps pushing you to think about Season pass