I grew up a huge fan of Lucas’s Star Wars, the original trilogy had me hooked from the opening moments of A New Hope and as the films came out my love for the Sci-Fi phenomenon grew. As a small boy in the early eighties I would often re-enact the fight between the rebel forces and the evil empire with the many small figurines bought by my parents, these included the mighty Millennium Falcon as well as many of the iconic stars Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker and Hans Solo.
One of the main reasons I fell in love with the small toys was because of their incredible likeness to the films, if you have an affection for something, you want other items based off of that love to be a close representation of it. Almost thirty years on from where one child’s minor obsession began comes DICE’s Star Wars Battlefront, a reboot, not a sequel to the original game that took me back to a simpler time.
When I first heard DICE were in the midsts of developing a Battlefront game my head was immediately turned, more than anything I was interested to see how close to the films DICE could or wanted to get, how authentic would the amazing iconic scenic settings be and what about the games characters?, would the Swedish developers stay true to the cult films and what would they do with a game as a whole?. I along with 9 million others took part in the record-breaking Battlefront Beta back in October, initially I was impressed by what the Beta had to offer, even with just a couple game modes and maps showcased, the developers appeared to have done an amazing job at recreating two areas from the films, with Hoth, the ice planet from the Empire Strikes Back, a major highlight, while playing Walker Assault.
But did DICE reveal too much too soon and could Battlefront live up to the large expectations?
Star Wars Battlefront: Xbox One, PlayStation 4 [Reviewed] , PC
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: 17 November 2015
Price: £54.99 [Disclosure Game Copy provided by Publisher]
I’m a fan of the Battlefield series and much like that, Battlefront is tailored heavily towards a more multiplayer fuelled experience with a few single player elements to enjoy, which I found to be slightly disappointing. A Star Wars single player campaign would have been an excellent addition to the game, but that isn’t to say that Battlefront doesn’t offer anything different to the war based series because it does. Despite a lack of single-player campaign, there are a select number of single player missions to take part in, although they don’t have a great deal of depth to them, they are enough to keep you occupied for a short while.
From the Battlefront main menu, there are short training missions that offer a wide range of tutorials to aid players when starting out the experience. Rather than simply hopping online and testing myself against other players I opted to begin with these missions, in order to learn more about the in-game mechanics. From assisting Darth Vader defend a mighty AT-AT from an incoming rebellion alliance attack to taking down a group of AT-AT’s from the cockpit of a lightning-quick A-Wing Fighter over the beautifully icy planet of Hoth, not only served as great fun but taught me how to use certain controls that would help me online, such as how to use the A-Wing’s to bring down the AT-AT’s, sinking the giant robotic walkers to their knees.
Outside of the tutorial missions, there are two different solo/co-op modes to experience with both Battles and Survival offering some fun co-op play, the two modes offer the opportunity for players to team up with friends fighting on either side of the spectrum, with in-game challenges thrown into the mix. The first mode, Battle is very similar in nature to Call Of Duty’s Kill Confirmed mode, where players must retrieve the dog tags of a fallen enemy in order for the kill to count towards the score, with the first team to reach the limit prevailing. In Battlefront, players team up to fight over points, with each enemy kill dropping a golden token that needs to be collected in order to gain the points required to win. Set across numerous beautiful settings and with the option to fight on either side of the fence, players can take on the role of some of the films biggest names with Princess Leia, Hans Solo and Darth Vader available, depending on your chosen side.
While Battle Mode has it’s allure, even with both solo and co-op play available it can quickly wear thin and become too repetitive, I just can’t see players wanting to play this mode for more than a couple of hours before the novelty wears off. Survival Mode on the other hand see’s players taking on the Empire in waves of enemies ranging up to fifteen rounds, with the difficulty ramping up after every successful round completed. Battlefronts ‘Horde Mode’ definitely has it’s appeal, as players take on the role of the rebel forces against waves of various Storm-troopers and AT-ST’s in the ultimate bid for survival, set across some of the games finer maps. I believe this mode would be more appealing to fans of the films then Battle Mode, sadly this is where the single-player elements of the game end and that’s a real shame.
What Battlefront lacks in the single player department DICE more than make up for with the games fantastic multiplayer elements, with every players specific needs catered to. Battlefront’s multiplayer modes…and there are a lot of them, cover a whole manner of different types of fights and battles for players to take part in, whether that be by ground or in the air. The one thing DICE do exceedingly well is create amazing wide open plains for opposing players to fight across and in Battlefront that particular trend continues. They have expertly taken everything that makes the Stars Wars films so unique and transported those aspects into multiplayer action. Although the game appears short on maps, the ones I came across were enriched with nostalgia, the developers have stayed true to the films in almost every single sense.
Although virtually every mode at hand offers something different, from my time spent in Battlefront’s vast multiplayer I found a couple modes to stand head and shoulders above the rest. Firstly, Fighter Squadron, which is an insanely addictive mode where teams take to the skies in some of the most iconic airships the film has ever offered. With the choice of piloting either an Interceptor or TIE Fighter for the Empire and the X-Wing and A-Wing for the Rebel Alliance. Fighter Squadron offers some of the games more enthralling battles as players on opposing teams soar through the air in a quest for superiority. One of the modes many highlights came from defending against a hounding TIE Fighter through the caverns of Java Refuge, feeling the enemies nearing presence with my every turn, breathing down my neck, looking to evade an incoming homing missile that would surely take me out of the air, only to out manoeuvre my opponent at the last second before turning the tables on them, beginning my own hunt.
Thrilling moments come from the intense battles that can take place in every dog fight, my only real gripe with Fighter Squadron is the lack of in-space air fights, some of the films greatest moments come from such battles and I feel DICE have made a slight misstep in not including at least one space-based map for players to fight across. Another great feature of Fighter Squadron is the ability to pilot the Millennium Falcon for the Rebel Alliance and the Slave for the Empire, while piloting either ship leaves you feeling like a god and certainly grabs the attention of every opponent as they seek to take out the powerful ships that can cause outright destruction.
Another game mode I found myself investing a lot of my time in was Supremacy, a 40 player mode where opposing teams square off against each other for control of five different points spread across each map. Each team begins a game with two of these points already under their control, with the fifth control point up for grabs. Supremacy serves to throw players straight into the front line and provides some of the games best and intense action. With vehicles and both factions waging war against one another, it’s quite the sight. Throw in the fact that players can take control of the game’s heroes and you have a truly exciting game mode that will take up hours of your time.
One of the greatest maps for Supremacy for me was the planet of Endor, where the battles rage both on land and in trees, which of course play home to the lovable Ewoks, who are more than happy to launch a stone in your direction if you happen to step too close to their home. What males Endor such an amazing map to play across is it’s staggering likeness to the actual forest of Endor. The beautiful blend of pine and redwood trees with small lakes scattered about really helps to bring the game to life. The forest of Endor is a prime example of the sheer design that has gone into producing such maps, the closeness is uncanny and its a wonderful sight.
There are of course other great multiplayer modes to experience with Walker Assault, Heroes Versus Villains, Blast and Drop Zone to name a few, undoubtedly there is a lot of fun to be had across the entire Battlefront multiplayer mode, although a few of the game modes fall a little short and may be easily forgotten.
The woods of Endor are beautiful and incredibly well detailed
Battlefront’s combat system runs pretty close to the actions and sounds you expect to find in the films, but it can sometimes feel ever so slightly off. DICE know how to deliver a great action game filled with open world and close quarters combat, so you would expect them to get this one right and for the most part, they have. The variation in weapons available will have players debating what weapon is best, with most having to be unlocked through credits earned either in solo or multiplayer, nothing comes for free. The Star Wars Cards add an extra level of options, giving players the chance to tailor their individual fighters to match their own individual preferences, with three different slots available for different forms of attack including Grenades and Ion Torpedos. Overall the Star Cards are a great addition to a plethora of customisation options available for both weapons and perks.
Much like Battlefield, there is a tier levelling system to Battlefront, which can be very rewarding experience, with item unlocks working all the way to level 50. Having a system like this will keep players coming back for more and as you progress through the ranks, more powerful weapons and items become available for use. With credits earnt there are also a ton of characters to purchase with both genders available.
If I had, to sum up, Battlefronts graphics in a single word, I would opt for beautiful!…but you see, even when I say beautiful, the word only loosely covers how breathtaking gorgeous the landscape and characters really are. Battlefront is a poetic love letter from the Swedish developers to the iconic films of George Lucas, the game is heavily focused on the 77-83 films and it shows in every area of the game, characters and vehicles – all of these elements are presented with utmost precision. When the legendary music begins to roll and you find yourself deep in the forest of Endor facing up against a Galactic Empire solider or Storm-Trooper as Luke Skywalker or Hans Solo, there are few better feelings. Battlefront has been created with tender loving care, looks wise, it is one of the best games I’ve ever seen.
Sure, Battlefront is short on content, in all honesty, I didn’t expect the game to launch in the somewhat lightweight state it did but that shouldn’t for one second overshadow what DICE have created here. Battlefront is as authentic a Star Wars game as you are ever likely to see, even in its current state. The attention to detail within the game is flawless and the handful of maps offered are beautifully designed with real love poured in every direction. The Swedish developers are clearly fans of the films and it shows with the sheer depth of design and artwork involved. They are proud of what they have achieved, and they should be.
Battlefronts lack of single-player campaign feels like a real letdown, from a fans point of view I would have loved nothing more than to get stuck into a gripping storyline. The real meat on the bone of Battlefront comes from the large and extensive multiplayer mode, as exciting as it is, at times it feels like the same maps repeating themselves over and over, repetition can often lead to players losing interest quickly and that might not hold some buyers long enough for new content to be released.
Overall Battlefront is a truly authentic experience that most ardent Star Wars fan will enjoy, sadly the games visuals, sounds and multiplayer will only hold it instead for a while. The lack of single-player content might see fans and players looking elsewhere for their action, long before any DLC emerges.