When Star Wars: Battlefront first released in 2004 it gave gamers the chance to do something they had wanted to do for years, take part in some of the biggest and most imaginative battles in movie history. No wonder then that it turned out to be a critical and commercial success that went on to spawn a sequel. Unfortunately for fans, a long-awaited third instalment never materialized after an extended development with TimeSplitters creators Free Radical Design resulted in a cancelled project.
The acquisition of the Star Wars franchise by Disney gave the series a chance to return once again. EA were awarded the rights to make Star Wars games and Battlefield developer DICE grabbed their chance to have their own take on a much loved gaming favorite. It wouldn’t be easy to win over skeptical fans in the run up to the upcoming film The Force Awakens but they gave it their best shot with Star Wars Battlefront. So, just how did they do?
As we noted in our beta impression article a few weeks ago, Star Wars Battlefront nails down the aesthetics of the franchise perfectly. The best compliment that can be given to the game is that it feels as if you are in the world of Star Wars. Everything looks and sounds exactly as it should, from the whine of blasters firing lasers to the instantly recognizable lightsabers noise. DICE were given access to much of the source material held by LucasFilm and they have certainly put it to good effect.
The studio have managed to put together those assets into a beautiful looking game, with the various worlds and levels that you play on having extreme attention to detail and a visually spectacular. It isn’t just the gameplay either, even the menus and user interface is sharp and slick. The one big complaint with the presentation is the voice acting of the various heroes, which are not those of the original actors and are perhaps too prominent considering their poor quality.
In terms of gameplay you might expect Star Wars Battlefront to play similarly to Battlefield, it is after all created by the same group of people. The truth though is that despite some familiar gametypes and large open maps, this game feels significantly different to other titles by the studio. The first thing you might notice is that you can play in both first-person and third-person. Both of these work perfectly well and really just provide choice to the player so they can enjoy the experience with their own preference.
The other aspect that is most noticeable, and makes Battlefront stand out from the current first-person shooter crowd, is that it feels like something from a previous generation of gaming. It feels much more like an arcade title, focusing on fast-paced gameplay, vehicle warfare and power-ups. This helps to make the game more accessible to fans of Star Wars that might not be overly familiar with modern shooters, though there is certainly some depth to the gameplay for those who like more meat on their games.
This primarily comes from the Star Card system that is in place. Each card provides some sort of power-up or perk that can be used a limited amount of time during a game, which helps to give each player a unique loadout and playstyle. They generally range from things such as special weapons, ammo modifiers or shields and scanners, giving you an extra edge in battle. They work well and provide plenty of variety.
Although there is no singleplayer or campaign mode, there are co-operative modes that pit teams of players against AI opponents as they attempt to prevent you from carrying out your task. Apart from the training missions, the other co-op modes come in the form of Battles, unique missions that involve different objectives, and Survival, which is a wave mode similar to Horde or Firefight. The best content though comes in the form of the online competitive multiplayer.
Here there are nine different modes. Some blend familiar gamestypes together in new ways, incorporating features from the likes of Conquest from Battlefield, while there are also some new games that are unique to Star Wars Battlefront. Some of the others include the all starfighter battle mode Fighter Squadron, the AT-AT walker missions in Walker Assault and Blast, which is essentially just team deathmatch.
Some of the most fun comes in the game modes that involve the hero characters prominently. Hero Hunt puts one gamer in the shoes of the likes of Boba Fett, Luke Skywalker or the Emperor while the rest of the players attempt to kill him and take on the role of a hero themselves. Perhaps the most fun and interesting of these is Heroes vs. Villains, where two teams of three heroes and normal soldiers fight against each other. In my experience, playing Heroes vs. Villains was the highlight of the game, being able to force push Stormtroopers and engage in lightsaber fights with Darth Vader was about as satisfying as anything I’ve done in gaming.
The real problem with Star Wars Battlefront is the lack of content. While there is a wide range of game modes, there are only a select few maps and a small amount of different weapons, leaving the experience to become rather repetitive after a good amount of gameplay. This is going to be addressed in future DLC, but most of that will come in the incredibly expensive Season Pass, giving a feeling that EA and DICE may have deliberately held back on some extra maps to sell to players later on.
Apart from that though, Star Wars Battlefront is a stellar game. It blends everything a fan of the franchise would want from a title and will bring real joy to the hardcore followers thanks to its accurate models and exquisite environments. It also brings some subtle changes to the genre that has been dominated by the likes of Call of Duty and Battlefield for so many years.
This review was carried out using a promotional copy of the game that was provided by EA for review purposes.