Game Review: Star Wars Battlefront
I wanted to start by saying this, if you really liked the original Star Wars Battlefront and Star Wars Battlefront 2, there's no guarantee that you'll enjoy this iteration because this game is not Star Wars Battlefront 3. In other words, there's only so much that this game uses from the first two games to make itself. In my opinion, it would have been far better to name it something else rather than implying it's another game in the same vein.
I'll review this game on its own merits, as well as explain why this game isn't what we were all expecting.
There is no other Star Wars game currently that has better graphics or sound. It's astonishing, it honestly is. These are its two main selling points. The character graphics are amazing, and the amount of cosmetic customization items are fantastic for both the Rebels and the Imperials (it makes a lot of the Imperials take off their helmets but we all know that was never really armor in the first place). There's tons of expression in the taunts that make full use of the visuals. The landscapes are fantastic and feel very Star Wars-y, even new locations like Sullust that we've never experienced before.
And the sounds, oh my good grief the sounds. Blaster fire is exactly what you expect it to be and the soundtrack from the films is present (thank you John Williams). But the game does better than you expect it to. Squad shields has that unique noise from Episode 1 when blasters hit the Gungan shields and the implosion grenades make the most amazing, terrifying bass scream I've ever heard in a firefight. Frankly, this is one of the very few games I will remember for its sounds.
Some of its game modes are a lot of fun too. Fighter Squadron takes everything that was okay with the first two SWB games in an airborne vehicle and makes it better. Walker Assault, even when not played on Hoth, feels like a much larger interaction than most of other missions, and Hero Assault and Hero Squad puts Hero characters into the forefront against squads of troops coordinating a counterattack or Heroes against Heroes respectively. There are plenty of good ideas in here that I enjoy playing. Many of these things were missing or weren't as good in SWB2.
All Heroes are scary, in the right player's hands. I've faced off against Princess Leia who killed me in a single shot while I can only do under 10% of her total health, to which she just heals off with one of her special abilities. Sure, seeing Luke with a lightsaber is scary too but he can't reliably kill you at a distance as Leia and Han can.
Some of the Star Cards are a lot of fun to use. Being able to change your ammo to do ion damage or having a sniper that relies on being charged up allows you to play differently in any game.
Jetpacks are also kinda exhilarating, even if they only game the design of the previous jet pack to Boba Fett (which unfortunately takes away one of his special abilities).
There are 3 or 4 Mission types that all revolve around the same thing, capture these points, hold them, and capture more points. That's nearly half of the total online multiplayer missions. That's way too much.
Replacement of the class system in games past is the Star Cards, and while they offer a lot of customization, they're a bit pricy but that's not the kicker. There are a lot of them and descriptions before you buy don't always tell you everything about it, meaning you have to pay to experience a Star Card before you can decide if you want it to not. That goes double for the different guns. So far all I can tell is that there's automatic and semi-automatic with differing, meaning everyone is just going to pick the best overall gun (the DL-44 likely) and the rest of the firearm collection simply won't be useable.
As a Hero, Emperor Palpatine doesn't get his lightsaber. What?
Speaking to that last point, I feel that this game goes out of its way to avoid Episodes 1-3 (reusing a sound byte doesn't count). There's no Clones or Droids (which I understand would have multiplied its cosmetic system) but there's also no Heroes of yesteryear, forcing you to stick with one of the six heroes. That wouldn't be so bad if I hadn't already experienced the plethora of Heroes back in SWB2. You can play as the Millennium Falcon and Slave II in Fighter Squadron, but I'm not sure how exactly.
There's also no Campaign, instead just 5 Training missions of singular purpose (ride a speederbike, kill people as Vader, take down an AT-AT). You can play these as Local Coop, as well as two different modes called Battle (where you kill the opposition and collection points) and Survival (where you defeat different waves of enemies a la Black Ops Zombies).
This game has a very dry bones approach to Single Player/Local Coop, and some serious tunnel vision in regards to Multiplayer. Fearful from the demo and news surrounding the game, my wife and I rented the game for two days from a Redbox (which I would recommend doing even if you think you'll get the game). She and I played it for about an hour or two, and I played it for about 4-6 hours on my own exploring the different Multiplayer modes. Having done that, I was no longer interested in leveling up my character and I had felt I had experienced everything the game had to offer. Not including the Fighter Squadron maps (since everyone's in the sky anyway), there's only 4 planets with about 2 maps each (with a little more free DLC with Jakku around the time the film comes out) so there's not a lot to discover. I can't rationalize why I would pay $60 for something that feels so small that looks gorgeous and sounds even better.
Oh, but I am more than a little miffed by having four separate DLC packs coming out for this game. I have no issue when a game is large enough to support itself (think any Fallout, Elder Scrolls, or Bioware games) and has additional packs, but when something like this feels so incomplete, I can't help but fear it was done purposefully.
Why not Battlefront 3?
The first two SWB games were basically arcade games, and I'll tell you why. They had one very singular purpose, letting the player fight on a field with tons of AI either alongside and/or against friends. It allowed the player to make and experience climatic moments on their own, being cornered by Droidekas in narrow hallways or encountering Luke Skywalker sending a missile right back at you. It wasn't overly complicated and it had a lot of draw to it.
I would have no issue if this game I'm reviewing did all their new stuff but still game me the old school method of running around on a battlefield with tons of CPU controlled teammates and enemies with half a dozen control posts to capture. I would have enjoyed a Campaign, or loved playing against a friend in SWB2's Galactic Conquest. I loved grabbing a tank with a tech class and riding it for an entire game, or playing the fragile snipers taking out enemy Clone Commandos. But DICE decided to scrap everything and replace it with online focused material. I would have no issue if this game didn't have Battlefront in the name. Call it anything else, just don't lead me to believe I'm finally getting that chance to play with just my friends on the couch as we push Luke Skywalker off of Bespin Platforms with our grenades or hijack a Genosian Starfighter while destroying Techno Union Ships.
Basically while playing this game, all I could think of was how I wished I was playing Star Wars Battlefront 2 on my old Playstation 2.
Rent it, for the love of all good things, rent this game before you buy it. I know you use Redbox for movies, try it out for games (like I did with Until Dawn). You can fully explore everything the game has for you in that amount of time and decide then if you want to buy it.
I don't have anything against people who buy the game, as it isn't overly bad only just minimalistic (in my opinion). Maybe when all the DLCs are out and the game is shipped at a lower price may I change my mind, but I'm not looking forward to it. I hope your experience is better.
And if you find yourself unsatisfied, give a look at Planetside 2. Sure, it's only multiplayer driven but the scope is bigger than any Battlefront game and it operates just as you wish this game had. Oh, and it's free.