Hearing that John Williams score as you rush into the fray with your friends to destroy an Imperial AT-AT is so spine-chillingly satisfying that I really couldn’t compare it to anything else except other Star Wars games.
“Star Wars: Battlefront” is here at last, and the gamers of the world are having a hard time deciding if they want to spend time in “Fallout 4” or on Hoth battling the forces of the Galactic Empire. And it’s a real dilemma too, since “Battlefront” really does deliver a very impressive and immersive Star Wars experience.
I’ll address something right out of the gate, though, since this is a huge selling (or not selling) point for some people. “Battlefront” does not have a single-player campaign. I know this really does get some people’s goat since they want a single-player experience, especially since we’ve been lacking one for so many years and with the cancellation of the highly-anticipated “Star Wars: 1313.” The fact of the matter is that (if we’re willing to wait for it) there’s a game coming out from EA that Amy Hennig (the creative director and writer behind “Uncharted”) and Jade Raymond (one of the creators of “Assassin’s Creed”) are working on, and I’m honestly more excited for what that could be rather than another “Battlefront” game with a predictable campaign that we wouldn’t be surprised about.
Since the elephant in the room is out of the way, we can talk about “Battlefront” and all that it is and isn’t. What it is, is a very impressively crafted Star Wars experience that is beautiful to look at, large in scale, and varied in modes. What it isn’t is a revolutionary shooter that will change how we look at other games in the genre.
Starting with what it is, you’ll no doubt notice that the hand-crafted maps, pitch-perfect sounds and jaw-dropping visuals really immerse you in the game and leave no doubt in your mind that this was lovingly created by Star Wars fans for Star Wars fans. This may be the most aesthetically pleasing game DICE has been involved in, and that’s not a throw-away statement.
The game works off of a leveling system, so essentially the more kills and more games you play, the higher you level. The credits you gain from leveling can be spent on unlocking weapons and visual customization options for your character. There’s also this card system that sort of takes the place of perks that you would normally see in “Call of Duty.” Your hand of three cards can have items like thermal detonators (e.g. grenades), long range rifles, or ion torpedoes for taking out AT-STs, and more. The third card can be chosen as an ability buff rather than an item. For example, the one I use the most reduces weapon recoil for a short time so I can unload with perfect accuracy into some Rebel scum. There are many other cards, including health upgrades and jet packs, that allow you to really make your build for your specific play style.
While most people who played the beta will be familiar with the Walker Assault game mode, in which you are either trying to capture transmitters to allow Y-Wings to lock on to AT-ATs to destroy them, or you work as Imperials to stop the Rebels from doing this, there are several other modes. My personal favorite is Fighter Squadron, which is a 10 vs 10 starfighter match with a ton of computer-controlled units thrown in to make for a really awesome in-air dogfight straight out of the movies. You have your Star Wars-y variations of capture the flag and zone capture, as well as some basic team deathmatch that transforms into a more “Battlefield” style version with a large map and vehicles. Honestly, playing a large-scale team deathmatch with TIE fighters and X-Wings flying overhead is very cool and sure to make you geek out for at least a brief moment each match.
Heroes are a game mechanic that many people will remember from “Battlefront 2,” but in this game you’ve got Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine, Boba Fett, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa playable. Each hero has their own special abilities and strengths. There’s even a mode where one person takes the role of a hero and the rest of the players try and defeat them. The player who lands the death blow then gets to be the next hero. This would be a fun mode if it weren’t for the fact that if someone is really good at playing the heroes they can essentially stay the hero for the entire game, and it suddenly becomes the worst meat grinder ever for everyone else involved because, for instance, skilled player with control of Luke can tear through stormtroopers quickly using his lightsaber, increased speed and jump height, and his Force powers.
Since we’re starting to talk about bad stuff, here’s the low down on what the game isn’t. “Battlefront” will not blow your mind with how good of a game it is. It’s not the best multiplayer game (I still stand by “Homefront” as the best one I’ve played), and it’s not really bringing anything new to the table that hasn’t been seen before. “Battlefront” is every shooter you’ve ever played if these types of games are your bag. If you’re like me and you’re getting it because “OMG STAR WARS,” then you’re going to have that moment where you remember why you don’t play these types of games in the first place and switch back to Fighter Squadron because, c’mon, you’re playing this to fly a spaceship, right? “Battlefront” can become a horrible meat grinder that really begins to feel less and less fun the more you die and are overwhelmed by better players. I hesitate to say it, but this fact alone may make you start to resent this game.
Is “Battlefront” worth your money. Absolutely. Is it a perfect multiplayer shooter? No, it’s just like all the others. Is this a fantastic Star Wars game? You bet your ass it is. “Battlefront” is a great Star Wars fix for those of us jonesing to be back in a galaxy far, far away, but don’t be surprised if you find the same old thing you’ve been seeing in other shooters you’ve been spending time with recently.
“Star Wars: Battlefront” is available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.