Ahead of the new Star Wars film coming up, we have Star Wars: Battlefront, the hotly-anticipated multiplayer phenomenon that’s been going since 2004. And this is, surprisingly, not another annual game like so many others, and this iteration is only its third entry in the series. This is the review you were looking for.
Battlefront lets you take on a number of roles across a number of battles in the Star Wars universe, most notably those from the latter few films. These roles include both Rebel and Imperial soldiers, and the various heroes and villains from each faction. The various multiplayer modes span a selection of (currently) four planets and about half a dozen maps, and there’s something for just about everyone here, from king of the hill style games to capture the flag types to a full out assault to some stranger ones in between. You even get to pilot some vehicles in the game, from AT-ST walkers to speeders to X-Wing and TIE-Fighter craft. It’s everything you’d expect from a grand battle Star Wars game. The best way to figure out which mode you’re going to enjoy is to try them all, because honestly there are so many ways to play. Even if you’re a veteran online gamer, you’ll likely find something to enjoy, from the frenetic 40 player battles down to the more intimate 8 and 12 player battles. And when I say there’s something for just about everyone, I mean that. For example, I truly love battling in the skies, while Lord Prawn himself prefers to shove a blaster in your face and have done with it.
The game’s single player modes are minimal at best. There’s no coherent campaign; instead, you get a small collection of single missions to play with to prepare you for the multiplayer portions of the game. It would have been awesome to have expanded these into something more tangible, because a lot of these are great fun for when you don’t wish to pit your skills against 39 others. Some modes, such as the Endor Chase, don’t feature much in the rest of the game either, and I honestly enjoyed the challenge of that. Aside from those, there’s also a survival mode, which pits you and possibly a partner against a series of waves of foes. This mode is also quite a bit of fun, but could have been expanded into something more like Gears of War’s Horde mode for some brilliant fun.
Graphically speaking, the game is all over the place. The forest of Endor, for example, is absolutely gorgeous, but then you get the barren wastes of Sullust and the graphical detail seems to have taken a horrible turn for the worse. Of course, how much you notice the details depends very largely upon which mode you’re playing. You’re not going to care too much about how ugly Sullust is when you’re in the middle of an aerial dogfight in the skies above it, but you’re going to care a lot about how pretty the scenery on Hoth is when you’re down on the ground, battling it out. Some of the character models, such as Luke, are also a little on the Uncanny Valley side of things. I’m sure that scary faces that give you a bad feeling about this aren’t what the developers had in mind, but the effect is there nonetheless.
The game’s sound design is fairly competent, and the sound effects from blaster fire, light sabers, and so forth are about what you’d expect. The sounds of the TIE-fighters seemed a little off to my ears, but then when someone is trying to put a proton torpedo up your rear exhaust, how the vehicle sounds is the least of your worries. On the other hand, the voice acting is terrible and grates against the ears. Matt Sloan, the guy behind the voice, has actually done some decent Vader work before, which is why his performance for Battlefront is so weird. On the other hand, you truly can’t miss Anthony Daniels’ voice as C-3PO, and I don’t know if they’ll ever find someone to replace him. It’s good that he’s willing to work with these projects. And I hear he speaks fluent Bocce.
Like many newer AAA games, Star Wars Battlefront comes with a companion app, which notifies you when friends are online so you can organise matches. It also comes with a minigame called Base Command, a tower defense type game. What makes it interesting is that the game interacts with the main Battlefront game; if you unlock cards in the main game, they’ll appear in Base Command. Furthermore, playing Base Command earns you money which you can use to unlock stuff in the main game. Even nicer: you can unlock the stuff directly from the app so that it’s ready to go the next time you fire up Battlefront.
Star Wars Battlefront certainly encapsulates the feel of the war between the Rebel army and the Imperials, and it tries very hard to capture the spirit of what made the original films so much fun, but something is definitely getting lost in translation. On the one hand, the frenetic energy of the huge online battles can be exhilarating, but respawning time after time as another face in the fight feels impersonal. And down on the other hand, hero battles, while far more strategic and personal, seem to lack a certain flavour I can’t put my fingers on. And then there’s the single player afterthought missions that feel somewhat “wedged in at the last second”-ish. The game is definitely a good lot of fun, and the only other online multiplayer game I’ve spent more time in is Splatoon.The content at present also feels a little light for the price, although there’s one free update coming in December, and then a whole bunch of paid DLC episodes that cost as much as the base game alone. I wonder if that price is worth swallowing for what the game should feel like. On its own, it’s worth a go if only for the sheer numbers of people playing it. You’ll never be at a loss for opponents, unless, like mine, your internet connection is wibbly. Maybe I should have shut down all the trash compactors on the detention level.