When it comes to Sci-Fi there is one franchise that sticks out more than any other. The fandom that surrounds it bears so much weight that it takes great responsibility to make sure that it shines. Even the creator himself had to move a mountain to appease his loyal fans, and failed in doing so. Star Wars is a franchise like no other; its fans are brutal and difficult to please. Thank the force that I’m not one of them.
Star Wars Battlefront was a massive challenge for me. I’m not a huge Star Wars fan and I’ve never played a Battlefield game. To top it all off, I really don’t like playing online, so this game was a triple whammy. I took this for two reasons, to challenge myself as a reviewer and to see how well it holds up against someone who has no emotional attachment to the franchise.
Choosing A Side
Fighting as Rebels or The Imperial forces has been a dream for many people. With Star Wars Battlefront, that is a complete reality for people with current gen consoles. It’s a massive and explosive war between the dark and the light. Fighting as some of your favourite characters, Stormtroopers or the Rebel Alliance is a complete delight, even for a neutral person like me. I had equal fun playing the bad guys as I did with the good.
The one problem was, without a story, I don’t know if I really cared about who won and who lost. That’s one of the biggest issues facing Battlefront: for a game that costs R999 retail, it’s really difficult to justify just an online experience. It renders everything pointless, as if it expects you to fill in your own story, or somehow fit between the movies.
What You See Is What You Get
What is in the game is a selection of Multiplayer modes as well as some offline, single player battles. The single player portion is divided into two items: battles and survival. There are 8 Battles taking place on four maps, one for each planet: Endor, Tatooine, Hoth and Sullest. These battles are fairly easy as you play against bots. You need to kill the enemy and collect points. The first to 100 wins. You can choose to be standard or play as a hero character: Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, Darth Vader, Palpatine or Boba Fett.
In survival, which does not include hero characters, is just as the name implies: you’ll be facing waves of enemy troops and you need to survive. There are four survival battles for you to choose. Online co-op and split screen are available and it’s a real blast if you have a friend over and want to just play to relax.
Looking At The Maps
On the multiplayer side there are 9 modes for you tackle. Some are massive and others are more intimate. The biggest maps are Supremacy, Walker Assault and Fighter Squadron. These three are massive and represent war the most. Each one has up to 40 players and it is pure chaos and bliss. I’ve had so much fun playing these, especially Fighter Squadron. In this mode, you get to battle in the air, using TIE fighters or X-Wings, depending on whose side you’re on. I’m also surprisingly good at it, coming in second or third in most matches.
The middle-sized maps include Blast, Cargo and Drop Zone. Blast is similar to the Battle stages in the single player and Cargo is pretty much the standard capture the flag. Drop Zone is another capture flag, but damn difficult to win.
The smaller maps are some of my favourite, mainly because they highlight the heroes the most. There’s Droid Run, another capture the flag (only this time the flag is moving), Hero Hunt and Heroes vs Villains (my personal favourite of all nine modes). In Heroes vs Villains, all six heroes are in play. The first one to lose all three heroes (three for each team) loses the round. It’s particularly awesome when you have a showdown, like this one time I beat Darth Vader as Luke Skywalker. The same when I killed Boba Fett as Han Solo. I would’ve liked more heroes, good and bad, as the franchise is so big, so to be limited to just six is a bit of a sucker punch.
A Visual Spectacle
What excels more than anything else in this game are the visuals. I have never played a more beautiful game. From the animation to the explosions, everything is highly detailed and cannot be faltered. I couldn’t spot a single frame out of place and not one sound effect was delayed. To say this game is polished is a massive understatement. It’s slick, clean and breath taking. You almost want to look at things, but you really can’t, you know, because enemies. Another positive was how well it handled in both first and third person. I chose to play in third person because it looked more like Star Wars and it’s generally my preferred playstyle.
It’s not all roses though. There’s very little in the way of customisation. The weapons are shockingly limited and the Star Card system does not look like it has a full deck. Character customisation is also fairly limited. For a game this pricey, I’d expect a proper character create section. Instead, you’re given basic-looking characters and you need unlock minor details using the game’s credit system. In total, there are 11 guns and 24 star cards. The only character I’d like to unlock is the Twi’Lek, but I need to have 17 000 credits and be at Rank 50 to unlock it – what a nightmare.
The offline stuff can easily be completed in about 3 – 4 hours (the survival maps taking up most of that time), but the meat of the game is in the multiplayer. If you’re a Battlefield fan or a Star Wars fan, then you’ll find this part wonderful. Getting to play in all-out warfare in AT-STs, A-Wings or as Han Solo will give you the best gaming highs of all. Despite not being an online fan, I’ve pumped in about 8 hours and played 49 matches – not bad for a game with no story.
The Price Is Problematic
Star Wars Battlefront was surprisingly entertaining, but my biggest apprehension about it is the price tag. Although I enjoyed it, I just don’t think it’s worth the price tag. It’s too much for a game that doesn’t offer a lot. The 9 modes are great, but with only four planets (out of an entire freaking universe) and a tiny selection of customisables, as well as a small roster of hero characters, I just can’t see the justification behind it.
Star Wars Battlefront is a clear cash cow, but that doesn’t mean it’s a crappy one. There are plenty of crap cash-ins out there. This one is polished and looks gorgeous. Its main drawback is how it’s being treated: a means to get lots of money for as little as possible, which is a shame. Give it a respectable story and dozen more maps, and this would’ve been a winner.