After eleven years of isolation, that of which would impress even the likes of Obi-wan Kenobi, the Battlefront series has emerged from the shadows with almost life-like visuals and a wealth of nostalgia. While not everything in this reboot will appease fans who have been waiting so long for their fix of the Battlefront series, developer DICE’s vision of Star Wars is certainly worth giving a try.
Unlike the prequels, Battlefront stays true to the magic of the original trilogy. It’s obvious that DICE has put so much love and care into preserving the sites and sounds of Star Wars, because the results are absolutely exceptional. The level of detail, which can be found in everything from the Stormtrooper’s outfits to the wings of a Tie-fighter, is almost unrivaled. To put it simply, Battlefront is a visual masterpiece that never ceases to amaze. While the awe of seeing Jedi and X-wings doing battle is impressive, it is the little things such as the ever accumulating soot on soldiers or the ripples of clothing which make Battlefront a visual marvel. All of the modes run at a buttery smooth frame-rate which is especially impressive considering all of the chaos which happens on and above the battlefield.
While visually Battlefront is exceptional, the gameplay is quite the opposite. While the general mechanics of Battlefront are competent, the title does not manage to do excel in any particular gameplay aspect. This is due in part to the lackluster maps which look amazing but do not offer any real innovation and consist of either just giant planes or corridors – the first of which is especially irritating due to lack of cover. The absence of vertically in almost all of the maps makes the battles lack any tactics other than running and gunning.
Vehicles feature heavily in some of the larger game modes. Wreaking havoc in an AT-ST or a Tie-fighter is pretty fun and feels well balanced as enemies can rip apart vehicles very quickly if the driver is unskilled. With that said, though controlling vehicles does pose a bit of a learning curve, they’re thrilling to use once you get the hang of them. For those that wish to spend time in airships can turn to Battlefront’s ship-only battles. They’re not for everyone mind you, however they do offer a neat addition which brings some much needed variety to the package.
Within the context of full-scale battles, vehicles do present some balancing issues. In order to gain access to piloting anything, players will have to pick up vehicle tokens that spawn at random throughout the map. However the issue with this is that actually getting into the seat of a Tie-fighter or X-Wing becomes a rare event. Also, it seems that the Empire has a monopoly on vehicular warfare as rebels lack any real substitute for the dreaded AT-ATs and AT-STs, so it is always more compelling to play on the dark side of the force.
Just like the maps, the modes do not fare much better. As you’d, expect standard modes such as team deathmatch, big team deathmatch, zones and capture the flag all are available in one form or another; but the issue is that for a multi-player only title there is a lot left to be desired even if the modes do manage to cover the basics. Battlefront’s premier mode, ‘Walker Assault’ is definitely one of the highlights of the experience as it manages to harness the scale of Star Wars to create explosive large-scale battles. Here, the Rebels have to fend off against the Imperial Forces and their towering AT-ATs as they slowly approach their base.
Star Wars: Battlefront also sees the return of Hero characters, however the way in which they’re implemented in the game ranges dramatically in terms of effectiveness. Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader are great melee specialists who are awesome to control, but Han Solo and Princess Leia feel more like glorified soldiers than the aforementioned super-humans. Disappointingly, there are only six special characters to play as which is a huge drop from the many playable characters in Battlefront 2.
The biggest issue with the special characters is not their numbers, but how you actually become them – which happens to be pure luck outside of hero-based modes. Because there is no reward system which pits the top players as Darth Vader or the Emperor but instead a random power-up token, the chances of actually getting to play as a super character is slim no matter how well you perform. Of course, you also have the return of Heroes vs. Villains and the new mode Hero Hunt if you want to play as special characters more often. They’re both smaller-scale battles that showcases Battlefront’s special characters, however they’re tedious at best due their exceedingly long length and imbalanced special characters.
The nonexistence of the excellent class system from the previous Battlefront games is disappointing as the minimal variety makes the larger game modes become repetitive fast. The upgrades in the card system are good enough to keep players invested for a while, but it does not change the fact that most will have their fix of Battlefront in a matter of hours due to the shallow nature of the game, ultimately making the price tag of $60 feel very steep. Even the absence of simple things such as the ability to customize weapons means makes the experience feel even more limited. Having said that, the ability to customize soldiers is a nice touch which adds a little personality to the battlefield. However the prices of the costumes are far too high considering that they do not add any actual advantages.
Outside of the multi-player modes, Battlefront also offers missions which can be played either alone or with a friend. The addition of split-screen works well as blasting Stormtroopers with a buddy is one of the best experiences in the game. These missions act as your typical wave-based modes, but it can be very challenging on the hardest difficulty and therefore rewarding to complete. The option of offline matches with bots is also a nice addition which hearkens back to the experience most had on the PlayStation 2. While it is definitely not a substitute for a full campaign mode, an absence which feels like a gaping hole, the co-op experience is great while it lasts.
Overall Battlefront is a solid shooter which manages to provide good core mechanics and concepts. Other than the presentation, everything is solid but unfortunately does not manage to feel like something truly special. The short comings of the multi-player experience may have been more excusable if DICE included a campaign mode; but as it stands, $60 is a hard bargain for a multi-player focused title with less content and polish than many other titles available for the same price. DICE has built a solid foundation for a truly excellent sequel, but DICE’s reboot of the classic series feels more like ‘Return of the Jedi’ than ‘The Empire Strikes Back’.
Good, But Not Great
At first, Battlefront's amazing sights and sounds do enough to entertain however after a few hours it becomes very apparent that behind it's pretty face there is no real personality.