“Far, Far Away”
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Format: PC, PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One
Released: November 17, 2015
Battlefront begins on an awe-inspiring first note. However, what follows is a shallow, moderately enjoyable experience that aesthetically recreates some of Star Wars’ most iconic moments, leaving out the longevity that has kept the franchise at the forefront of pop culture since it’s debut. DICE’s efforts to focus on detail within Battlefront are immaculate, acting as the title’s biggest strengths. Distinguished sounds of various blasters echo throughout the gorgeously constructed battlefields, as lasers ricochet off surfaces with an identical flare to that of the original trilogy. It’s enough to give hardcore Star Wars fans a rush of goosebumps, yet the overwhelming feeling of jubilation present during the first few hours of trekking across snow covered terrain of Hoth and the luscious forest of Endor, quickly fade away. Presentationally, Battlefront is the Star Wars game I’ve always yearned for, yet under the hood, DICE’s gorgeous shooter does little to separate itself from, or elevate above, the competition. As far as visual and audio homage to its source material goes, Battlefront excels. Breathtaking dynamic lighting illuminates various iconic Star Wars’ destinations across the galaxy, bringing to light the vivid detail each texture presents throughout the landscape. The pristine attention to detail, matched with some of the best sound design around, make Star Wars Battlefront easily one of the leaders this generation, in terms of look and sound. In the best ways possible, the presentation wraps you up in its evocative world, reminiscent of the original trilogy’s aesthetics. Authenticity is, without a doubt, Battlefront’s biggest leg to stand on, supporting the baggage that comes with its overall lack of content. Battlefront is a beautiful game, but it’s largely incompetent in how it handles many key aspects that typically float or stink other shooters. Chiefly, Battlefront suffers from a shortfall of longevity, driven by a messy progression system and generally repetitive modes. Nonetheless, the initial wonder of its immaculate presentation, robust controls, and wealth of valid fan service, are undeniably impressive. Yet, what follows, slowly begins to peal away at the introductory awe of the experience, revealing substantial shortcomings within Battlefront’s repertoire.
Star Wars Battlefront offers nine competitive modes available from the start, all of which are distinct in their own right. This is for both better or worse, as Battlefront’s messy lineup of modes range from solid to woeful. From a gameplay perspective, standouts such as Walker Assault and Supremacy represent Battlefront at its most interesting level, encompassing a hectic, sequential battle for various point control. Despite somewhat conventional shooter mechanics, these modes maintain a modest level of enjoyment due to the sprawling nature of their manic 40-player battles. Drop Zone, Cargo, and Droid Run encompass Battlefront’s smaller offerings in terms of player count, pitting compact teams against each other in a series of frenetic blaster exchanges. Matches are an absolute blast right out the gate, but grow tiresome extraordinarily quickly. After spending a few hours cycling through the array of modes, my desire to return to the majority of them drained. Simplistic gameplay and unexciting objectives led to me hastily ignoring the bulk of Battlefront’s offerings, instead choosing to play the same narrow selection of somewhat enjoyable modes over and over. The impact and lasting power of each mode is vastly heightened by the skin of Battlefront’s magnificent aesthetic and intricate attention to detail. If not for DICE’s complex recreation of the source material, Battlefront would surely be tossed into the heaping pile of obsolete multiplayer-centric shooters. In order for a multiplayer game of Battlefront’s same class to harness lasting appeal, finding the perfect balance of progression and variety of gameplay is crucial. There’s a noticeable shortage of both these deciding factors, and Battlefront takes a major hit from it. The progression system at the forefront of the title is insubstantial, unrewarding, and insanely prolonged, creating for a constant letdown at the end of each match. Credits are awarded for performance following each match, which can then be used toward unlocking different card types (essentially acting as perks), cosmetic variations, and weapons. Cards are the most interesting, effectively conveying a level of tangible customization options to your solider. There are 24 different cards available to collect and test in battle, three of which can be equipped during any given match. Grenades, special weapons, and various perks such as the jump pack, add a useful layer of versatility to the gameplay allowing you to get a bit more creative in how you handle encounters. That said, in comparison to other online shooters, Battlefront’s customization is weak, primarily due to the lack of desirable unlocks, ranging from absurdly overpriced cosmetics to seemingly useless weapons. The full arsenal of weapons, themselves, feel far too alike as well, with a lack of distinct diversification feeding into the onslaught of casual traits that Battlefront encompass.
Battlefront’s most fan service-centric feature is, perhaps, the ability to turn into one of six iconic heroes or villains from the series. Members of the rebellion can step into the shoes of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, or Han Solo, while the Imperials can assume the role of Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine, and Boba Fett. Each character is significantly over powered when stacked up against normal soldiers, possessing the capability to rack-up kills without having to pay much attention to cover. Out of the two sides, the Empire’s villains lend their team quite the advantage, thanks to their sheer unstoppable nature. Boba Fett, in particular, towers above the competition, sporting extremely deadly wrist rockets and a flamethrower. Zipping around with his long-lasting jetpack is a blast, as the bodies slowly pile up in his wake. On the other hand, taking him down as the rebels can be a chore, for marking him can get tough, especially on the thicker terrain maps. The other heroes are also fairly pleasurable to fool around with while in battle, though Princess Leia and Emperor Palpatine, less so. A skilled player could turn the tide of a match while in control of any of the six characters, making their inclusion feel impactful and valuable to the overall fate of a skirmish. Lastly, another game type worth mentioning is Fighter Squadron, a vehicle-only mode that takes the battle for the galaxy to the skies. You’ll hop into the cockpits of X-Wings, TIE fighters, and more, along with the occasional hero ships such as the Millennium Falcon and Slave I, participating in frantic dogfights in atmospheres over the franchises staple planets. In Fighter Squadron, airborne vehicles feel at home, whereas in other modes, they feel reserved for strafe runs.Conclusion: Above all else, Star Wars Battlefront is a high budget romp of pure, unrestrained spectacle. It elegantly bottles up the aesthetic wonder and joy of the Star Wars universe with sturdy confidence, demonstrating its unparalleled attention to detail in the licensing space throughout all of its facets. Authenticity, alone, is enough to keep you engaged for the first few hours, and it’s almost worth playing solely to experience the impeccable recreation of the source material. Though in spite of the awe-inspiring initial greeting, Battlefront fails to dig deeper into exploring its simplistic ideas, leaving its longevity to flounder on surface appeal. The best of the package is significantly front loaded, delegating the rest of its offerings to hold up the title in the longterm. The reliance on secondary game types and repetitive additional content in the form of survival mode, along with tutorial missions, ineffectively deflect the downfall of the lack of a single-player campaign, leaving a noticeable hole in the experience. Underwhelming progression and a lack of meaningfully varied content gradually chip away at the enthralling first hours that welcomed you, eventually divulging the shaky fate of Battlefront’s unclear future. Battlefront is a stylistically gorgeous love letter to Star Wars fans, full of nods and intricacies that won’t go unappreciated, but it’s intentions ultimately fall victim to fitting within the constraints of a casual online shooter that’s short on depth.
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