The Good: Exciting, Amazing graphics, Awesome variability in the multiplayer mode
The Bad: Still some glitches, Lack of a narrative
The Basics: Star Wars: Battlefront is an exciting and engaging first-person shooter game set in the Star Wars universe that allows fans to enjoy being a part of the action.
Like most Star Wars fans, I have been eagerly looking for something to keep my enthusiasm for the franchise high while waiting for Rogue One (check out my trailer review of the film here!). Over the past year, I have kept my interest in the space opera franchise with Star Wars: Battlefront. I am not a big video game fan, but a year ago when I got a Playstation 4 (reviewed here!) for my family to replace our failing Blu-Ray player, I got it with the Star Wars: Battlefront bundle and I've been playing the game for almost an entire year.
Almost every day, I play Star Wars: Battlefront and after almost a year of game play, I figured that it was time to review the game.
It is important to note that this is very much a layman's review of Star Wars: Battlefront. Professional video gamers might have a very different interpretation of the game, but as a Star Wars fan and one who came to the game without any experience with first person shooter games, I figured there would be value in reviewing Star Wars: Battlefront for those who want to know how the game is for non-professionals/non-gamers.
Star Wars: Battlefront is a video game that is broken down into the standard and online multiplayer versions of the game. Set in the Star Wars Universe, Star Wars: Battlefront allows the player to play as Rebel soldiers, Imperial soldiers and heroes (or villains) from the classic Star Wars Saga. Players play on iconic Star Wars worlds - Tatooine, Hoth, Endor - and expanded universe planets like Sulust. Even The Force Awakens is represented in the video game environment with missions on Jakuu. While there have been expansions (the Season Pass will be a future review as they are very different games in some ways!), noticeably absent from any incarnation of Star Wars: Battlefront are any adventures on Dagobah or in the asteroid field from The Empire Strikes Back.
At its core, Star Wars: Battlefront is a first-person shooter video game. I have never been a fan of shooter games, largely because I have no experience with such things and the ones I have seen footage of have not only been violent, but they have had quite a bit of gore to them. Star Wars: Battlefront does not have any gore; shot adversaries simply fall, there is no carnage in the game. That, along with my predilection for the Star Wars universe, was very appealing to me and helped me to get into the game. Regardless of the style of game within the Star Wars: Battlefront platform, the games basically involve running around shooting enemies.
Star Wars: Battlefront allows the player to play as a common soldier or as one of the heroes of the Star Wars Saga for most of the styles of game within the broader game. The core game features Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine, and Boba Fett (the only hero voiced by an actor who played him in the films, in this case Temuera Morrison, who redubbed all of the Fett lines for the Star Wars DVDs) and each has special abilities and attacks that cannot be duplicated by the common soldiers. So, for example, the Emperor moves very slowly, but can set off a chain lightning attack that kills everyone within a close radius, which no other character can do. Luke Skywalker covers massive amounts of ground very fast, uses the Force to push characters to their death and wields a lightsaber, making him predictably powerful. Boba Fett's jet pack has a far longer duration and quicker recharge than any soldier's jump pack.
For the bulk of Star Wars: Battlefront, players play as common soldiers both as Rebels and Imperials. The player can play as first-person and third person. It did not take me very long to discover that the third person option was very difficult to use to hit adversaries with, whereas the first-person option had a much clearer targeting ability. Players may play with various skins that have no functional playable difference. As a result, Imperial players may play as standard Stormtroopers, Snowtroopers, Sandtroopers (with various regimental colors on the shoulder pad), Shadowtroopers (essentially TIE Fighter pilots). As DICE, the game's creator, has expanded the Star Wars: Battlefront platform, players have been able to play Imperial officers. Somewhat problematic on the Imperial side is that, just as with the Rebel side, players can play unhelmeted Imperial soldiers and while the films have had homogeneous soldiers for the Empire, but as one runs around as a Rebel, one needs to be attentive to the uniform/armor as opposed to seeing a flash of white on (for example) Tatooine and shooting. On the Rebel side, players may play with Rebel soldier or Rebel officer outfits, but with various heads, including alien heads like Twi'lek, Rodian, and Quarren.
Players have over a dozen firearm choices and over a dozen specialized weapons and tools that are activated through Star Cards - which recharge slowly after they are used - and some that require tokens found throughout the various maps to allow the player to use. The firearms range from blaster pistols shown on screen - like the style used by Han Solo and Imperial Stormtroopers - to various blaster rifles and snub blasters. Players can use guns much like were used by the Jawas - which have virtually no range, but kill with a single shot - or the EE-3, the blaster rifle utilized by Boba Fett. As a middle aged person, Star Wars: Battlefront got me hooked when I found the T-21B, a targeting rifle, because it is the only weapon with a scope that allows me to see enemies before they see me and kill me. As a novice gamer, having range and the ability to see adversaries before they kill me is a real asset.
The Star Card weapons and tools include things like jet packs, grenades, and personal shields. When one is outfitted with a Scout Pistol, they may focus for a single shot with the Star Card weapon to deliver close-range, lethal kills. Homing Shots are essentially heat-seaking rockets and the Cycler Rifle is a long-range projectile weapon that can be used to shoot through personal shields. Star Card tools like the Scan Pulse allow players to see where adversaries are within a decent radius, even if they are crouched down, hidden. In the multiplayer mode, there are goals, which might necessitate players to mix up what Star Cards and firearms they use to achieve those goals. So, for example, if one has a goal of "10 Headshots With A Blaster Pistol," the gamer might want to arm themselves with a Scout Pistol Star Card and Focus Fire, as opposed to simply utilizing one of the several blaster pistols as a primary firearm to achieve the goal. Some of the Star Card weapons - like the pulse rifle and homing shot - require the weapon to charge in order to deliver the shot, which can be irksome as the player is very easily killed while the weapon charges.
Gameplay for Star Wars: Battlefront is essentially done by equiping a player with a firearm and three Star Card weapons/tools and then going into one of the maps to run around and shoot. The Star Wars: Battlefront platform encompasses two essential styles of play: the base games that are played by a single person (or with shared play with one other person) or multiplayer modes. The modes might be very different, but they boil down to running around and shooting (or flying a starship and shooting).
The Single Player version of Star Wars: Battlefront is fundamentally broken into Battles, Survival, and Skirmishes. Battles are (generally) one player running around fighting against AI adversaries who are simply there trying to kill the player. The AI can provide allies to aid the player who is running around killing enemies. The Battles, which allow for a very limited multiplayer mode in that another person may join the battle for split-screen play as either an ally or enemy of the primary player, have the essential goal of reaching a score of 100 before the enemy team does. The points are achieved by picking up tokens that are left (for a limited time) above the corpse or a killed enemy. The difficult aspect of Battles is that collecting tokens often puts players in mortal peril and the AI allies do not collect tokens for the player; only the player may work to achieve the 100 score, whereas the enemy forces seem to be able to collect tokens at a comparatively accelerated rate.
Survival is a cool concept that is unique to the single-player portion of Star Wars: Battlefront. The primary player (and up to one other, playing in concert with the primary player) is part of a mission to Hoth, Sullust, Endor or Tatooine, when their mission is compromised. Fifteen waves of enemies (some with Imperial vehicles like AT-STs) are set against the player and they have only a handful of lives to attempt to survive the onslaught. For the first two (out of three) levels of difficulty, players are assigned Star Cards to try to use in their survival attempt. As a casual gamer, the Master level of difficulty has proven to be cripplingly difficult for me. Regardless of the map, the forces decimate me whenever I try to play the Survival on Master difficulty, which was very frustrating for me; it has become impossible for me to achieve all of the game's goals as a result.
Skirmish is the latest type of gameplay for the single-player mode of Star Wars: Battlefront. Skirmish is a one-person recreation of the multiplayer modes Walker Assault and Fighter Squadron. Skirmish is a weird rehashing of the two multiplayer modes where the player plays against (and with) virtual enemies and teammates to achieve the goals of destroying AT-ATs or shooting down enemy fighters with a fighter of one's own.
The multiplayer mode is what keeps me interested in Star Wars: Battlefront. The multiplayer mode requires an online subscription (like the Playstation Network) and a decent internet connection in order to play against others worldwide. Players play as part of an eight to twenty person team (depending on the game type) against an opposing team of approximately the same size to achieve an objective specific to the game type. The multiplayer modes for Star Wars: Battlefront include: Blast, Hero Hunt, Heroes Vs. Villains, Fighter Squadron, Walker Assault, Supremacy, Turning Point, Cargo, Drop Zone and Droid Run.
Blast is essentially the same as the single person battles where the whole purpose is to run around as part of a kill or be killed scenario. There is no strategy, just two teams of people running around an environment killing one another and respawning until one team reaches 100 kills first. Blast has no subtlety or strategy to it; it is simply players running around shooting. Fortunately, the game objectively counts the kills, so players do not have to risk their lives to collect tokens to beat the opposing team.
Similar to Blast are Hero Hunt and Heroes Vs. Villains. Heroes Vs. Villains infuses the teams with three to four (depending on the map) heroes or villains (heroes for Rebel players, villains for Imperial players) alongside the standard soldiers and the players run around killing each other. Each three minute round ends when one side manages to kill all of the opposing team's heroes or villains.
Hero Hunt is like the single-player Battles where one person plays a hero (or villain) character and is attacked by all of the other players. Hero Hunt rounds allow players who inflict the most cumulative damage against the hero characters to become the hero themselves and fight for survival. Hero Hunt is the only multiplayer game that has a "mercy rule;" if the hero makes 50 kills, the game ends. Hero hunt has two fundamental glitches. The first is that players who play Hero Hunt for multiple rounds will easily note that DICE chooses the initial hero player in the most problematic possible way. I have played Hero Hunt a ridiculous number of times and the sheer number of times where a player has been selected as the initial hero player in a new round was a player who achieved victory using the mercy rule in the prior round has been insane. If a player can slaughter a whole team of people so that they reach fifty kills first, odds are they are not going to be easily stopped the next round! And often they are not, making for stifling, unpleasant game play. The other glitch that DICE does not seem to ever quite fix is that periodically during Hero Hunt multiple heroes will be in play at the same time. A team of people stands no chance against The Emperor and Bossk (for those who move on to the expansion and experience this glitch!) playing in concert at the same time (as the Emperor has the ability to heal allies and Bossk has decent range for his weapons) or against two Luke Skywalkers!
Fighter Squadron is essentially Blast for starships. Rebel players play as X-Wing or A-Wing fighters (or, with the Hero token, the Millennium Falcon), while Imperial players play as TIE Fighters or TIE Interceptors (or, heroically, as Slave I) and fly around an aerial map shooting each other down. Like Blast, there is no strategy to Fighter Squadron; it is a simple kill or be killed scenario that ends when the game either times out or one side manages to get 400 kills.
Cargo is essentially "capture the flag" where teams have five cargo packs each. Each side attempts to get the cargo backpack from the opponent's base and run it back to their own side. Teams have to effectively guard and retrieve the cargo backpacks. Cargo is wonderful for those players who like playing defensive games, as guarding the cargo can be an essential path to victory.
Droid Run is similar to Cargo in that two six-person teams have to gain and maintain control over three gonk droids that are moving in limited patterns on a given map. Players have to find the gonk droids, run over to them, take control over them and then keep all three of the gonk droids under their influence without the control being broken by the other team! Drop Zone is similar to Droid Run in that escape pods drop periodically on the field of play and each team must try to claim it, much like they have to claim droids. After a set amount of time while the pod is "claimed," the team that claimed it gains its contents. The game is resolved by one team managing to claim five pods first.
My favorite game in the multiplayerStar Wars: Battlefront is Walker Assault, arguably because of my love of AT-ATs from The Empire Strikes Back! Walker Assault places the two teams on a massive field, with one or two AT-ATs in play. Over the course of three rounds, the AT-ATs move to shooting range of a Rebel transport that is poised to escape the planet. Rebels have to activate (and maintain the activation) of beacons that call forth Y-Wing fighters that bomb the hell out of the AT-ATs during each of the three vulnerable periods in the round. The AT-ATs are vulnerable for a limited period of time based on how many Y-Wings are summoned. Imperial forces have to try to take the uplink stations off-line and keep the AT-ATs from being destroyed to win the game. Walker Assault allows imperial players to play as the AT-AT for a minute at a time, which is a wonderful way for those who grew up on the Star Wars franchise to live out the fantasy of decimating Rebel forces as an AT-AT.
Turning Point and Supremacy are very similar games, also on massive maps like Walker Assault. Both games involve the teams having to gain control over specific areas of the map the game is played upon. Supremacy has five points and opens with both teams in control of two control points each, competing for the centralmost control point. When one side asserts dominance over the central control point, they gain momentum and have to fight for control of the first control point for the (now) defensive team. The team that ends up with three control points or takes control of the fifth control point wins.
Turning Point is a similar style, but is one-sided; the Empire starts with three control points and if the Rebels manage to take control of any one of the control points, the Empire is pushed back to a secondary set of control points until they are pushed back to a single, final, control point. Turning Point victors are determined by either the Rebels taking the final control point or the Imperials preventing the final control point (or any of the subsequent levels of control points) from falling to the Rebels.
The diversity of maps, gameplay styles, daily goals and online adversaries makes for an infinite combination of games.
Outside the Survival in the single-player game, there is no narrative to Star Wars: Battlefront. Survival begins and ends with a brief set up of how the player ended up stranded alone in the environment, fighting for their own survival. None of the other games on the Star Wars: Battlefront have any form of story or narrative to them; they are games where Rebels and Imperial forces fight one another to achieve limited goals.
Just as Star Wars: Battlefront lacks a coherent narrative, there is no real progression to the game. Players begin at the same point in each round and the games end at generally solid points (like the destruction of the AT-ATs, timing out as one defends the control points or getting all five of the cargo packs back to base!). While the games do not progress, players are able to level up and get new skins (appearances), firearms and Star Cards. Within each game, players may progress with an armed Trait - like Survivalist, which after a certain number of kills allows the player to heal from wounds at a faster rate.
The graphics for the Star Wars: Battlefront are incredible. I played Star Wars: Battlefront on the Playstation 4 connected to a Sony Bravia HD (reviewed here!) and it looked and sounded immaculate. The detailing on Star Wars: Battlefront is absolutely incredible. From costuming aspects - there are scratches in the gloss on the Stormtrooper helmets! - to character expressions, Star Wars: Battlefront looks amazing. Players are very easily distracted by running around shooting and preventing themselves from being killed, but DICE clearly worked to make Star Wars: Battlefront look and feel like a real world. I've taken the time to inspect things like random plants on Endor, snowy hills on Hoth, and the lava flows on Sullust and there are no places I have found in Star Wars: Battlefront that do not look truly lifelike!
Characters move with lifelike realism in Star Wars: Battlefront as well. Star Wars: Battlefront occasionally has glitches on the multiplayer mode where characters will repeat motions and I've noticed dramatic functional differences in playability based on how packed the servers appear to be - like opponents moving faster at some points relative to my motions and times when I am playing as the Emperor and set off the Chain Lightning attack but it does not execute, allowing a single opponent to slay me at accelerated speed! But, even when there are glitches or speed execution problems, the characters and environments all look perfect and consistent!
Star Wars: Battlefront has amazing replayability based on the fact that each game has different players, different potential weapon and goal combinations and no coherent narrative. This game is exceptionally easy to jump back into at any point, especially for the multiplayer mode.
Star Wars: Battlefront might have some glitches and some problems with consistency for the execution of how characters manage to move in it, but for the most part, it is a solid game. Star Wars: Battlefront represents the best chance most Star Wars fans have to run around in the most iconic locations from the Star Wars franchise and pretend that they are a part of the action!
Star Wars: Battlefront utilizes settings and characters primarily from:
A New Hope
The Empire Strikes Back
Return Of The Jedi
The Force Awakens
For other game reviews, please be sure to visit my reviews of:
Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga
Angry Birds Star Wars
Middle Earth: Shadow Of Mordor
For other video game reviews, please check out my index page on the subject by visiting my Software Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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