In a galaxy, far, far away there’s a Star Wars shooter better than this. In fact, there are a few much closer to home, available on consoles you used to own. EA’s Star Wars Battlefront reboot starts off well, with a very shiny exterior, but a little digging under the surface reveals something hollow and dull.
For the first few hours, you will be bowled over by the insane graphics and fine sound. Switching between first and third-person viewpoints on the fly. The sound and impact of your blaster looks and feels like Star Wars, scorch-marks from the films intact. As you scamper through the finely crafted stages, each being lifted straight from some of the best films ever made, lasers fly around you, ships hover in the air, huge battles stretch out across the skyline and even little Ewoks drop rocks on your head. A lot is going on. At all times.
The lack of quality singleplayer content is disappointing, but you get on with it, trying out all the game has to offer you. Online modes range from large-scale battles that work a little bit like an expanded King of the Hill to spaceship battles to death matches. There’s a lot of different modes to sink your teeth into. In different modes you can take control of iconic characters and pilot iconic vehicles, which is nice. The multiplayer modes range from fun to dull to broken however. Supremacy is a personal highlight, as it gives you everything the game has to offer in its mental, twenty vs twenty battles. Look out for Drop Zone and Blast too for some good old-fashioned shooting.
Unfortunately, Cargo, Droid Run and Fighter Squadron (dogfights in an X-Wing) just didn’t do anything for me. They either only offer one play-style or provide a worse alternative to Drop Zone. They aren’t terrible, though, just a bit dull. Hero Hunt and Heroes vs Villains are poor however. Playing as the iconic characters just isn’t fun unless you’re Boba Fett. The rest don’t really add much to the core gameplay or feel too floaty for their own good. Sorry, Luke Skywalker, but you’re just not pulling them in anymore. Walker Assault however just feels broken. One side seems to always win. If they don’t it’s probably because they are severely outnumbered.
After every match (win or lose), you gather experience points and money. Experience points increase your level, unlocking new gear in the process. The money lets you buy the new gear such as blasters, character skins, taunts and Star Cards. There’s a good amount of weaponry to choose from in the game and each feels different to use, with their own strengths and weaknesses. You get pistols, short burst guns and machine guns, each varying in power, size, shot-rate and range. Guns don’t have ammo here, instead they overheat, requiring a well-timed tap of a button to cool them down. Timing is everything.
You can equip three Star Cards with each load out, each different card offering a different thing like a grenade, sniper shot or even a jump pack (jetpack for you and me). The cards have a reload speed however, so you can’t spam them. There are a good amount to unlock, each offering a new twist on the game, as to provide some kind of freshness to a game that’s in trouble of going stale rather quickly thanks to its lack of content. For essentially an online only game, the modes on offer aren’t good enough, providing too much of a mixed bag of quality. It’s a disappointing moment when you realise how little content there is in the game, fun shooting aside
The singleplayer (what there is of it) is best thought of as a training ground, to teach you the mechanics of the game. There’s a little bit of information to digest surrounding the use and finding of powerups for example. Trying to play the singleplayer by yourself or with a friend however is a chore. You have to survive waves of enemies, but instead of fighting out tense encounters, you just want it to be over with. These missions last forever and don’t add anything meaningful or even fun to the game. Don’t even bother with them. They feel like they were thrown in at the last minute by Dice to add a little more meat on to the bones of Star Wars Battlefront.
Therein lies the game’s biggest flaw – lack of content. There just isn’t enough quality content in the game to last you any reasonable amount of time. The gameplay can be great fun, but once you’re off the ground or playing as an iconic character it never feels right. I wanted to love the dogfights, but I didn’t. Swinging a lightsaber around as Luke or Darth Vader feels clumsy and impractical in a gun-fight and despite all the little details that went into making sure it all looks and sounds right, the game feels bland.
The presentation has a lot to answer for. Menus are clean and efficient, but bland and clinical – just like the graphics. Sure, it all sounds fine, and on first impressions it all looks very impressive, but it just doesn’t look much like Star Wars to me. Everything is too clean and sterile. It looks and feels like business men designed the game rather than fans of Star Wars. It’s a cold, charmless game set in a universe full of wit, charm and heart.
Star Wars Battlefront is a disappointingly sterile game. Underneath the surface there’s not much going on, despite its shiny exterior. The gameplay can be great fun, but there isn’t enough content to keep you coming back for more.