Very few franchises are as recognizable or as debated as Star Wars. The first trilogy of films are considered some of the greatest epic fantasy sci-fi films of all time, the pre-trilogy not so much but is still loved by many. If you loved the original trilogy and have been looking for a game to take you back to that universe, then look no further as Star Wars Battlefront is here!
The Battlefront legacy
This year’s game, Star Wars Battlefront is the third game in the main series. The first Star Wars: Battlefront was released in 2004 for Xbox, PlayStation 2 and computers, both PC and Mac. In the game you took control of a Rebel Alliance or Imperial soldier, to help your side win various battles with varying objects. You played in first or third person and could pilot one of 25 vehicles, ranging from massive AT-ATs to the quick speeder bikes. The game did very well and was favoured by critics, so much so that it was followed up with a sequel, the next year. The sequel Star Wars: Battlefront II expanded on the previous game with more maps, game modes, more vehicles, numerous fixes and made iconic characters from the movies playable for the first time.
Over the years the Battlefront games have seen mobile and handheld releases. Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron on PSP in 2007, another shooter this time only in third person, it allowed the user to create a custom character and expanded on the previous games. Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron, would see the Battlefront series make its first appearance on a Nintendo platform. Elite Squadron was released on both Nintendo DS and PSP in 2008. Star Wars Battlefront: Mobile Squadrons, was an on rails shooter that made use of the touch controls on mobile devices and having been released in 2009 would be the last Battlefront game released until now.
Release Date: Nov 17th, 2015
Genre: First and Third Person Shooter
Modes: Single-player, Co-op and Online Multiplayer
ESRB Rating: T for Teen
A New Hope for Star Wars video games
After Disney acquiring the right to the Star Wars franchise in 2012, the next year they entered a deal with Electronic Arts, which would give EA exclusive rights to produce the franchises video games. Later that year DICE studios (who make the critically acclaimed Battlefield series), would show a teaser trailer at E3 2013 for the next game in the series, Star Wars Battlefront. The game was released on November 17th of 2015 and will hopefully ride the hype wave created by the upcoming movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens, set to release this holiday season.
The Rebels or the Imperials
Star Wars Battlefront takes us back to the original trilogy of of movies, you play in first or third person and take control of a Rebel Alliance soldier or an Imperial Stormtrooper. Each side with three of their own playable heroes or villains. Numerous iconic vehicles can be played and are unique to each side. The heavily and lumbering AT-ATs, make an appearance and have an amazing game type surrounding them. Air battles can also be fought in many of the classic flying vehicles of the original movies, even a few special ships are playable. Numerous game types, including couch co-op and the epic size battles DICE is known for make this game robust and great to play, even with its lack of single player campaign.
While playing the game more often than not you will be on foot as a Rebel Alliance soldier or Imperial Stormtrooper. As you play through all game modes you will get experience to level up and can convert into credits to unlock blasters, equipment items, abilities, traits, character customizations and emotes. Everything unlocks for booth your soldier or trooper except for the character customizations, these are unlocks for each separately each. You can play as a ground troop in either first or third person depending on your preference and can switch between the two perspective anytime during gameplay.
Blasters, grenades,rockets and more
Your main weapon on foot will be your blaster, with 11 blasters to unlock, from pistols to larger automatic blasters. They each have different rates of fire, range, damage and cooling power. The cooling power is how fast the gun cools as there is no ammo for anything in the game and everything works on a cool down system. With the blasters, you can make us of an active reload style system (similar to Gears of War) where if you time a button press to a specific marker on the cool down bar, the blaster will instantly vent and allow you to return to firing. If you miss the timing of the button press, you have to wait on an extended cool down time. However with each subsequent successful vent, you’ll make the marker much smaller, so it’s a risky strategy but can certainly pay off in the right situation.
Along with your blaster you also have various equipment and abilities, which are unlocked and utilized as Star Cards. With these Star Cards you can create 2 hands to choose from during gameplay. Each hand can contain 2 equipment cards, usually stuff like grenades, a rocket pack, sniper style blasters, rockets and other assorted weapons which all function on cool down timers. You can also equip one ability card which will give you an ability like a brief boost in accuracy, ion charge your blaster to deal more damage to vehicles or turrets, make your blaster immune to overheat and so on. Finally you can also equip a trait which will grant you a passive bonus like quicker health regeneration, or shorter cooldown times for your equipment, just to name a few.
Depending on your game type there are many power ups to be found on the battlefields of Star Wars Battlefront. All sorts of power ups can be used to give you and your team the edge in battle, smart rockets, orbital strikes, vehicles, playable heroes and awesome space ships can all be utilized once found throughout the maps. Most of these power ups can be found on all the maps, aside from vehicles and heroes as they are only available in certain game types.
Epic battles and small skirmishes at your fingertips
The bulk of the game is played online in a variety of different game types ranging in size and objective. The largest of the game types is Walker Assault, in which the Imperials have to escort their lumbering AT-ATs to their target before the Rebels can manage to take and keep hold of specific points on the map, to help call bombing runs from Rebel Y-Wing bombers. The game mode has 40 players, vehicle power ups including X-Wings, Tie Fighters, AT-STs and more, plus hero pick ups. Similar in scope and game play is the game mode Supremacy, where 40 players fight over 5 key points on the map, once again vehicles and heroes are in this mode.
Cargo, Drop Zone, Droid Run and Blast are smaller skirmishes and are similar game types to many of the team based game modes we see in other games. Cargo is a capture the flag style game, Drop Zone has each team fighting for control over escape drop pods that fall to the map, Droid Run has each team fighting for control over 3 droids as they move about the map and Blast is just your good old fashion team death match.
There are also a couple of game mode which focus more on the heroes and is a great way to play as them in a much more regular fashion than trying finding hero power ups in the larger game types. The first mode Hero Hunt is exactly what it sounds like, one player takes control of one of the 6 playable heroes, while the rest of the players attempt to hunt them down as foot soldiers. The second mode is called Heroes Vs Villains where each team will have 6 players, 3 of them being the heroes available for that team, while the other players play as regular ground soldiers.
Heroes and Villains make for some intense action
If you are on the Rebel side you can take control of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Leia Organa. Each hero has their own special abilities like, Luke can use his lightsaber to block blaster fire, Han has shoulder rush that helps him cover ground faster and will take out any trooper who gets in his path, finally Leia has a charge shot that can shoot through shields and can have 2 other players spawn in a Honour Guards which have stronger weapons and higher health. The Imperials have their own villains who can certainly change the tide of any battle to the Empire, Darth Vader, Boba Fett and the Emperor. Vader can force choke Rebel Soldiers and can throw his lightsaber to chop down anyone in its path, Boba Fett has his classic flamethrower, wrist mounted rocket launcher and a very long lasting rocket pack to help keep him moving around the battle, and the Emperor can use his lightning to electrocute anyone close enough and like Leia, the Emperor can have two players who spawn in near him be heavy shocktroopers. Unlike regular troopers, when playing as the heroes you can only use third person view.
Take to the skies and dogfight to victory
When you’re tired of running around on the ground in these varied game types there is always Fighter Squadron to get your blood pumping. Take to the air and control Tie Fighters, Tie Interceptors, X-Wings, A-Wings and if you are lucky the Millenium Falcon or Slave I, as you fight to control the skies. This game type is a great way to get into some classic Tie Fighter vs X-Wing style combat. With easy to learn controls and amazing vehicle design this is a must play game type for fans of the older flight simulator style Star Wars games and a great change of pace when you get tired of the other game types or just want to change things up. All of the ships can be played from a rear view or from inside the iconic cockpits, recreated amazingly form their movie counterparts.
There is also a series of mIssions you can take on alone or with a friend via online or split-screen couch co-op. There are some battles that are preset where you can team up or fight against each other as heroes or foot soldiers in one on one or with a small team of IA controlled soldiers. There is also a survival style game type where you and your friend fight up to 15 waves of increasing difficulty. It’s great to have these game types playable offline as well as with a friend to help you learn the controls and get a little practice in before you go online.
The return of Star Wars is upon us
The whole game is steeped in classic Star Wars, from the over all look to the sound effects, everything is right out of the original trilogy of movies. All the weapons, are from the movies, the vehicles everything is canon. The Walker Assault level on Hoth is not only my favourite level in the game but feels like you are in the movie The Empire Strikes Back when you are playing. Using the T-47 Snowspeeder tow cable to take down one of the AT-ATs to win a match is one of the greatest gameplay feeling I have had in a long time.
Playing as the heroes feels great and they are all just the right amount of overpowered to be a huge asset to players who know how to use them. Not only is controlling regular foot soldiers and heroes a breeze but so was flying or piloting any of the ships and vehicles in the game. Never did I feel like I was fighting the controls or being killed due to me confusing buttons or that the ships had a huge learning curve.
Still a few bugs to crush
Unfortunately the game still has a few problems but nothing that really takes away from the gameplay and Star Wars atmosphere. The biggest nuisance I have had while playing have just been bugs and glitches. They don’t happen often but when they do it can be frustrating to say the least. Getting stuck on in game environments when in some vehicles or watching Tie Fighters blip out of existence is just bizarre and only mildly confusing. Also unfortunately as more people join the EA servers to play online, especially in the last week, I keep getting dropped out of games, which means all the experience you would have gained from finishing the match is gone. Hopefully DICE and EA can iron out these issues in time for the first DLC, which will be made free for everyone who purchased the game, later in December.
Overall this is one great game and captures the classic feel, look and whole aesthetic of the original trilogy of films, like nothing before. In all honesty, I had little hope for this game, having lost all respect for the franchise after seeing the first two prequel movies in theaters, but after playing the beta in October, I was 100% sold on the hype of not only the game but the upcoming movie as well. This is the authentic Star Wars experience fans have been waiting for, so grab your blaster or lightsaber and choose your side in Star Wars Battlefront.
+ All the sound effects are straight from the movies
+ Huge levels and lots of vehicles
+ Lots of game types
+ Heroes and villains are lots of fun
+ Easy controls on foot or in vehicles
– Still a few bugs
– No single player campaign
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5
Overall Rating 4/5 (80%)