Game: Star Wars Battlefront
Genre: First-person online shooter
Platform reviewed on: Playstation 4
Also available for: Xbox One, PC ($59.99, deluxe edition $69.99)
Developer: EA DICE
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release date: Nov. 17, 2015
Much has been made about the latest Star Wars shooter’s apparent lack of options, maps, features and weapons, given the deep bench of content available for the franchise’s previous two installments. Several reviewers have opined the game feels incomplete, unfinished and – because of its lack of single-player content – woefully overpriced.
Many of these complaints are justified, if you bought Star Wars: Battlefront expecting anything more than a fun way to kill a few hours with friends inhabiting the fantastical world created by George Lucas. Indeed, if you’re looking for a video game that expands upon the lore of the Republic and the Empire, or one that recreates iconic scenes from the film franchise, you will be disappointed by this title. But if you jump into Battlefront with the sole expectation of having fun, EA’s latest offering in the beloved franchise will wet your whistle like a cup of grog at the Mos Eisley cantina.
The presentation of Battlefront is delightfully understated. Little stands in the way of hopping into either a multiplayer match, which pits you against human opponents, and the title’s sparse missions, which task you with surviving waves of enemies or other objectives along with a friend or by yourself.
Once you enter a match, you’ll see that these resources were saved for recreating the sound, feel and look of the Star Wars universe. Blasters fire with a delightful “pew pew” that has become a Star Wars signature. If you’re lucky enough to grab a “hero” token on the battlefield, you will instantly spawn as one of the franchise’s signature characters, including Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine, Han Solo or Boba Fett.
Sadly, characters from The Force Awakens – like Rey, Finn and Kylo Ren – are absent from this title, and EA has basically said their inclusion in DLC is extremely unlikely. However, there are enough variants to your grunt stormtrooper or Rebel fighter player to keep you coming back again and again.
Weapon balance doesn’t seem too much of an issue at this juncture. You can unlock blaster pistols, rifles and heavy classes that inflict appropriate levels of damage. You can also unlock weapons for each one of your hands, and a power-up that will increase the effectiveness of your primary weapon or grant you passive abilities like faster healing times for your regenerating health. There are 55 rank levels in the game, and your performance in each match will earn credits that allow you to buy weapon upgrades and cosmetic changes to your character.
Match types range from 20 v. 20 player skirmishes on huge maps and more intimate, 6 v. 6 objective game types that take place in smaller arenas. An arsenal of ships, including the legendary Millenium Falcon and Slaver I, are also available for air combat.
For my money, the cream of the match type crop is Turning Point, which takes place on the planet of Jakku, the setting of most of the action in The Force Awakens. You play as either the rebels, attempting to capture at least one control point in four waves that eventually culminates in a mad dash for one point on the map. As the Empire, your job is to prevent that point’s capture. EA Dice would do well to release this game type on other maps available in the game. It presents an objective challenge and a combat scale that is unequaled in any of the other game types, including Walker Assault, which sees the rebel fighters attempting to fell AT-AT walkers in a rehash of the battle on Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back.
What Star Wars: Battlefront lacks in original content and storytelling, it more than makes up for in providing fun gameplay that is best enjoyed in small bites. Matches last about 15 minutes, at max, which makes the game perfect for those truncated sessions you can pick up and play with friends when you’re not feeling like a 2-hour trek through the raids in Destiny, or smashing your way through the story in other single-player heavy games like The Witcher 3 or Fallout 4.
In short, what makes Battlefront a great gaming experience is what makes The Force Awakens a great Star Wars movie, in my estimation – it’s a damn good time that will take your breath away every now and then.
Verdict: 4/5 stars