PolyNerdic Review: Star Wars Battlefront

Not that long ago it was announced that a new Battlefront game was being made and that DICE would be using their glorious Frostbite engine to craft the game.

I could barely contain my excitement.  I LOVE Star Wars.  I love DICE’s work with Battlefield, arguably my favorite shooter of the last two console generations.  The Battlefront series itself is one I’ve wanted to see updated since the days of the PS2.

Immediately my mind began to imagine the various ways this new Battlefront would be amazing.  Knowing the capabilities of the Frostbite engine I knew the game would look astonishing and given DICE’s ability with sound I knew the various blasters and vehicles would sound amazing.  I also was certain that despite the fears voiced by a very vocal group that it would just be a Star Wars skinned Battlefield clone that it would be a very deep and rewarding experience just like my favorite shooter.  And while the Battlefield games have never had stellar campaigns I was certain with the Star Wars license they would finally hit one out of the ball park.

Well I was right about a few of those things.

Simply put the game looks and sounds absolutely amazing.  Never before has a Battlefront game so accurately captured the sights and sounds of a Star Wars battleground.  Laser bolts sizzle as they barely miss you, TIE fighters scream over head and as you get cut down by them, Luke and Vader’s lightsabers sound just like you think they should.

The game can be quite fun, I personally found the most enjoyment in the Walker Assault and Fighter Squadron modes.  I dug the former for its large battles with the Empire leading one or two AT-AT walkers towards the Rebel bases, with the Rebels trying to activate Y-Wing bombing runs to take down the AT-ATs.  Fighter Squadron being a purely air-to-air battle between X-Wings and A-Wings against TIE Fighters and Interceptors.  Other game modes are included but I can not give you my opinion of them beyond that I tried a few and they didn’t hook me at all.

Fears that this would be a Star Wars skinned version of Battlefield ended up being wildly unfounded and in my opinion the game suffers for it.  Whereas Battlefield offered a very deep progression system and a horde of unlockable goodies, Battlefront offers very stripped down progression and unlockable systems.  I played 10 hours of the game and had nearly all the guns unlocked but only enjoyed playing with three of them (two of which were the default guns for each side).  There is an interesting card system in play (something trending this year) that you use for grenades, jet backs and other offensive or defensive items.   Scattered across the battleground are weapon pick ups and icons that allow you to take control of vehicles.  I would have much preferred for the vehicles to require you to enter them and fire them up.  The argument for the icons was supposedly to cut down on people simply camping the vehicle spawns (an issue that plagues Battlefield to this day) but I found people were just a likely to camp the icon spawn points just as much.  Also lacking is any sort of “squading” that allows you and your friends to form a group of four or five soldiers that can easily coordinate attacks and formulate strategy on defense and the best I could tell the game also lacked any game chat to assist in communicating with random players either.

Possibly the biggest sin is the lack of a campaign mode.  In its place there are a handful of “missions” that can be tackled solo (not Han) or with a friend.  These pale in comparison to the Rise of the Empire campaign from Battlefront 2 or the excellent Galactic Conquest mode from both the previous entries.  I played one or two of them and immediately found myself back in one of the multiplayer modes I enjoyed.

The lack of depth makes this feel very much like a game designed for the casual gamer or non-shooter fan.  I would have much rather had a progression system a mile wide and three times as deep like I get with DICE’s other pet shooter.  I cannot deny enjoying myself while playing this game and would love to play more of it but can not bring myself to spend $60 (plus eventual DLC charges) on the game.

It simply doesn’t offer a deep enough experience nor does it offer the proper tools to make it as functional as it should for a team based game.  It is far from a bad game but I feel I am outside of its target audience when it comes to online shooters.  Being the huge Star Wars fan that I am I absolutely love getting into the cockpit of a TIE fighter and blowing X-wings from the sky or sending Stormtroopers flying with a wave of Luke’s hand.  But at the same time the seriously limited progression, lackluster unlocks (frankly I don’t need a million variants of helmet-less Stormtroopers, real Stormtroopers don’t remove their helmets) and the missing modes hurt this game in a way I can not ignore.

Battlefront is absolutely worth owning if you are a dyed in the wool Star Wars nut who doesn’t care for robust modern shooters.  If you happen to be like me though and are both crazy about Star Wars AND modern shooters that give you a reason to come back for hundreds of hours…well it pains me to say it but maybe the force is only strong enough in this one to hold you over on a weekend rental.

7.5 out of 10.

-Shad (@PolyNerdic)

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