With the release of The Force Awakens a month away, excitement around all things Star Wars is at fever pitch
The days of direct movie tie-ins are seemingly long gone. And although we’ll always have a kind word to say about Episode 1: Racer, if you recall the game based on Revenge of the Sith from 2005, you probably agree that’s no bad thing. In fact, the best Star Wars games tend to be offshoots and side stories.
So rather than creating a game based on the story of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Electronic Arts has instead combined the multiplayer shenanigans of the Battlefield series with the nostalgic glow provided by the original movie trilogy.
October’s public beta proved that Star Wars Battlefront was an intoxicating experience. The game’s ability to recreate the zap bang wallop of the early movies was not in question, but its capacity to provide a substantial playing experience was.
The Guardian’s Keith Stuart is one of many reviewers who found no fault in the final game’s ability to capture that Star Wars feel.
“This is a game that absolutely revels in the audio visual wonder of the movies. The unearthly moan of AT-AT fire; the scream of a swooping TIE Fighter; the spacecraft covered in dents and rust. This game looks, sounds and feels like being inside Star Wars. In aesthetic terms, it is the most accurate video game rendition of the series ever made.”
Writing at Forbes, Jason Evangehlo is full of praise for the development team’s artistic achievements.
“With impeccable sound design, fantastic character animations, and exquisitely detailed environments in every square inch of playable space, the developers at EA DICE have crafted a wholly immersive Star Wars experience that remains faithful to the universe and looks stunning in doing so.”
However, when it comes to the run and gun mechanics of the game some reviewers were left as cold as a shaved Wampa. Gamespot’s Mike Mahardy being one of them.
“Battlefront’s combat can be monotonous. By and large, it consists of medium range gunfights where opponents hold the trigger for two seconds and hope they’re the one left standing. Getting shot from a distance, on the other hand, often meant sprinting in another direction, rather than seeking nearby cover and planning a counterattack. There’s not much thought in modes outside of Walker Assault, and I seldom felt as if I was impacting battles, or as if my skill played any wider purpose.”
It’s a sentiment agreed with by GamesRadar’s Andy Hartup:
“Shooting here is incredibly stripped-back and undemanding. You point, you shoot. Doesn’t matter if you’re running and hip-shooting – your blaster accuracy remains the same as someone who is stationary and aiming down their sights at you. There are no revives, no special abilities (outside hero characters), no double-jump even. This is a game designed to make players move, to experience everything on offer, and not to settle or specialise for a specific class or role.”
The game also includes modes featuring vehicle combat. All indications are that this was never part of the core design document and many reviews are less than favourable on this aspect of the game. However, USgamer’s Kat Bailey found the experience evoked a classic from the past.
“The starfighters have been really nicely tuned and are really fun to fly, so this mode is just a blast to play. It brings me back to the old days of Rogue Squadron – a massive compliment to DICE.”
Star Wars Battlefront’s multiplayer centric design has also been the subject of much debate. Andy Kelly at PC Gamer sees the lack of single-player modes as being a missed opportunity.
“It’s a shame there’s no single-player campaign either. A selection of fun missions that can be played in co-op or solo—a speeder bike chase through Endor, toppling AT-ATs on Hoth, invading Echo base as Vader—are proof that, if they were strung together with even a loose story, it could have worked. These missions, which replicate key scenes from the films with some artistic license, are among the most fun I had with the game—but there aren’t enough of them.”
Dave Tach and Juston McElroy at Polygon put the game’s troubles down to its attempt to please two different audiences.
“Star Wars Battlefront walks a middle path between hardcore and casual, to varying degrees of success. Many of Star Wars Battlefront’s multitude of modes are fun in ways that feel new and old simultaneously. A handful feel surprisingly dull.”
Perhaps the best summary of the game – or at least of the intentions of developers DICE – comes from Eurogamer’s preview of the game by Martin Robinson.
“This wide-eyed, wilfully simplistic shooter sticks out just as much as George Lucas’ introduction to Luke and Leia did when it released against a backdrop of grittier, more grounded sci-fi in the late 70s. EA and DICE are shooting for the same timeless appeal, making a game for 11-year-olds, and the 11-year old in all of us”