Helped by the hype surrounding the upcoming movie, the Star Wars Battlefront reboot will enchant fans of the movie universe more than it will captivate online shooter fans. Here’s our review of the PS4 version that will tell you why.
The Star Wars Battlefront games follow a pattern. The previous two games came out right near the end of the second movie trilogy, about ten years ago. Whenever the movies come, the hype machine ramps up and see a torrent of related (media) products hit the market: toys, cartoons, lunch boxes and videogames – you name it, it’s there. While some of these become timeless classics (Knights of the Old Republic comes to mind), others really need the hype surrounding the movie to succeed. Star Wars Battlefront is such a game. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that the new Battlefront reboot is a bad game. It’s definitely not – it just leans very heavily on the momentum that the Star Wars franchise has going right now.
Star Wars Battlefront is, like the previous games, focused on online multiplayer battles in the Star Wars universe. There are a ton of game modes available, though a story-driven campaign isn’t one of them. The best you’ll get – and this is probably a disappointment for some Star Wars fans – is a little bit of a back story to what is otherwise a standalone mission you can tackle. Our best hope for a brand new story in a Star Wars videogame is probably still some kind of revival of Star Wars 1313 – one can wish, right? Battlefront’s focus, however, is firmly on the multiplayer aspect of the game, even though the aforementioned missions can be played solo in offline mode.
The multiplayer action in the game is diverse, but your mileage will vary based on the modes you choose to play. The more traditional death match mode is very solid and will most likely provide years of entertainment, especially for Star Wars fans. The appeal of the more ‘eccentric’ modes – those that rely on gimmicks – will unfortunately wear off after a couple of hours. The gimmicks I’m referring to are usually the inclusion of several iconic characters from the franchise, such as Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader. It’s great fun being them, but who wants to be the stormtrooper or rebel that is instantly killed without a chance when he’s near them? A game like Evolve also features an imbalance between characters, but the battle as a whole feels like everyone has a fighting chance with the right strategy. Not the case in Battlefront’s “heroes vs villains” mode.
So when it comes to the core mechanics of an online shooter, Star Wars Battlefront ticks all the boxes concerning the game modes available (anything from solo to cooperative play is there), but the game doesn’t innovate or excel at any of them. What IS very different and of high quality, however, is the shiny Star Wars package everything comes in. The environments you battle in don’t just look gorgeous, they look like they were lifted straight from our collective memory of (for the majority of the levels) the original trilogy. The game heavily favors open area battles over close quarters combat, but other than that it’s all vintage Star Wars. This extends beyond the locales you’re fighting in too, as character models, sounds and lighting effects are all top notch as well. Being engaged in combat while suddenly a giant AT-AT walker crashes its leg down nearby is an almost magical and highly immersive moment – and you’re able to take them down as well.
It’s this audiovisual flair, as well as the many nods to highlights in the original trilogy, that make Star Wars Battlefront a success despite its shortcomings. Fans of the franchise will absolutely love the experience and will take its flaws for granted. It is, for the gamers among the Star Wars fans, quite possible the best way to fill the time until the premiere of The Force Awakens.