Thursday, 3 December 2015

Star Wars Battlefront

You gotta feel sorry for DICE, in a way. Videogames are gigantic business nowadays, and this is being released just before a new Star Wars film. Therefore, they'll be feeling pressure to make Star Wars Battlefront appeal to Star Wars fans and fans of previous Battlefront games, and fans of competitive FPS games in general. The problem is, you see, that the more you appease one group the more you start to alienate the other two. 

And boy does it show.

Developed by DICE and out now on Xbox One, Playstation 4 and PC comes Star Wars Battlefront. If you're reading this, it seems fair to presume that you have access to the internet and an interest in Star Wars games. You'll probably know therefore that Battlefront fans have already been extremely vocal in their disappointment that this is less intricate and more meek in scope than previous entries. Fair point – it is. Even the leaked footage of the canned Free Radical Battlefront game looked more epic than this. Maps for modes intended for 32 players are large, but the implementation of vehicles is somewhat disappointing.

You can't find and climb into a vehicle. Ever. Vehicles are accessed via pickups that, when activated, magically teleport your character into a vehicle (X Wing, Tie Interceptor, AT-ST, etc.) in which you are then trapped until you die. No flying off to space for you; and if you dare consider wandering outside the designated boundaries of the map, even on foot, you get a warning and a countdown before being murdered for your insolence. It sounds like I'm ripping the game apart, but actually I had a lot of fun with it. Not only does it look lovely and the connection is consistently excellent at time of writing (a miracle given EA's notoriously shit servers), I jolly well enjoyed myself. It has the speed of Call of Duty and, in some game modes, the scale of Battlefield. It's a good combination – but the modes, well.. they're a mixed bag.

There's a decent number of modes. The large-scale ones I was talking about are Walker Assault, where a team of Imperials must stop the team of Rebels destroying their AT-ATs before the generator is destroyed. The AT-ATs themselves have bent over and taken a good nerfing after beta feedback, and are now noticeably destructible while still being very dangerous. I can tell you from experience that very little beats the satisfaction of taking down an AT-AT with a Snowspeeder's tow cable. Then there's Fighter Squadron, exclusively involving flying vehicles. It's good, but avoiding an enemy's lock is more down to luck than skill.

Blast, like the other lazy takes on FPS staples, is somehow fun yet disappointing; team deathmatch in all but name. Droid Run does at least turn capture points into moving droids that you need to track if you want to keep them. Much more interesting are the modes concentrating on Heroes and Villains, ordinarily attainable only through rare powerups.

Hero Hunt sees one player start as a hero (Han, Leia, or Luke) or a villain (Vader, Boba Fett, or the Emperor) with the rest of the team out to kill them. When that player falls another (usually the killer) takes their place, and so on until time runs out. My favourite mode is probably the unimaginatively titled 'Heroes and Villains' – 6v6, first team to five wins. Each round, three players per team get to be a Hero or Villain (with extra health and special abilities with cooldown periods), so everybody gets at least a few goes.

Offline is, quite frankly, bollocks. A few cool but short-lived training missions, bot matches, Survival, and... that's it. This was always going to be all about the multiplayer, but even that isn't going to please everyone. If you're expecting a shiny version of previous Battlefronts – you're going to be disappointed. If you just want a Star-Wars-flavoured FPS to kill strangers in, this will give you many hours of joy.

Many maps there are not, but have fun you will. 3/5.


 Luke Kemp

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