November 20, 2015 | by Ryan
Battlefront (PS4) Review
Better than Teräs Käsi
Summary: Battlefront is the best Star Wars has ever looked or played, but it's about as sparse as Tatooine.

3

Okay


I’ll begin this review with a confession: before now, I’ve never played a console game online. For my entire life, I’ve apportioned single-player games to consoles, and multiplayer-based games to PC. It’s an easy division that allowed for a minimum of hassle, especially in terms of online console subscriptions – I never had a use for them. But with the current gen, that’s changed due to my faithful computer not stacking up to heavy graphics requirements. I knew there was going to be a tipping point into online console games eventually, and that point came with Star Wars Battlefront. The original Battlefront games are two of my all-time favorites. How could I resist?

I think it shows how out-of-touch I am with big AAA FPS console games that I believed I’d be able to just pop in Battlefront and start playing multiplayer immediately. I soon found out, as most normal people probably already knew, that I’d need a PlayStation Plus subscription to do literally anything online with Battlefront. I clenched my teeth. My years of avoiding paid console subscriptions had caught up with me. As I knew it would, my blinding life-long love for Star Wars won out over my utter distaste of paying for the “privilege” to play a full game. It’s okay though. Spending as much money as possible to experience Star Wars? George Lucas would want it that way.

rendition1.imgSince I don’t know how to take PS4 screenshots, have some promo images.

As you can guess from those three stars up there in the corner, this isn’t exactly a glowing review. But oh, did I want it to be. I wanted to throw open my arms nine years after first playing the modern classic Battlefront 2 and welcome home a new, mind-blowing installment in what’s arguably the best series of Star Wars games ever. But that didn’t happen. It’s like seeing a friend out in public and going to say hello, only to draw closer and realize that it’s actually some stranger that just looks similar at a distance. What I’m trying to say here is that anyone who plays the new Battlefront expecting a game equivalent to the originals will most likely be sorely disappointed.

Battlefront holds no reverence for and makes no reference to the first two games. Most of the mechanics are different, there’s no class system, no fan-favorite maps, basically no classic game modes, and most egregiously, no single-player campaign. One of these, the lack of a class system, I’m actually alright with, but more on that later. Even though Battlefront is a Star Wars game, it doesn’t necessarily feel like a Battlefront game. Considering the generation gap, some of that’s to be expected. But Battlefront completely eschews the heavy sci-fi aesthetic and atmosphere of the previous games in lieu of something more technically impressive, albeit with less personality.

Gone is the fun of lining up map after map for an Instant Action session, gone are the charming computer-tech menus with their beeps and boops, gone is the joy of an all-out hero versus villains battle in Mos Eisley, gone are the small touches like health and ammo droids, map easter eggs, and exact locations from the films. And of course, gone, as mentioned, is anything resembling a substantial single-player experience.

ogimage.imgGee whiz! This super real photo of me playing sure looks great!

It’s what Battlefront lacks that really damages the experience. Despite all its technical prowess, Battlefront feels like the bare-bones minimum for what can be considered a AAA game. While it’s no secret that the focus is on a multiplayer experience, the amount of content available for single-player or local co-op is insultingly sparse. There are three available modes, or just two if you don’t count the training. These two modes are Survival, and then another simply called Battles. Survival mode has you facing fifteen waves of increasingly difficult enemies across four maps. Battles has you killing enemies for points until you reach 200. It has four maps, which are shared with the Hero/Villain version of the same mode and are variations on the larger maps from Survival. In some of these modes, you can’t even choose between playing as the Rebellion or the Empire, with the game auto-assigning you Rebels instead.

Unless you go through co-op with a bunch of different people or are a real achievement hound, these modes won’t hold much replay value. My roommate and I beat all of them within a handful of hours. The lack of a single-player campaign is especially depressing when you consider how stunning Battlefront is in almost every technical aspect – if the time had been put in for a legitimate campaign, it would probably be the coolest Star Wars gaming experience ever. Actually, scratch “probably,” because just based on the multiplayer modes, it absolutely would be.

And even the darling of this new Battlefront, the multiplayer experience, still isn’t unaffected by the all-around drought of content. Although there’s a lot more to do, it still feels like things are missing. There’s still a severely small number of maps, and some of the modes don’t feel as fleshed out as they could be. For example, the Heroes and Villains mode is limited by the fact there are only three heroes and three villains – instead of an epic battle between characters from across the franchise, it’s a waiting game to the next round for those assigned to play as useless regular infantry. I’m sure EA will be more than happy to provide more special characters in upcoming DLC packs, which are already prominently advertised on the game’s menu screen.

featuredImage.imgHoth! You like Hoth, right?

So, that’s a lot of bad about Battlefront, but what about the good? Well, as mentioned (and mentioned and mentioned), Star Wars has never looked or sounded this good. The game is beautiful, and even if there aren’t any immediately recognizable film locations, the universe and environment feels alive. The sound effects are music to my ears, especially since Battlefront sadly does away with constantly piping in the film soundtrack like the original games. I mentioned that Battlefront lacks personality, but that’s not entirely true – every now and then, you’ll hear a Wilhelm scream as someone gets knocked over by a laser blast.

The game also plays wonderfully, even if multiplayer has a sense of “spawn, die, rinse, repeat,” made worse by the fact the game seems to arbitrarily pop you in random, unprotected spawn locations. The actual running and gunning feels quick, smooth, and just generally satisfying. It’s all made even better by the fluid “card” system as opposed to classes. The cards let you really micromanage your play style for exactly what you want, and I appreciate that. Some might be frustrated by having to unlock items with credits, but I think it’s a great point rewards system that makes you feel like you accomplished something, even if you just lost with a kill-death ratio of 2 to 46. The game also has a ton of customization options for your character, which are grossly unnecessary but also incredibly satisfying.

Despite the limitations of the multiplayer modes, most of them are incredibly fun. Supremacy is a throwback to classic Battlefront, pitting team against team to cap control points. The already incredible AT-AT Walker Assault mode from the beta has been rebalanced, now giving the Rebels a fair chance to, you know, actually win. Interestingly, there’s a uneven mode called Hero Hunt where seven infantry units team up against a single hero or villain – it’s a cool addition, and it’s actually more entertaining than the regular Heroes and Villains. Overall, if you’re just here for the multiplayer, you’ll probably have a good time, even if there’s the nagging suspicion of limited content.

2885935-star_wars_battlefront_e3_screen_5_weapon_variety_wmFor real though, the snow in this game looks great.

In the end, Battlefront could have been the worthy follow-up everyone had hoped for, but its truncation severely limits the game’s potential. Even viewing from the lens of a multiplayer-focused game, Battlefront’s single-player content is disappointing and barely delivers on minimum expectations. Battlefront might look, sound, and feel great, but it’s hard to recommend a game that releases with so little to do and then immediately dangles the promise of DLC in front of your face. My advice? Wait for the inevitable GOTY edition. But hey, if you’re a Star Wars fan like me, you probably already own it.

Also, much like this review, Battlefront makes no reference or acknowledgement to the prequels. So if, you know, you’re expecting General Grievous or something, don’t get your hopes up. Sorry.

Editor, writer, and a non-stop consumer of games, movies, and music. Also the resident Texan, a general mischief maker, and a lover of all things atrocious.

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