A New Hope
EA recently acquired the game rights to release a Star Wars and with that announced they were going to reboot the old Battlefront idea, courtesy of their DICE studio, give it a lick of paint and bring it up to speed with support for current-gen consoles and PC's.
Star Wars Battlefront 2 was released in 2005 and expanded on this by introducing playable heroes and a more solid single player campaign.
Which brings us to the current day Star Wars Battlefront.
The game gives a very realistic feeling of being in battle. Overhead, there are hectic dogfights between tie fighters and x-wings, with explosions, sparks and debris raining over the battlefield. There is the thud thud thud of humongous calibre laser artillery arcing across the field, eviscerating anything unlucky enough to get in the way. And the sound of thermal implosion grenades shaking (and destroying) everything within 20 metres of them. Screams of injured and dying Rebel and Imperial fighters, and of course the "zing zing zing" of heroes duelling using light sabers!
I rarely play in the third person perspective but in this case I did, it just looks so great seeing your character move so fluently. It gives you a wider viewable area which is an advantage too.
Whilst there aren't many maps yet, the layout of them is clever and minimises the opportunity for players to "camp" in the one spot. Basically on every map it's nigh on impossible to have your back protected, you need to be constantly moving and looking around all 360 degrees to survive.
Use the force! (powerups)
This game is all about powerups, and the side that makes the best use of them will win the day. Someone kills you and you are pretty sure you know where they're hiding? Respawn, grab an Orbital Strike powerup and order one in smack down on top of their head! They won't be laughing much longer. The hero and vehicle powerups expire to prevent them from being held too long and disadvantaging your team which makes a lot of sense.
You can also get an R2D2 powerup and that little menace roams around like a maniacal trash can, laying waste to any Imperial's who dare to put a chip packet in him.
Things that make you go "pew"
Weapons are an assortment of Blaster Pistol's, Blaster Rifle's, Heavy and Shock Blaster's, Sniper Rifles and heat seeking Missiles. The game uses a level up system, based on your performance in matches you get assigned points at the conclusion of each match. At each level or "rank" increase, you are able to purchase upgraded weapons or items for your belt slots. Or if you are really vain, like me, you spend your points on visual appearance upgrades.
Thankfully there are no Microtransactions, everything can be purchased with in-game cred.
There are of course a multitude of vehicles you can command on the battlefield. These appear as power ups you run over and then activate. I like the fact there is a small delay in calling in a vehicle. You literally crouch and make a call on your Nokia 5110 or similar smartphone. The wait can be excruciating as you practically defenceless while you do it!
Ground based vehicles that can be commanded by you are AT-AT's, AT-ST's, Speeder Bikes (remember the famous scene on Endor in Return of the Jedi) and SnowSpeeders.
The game features a bunch of different Multiplayer Game Modes.
Blast is a 10 v 10 Unreal Tournament Deathmatch style, you know the drill.
Being able to deflect incoming blaster fire with a light saber is a hell of a feeling and a sight to behold. However my highlight was respawning as Palpatine and destroying wave after wave of Rebel scum with his Sith Lightning. Flanked by some RL Stormtroopers, my hero felt almost invincible!
EA has announced some free DLC on the 8th of December – The Battle for Jakku. This map features a clash between the rebels and imperials on Jakku, a scene featured in the recent Force Awakens movie. It's great to see EA investing in their player base.
Single player wise, there's no campaign, but there are scenario based objective missions that can be also be played co-operatively. These missions revolve around fighting invading Imperial forces, and can be played in Normal, Hard or Master mode. There's also the ability to play as Skirmish battles as a hero or standard infantry.
It looks as good as Princess Leia's hair
The game engine is impressive. The ability to render smoothly, a huge amount of activity over a large area is reminiscent of the Battlefield series and that's largely in part due to the fact that they share the same engine: EA's
Graphically it looks great. The explosions are some of the best I've seen in a game. There is also a kind of movie look to the scenes which is hard to explain. I think it's like a frame blurring effect, such as in this scene:
How's the combat?
Fast paced. Theres no sneaking around tactically, it's all very Unreal Tournament. The combat took a while to get used to the fact that zooming doesn't affect accuracy. It's also possible to get one shotted very easily and sometimes respawns are nonsensical, you might get planted right next to an enemy which seems unfair.
Whilst I was initially frustrated with the matchmaking and lack of a server browser, it should be given a chance to see how it works (or doesn't) in a few months. Finding a server hasn't really been an issue for me and I've rarely seen one player tearing the game apart compared to the rest.
The implementation of Squads like Battlefield 4 would be useful addition. When you are paired with an Origin Friend, it's still pretty good. The lack of VOIP isn't a big deal because there are other options and this saves me from needing to mute players that like to sing, curse, belch or spout random crap over a live mic. When I tested the Origin VOIP, I was surprised at how well it worked - so it's a viable alternative for a 2 player experience.
Joystick support in the game seemed lacking, we weren't able to get our X52 to work which is surprising and disappointing, given the dogfighting element plays a huge part in this game.
Right now the maps seem a bit limited but as mentioned EA are throwing more free DLC out there which will help. There is a Season Pass that can be purchased that will expand the game as well, but as yet no detail on what the Expansion packs will contain.
For a fun frag fest that doesn't take itself as seriously as Rainbow 6, you can't go wrong with Star Wars Battlefront. If you are looking for BF4 style team cohesive style combat it might leave you wanting more. It's more Arcade than that, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's the type of game you will happily log into after your Spaghetti for an hour or two a night and have a blast with. Yes it's nothing new in terms of its formula, but what it does it does well.