In a few weeks, the (arguably) biggest movie franchise on the planet returns to movie screens. There are several reasons why Star Wars is such an iconic pop-culture mainstay.
The sweeping story, memorable characters and fantastic soundtrack are all great. But there’s one reason why it has captured the hearts and minds of millions of viewers for several decades – the visuals. Star Wars gave us massive, intergalactic battles and showed us alien worlds with a vibrancy that had never before been put on cinema.
The latest game in the franchise, Star Wars Battlefront, stays true to this visual extravagance. The story of Battlefront plays out over gorgeously detailed alien worlds. You journey through the gigantic forests of Endor, the frozen wastelands of Hoth and the near-endless desert of Tatooine. When the game is hitting all the right notes, you will have flashes from the first time you watched your favorite Star Wars movies in amazement. This isn’t to say that Battlefront is a perfect game. It starts off strong, but loses its way by the time it gets to the third act. Battlefront is a visually stunning tribute to Star Wars, if nothing else. Developer DICE have worked hard on this game, and it shows. The attention to detail and the expertly crafted visuals are a treat. Realistic lighting, detailed textures, lush locales and beautiful particle effects adorn the world of Battlefront. The sound design is similarly top-notch. The world of Battlefront comes alive with the sounds of battle, explosions, rain, thunder and even the innocuous sounds of the life forms that surround you.
Once you get over the stellar production design, the game begins to show its limitations. The maps are gorgeously rendered, but are lacking in level design. The vegetation in Endor looks like it should offer you lots of cover, but this isn’t the case. Similarly, the vast expanses of barren lands in Hoth may look intimidating, but don’t contribute to the gameplay in any meaningful way. Tatooine is the one location where you will have the most diverse gameplay experiences. It offers a nice blend of indoor and outdoor environments, making the gameplay a constant challenge. You can hide behind bunkers while a battle rages outside, and then flank unsuspecting enemy soldiers at strategic locations nearby.
Star Wars Battlefront is not lacking on game modes. It offers a whopping nine modes for you to exercise your talents across the galaxy. The Heroes vs. Villains mode allows you to indulge in a battle royale with your favorite characters from the universe. Droid Run is a modified territory capture mode, with the catch being that the zones you need to control keep shifting through the match. Survival mode allows you to play a Star Wars themed Horde mode. You work with allies to survive wave after wave of enemies. Some of the game modes don’t really work, like Blast and Cargo which are uninspired versions of classic gameplay tropes like capture the flag and team deathmatch.
But perhaps the most enjoyable one of them all is Walker Assault. In this mode, depending on which side you are on, you will either want to take down or escort AT-ATs as they trudge towards a base. Both sides have unique gameplay challenges which keeps things fun. If you’re on the Imperial team, you can make it your priority to make sure the Rebels don’t get a hold of too many uplink stations. If you’re on the rebel team, you can work with your teammates to slowly whittle away at the AT-ATs hitpoints while keeping an eye on supplementary objectives on the map.
Sometimes, the game will make things interesting by adding a pinch of chaos to the proceedings. A rocket could slam into a TIE fighter, or Luke Skywalker could cut an AT-ST down to size. You might come across Rebels who perform acrobatic maneuvers while they’re fighting the Imperial machines. Eventually though, these moments will become unimpressive as the monotonous nature of Battlefront’s combat becomes clear to you. For most of the game, you will either be fighting at medium range and hope you hit someone, or running for your life when you’re being attacked from a long range. Other than Walker Assault, Star Wars Battlefront doesn’t really innovate in the combat department. Vehicular combat, on the other hand, is frequently fun. Piloting X-Wings, TIE Interceptors and even the Millennium Falcon offers a nice change of pace from the run-and-gun that pervades the narrative otherwise.
The game offers a decent amount of content that players can unlock as they progress through the multiplayer mode. You can unlock different weapons, projectiles and character skins. Just don’t expect these unlocked items to make too much of a difference to your overall gameplay experience.
Overall, Star Wars Battlefront is a gleeful showcase of the spectacle of the Star Wars universe. You’ll have plenty of “Wow!” moments during the first few hours of gameplay. If you’re a Star Wars fan, these will be worth the price of admission. For folks who are new to the franchise, you might be a little lost as you try to figure out who’s who and what’s happening. As a visual extravaganza, Battlefront is a home run. As a gameplay experience, it doesn’t quite hold up to its lofty source material.
Game Review Score 7.0 Out of 10