new header

February 15, 2016

Star Wars Battlefront: A Review

-- The One-Trick-Pony with One Great Trick

Lacking the refined shooting mechanics of a Halo, the customary FPS customizables, and most glaringly, an actual campaign, Star Wars Battlefront is far from a perfect game. Sometimes you spawn directly in front of an oncoming enemy who is more than willing to oblige the deposit of innumerable blasts into your spine. The aviator combat is a bit simplistic, producing a victor based on who-saw-who-first rather than pilot skill. A couple of the multiplayer modes are beyond terrible (hello there Capture the Cargo), while one in particular makes you wonder if it was intentionally created to have the first 90% of the match be pointless (Droid Run). So yes there are a few cons on the Star Wars Battlefront list when compared to the Uncharteds of the world. 

All of which is secondary to this one point: Star Wars Battlefront is the best game I played in 2015.

2015 was the year I’d been waiting for as an up-to-date system owner. I’d made the PS4 purchase in late 2014 and for the first six months the best game I owned on it was … a PS3 game (The Last of Us Remastered). Still, the list of 2015 arrivals had me encouraged: Arkham Knight, Metal Gear Solid V, Fallout 4, Rainbow Six Siege, The Order, Madden 16. Of these offerings I bought two, played two more, and generally found myself pleased. Sure the games were good, but they each had a fatal flaw here or there. While the graphics were generally superb and the gameplay equally enthralling, each game just lacked that something which differentiates the good from the great. 

Enter Star Wars, an incomplete game yes, but one that generates so many WOW moments you quickly forget the aiming is a little weird or that you can’t change the appearance of your blaster. For me the moment came during the Beta last October,  while I was rooting for my baby’s arrival to be delayed a week so I could have one final, brainless, video game bonanza before being promoted to parent. On a map beautifully adapted to mirror the famous Hoth of Empire Strikes Back, I found myself running through the rebel base. I passed docked X-wings, these radars creens, dead stormtroopers cloaked in their eerie all-whites, before turning a corner and finding myself all alone with Darth Vader. My instinct was immediate; I turned around and smashed the sprint button, hoping to flee.

In my video gaming career, I’d never felt that before. No game had ever made me run away.

I was too slow of course. I found my character lifted into the air. As my poor rebel soldier clawed at his neck, hoping against hope to find a passage of oxygen, Vader approached and introduced his light saber to my middle. I had encountered the most powerful force in the galaxy mano a mano, and gotten my trash kicked. As it should be.

The moment was incredible. I felt a natural instinct -- to get away as fast as I could --  made possible only because of the game's ability to make you feel like you are actually in a Star Wars movie. Without the history of the movies to back it up, and without the due diligence paid in bringing that history to life, such a moment never happens. And so it was that over the course of the game's arrival even more movie moments came my way. I took a turn slicing up rebels as Vader, I blew up a speeder on Endor, I even dropped an AT-AT by way of encircling harpoon. 

How many times have we seen video game developers with money signs for eyes take a movie franchise and lazily turn it into a game? I've played those horrendous Spider Man attempts. I've suffered through the Indiana Jones recreations on PC. And sure, my wife's family speaks highly of that one weird Wallace and Gromit game but as far as I'm concerned no one has ever come as close to making you feel like you're living a movie as Battlefront has. The atmosphere of this game is what makes it so great: the way it looks, the detail to the costumes, the authenticity of the maps, the music, and man oh man the sound of the blasters. You did well, EA. 


As a kid I spent hours assembling wannabe Star Wars ships that compared to their real life equivalents only if you were cross-eyed. I'd take these Lego ships, one in each hand, and circle around the Death Star (otherwise known as the Christmas tree) reenacting the dog fights I'd seen on screen. Invariably I'd clip a branch of the tree, or trip on Climps, and drop one of the ships sending it sprawling towards the explosive death known to all Lego owners. The next twenty minutes would be spent rebuilding a broken plane, then flying once more til the next casualty came in the form of dinner or bedtime.  

Nowadays I turn on the TV, press a couple of buttons, and I'm locked onto tie fighters piloting an X-wing in a state of high definition my 8-year old eyes could never have imagined. As a kid I would have ran naked through the streets to play a game like this; I'd never have believed it possible. It's admittedly nerdy -- and not in the Seth Cohen, cool way -- both the playing of video games and the playing of a Star Wars game in particular. But both this game and the movie that inspired it found tremendous success by pandering to their predecessors. In living a fantasy I only dreamed about a youngster, am I not doing the same? 

No comments:

Post a Comment