A good licensed game like Star Wars Battlefront is not so much the holy grail of unrequited geekdom it used to be, the Arkham series, Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, and Alien: Isolation being recent examples. Of course, movie tie-ins are still hot slag scraped off the boardroom ceiling after all that brain steam made the paint bubble, but Star Wars games aren’t so bad.
We’ve had X-Wing, Super Star Wars, Knights of the Old Republic, and what I would argue is still the greatest Star Wars game ever made: Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader. And for pure staying power, no game gets popped back into the PS2 more frequently than Star Wars Battlefront II.
The force became pitifully pathetic with these ones when motion controls interfered as they always do, more potently because expectations were so high. I mean, how could the Wii have been invented with anything but a lightsaber in mind? The hardware’s pants button strained under the overfed paunch of Star Wars fandom to create a few painful ulcers in the likes of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and its sequel before going into Kinect Star Wars.
With Star Wars Battlefront, fans hoped this trend would reverse itself to deliver an authentic Star Wars experience that would finally let the old Battlefronts become one with the Force. From the promotional material, it was easy to be optimistic. But now that it’s been out a few months, and with new DLC tempting stragglers to lose their next-gen virginity, is Star Wars Battlefront worth buying?
The New Star Wars Battlefront
Usually, a game sells itself on its fun features or creative mechanics. Developer Dice reminded us that a franchise transcends all that with their Battlefront teaser: a tour of Dice studios Orson Welles-style like a letter to fandom, I’s dotted with little thermal detonators. I remember thinking that multiplayer shooters aren’t my thing and Dice’s Battlefield never really scratched my Lee Harvey Oswald itch but if Battlefront was at least an authentic experience, I’d be perfectly happy. Since then I’ve learned there are different kinds of authenticity. Building a world’s style appropriately is one, but a genuine player interface is another. Star Wars Battlefront excels at the first.
If you’ve memorized the groove patterns on the horizon of a thermal detonator and know how many steps it is from Echo Base to the Walker landing site on Hoth, Dice has you covered. It’s nice to see a big company caring more about fandom than the tween demographic. So it really pains me to see what fan service grows into when not contained in the sensible planter’s pot of player interface, because the first problem with Star Wars Battlefront is that it’s a depressingly classic style over substance situation where you can count the bristles on an Ewok’s mug but don’t have a structured campaign or versus mode to make that relevant. You’ll be yearning for Battlefront II’s “Instant Action” long before the spin-off film comes out.
Battlefront II improved on its predecessor with sniping controls that worked, unlockable new classes, and deliciously unbalanced Jedi ready to carve any difficulty curve Christmas turkey levels of demented. But if we put on our beige-colored glasses and see the world objectively, we might remember that Battlefront II was good, but only if you ignored hunt mode, capture the flag, and every space battle ever, which was like trying to race RC planes in an office lobby. These are the things we hoped Dice would fix, because with plenty of maps and classes and enough fractal chaos with the AI companions to keep dorms lit by split screens way past the point of no studying, Battlefront II‘s clunky modes and slippery controls couldn’t deny the fundamental truth that a passable Star Wars game can make it by quantity alone.
The new Star Wars Battlefront seems sadistically motivated to deny this truth. At the same time that Dice appears to love fans it’s got this suspiciously whorish “come hither” look aimed right at the fandom EA assumes will buy in no matter how skimpy it is under its digital skirt. Perfect renders on snow slush is fine and all, but eight maps is getting pretty coy with launch day content, now that that’s a thing (Battlefront II had 33). There’s a disturbing lack of consequential single player or any instant action mode. There are none of the previous games’ 51 classes to choose from, but loadouts based on your upgrades based on your LEVEL GRINDING, something that has no place in a Battlefront game. Nineteen playable heroes is now a list of six.
Even still, with all its style, Star Wars Battlefront should still deliver on its most basic premise as an interface through which Star Wars can go from a vicarious to an active experience.
But Star Wars Battlefront is to my dream of inhabiting its far, far away like bumper cars are to a kid’s dream of driving. It’s a thrill but a short-lived one once you realize how few options there are, that communicating with your teammates is pointless and impossible and that everyone is an insufferable COD-head. You know: the level 50 cyber bully who snipes spawn points, the video game equivalent of that guy who keeps bumping your bumper from behind. That’s every person in Star Wars Battlefront, a functional game that’s as rewarding as any Ponzi scheme.
Is Star Wars Battlefront worth buying?
Not only was Star Wars Battlefront $59.99 but if you wanted to experience the much-touted Battle of Jakku, you had to buy into a $49.99 DLC map. Then you had to tell your friends to join you to justify it, like a sinister chain letter that costs $100 to open. So as micro-payments abound in the game’s combat arenas too and the Bespin DLC has been announced for later this year, herein is the reason Star Wars Battlefront is not worth buying in our opinion. I am not saying Battlefront is not a good game but having a game clearly exploit my desires as a Star Wars franchise fan is one thing, but it’s a matter of principle as a general video gamer that makes me demand a game be finished and released in full on launch day, if that’s what I pay for.
Serialization is fine, like what Telltale’s doing with their episodic game series. But this is like paying full ticket price to see the first fifth of a Tarantino movie. The industry is opening a chasm and among the cherished standard scalving off into the sea of generic action games below are Campaign Mode and Local Multiplayer and even Full Released Game, something that I haven’t considered negotiable since Apogee Shareware on the MS-DOS, which had the decency to be free.
Playing Star Wars should be full of swashing your buckles on alien turf. It should be a movie serial of dynamic action and astounding stories adventure. Being dropped into a lobby with 39 other financial profligates just to run around a while and feed the XP bar of an unsupervised thirteen-year-old Norwegian with your skull bits is only fun if the Norwegian is your brother and you can throw down the controller and get some XP of your own. Otherwise, the experience is nothing but a letdown, like after watching the studio tour and trailers and waiting in line the thing that deflated everyone’s intergalactic high was playing the actual game. After all that hype, it could have been the best Star Wars game that never was if Dice set all the discs to self-destruct after you bought and opened it. Actually, I shouldn’t say that—at this
So is Star Wars Battlefront worth buying? After all that hype, it could have been the best Star Wars game that never was if Dice set all the discs to self-destruct after you bought and opened it. Actually, I shouldn’t say that—at this point I wouldn’t want to give them any ideas. In our opinion it is not worth it.