Star Wars is an amazing brand, steeped in nostalgia and familiarity. Watching the movies is a common childhood memory whether you’re 20 years old or 40-50 years old. We have seen plenty of Star Wars video games over the years, from interactive arcade style games to experiences designed for our home consoles. Each game ultimately aspires to recreate that wonderful feeling of watching the movies for the first time, feeling like we might actually be a part of that fantastic galaxy that exists somewhere far, far away. Some games have been good, but very few have been great, which is what makes me so excited for the upcoming title, Star Wars: Battlefront.
Graphics and Sound:
Technology has finally reached a point were it’s blurring the lines of what looks real and fake. Well actually, it’s making those lines very crisp and clean. Hands down, Battlefront looks amazing. Originally when they showed off the “in game footage” we all scoffed; it looked too good to be true. In the end, however, it got much closer to our expectations than we expected. It looks best on a high end PC, but the visuals on both the Xbox one and PS 4 still look amazing. Whats more important is that it ran well. There were a few hiccups but I think that most of those were network related and party problems. The game itself was buttery smooth.
The audio was probably my favorite part. They pulled sounds in from all the movies even though it’s set in the Episode 5 days. For instance, the sounds of Gungan shields being hit by blasters are the same sounds as when you pop your personal shield and are being shot at. They took the sound of Janga’s space bomb in Episode 2 (the dog fight in asteroids vs Obi) and used that for the explosive power up you can throw. I feel as though good sound effects are an under-appreciated element of games these days, and almost more so than the high-quality graphics, these authentic sound effects really set the mood for players and immerse them in the experience.
I played the old Battlefront games two generations ago. I also played all of the Battlefield games made by DICE. The gameplay of this new Battlefront lands somewhere in-between. I’m glad that it’s not just battlefield with a star wars skin. The game probably would have been really really good if they had, but they would have missed a chance to do something different. Instead of “classes” to choose from you are customizing your soldier to your whim. There are positives and negatives doing it this way. I liked it because I made a person that wouldn’t fit the normal “class” system, I had a sniper rifle, jet pack, and personal shield. I can fight from far, close, or high. It was super fun to play and I like that I get to make it my own. The down side is that everyone else did the same thing. Keep in mind that the beta was capped at level 5 and the guns, gadgets, and power ups were limited. With so few options it made sense that everyone would come to the conclusion on the “best kit”. My fingers are crossed that with more levels and options there isn’t the clear “best kit” anymore and it’s just a difference on play style.
The controls made sense and I didn’t even need to look up the settings to start playing. It just felt natural. About two games in I was already doing really well getting 40+ kills. If you have played battlefield and battlefront I think it will give you a leg up. There isn’t ammo to run out of with your main blaster, it’s just managing your heat levels. If you shoot for too long it will overheat and take awhile to cool down. You can speed up the cooling if you hit your “reload” button at the right time. There are two yellow marks near your sights, then two yellow dots that move down the sides, if you hit X at the right time you can cut your “reload time” by 75%. It is very similar to the Gears of War reload system. It rewards you for good timing, but isn’t necessary to do well.
They featured two game modes in the beta, Walker Assault and Drop Zone. Drop Zone reminded me of gears of war again. It was a much smaller map with 8v8 and functioned similar to king of the hill with a moving hill. Pods would drop down on the map and you had to run to it and defend it until your team captured it. If the other team over powered your position they could start to reclaim it for themselves. It was good gameplay, but I felt like it was too “small time” for my tastes. I don’t mind intimate game modes, but being Star Wars, I wanted to be in a war. Walker Assault is that war. They are much larger battles in a 20v20 setting. The map was HUGE. There will be a few maps that supports this game type but the only one available was the Hoth map from Episode 5. They managed to recreate the look and feel of that movie with the map. The first few games were a little confusing, as the objectives weren’t clearly communicated. If you are the Rebels you need to activate two uplink stations on the map and then defend them. While they are active you are earning Y-wing bomber attacks on the big AT-AT walkers. All the while the walkers are getting closer and closer. Once it reaches that set of uplink stations the Y-wing bombers you earned will attack the walkers and make them vulnerable to normal blasters for a short time. The more bombers you earn the more damage you do. You also can just attack the walker for more damage during the attack phase. Then you move back to the next set of uplink stations and try to maintain that uplink. The Empire’s goal is to interrupt that uplink and resetting the Y-wing timer. If they keep resetting the timer on the uplink stations then the Rebels with have fewer of them when the attack phase happens. Once you get the mode, it makes sense and is fun, but it is a little convoluted to start.
All in all the beta made me more excited for the full game then I already was. I can’t wait to see the new maps and what more levels will do to the customization on my soldier. There were about 8 different modes that appeared on the main menu that weren’t on the beta. Those will add more fun to the mix as well. I give this beta a hit.
May the Force be with you.