Zipping along on a Speederbike in the lush environs of Endor in Star Wars: Battlefront, it's hard not to think, this is the most exhilarating Star Wars feeling I have ever had. I am living inside George Lucas's fantasy, and it is fantastic.
It’s during those moments — few and far between — that Battlefront delivers on the massive hype surrounding its launch last week.
Then there are those times when it reveals itself to be just another modern shooter — jump in, shoot, die, re-spawn, repeat — dressed up in some of the most amazing fan service, created for anybody who ever imagined themselves moving something with the Force.
Here are five impressions after some time spent playing Star Wars’ big return to the videogame world.
The game is a gorgeous re-creation of some of Star Wars’ worlds. With maps based on Hoth, Endor, Tattooine and Sallust, this is a beautiful-looking game that absolutely nails the look, feel and atmosphere of Star Wars. The vehicles are fun, the blasters are cool and at times all you want to do is just stop and marvel at the surroundings.
Sounds … not-so-great
The heroes are fun, it’s too bad they don't sound quite right. The Hero Cards are kind of a gimmick, in that you find a power-up and can become Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader or Boba Fett on the field of battle. It’s the equivalent of an overpowered thrill ride. Too bad the voice work was done with sound-alikes who are jarring in how off they are.
Compared to its peers, Battlefront has obvious shortcomings. After you get a little past the polished gloss of its look, some problems come through. It feels a little shallow compared with a number of other shooters. Something like the Walker Assault mission that showcases all its modes is great, but it doesn't have a wide variety of weapons and the matches lack some of the tactical feel and personalization of games like Call of Duty or Destiny. A perfect example is that the co-op missions mode that has 15 escalating waves of enemies, whereas other games have 40. It could use a little more of everything: modes, maps, weapons and loadouts.
Who’s it for?
Of course, there is some overlap between the hardcore Star Wars and the video game fan, but this title is likely going for the former, hoping to bring back lapsed or older gamers back in the fold. That's why there are some concessions to more casual fans, but the result is a game people will play for the next month, but likely not the next year. That said, many things can be fixed by updates — or likely in the inevitable sequel.
The lack of a single-player campaign is a bummer. Perhaps this is one of the reasons the shallowness of the game comes through. Star Wars enduring appeal is about the heroes' — and villains' — journeys as opposed to the places it happened. Obviously this game is released a month before Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and while perhaps the timing might not have worked, playing something that tied into that — or even a new campaign to tie all of the experiences together — would have been better.