The biggest game of the year just landed. But how does it play? Check out our in-depth Star Wars: Battlefront first impressions to find out...
If you’re into gaming, then the launch of Star Wars: Battlefront is likely a very big deal. And, with the game eschewing a single-player mode in favour of giving up to 40 people the chance to play against each other online, it’s piqued our interest too.
While we might not be the experts on all matters gaming, Vodafone Broadband will help to keep gamers gaming, and thankfully we can call on one or two people who know this stuff inside out. Our very own Martin Fitzpatrick is part of the EA Access programme, so he’s already been able to put the game through its paces. Now he’s chomping at the bit to tell people what he thinks about it, so here it is. Over to you, Martin…
It’s hard to see. The helmet restricts my view and causes each breath to reverberate in my ears. The rebel scum is nearby; I can feel it. Perhaps there, in the undergrowth? Perhaps that is where my adversary waits, perhaps this is where the final battle will take place. But no!
He’s there, rushing my blindside from the rebel command bunker. I raise my lightsabre to parry his overhand attack, our blades collide in an ear-splitting crack and my foe cries out… “Aww you broke it! I haven’t got another one; I’m going back inside”. As I watch my 5-year-old brother retreat into the house with his broken lightsabre made from the kitchen towel cardboard tube, I wonder if I can find a different cardboard box that doesn’t rattle around quite so much, I think I cut the holes for the eyes wrong in this one anyway.
Star Wars was the basis of many childhood games for me, whether it was the archetypal duel between good and evil as Darth Vader fought Luke Skywalker in the back garden, or saving princess Leia whilst fighting off swarms of storm troopers at the local park. That’s why I generally approach Star Wars games with a hint of caution, .
A New Hope
Thankfully, from the moment you load up this instalment of Star Wars: Battlefront you know that you’re in for a treat. The attention to detail is staggering and it begins from the very first note of the iconic soundtrack. Sound is generally an overlooked part of many games, but Battlefront nails it. The musical score during the titles and load sections is rich and deep and the in-game effects elevate gameplay to another level. The Whooomp! as an AT-AT’s foot thumps down inches away from you adds to the sense of danger, whilst the noise of the blasters will instantly trigger childhood memories of watching Han Solo and Luke Skywalker blasting waves of enemies with inexplicably poor aim.
Speaking of that huge AT-AT foot, the other thing you’ll notice is how beautifully crafted the graphics are. Even stood directly next to a vehicle that can be seen from halfway across the map, you can see nicks and scratches in the metal and there’s no pixilation at all, it just looks right. It’s a small thing, but it’s these small things that can break the immersion of a game; guns poking out through walls, vehicles bouncing up and down as they navigate uneven terrain and sections of the landscape that leave you stuck – something you won’t find in Star Wars: Battlefront.
The maps are well made and lend themselves to different styles of play. Each map is unique, one minute you’re running through the treetops of Endor with plenty of cover to duck behind and the next you’re assaulting an AT-AT on the flat and desolate Sullust. So no matter whether you prefer to hang back and support with long-range weapons or to get up close and personal using jet packs and short-range pistols to take enemies by surprise, you’re going to find some maps that let you run riot and others that make life a little more difficult for you.
Battlefront lets you tailor your approach to each map and game mode, using of both a variety of blasters that can be unlocked as you progress through the game. The blasters feel different enough to offer real variety but they’re well balanced enough to make sure that no one weapon significantly outperforms the others. If you’ve ever played CounterStrike: Source, you’ll know just how important this is; there’s no army of Stormtroopers on high ground with overpowered sniper rifles here.
In addition to the blasters, there are also Star Cards, which offer you the opportunity to flex your style of play to match the terrain and game mode. With three slots available to use, your Star Cards act as secondary weapons and power-ups, with everything from Ion Grenades to increase vehicle damage, to long-range pulse rifles and Jet Packs available.
Battlefront does away with traditional mechanics of first person shooter games, such as vehicles spawning in predefined locations. Instead, you gain access to them through a variety of power-ups that are scattered across the map in random locations, encouraging everyone to get involved in the fight – particularly as some of the power-ups give you the option to enter the battle as one of the iconic Star Wards heroes, with Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker and Bubba Fett, amongst others.
Battlefront remains much more traditional when it comes to game modes, albeit they’ve managed to wrap them into the Star Wars universe – with Blast, Drop Zone, droid run and cargo effectively taking the place of the death match, point capture, domination, and capture the flag game modes that you’re probably already familiar with. Battlefront makes better use of the Star Wars universe with Heroes Vs Villains, pitching the iconic characters from both the rebellion and the Empire against each other in a 6vs6 battle.
But what you really want to know is “Can I fly an X-wing?”. Not only is the answer yes, but there’s an entire game mode dedicated to aerial combat, with X-wings and A-wings facing off against Tie-fighters and Tie-interceptors in a battle to destroy the opposing team’s troop transport ships. It’s great fun, with a mass of fighters looping and whirling above some gorgeous landscapes. Flight controls are good and easy to get to grips with, although the collision mechanics with the ground can sometimes feel a bit odd. As with other game modes, power-ups are available across the map only this time they’ll give you the chance to fly the millennium falcon or Bubba Fett’s Slave One.
The Force is strong
All in all Star Wars: Battlefront offers the opportunity to step into the Star Wars universe and play out your childhood fantasies of saving the universe and flying spaceships between the legs of huge robotic walkers as a battle rages below. The lack of a single player story is going to deter some people from buying Battlefront, but it really shouldn’t.
The changes that developers DICE have made to the basic game mechanics, particularly around power-ups and aiming mechanics, mean that the action keeps moving towards the objectives and many of the poor behaviours that exist in other multiplayer games are minimised by design. Throw in the chance to party up with your friends and head into huge 40 player battles and Star Wars: Battlefront is going to keep you playing “just one more round” for a very long time.
Next level gaming: Find out how Vodafone Broadband’s Boost function can enhance your gaming experience, giving you fantastic speeds and more control than ever before.