Star Wars Battlefront review

Jedi Might

Battlefront

Battlefront is one of the greatest 'Star Wars' games ever made. It's also one of the most frustrating.

The DICE team can be proud that they have created one of the most cinematic, jaw-dropping ways to immerse yourself in the Star Wars universe. The game's impressively high production value, bringing photorealistic visuals to John William's soaring score, deserves every bit of praise it gets: DICE has made something that feels about as authentically Star Wars as possible.

But it's limited. And that really sucks because, when it's at its best, Battlefront is a wonderful reminder of what we all loved about those original three movies. I adored the first two Battlefront games too, and Battlefront replicates many of the things those did right.

We've all seen Luke Skywalker pushing the snowtrooper into the TIE Fighter, right? Battlefront was made for these amazing moments: Storm across Hoth as Darth Vader while laserfire criss-crosses around you and TIE Fighters scream overhead; straddle a speeder bike and tear through Endor's lush forest, weaving in and out of AT-STs.

Fly the goddamn Millennium Falcon.

Battlefront is a game of atmosphere. It's an enjoyable, accessible shooter that has a lot to offer Star Wars fans - but not an awful lot for everyone else.

Battlefront

Game modes

You'll notice the first problem with Battlefront the moment you reach the main menu: its lack of content. There's no single player campaign (although as I'll touch on shortly, I don't think this is a huge loss) and the multiplayer modes on offer aren't bountiful - neither are the number of locations to play them in.

There are nine different game modes in Battlefront, but perhaps only two or three that you'll bother going back to. Walker Assault is Battlefront's flagship mode, a 40-player match emulating the iconic Hoth invasion by the Empire (there's a version on Tatooine one too). EA let us try Walker Assault in the beta several weeks ago, and since then has tweaked the mode in response criticism that it was too easy for the Empire to win.

While it's definitely more balanced, it still feels a little biased in favour of the baddies - but it was in the film too. So - if you take Battlefront as a game that's foremostly about faithfully recreating these iconic scenes - should we really mind?

Supremacy mode sees Rebels and Imperials fighting to take command of control points - another one you'll probably come back to a fair bit - while Fighter Squadron is a totally airborne mode, letting you pilot X-Wings, TIE Fighters and even the Falcon in air-to-air combat.

But Rogue Squadron this is not, and Fighter Squadron quickly reveals itself to be a very repetitive arcade shooter. Battlefront's air combat works well as a part of battle, but not as a standalone game.

EA has announced that the upcoming Battle of Jakku map, set between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, will bring a new 40-player game mode, Turning Point. In this, Rebels take down Empire bases one at a time before the game crescendoes in a "final stand" at the third base. When a base is captured, the Empire cannot reclaim it. It promises to be another favourite.

Battlefront

Some people have criticised Battlefront for its lack of story mode, but I'm not so sure it needs one.

This is a game about tapping into our fondest memories of Star Wars, less so about creating new ones. It's the very reason EA chose to focus on the original movie trilogy and ignore the prequels. Whether this nostalgia-driven focus on faithfulness and accuracy comes at the expense of more content - or whether I'm just offering Battlefront an easy excuse - isn't clear.

I'd like to say that it is, but while the story mode might not feel like a massive loss, many other missing features do.

Before launch, Battlefront was accused of looking like a Battlefield 'reskin'. That turns out to not be the case, but you might wish it was: Battlefront's combat is quite shallow by comparison. There are no classes, and instead of Squads we have a basic Partner system that lets two players spawn near one another.

Battlefield fans may also be disgruntled to know there's little tactical teamplay here, with features like enemy spotting and in-game voice chat missing from action. You also don't get Battlefield's aim-down-ironsights, keeping it more akin to its predecessors.

I actually find that last omission a refreshing one in 2015, but I can understand why not everyone will feel the same way.