2015 will forever be remembered as the year it was safe to dream again. Star Wars is back in a big way: JJ Abrams’ led The Force Awakens continuing to generate more buzz than a Mos Eisley Cantina, Star Wars: Rebels continues to impress, and Marvel’s new line of comic books are doing a fine job of building a bridge away from Lucas’ legacy.
It was left to Battlefield developer DICE to make a successful play for the videogames market and, simply put, Star Wars: Battlefront is the most authentic interpretation of George Lucas’ original trilogy that we’ve ever seen. That’s not to say Battlefront isn’t without its problems – because it certainly has a few – though nostalgia and spectacle are without question the deadliest weapons in DICE’s arsenal for keeping it fresh and exciting long after you’ve seen everything it has to offer.
In fact, the first dozen or so hours you pour into Battlefront will easily be some of the best use of your time this year; DICE has not only been able to successfully capture the look and feel of Star Wars circa 1977-83, but it has also succeeded where George Lucas failed with the prequels. Battlefront captures the innocence and thrills that were at the heart of the original trilogy, and it does it in a fashion that’s so spectacular that you’ll be desperate to forgive it for its lack of longevity.
For all of its charm, however, Battlefront struggles to hold attention for long. This is partly down to its limited offering of content – which will, of course, be bolstered throughout the year with a hefty amount of DLC – but it’s also a result of the naivety that runs throughout its core design. If you’ve picked up and played any FPS game in the last five years, you’ll likely walk away with the impression that the gunplay has been heavily stripped down.
As much as we like to have good old moan about the loadout and Perk customisation that props up the bloated corpse of Call Of Duty’s multiplayer every year, there’s a reason these models exist in almost every shooter released in the current generation – it is wildly addictive.
Without these systems, Battlefront feels a little empty. It’s a shame, because in many respects it’s a refreshing return to simpler times; back when the likes of 007: Goldeneye and Timesplitters were the pinnacle of FPS design.
It is also incredibly simple. While every gun has the ability to aim-down-sights, you can (for the most part) get away with firing from the hip while running around like a lunatic – revelling in the chaos as you act out some of the most spectacular Star Wars battles ever created – as auto aim assist does a lot of the heavy lifting for you. You only have one weapon slot, which is fine, because weapon selection is limited.
Of the modes, it’s only Supremacy – a variation of Battlefield’s Conquest – and Walker Assault, a giant 20 versus 20 battleground where the Rebels attempt to topple a map dwarfing ATAT; that will really hold interest after the initial adrenaline rush dies down. But that’s okay, because you’ll quickly find yourself wanting to only stomp through the harsh icy environments of Hoth and the dense foliage of Endor before long anyway.
Battlefront doesn’t really strive to challenge or engage the player; instead it seeks to simply exist while you live out power fantasies that have only ever played out in your imagination.
Star Wars: Battlefront is excellent fan service. It’s one of the most beautiful games we’ve seen released this generation and for the Star Wars fan it’s a dream come true. The roar of a TIE Fighter, the sound of incoming blaster fire and whirr of a lightsaber will send chills down your spine for sure.
It’s a game built around playful heroism and spectacle, it desperately seeks to make you feel like the saviour of a Galaxy Far, Far Away, and, for the most part, it will. Just don’t be surprised if the magic dies out a little too quickly.