'Star Wars: Battlefront' is amazing fan service with too little meat on the bone

Posted on Nov 18 2015 - 10:59pm by Ashley Rey

‘Star Wars: Battlefront’ is amazing fan service with too little meat on the bone

Image: DICE

By Adam Rosenberg2015-11-18 22:59:39 UTC

Star Wars: Battlefront shouldn’t work.
It’s a small game in terms of content. Multiplayer-only focus, four maps, just a handful of modes that stand out as uniquely Star Wars. Yet after a week of regular play, while Call of Duty and Fallout and Destiny all vie for attention, I can’t seem to shake the urge to grab my Stormtrooper helmet and jump back in.

There isn’t any kind of deep character progression. The unlocks are underwhelming and somewhat same-y. I find myself playing the same game mode — Walker Assault — over and over again; the others just aren’t that interesting. There are plenty of bad games that do better in several of these areas.
Why does Star Wars: Battlefront work so well? I think it’s the way it virtualizes the “action figure fantasy” that anyone who grew up with Star Wars can relate to.

I have vivid memories of my childhood home’s basement and the shag carpet that served as Hoth’s snowy wasteland. The three Stormtrooper figures in my collection represented an entire battalion. Battlefront plucks those memories from my brain and brings them to life in more detail than I ever imagined.
Crest a rise on Endor and you might see an AT-AT Imperial walker bearing down on your position while red and green blaster bolts criss-cross the space in front of you. The head of an AT-ST explodes under Ion Torpedo fire as its legs crumple beneath it.
It’s not just the sights; the sounds matter too. Every volley from an E-11 blaster rifle, trademark weapon of the Empire’s Stormtrooper legions, triggers a Pavlovian burst of joy. Speeder bikes whiz by, screaming T.I.E. Fighters cut the sky to shreds. Battlefront hits on a visceral level.
Nowhere is this more evident than in Walker Assault. Imperial AT-ATs slowly advance as Rebel forces fight to control comms uplinks that call in Y-Wing bombers. Divided into teams of 20, the Empire fights to minimize bombing runs while the Rebellion tries to bring down the Walkers.
It’s a big mode, consuming every inch of Battlefront’s four maps. You feel the epic scope as you fight with a horde of allies at your side. The similarly large Supremacy mode ditches AT-ATs in favor of 20v20 battles for territory, but it can’t compete with taking cover behind a Walker’s legs, or cheering as a T-47 Airspeeder’s tow cable brings one of the behemoths crashing down.
Modes like Heroes Vs. Villains (everyone controls major named characters in 6v6 matches) and Fighter Squadron (all-aerial dogfights) offer enjoyable diversions, but Walker Assault is where the dream of this game is realized. After your first taste, everything else feels secondary.

Image: DICE

None of this would matter if the moving-and-shooting weren’t satisfying, but that’s old hat for developer DICE. This is the architect of the Battlefield series, a team that understands how to scale virtual warfare in a way that makes you feel like both an important cog in the machine and a small piece of a much larger engagement.
The best moments of wish fulfillment, from piloting an X-Wing Fighter to Force-choking Rebel scum as Darth Vader, are relegated to video game-y power-ups. Icons scattered around the battlefield appear at random, and it’s fun times for you if you happen to grab one.
It’s very much a luck of the draw situation with these power-ups, but Battlefront’s invisible puppetmaster is generous when it comes to doling them out. You might not pilot a starfighter or commandeer a hero in every match, but it happens frequently enough to not be frustrating.
If you’re looking for lots of weapon options and a long-term focus on unlocks and progression, go play Call of Duty. Star Wars: Battlefront is a rare breed of video game: it’s low investment pick-up-and-play shooter with zero depth, but it seeps in and makes you want to keep playing.
Provided you’re a Star Wars fan, that is. That’s a requirement. Remove all connections to a galaxy far, far away and you’re left with a gorgeous-yet-simple shooter that’s fun for a week then easily cast aside in favor of deeper experiences. Fandom seals the experience.
What Battlefront lacks in depth it salvages in the ever-unpredictable skirmishing of Walker Assault and the mind-bogglingly authentic Star Wars experience. There are longer games, and smarter games, and flat-out better games. But if you’re a Star Wars fan like me, you’ll find yourself indelibly drawn back to Battlefront’s action figure fantasy again and again.

Star Wars: Battlefront

The Good
Gorgeous audiovisual journey into ‘Star Wars’ • Walker Assault is every fan’s wish come true
The Bad
Extremely spare from a content perspective • Weak long-term progression
The Bottom Line
‘Star Wars: Battlefront’ is insultingly light on content and not worth its $60 price, but ‘Star Wars’ fans will have a hard time saying no to this epic work of wish fulfillment.

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Source: Mashable Entertainment
‘Star Wars: Battlefront’ is amazing fan service with too little meat on the bone

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