Star Wars Battlefront
I was at a gigantic super-store recently, which carries just about everything you could ever think of (I won’t name it but I’m sure you know which chain I’m talking about), and was walking down an isle in the Electronics area when I came across a couple of large two-legged consumers and their equally rotund offspring. The child, a boy of around eight or nine years old, was throwing the typical whine-fit that children seem to do these days since advertising has programmed them to want the newest, shiniest, do-dad, gadget, or some such thing.
The petulant child’s acrid screeching started to subside as gentle cooing sounds that the parents began emitting seemed to sooth him.
“But I want!” the boy stubbornly resisted, pointing back at a rack of games nearby.
The father bent closer to what his son was pointing at and picked up a sleek new game box—now I could see what all the fuss was about: It was a copy of Star Wars Battlefront. “Well, honey, what do you think? I guess I could play it a little bit too, not just Junior,” the man said to the woman by his side whom I assumed was his wife.
“Oh, George, the last game you played was that one…oh what was it called, the one that you got all caught up in…?”
“Call of Duty?” he responded, trying to look innocent.
“Right, Call of whatever—all I know is that when I’d call your name you wouldn’t even respond you were so hooked, even for supper.”
“Yeah, honey, but I hear this one is both easier to play and easier to put down than that other one.”
The wife looked at him sternly for a moment, and then said: “Okay, but if you get all crazed over it we’re taking it right back!”
“Yes honey bubbles.” With that, he tossed the game into their overstuffed shopping cart and it fell right next to something that was covered in a mass of tinsel. How ironic—I thought to myself.
The boy tugged excitedly on his father’s khaki shorts, leading me to believe that the two, father and son, might have been in cahoots and perhaps had planned the whole whine-fest as a strategic ploy in order to purchase the game under the watchful gaze of the wife/mother.
Yes, Star Wars Battlefront is here if you hadn’t heard, riding the feverish crest of Star Wars mania flooding the world right now. Episode VII: The Force Awakens is right around the corner, and yet another overwhelming marketing juggernaut has been formed between the film and gaming industries. You can run but you can’t hide, and unless you’re planning on disappearing into the Amazon in order to live in a mud shack for the rest of your life, you’re going to be besieged by Star Was advertising ad nauseam.
Okay, on to the game. The first thing I noticed about the game itself was that it really pegged the look and feel of the Star Wars universe. For the first couple of minutes I silently sat in my chair, listening in awe to beloved John Williams score which took me back to my childhood. I smiled and guffawed upon engaging in my first shootout with a group of Stormtroopers. Everything, from the se-ruw, se-ruw sounds of the blasters, to the powdery white snow of Hoth, to the shiny white body armor of the Empire’s now infamous foot soldiers—oozed everything Star Wars. Then, sometime later, perhaps a mere ten or fifteen minutes later, just like that…it was gone.
As the initial buzz of waiting so long to play an accurate facsimile of the classic Star Wars Battlefront 2 game began to ebb, I realized that everything about the game mechanics just plain sucked. Everything that made the COD or the Battlefield franchises (that Star Wars Battlefront doesn’t stray far from) is here, but in an even more bare-bones incarnation, which I previously thought was impossible.
Players spawn in right next to vehicle spawn points and usually at contested spots, similar to the aforementioned games. That means there is little to no time for planning nor for devising any sort of cohesive strategy. This results in jumping in, blasting away at someone or something, and then dying, all in the span of about fifteen to thirty seconds, only to respawn seconds later and repeat. Bodies also disappear in a matter of seconds further eroding any shred of immersion that one might have had when first beholding the slick presentation.
Movement is super-fast and jerky, and battles are often proceeded by a series of wild bunny-hopping around and then trying to blast away at enemies who are also similarly prancing around like madmen. Grenade spamming is also quite common and many times I died not even knowing or seeing who chucked their stream of ‘nades at me.
Weapon handling is also dodgy and the blasters themselves seemed flimsy and floaty. Speaking of weapons, there are only eleven to play with—that’s right—and out of that small number they all pretty much handle the same. Even the COD series features different types of guns, such as sniper rifles, submachineguns, light machineguns, and the like. No such variety here, and you can’t modify them at all as well.
The much ballyhooed about twenty-on-twenty Walker Assault mode is present as announced, and seems to be EA/Dice’s main selling point for the Star Wars Battlefront. Much like Star Wars Battlefront 2, which almost seems like a deep tactical shooter when compared to this offering, it seems like they attempted to throw the whole kitchen sink at gamers and wow us with its sheer chaotic confluence of infantry, airborne fighters, and ground vehicles. And this is across only four rather constrained maps. Combined with the hyper, go-go spawn-right-in-the-action mechanic, you get a spaz-tastic carnival of confusion where everyone is running around on their own, shooting at friends and foes alike. Trying to plan anything in this tumultuous environment would be akin to attempting to herd a pack of wild cats.
As I began to take it all in, I arrived at the conclusion that, in my opinion, Star Wars Battlefront could easily have been devised in some corporate boardroom, compete with flowcharts and ROI sheets, not by a small but highly creative group of maverick game developers. This is a game that must have been devised and aimed at the super-casual gamer, ones bereft of any form of discernable tastes or qualitative proclivities.
But hey, those legions of gamers out there who want a quick saccharine boost of flashy graphics, covered in an undulating wave of nostalgia, and who don’t mind a game with practically zero teamwork will be right at home here. I can rest assured that at least one Star Wars Battlefront game box had made its way into the right hands and reached its intended audience. I can see Junior now, swiveling around in front of his dad’s computer, bunny hopping and blasting away at his video game enemies—well, when his indiscriminating dad wasn’t taking it for a floaty spin that is. For some, sometimes flash is enough. Just like tinsel, being sparkly is all that is needed, even though it’s quite flimsy and lightweight.
If you do want a fun & flashy jaunt within the Star Wars universe, by all means go for it and pick up a copy of Star Wars Battlefront—just make sure that you have a beast of a computer in order to handle all of those graphical goodies:
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