DICE made a very big deal leading up to the release of Battlefront of how hard they worked to make an authentic looking and sounding Star Wars game. They raided the Lucasfilm archives and visited filming locations to make Battlefront as close to the movies as possible, and they succeeded. Star Wars Battlefront is not only the best looking and sounding Star Wars game ever made, it’s also the most graphically impressive game EA has made with their Frostbite Engine to date.
From the amazingly detailed texturing on characters and objects, to the lighting on the maps, this is a showcase title for your next-generation game console or high-end gaming PC. Want something to show why that $400 console or graphics card was worth it? Just fire up Battlefront and show them a match on Endor. I seriously cannot stress how amazing that map looks. From the dense foliage on the ground to the realistic water effects, it’s stunning at how well the game recreates the forest moon. And there are some cool things there for Star Wars fans as well. Just like in Star Wars Galaxies, they used Ralph McQuarrie’s Ewok concepts for a village on the lake shore.
Of course you’ll hear John Williams’ music, and all of the famous sound effects. And yes, there’s even a Willhem scream. All of that is wrapped up in DICE’s sound design that made Battlefield a game that sounded amazing either through a 5.1/7.1 sound system or a headset.
For a Star Wars fan, Battlefront is a gushing love letter to the saga created with an attention to detail and level of production value you’d expect from Star Wars. It’s a long, long, way from some of the lesser work Lucasarts could be known for from time to time. But for a shooter fan it’s another DICE FPS. While it won’t win over those who crave the depth of Battlefield, that pedigree is felt in the game play and how it feels to run around the map and shoot other players. It’s every bit as “solid” as DICE’s previous work, just made a bit more friendly to those who may not be veterans of the genre.
It’s not absolutely perfect, however. If you’ve ever played Battlefield 3 or 4 and tried to matchmake as a single player, you’d know how the game would like to dump you into an empty map occasionally. That’s why you’d use the server browser. That’s not really an option here, and I ran into the same issue when trying to matchmake in a party.
When playing the game with my Now, This is Podcasting! buddies in a party, the game kept dumping us into empty games and waiting for other players to fill-in. That’s perfectly acceptable at a time around launch when there are a lot of players looking for matches. But a bit later? When many players have moved on to other games? It’s going to be a problem going forward when parties are dumped in empty games and it takes forever to get more players to fill it out.
That’s a major concern and it’s something to think about in a multi-player only shooter where half the fun is playing with your friends late into the early morning. Hopefully DICE is able to tweak the matchmaking over time to address this issue, as it’s something that can really annoy people.
It’s difficult to give Battlefront a number score, and I explained why to my friends last night while we were running around Hoth. On one hand I absolutely love the game. I am playing it both on PC and Console, but at the same time I’m a Battlefield veteran since 1942 and love not only the genre but DICE’s style of shooter. I also completely understand why the genre is moving away from single-player gameplay. I rarely complete the campaign in shooters, and if I do I never go back to it as the real attraction is online multi-player. If you’re a Star Wars fan and you fall into this camp, absolutely get Battlefront. It’s the Star Wars game we’ve been waiting far too long for.
At the same time, I know there are those out there who aren’t really fans of online competitive shooters, and for them there really isn’t much in Battlefront to enjoy. The missions are really just a bonus, and while they’re good content, they’re secondary to the online play. For those people I really can’t recommend Battlefront aside from suggesting they at least give it a try to see if the Star Wars theme and more accessible gameplay can ease them into online multi-player. If not, the EA Visceral game Amy Hennig is overseeing will give them the story-based game they’re craving.
In the end, Star Wars Battlefront is an impressive start for EA’s exclusive hold on the Star Wars license and should hopefully put to rest the fears that some fans had of how they’d handle it. I can’t wait to see the next big game they’ll do, and hopefully we’ll get another Battlefront out of DICE some time in the future. The Star Wars video games are in good hands.