The Star Wars franchise is one you either hate or love. From the original trilogy of movies that still hold up quite well to the horrible prequels that are best forgotten, it's one of the more divisive series around. The same can be said about Star Wars Battlefront as well. The game is a shooter that takes place in the Star Wars universe and is developed by Dice, the studio behind the Battlefield games. In Battlefront, you'll duke it out with friends and foes as part of either the Rebel Alliance or the Empire, in large, sprawling battles.
The first thing that's apparent in the game are its high production values. They're second to none. From the icy caves of Hoth to the forests of Endor, there's very little not to like about Star Wars Battlefront visually. Running on Frostbite Engine 3, the same technology that powers titles like Battlefield Hardline, Dragon Age: Inquisition, and Need for Speed, Star Wars Battlefront is one of the best looking games we have seen.
This is backed up by stellar sound design. From the "pew-pew" sound of lasers to the roar of the Millennium Falcon, long time fans will marvel at the audio cues in Star Wars Battlefront. It's next to perfect and does as much if not more than the slick art direction and graphics to make this one of the best games around in terms of pure presentation.
All of this goes a long way in dulling the feeling of the game's innate shallowness. For series fanatics, jumping into a Tie Fighter will never get old, but gamers used to a little more depth in multiplayer shooters will feel shortchanged.
There are moments when you feel Star Wars Battlefront can do no wrong. These include putting you in the pilot's seat of an X-Wing star fighter, or being part of a large-scale battle on one of the many iconic planets from the movie. But they're few and far between. More often than not, they're marred by some questionable design choices. As we commented during the game's beta, the gunplay feels lacklustre. Your go-to, regular-use weapons, feel all too similar to one another and appear to dish out the same amount of damage.
Sure there are exceptions like rocket launchers and sniper rifles, but they're few and far between. The default, starting blaster you get is good enough to take you through the game's initial sessions and beyond. Once you've levelled up enough to afford better guns, you will see that there's very little reason to switch from the blaster you began with.
Another annoyance is the game's respawn system. Regardless of the game mode, we found ourselves dead just as we were brought back into the fray. For some reason, Star Wars Battlefront takes perverse pleasure in making sure your enemies are extremely close to where it decides to drop you in a war zone. Hopefully this is an issue that gets patched in an update. Till then, we suggest making full use of the option to spawn where your teammate does to even the odds.
Our concerns don't end here. There are nine game modes in multiplayer, ranging from the usual team deathmatch (or Blast as the game calls it) to Walker Assault, a mode that has you escorting or destroying the series' trademark AT-AT Walkers, depending which side of the battle you're on. The sense of scale and immersion is fantastic thanks to large maps and ever shifting objectives. This makes it a sheer joy to play. The same applies to Supremacy - another massive mode wherein the objective is to capture most if not all of your enemy's command posts. Both add a sense of grandness and urgency to the proceedings, as does Fighter Squadron, which lets you pilot spacecrafts like the A-Wing as you square off against the opposition in aerial combat.
In Fighter Squadron, Supremacy, and Walker Assault, you feel like you're playing your part in an intergalactic conflict rather than a low-rent, sci-fi version of Call of Duty with worse guns. The other modes however fall short and fail to impress. All along the way we noticed patchy connectivity that made us lag and stutter through intense firefights. We wonder how bad it will get in the week to come when most of the world gets its hands on the game. For now it felt like a definite step-down from the beta in terms of responsiveness and latency, even on a 50Mbps line.
And when you're bored of multiplayer? There are token single-player and offline co-op inclusions such as five training missions to teach you the basics; Hero Battles, which puts you in the role of one of the series heroes like Luke Skywalker as you mow down AI controlled opponents; and Survival, a mode akin to Halo's Firefight that has you up against waves of enemies. They might seem like a lot but they're threadbare inclusions that do little to add value considering that you'll tire of them in a couple of hours as we did. Coupled with publisher Electronic Arts (EA) revealing a $50 season pass (approximately Rs. 3,300) that promises four expansion packs with new maps, game modes, weapons and vehicles amongst other additions, it makes the base game at Rs. 3,999 seem like poor value for money. Even more so since there are only a few multiplayer modes worth bothering with.
Unless you're the sort who quotes dialogues from the movies verbatim, fantasises about Princess Leia, and speaks like Yoda, you can safely pass on Star Wars Battlefront.
Rating (out of 10): 6
We played a retail copy of Star Wars Battlefront on the Xbox One. The game is available from November 17 on PC (in India it's digital download only via EA's Origin storefront) at Rs. 3,499, and on PS4 and Xbox One at Rs. 3,999