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December 8 2015
Star Wars: Battlefront - PS4 Review
Release Distributer Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
19/11/2015EA GamesEA GamesDICE12-40
Version HDD Install Resolution Touchpad PS4 Exclusive OFLC Rating
1.0322.5GB900pNoNoM

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The battle on Hoth looks amazing.
As I type this Star Wars: A Force Awakens is only days away from release - and excitement levels are hitting fever pitch around the globe. Releasing just in time for this fever is EA's newest shooter, Star Wars: Battlefront. Electronic Arts knew this would be a big game - with predictions of 13 million sales by next March - and they have enlisted their best FPS developer for this game - DICE. That's right, the company that develops Battlefield, is working on this game, but have promised more then a new look for their classic shooter. So the game is here now, so what can we expect...

Well, first things first, and we're going to start with one of the disappointments - there is no single player story based campaign in this game. This is a bare-bones multiplayer shooter. Well, OK, there are some single player modes including Training, Survival, Battles and Hero Battles, but each essentially provides the same multiplayer shooter matches with AI bots instead of humans. If you've not an online gamer, then this really isn't a game for you, but for those who are, well read on...

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Battlefront looks like a game maxing out the PS4.
When it comes to actual gameplay, and as expected, this is an extremely slick shooter, and exactly what one would expect from DICE. Characters look fantastic, have a range of weapons and perks (or Star Cards as they are called in this game) which are unlocked according to class and experience gained as you complete battles. Vehicles also play a large part in this game and you'll be able to take control of speeder bikes on Endor (which is super slick quite possible as Criterion assisted with development on the game), AT-STs and you can even take to the skies and pilot X-Wings, Tie Fighters and even the Millennium Falcon. In some of the game modes it's even possible to control some of the heroes from the movies including Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Boba Fett, and Jar Jar Binks (OK, we made that last one up - we have NOT seen Jar Jar in the game thankfully!)

So what about game modes? Well, fortunately, there are plenty of options in the game. Walker Assault (40-players) which is a large-scale battle on Hoth, Hero Hunt (8-players where you play as a single hero against a squad of enemies, Supremacy (40-players) where Rebels and Imperials fight for control of five key points on the larger maps in the game, Fighter Squadron (20-players) which is an aerial domination mode, Blast (20-players) which is a classic Team Deathmatch styled game, Cargo (12-players) is essntially a Capture the Flag mode, Drop Zone (16-players) sees two teams of 8 players battling to control escape pods that land on the battlefield, Droid Run (12-players) where teams battle to capture three GNK Power Droids, Heroes Vs Villains (12-player) sees the main characters such as Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker and Boba Fett battling it out while, finally, a 40-player Turning Point battle was included with the free Jakku DLC.

Fortunately it seems that DICE have learnt their lesson from their botched Battlefield 4 launch - there have been very few issues connecting online with Battlefront and getting into a match. Perhaps even more impressive even when playing a 40-player match, the games are pretty lag-free which is essential for a great experience. Of course that is still dependent on the connections of each gamer, but we encountered few issues.

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It's great fun playing as the Heroes, or Villains, such as Darth Vader in Battlefront.
Unfortunately, while the gameplay is fantastic and the game super-slick, Star Wars: Battlefront suffers due to the lack of planets and maps. When the game first launched in November the only planets available were Hoth, Endor, Tatooine and Sullust with 13 maps in total. A month after launch, Electronic Arts released the planet Jakku as free DLC, perhaps as a reponse to the outcries of a lack of content, or perhaps as a marketing tool to tie in to the upcoming film as it's set just before the events of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. So in total, the game includes five planets to battle on - which given this is a full priced game is pretty, well, pathetic really. This then leads us onto the big, fat, white elepant in the room. The Season Pass.

Despite this game having a $AU99.95 rrp here in Australia it's possible to pick it up for around the $65 mark if you shop around, which is a pretty decent price. If, however, you want the Season Pass that will cost you more then the full game - at another $75.95! No, that's not a typo. You'll likely be paying more for the Season Pass then the actual game. Now there's going to be a lot of content across the four expansion packs, with 16 maps confirmed on undetermined planets (perhaps new, or perhaps just maps on the current planets). Still, what Electronic Arts are doing is essentially charging gamers over $175 to have as much content as most good multiplayer games.

So what issues do we have with the game besides the lack of content? Well, not much really. We're a little disappointed, given the game runs on the Frostbite 3 engine, that there's a lack of destruction in the levels. It seems a bit of a step backwards from that feature in DICE's Battlefield titles. Also, as with so many shooters these days the best equipment, perks and mods are reserved for those players that have been playing the longest, so jumping in as a newcomer can be a little daunting until you upgrade your character. One day, I would love to have a developer have a "reverse" customisation where you actually get nerfed as you go up in the rankings. We're not going to hold this against Battlefront but all FPS's in general.

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Endor, like all locations in the game, looks stunning.
See the screenshots around this review? Well they're not target renders for the game, but instead show what to expect. Star Wars: Battlefront, running on DICE's Frostbite 3 engine, is an astonishing achievement with visuals as close to photo-realistic as we've ever seen in a game and runs at 60fps at 1600x900p resolution (which is a fair bump over the 1280 x 720 on XBox One). While this lower then the usual 1080p resolution of most PS4 games the quality of the imagery here is astounding with the developers going to each of the location where the films were shot to photograph the landscape for inclusion in this game. Be it the icy Hoth based levels, the forests of Endor, the sands of Tatooine or volcanic Sullust each is recreated with phenomenal levels of detail. Indeed, you'll have a hard time on the speederbikes around Endor not due to technical issues, but due to the amount of crashes you'll have while admiring the backgrounds.

We did have very occasional issues with the graphics in the game with very occasional clipping and a few areas where we felt our character should have been able to either traverse or move up onto some terrain but it wasn't possible. Also on very rare occasions the framerate dipped, usually when there was a massive of players or explosions on-screen but given how busy it get's it's understandable and never game breaking.

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Flying a X-Wing in Star Wars: Battlefront.

As expected the audio is also perfectly integrated into the game with John Williams' classic musical score integrated into the battlefield action exactly as one would expect while Ben Burtt's classic sound design translating directly into the game as well - laser blasts, the speeder bikes on Endor, the stomp of the AT-AT's on Hoth and of course the sounds of Tie Fighters and X-Wings flying over the battlefields. With the developers having access to Skywalker Sound there was little doubt this would be an impressive game sonically, and DICE's experience with sounds on a battlefield with positional audio really shines through here.

If we were to pick one small niggle with the audio in the game it would have to be a lack of dialogue. Surely with the new feature film coming out and seeing most of the old cast reprising their roles it couldn't have been too hard, or expensive, for a brief recording session with each to get some new dialogue?

Star Wars: Battlefront is tremendous fun with jaw-dropping audio-visual presentation, slick menus and fantastic gameplay. Sadly, the game feels somewhat empty with no single player campaign, and a lack of maps at launch. To ask gamers for pay almost as much as the full game for the Season Pass with new maps and characters is a bit rich when you're already launching this as a full price game with less content then you'd see in many other games that come with a campaign. Still, this is the year of Star Wars and at least this is a very polished shooter worth checking out.

Review By: Dave Warner

GRAPHICSBattlefront has some of the most impressive, almost photo realistic visuals running at a near rock solid 60fps. Impressive... most impressive.
94%
SOUNDClassic Star Wars music. Check. Classic Star Wars sound effects. Check. This game is exactly what we wanted sonically.
91%
GAMEPLAYFast, slick, fantastic gameplay with plenty of game modes will certainly entertain.
87%
VALUEWith no single player campaign (just some mediocre solo modes), and only a couple of maps at launch, even with Jakku added in DLC recently, it's not great value.
52%
OVERALLStar Wars: Battlefront is a fantastic game let down by a lack of content - be it any form of single player campaign or even multiplayer maps. From a technical standpoint, this is one of the most astonishingly gorgeous games ever released.
76%

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