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...
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.
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.
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.
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