Star Wars Battlefront game: Great fun but not exactly a big challenge

I spent my childhood immersed in Star Wars video games, piloting Y-wings in the first Rogue Squadron and laying mines on Korriban in Jedi Knight II.

Of all the titles I played, Pandemic Studios' Battlefront II (2005) was one of my favourites because of its engaging campaign and hectic multi-player skirmishes.

This year's Battlefront is a reboot of the franchise by Dice, the developer behind games such as Mirror's Edge and the Battlefield series. The new Star Wars Battlefront is not the most in-depth or complex experience, but it is still a whole lot of rollicking fun. There is no real story mode; all single-player options are either training missions or survival and battle variants of multi-player maps.

The multi-player experience is at the heart of Battlefront. There are 10 modes, designed for six to 40 players, and each comes with its own approach and objectives.

I reviewed the game on a PlayStation 4, which requires a PlayStation Plus subscription ($6.90 a month) to access online multi-player gaming.

If you are a big Star Wars fan, being dropped into battle on the familiar terrain of Hoth or Tatooine will be a spine-tingling experience. Hearing the crackly static of a radio report that Princess Leia has entered the battlefield, or that Han Solo has been killed, really made me feel like a small part of the Star Wars universe.

The gameplay is very accessible, with no expansive array of confusing gear or particularly complex combat tactics.

The game's movement system is basic, with no wall runs or chained momentum-based tricks, unlike in a game like Call Of Duty: Black Ops III. I found that because of this simplified gameplay, the skill needed in Battlefront is not about executing fancy combinations or having hair-trigger reflexes and sharpshooter aiming. It is simply knowing how to position yourself in the environment and predicting the movement of your opponents.

However, because of this, I also feel that the skill cap of the game is quite low, and gameplay does begin to feel staid after a few matches. The large scale of some of the maps was one of the game's selling points, but I found myself preferring the smaller modes with fewer players, such as Drop Zone (capture the flag, maximum 16 players) and Blast (free-for-all, maximum 20 players). These more compact maps put players in closer proximity, and ramp up the action and the pace of the game.

In more massive modes like Walker Assault (attack/defend a moving objective, maximum 40 players), I sometimes felt lost in the vast expanse of terrain.

A 40-player map would be better if all players had the discipline of Stormtroopers and fought in formation, but as it is, most people ended up swarming all over the place like ants, or shooting from very long range and hoping for the best.

This article was first published on January 6, 2016.
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