If there was one game that my friends and I always got together to play during LAN parties it was Halo. If there was another, it was Star Wars Battlefront II. Sometimes I still go back to the game too, as it fills a need inside me that only giant Star Wars battles can satisfy. Up until this point, the trailers for the upcoming new Star Wars Battlefront, no more numbering it seems, have been pitch perfect, but I got my hands on the game and have to say it’s even more of a blast than you would imagine.
While waiting in line to play the demo, we stood in the middle of Echo Base on the planet Hoth. R2-D2 sat in one corner, and a guy dressed as a Rebel pilot stood in another. It set the mood, because we were about to have to defend the base and recreate the opening scene of “The Empire Strikes Back.” Like any good “Star Wars” fan, I was lucky enough to be drafted into the rebellion.
When the game begins, you’re given a few options for your artillery, four weapons including a blaster rifle, two different blaster pistols, or a giant blaster machine gun, plus two sets of accessories with three different items each. The game also randomly chooses a race for your character, which is a great expansion of the Star Wars universe and a nice move forward from the original games, which only had one look per class.
As the match started, I ran up a hill to defend an uplink point. We needed to make all six of them active and successfully defend them in order to allow a Y-Wing bombing run to come down and attack the AT-ATs. It wasn’t long before I saw my first Snowtrooper and blasted him into the ground. I was quickly taken out by another though and thought the traditional blaster rifle wasn’t enough, so I upgraded to the machine gun.
The game continued as we held off Snowtroopers, and got blown to smithereens by the AT-ATs. This is what makes Battlefront so special and sets it apart from the predecessors – it’s a full on intergalactic war simulator. Battlefront’s sound design is amazing as each blast flies past you with a stirring whiz that makes you do a double take. If you stand to close to an explosion, you’ll also temporarily lose your hearing, and you can hear every facet of your overheating gun cooling down.
What was slightly worrying about the Battlefront demo I played was the level design. Perhaps it’s just because Hoth is all snow and everything sort of looks the same, but I couldn’t actually draw a map of the level as a whole after playing. There’s some ditches over here and the bases is over there, but overall I’m clueless. Hopefully it’s just an issue with Hoth’s visuals and not a problem indicative of the whole game.
The match raged on and another problem bloomed, at times it was hard to tell who was winning and who wasn’t. Us Rebels had to do a better job of coordinating our defense efforts because the Empire was really good at sneaking up on us all, but even in those moments who knew if we were actually doing good or bad. We did manage to finally get the Y-Wings signals in position, leaving the AT-ATs vulnerable. It might be one of the most satisfying moments in “Empire” when the snowspeeder trips up the AT-AT with its tow cable, but I’ll admit to my heart jumping when we successfully blew up that death machine and it fell to the ground in a flaming heap.
Star Wars Battlefront looks and sounds amazing. You can hear every crunch of the ground underneath you and every thermal detonator explosion. Even though Battlefront is a perfect slice into the nitty gritty of Star Wars’ battles, it lacks the rambunctiousness of other first person shooters, which is a good thing. You can pick up the game and get immersed in playing it without feeling like you’re in the middle of a tornado of nonsense (lookin’ at you Call of Duty). Fans of “Star Wars” need fear not, it’s certainly a bummer that there’s no space battles in the upcoming title, but what DICE has crafted certainly all works right now and most importantly of all: It’s fun.