So much goes into a game’s development that the consumer doesn’t realize. There can be anywhere from a dozen to several hundred people working on everything from sound to matchmaking. I have a feeling that several of these departments were run by very different people when “Star Wars: Battlefront” was in development, because it’s the most schizophrenic game I’ve ever played.
First, the sound and visuals are amazing. All of the maps are absolutely gorgeous, from the snowy tundra of Hoth to the deserts of Tattooine and the gigantic redwood trees of Endor. Sometimes it’s a joy just to sit back and look at the environments, and it really feels as though you’re inside a movie at times.
The sound is also a gold standard for the gaming industry, with the exception of voice acting, bizarrely. Darth Vader sounds like he was voiced by a James Earl Jones look-alike. Emperor Palpatine sounds like he was voiced by somebody’s uncle. It stands out to me because you’ll frequently wind up in a situation where you’re surrounded by the sound of snow, engines and blaster fire and then you hear, “You will fear the power of the dark side,” and expect to see someone hovering over you and doing their best Vader impression.
There’s good variety in the game modes as well. The marquee mode is walker assault, wherein the Empire escorts one or more of the iconic AT-ATs to an objective while the rebels attempt to activate uplinks that create a brief period of time where the AT-ATs will be vulnerable. The developers have addressed some of the balance issues from the beta, wherein the Empire won on Hoth easily 70 percent of the time.
With that being said, the developers should have looked at their other maps, because Endor is actually worse than Hoth ever was in terms of balance. One thing that also hasn’t been fixed is the absolutely awful spawn system that is used throughout the game. On Hoth especially, the rebels will frequently find themselves all spawning on one side of a massive obstacle like a large hill or mountain, effectively cutting them off from one of the objectives unless they want to march all the way around the obstacle. It’s baffling to me how bad these spawns are, though Hoth is only the most ubiquitous and egregious example.
Fighter squadron is the answer to the complaints about the lack of space combat in “Battlefront,” and the mode is actually a lot of fun. Spawns and map layout aren’t an issue since most players will be tearing it up in the skies. The whole mode has a great “Top Gun” vibe to it with “Star Wars” skin, and even when my team was being blown out I had a great time. It does make me wish that there was real space combat, as the developers absolutely nailed the dogfights.
Weapons are fairly balanced and there’s enough variety that you won’t find everyone using the exact same gun. Unfortunately, the developers failed to balance out the rocket launcher. In previous “Battlefront” games, it was a main weapon that was very powerful but extremely tedious to reload and only gave the player a weak pistol as a backup. In the new game, it’s a fire-and-forget power up that resulted in several deaths and kills that felt cheap.
Overall, there’s a lot I like about “Stars War: Battlefront,” but I feel as though the developers were rushed by the impending release of “The Force Awakens” film. There’s fun to be had here, and the technical aspects of the game are great, but a litany of design issues prevent “Battlefront” from being a great game.
Edward Pankowski is life editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.