Written by Gregg Dietz & Edited by Ryan Copper
I spent the past few days mulling over whether or not to write a review for Battlefront 2 due to the controversy. I was worried that it would cause problems for the site as well as myself. But then I figured that if I stay true to myself and review the game outside of the controversy, maybe I can give a concise opinion. At this point, if you don't know what controversy I'm referring to, I'm impressed, but more importantly it's about the game's micro-transactions -- small real world dollar amounts that buy in-game items. Something that I've noticed from other reviews is how much micro-transactions and DLC affect the final score, which I find to be wrong and dishonest. With that out of the way, let's discuss what the game does right and wrong.
First, I want to talk about the single player campaign. You play as Iden Versio, the leader of Inferno Squad. I had always wondered what it would have been like to be a stormtrooper on the surface of Endor and to look up and see the Death Star explode. If you are a soldier in battle and the objective you are protecting dies, what goes through your mind? Not only does this game do that but delves into some unanswered questions about life after “Return of the Jedi.” I was quite enthralled during the whole game, constantly wanting to know what would happen next. Single player stories are becoming more and more personable due to actors delivering their scenes via face and motion capture. Every actor involved does a fantastic job portraying their character, making me feel sympathy for them even if the uncanny valley is strong.
The level design is both brilliant and gorgeous. Each stage and setting takes you to a different planet, some of which are new to Star Wars. It is a wonder how much time and energy was spent building and crafting these spaces to look as beautiful as they do. I can't imagine the hours and energy the devs put in to make these locations so photo-realistic. As for the brilliance of it, the design challenges the player to not just shoot their way through stages, but to also find hidden routes, or sneak through without killing anybody. Taking your time will also trigger new dialogue that gives some insight into the characters’ thoughts, so take your time and smell the Ithorian Roses.
As I stated above, the stages are just immaculate, so it's comes as no surprise that they would be just as impressive in multiplayer. I remember the first time I played on Kamino -- the clone making facility. I was running around as a battle droid, learning the map and trying to figure out how to get to the objective. I made my way outside, and I had to stop and take in the scenery. I was completely caught off guard but how amazing it looked. I had to tear myself away just to get back in the fight. Every single stage is like this, with awe-inspiring visuals and so many maps for players to battle in. On top of all of that, the sound design is cinema-quality. Explosions have a fun distortion effect, and when flying in an X-Wing only to have a tie fighter zip past you, you get an awesome Doppler effect. I do wish though that there was music during battles, since it can feel like a scene from the movies without the epic John Williams score.
The gun play here is Star Wars to a T. Something that has always intrigued me about blasters is just how inaccurate they are. Sure, there is the joke about stormtroopers not being able to hit the broadside of a barn, but also look at the good guys -- they also don't always hit their targets, either. You won't either because laser blasts move slower than bullets in other games. You as the player have to compensate for that. That isn't a design flaw, it's a well-thought-out feature that makes the authenticity shine through. The devs must have watched how blaster shots moved hundreds of thousands of times in order to get this just right. As for the piloting the star crafts, it’s absolutely flawless. It feels so good to maneuver through asteroids, death star debris or even just empty space. If you are one of the few that isn’t a fan of first person shooting, I feel like flying is right for you.
As I do with all my reviews, here comes the negative aspects. The game does a terrible job explaining progression. My friends and I were thoroughly confused on how to increase our class ranks, make our Star cards stronger, or even how to get new Star cards that didn't come from random crates. Outside of the controversy it should be stated that after every match, you are rewarded credits as in-game currency. These are used to buy crates that contain new Star cards, scrap, emotes, and very rarely, weapons. This is a bad progression system as it's almost entirely based on luck. The upside to this is that all the Star Cards do increase a player's abilities in some fashion, albeit very slightly. Another player isn't going to get a ton of health or damage output that will promise them the win. However, it is bad because it's still an advantage, regardless of scale. The other thing that bothers me a bit is how the party system and squads work. If you load into any match with friends, you don't get to spawn on them or in the same squad, it will always set you up with a random grouping of players.
Overall the game is stellar in any mode you choose to play. From story to gameplay and from visuals to sound design, the game does all of this with incredible accuracy and clear passion for the popular franchise. Please do yourself a favor and do not pass on this game simply because of the controversy. If you are a Star Wars fan and miss out because you find EA’s business practices disgusting, you are doing yourself a grave disservice. If it helps, think of the developers who worked incredibly hard and have to hear and see people so angry that they won't get to enjoy the overwhelming fun. There is so much to experience and see that I would be remiss if I didn't give this a high recommendation. I give Star Wars Battlefront II an 8 outta 10.
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