Earlier this year if you had told me that, come November, I had decided to not buy the new Star Wars game from Dice; I wouldn’t have believed it. Aside from being a massive Star Wars mark, It was a follow-up to Battlefront, one of my favourite games on the Playstation2/Xbox. If anything it was one of the games I was most looking forward to. So what changed.
Well first off, thanks to the extreme lengths EA have gone to during the marketing of this game, I had ample chance to not only see the game but also play it a number of times prior to release. I got to spend a bit of time with it at EGX earlier this year, and I also put a good amount of time into the Beta when that ran afterwards. Based on those two interactions and the early talks from reviewers. I came to the conclusion that I had seen everything I needed to and made up my mind not to buy it.
I’ll admit that a good amount of my reasoning is based on bitterness towards the game not being what I wanted it to be, nostalgically driven of course. I wanted a game like the Battlefront of old, just with nicer graphics, what we got was a more modern take on how games like this are made these days. If the game had been good, I would have happily pushed nostalgia aside and enjoyed good Star Wars product. What we got was really just a pretty stock shooter, a fantastic looking one yes, but bare bones mechanically.
A common slight I’ve heard against the game is that it’s just Battlefield with a Star Wars coat of paint thrown on, but that claim would be unfair to Battlefield. Because while I am no fan of that series, there are a lot of people who are, and that fan base would find Star Wars Battlefront a very lacking compared to what they’re used to. You can read more comprehensive reviews than I’m willing to go into here, but in short, the game has nothing to provide in the long term, giving you pretty much everything up front, and what it gives you isn’t much.
Battlefront makes a huge effort to get the look and the sound of Star Wars just right, even the marketing doing all it can to pull on the nostalgic heart strings of the fans of the original trilogy, and in controlled bursts, to has the potential to give great moments that cause you to just stop and stare. The problem is it doesn’t go any further than that, it’s a product of all style and zero substance. I don’t know what EA ad Dice’s plan was when they made up their plans for this game, but it seems to me that the game was aimed at such a broad audience that it strips out most of the mechanics that made a game, say like the original Battlefront, interesting enough that is can rub shoulders with the Call of Duty’s and Halos of today.
It’s something I’m starting to see more and more in shooters, focusing too much on their multiplayer elements to the detriment of the longevity of the game itself. Historically, games used to have their single player campaign, which was the part where all the development time was focused. Any multiplayer was local split screen which sometimes seemed like an afterthought (it was exactly that in the case of Goldeneye on the N64).
It was online multiplayer in games like Halo 2 which allowed shooters to find the legs to keep players for weeks, months and even years longer than games previously. It’s strange looking back because now we’ve almost turned the entire situation around to the point where games are multiplayer only, leaving out a campaign altogether. This isn’t a new occurrence by any means, but when most of the games that come out in a year are shooters, hoping your game can become the next Unreal Tournament or Counter Strike is very hopeful. It’s almost like developers don’t want people playing their games for too long because they might not drop the money on their next product. Although that is an extremely pessimistic view on the matter.
As nice as Battlefront looks and as much fun as I had with Titanfall, lacking a campaign can’t do anything but hamstring these games and stop them from having any legs to outlast the next shooter to come along. The worrying thought it that EA doesn’t care. That they are playing on nostalgia so hard that they can put out a game of the quality of this new Battlefront and then go on to call it a success because in essence, they have pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes and ran with the money, and everyone will be playing the next thing to come out before they realise they’ve been had.