New Star Wars Battlefront II disappoints and fails to bring the fun

December 1, 2017

I love “Star Wars.” No matter how pretentious I pretend to be, I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Jedis and lightsabers. As a kid, I loved playing the video game “Star Wars Battlefront II.” It was the coolest thing ever: You could be a battle droid or a stormtrooper in essentially a giant sandbox, re-enacting your favorite “Star Wars” stories or creating new ones. I’ve since gone back and played the 2005 “Star Wars Battlefront II”—it’s a really simple, almost lazy game, but it’s Star Wars, and that’s all that matters.

This is why when I criticize 2017’s confusingly identically-titled “Star Wars Battlefront II.” I’m not coming from a place of being uppity, but absolute disappointment as a fan. I really wanted to like it.

The game feels like three separate games mashed together—which makes sense, since it was developed by three different studios: DICE, Motive Studios and Criterion Games. DICE did the heavy-lifting, focusing on the biggest component, the multiplayer, while Motive developed the single-player story, and Criterion did the space battle portions.

I’ve played the game for about 10 hours total, most of it unhappily. I was one of those people that signed up for the beta—the pre-release testing phase of the game’s development when people can first try things out—so I’ve been following things until its current state. I was really excited to play this new “Star Wars” game, and then I turned it on.

The multiplayer portion is just not as much fun. DICE has created something in between the fast-paced, instant respawn gameplay of Call of Duty, and the longer, more strategic aspects of their own Battlefield series, and the result is something that sucks all of the joy out of “Star Wars.”

The game encourages us to collaborate to achieve objectives—like shooting down an AT-AT walker on Hoth. However, every time I die, it puts me in a new squad—I can’t spawn with my old allies, like in “Battlefield I.” Any coordinating edge we might have had is gone when I respawn—I’m just spit back out into the match with another bunch of random players. Sometimes one of them is flying a spaceship, so they’re not even on the ground with me—there’s no communication or collaboration and it’s all a big mess that makes me sad.

The quick respawn interrupts the rhythm of things: Just when I’ve gotten into running around with my squad and working together, I inevitably get shot by an Imperial Snowtrooper and then I have to wait an arbitrarily-long time just to get back into the game. In faster, simpler shooters, like a Call of Duty or Titanfall, there’s virtually no respawn time, and this helps to enable that addicting feeling of wanting to get immediately back into the action. “Star Wars Battlefront II” can’t decide if it wants to be a strategic or fast-paced, and so we’re stuck here in the middle with neither.

In the first three or four missions, you get to play as Iden Versio, who’s a special ops Stormtrooper for the Empire. Things start after Episode VI ends, with the Empire in ruins, and you get to sneak around with a little droid and hack things and kill rebels—which is pretty fun.

The most fun I’ve had in “Star Wars Battlefront II” has been with the spaceship battles. Developer Criterion Games gave the player control of both the x and y axis in space, making it feel like you’re really controlling a starfighter. This gives the dogfighting a realistic feel, and these have been some of the most fun space battles I’ve had in a Star Wars game since the original Battlefront II.

The biggest problem I have with this game is its price. The game itself isn’t terrible but it’s definitely not worth $59.99.

To unlock a character like Darth Vader, you had to originally play for 40 hours—or pay real money for “crates” that might contain an in-game currency that you could then amass to get the character. Suffice it to say, this is a greedy, greedy game that preys on people’s inherent love of “Star Wars” to make them pay for something that they’ve already bought.

I’ve been playing using a 10-hour trial I get for being an EA Access subscriber on my Xbox, and I’m glad I didn’t pay full price before trying, because 2017’s “Star Wars Battlefront II” is a cynical mess. I wanted it to be fun, but the game itself just doesn’t come together into an overall enjoyable experience. There are bits and pieces there, but it’s so fragmented and artificially-engineered to make you pay money that all the freedom and happiness are gone.

In sum, don’t buy this game. Instead, if you want a good single-player story shooter, get “Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus,” or just download 2005’s “Star Wars Battlefront II,” which has a heck of a lot more content and fun to it—and just costs a measly $10. I think I’m going to go play that now to cheer myself up.

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