Star Wars Battlefront II Cant Resist the Force of Nostalgia

first_img Star Wars x Adidas Ultraboost Photos Have Leaked’Star Wars Pinball’ Has Your Favorite Brand in Ball Form Let’s get one thing out of the way. I don’t care about the multiplayer, arguably the biggest part, of Star Wars Battlefront II. I don’t really enjoy online shooters and the first game’s focus on multiplayer exclusively is what kept me from touching it, even if you could play as Emperor Sheev Palpatine. So if you’re looking for an exhaustive review of that part of the game, I can’t really give it to you. Plus, reviewing the performance of an online multiplayer game before the servers are live for everyone can only be so useful.That said, I did sample much of what Battlefront II has to offer. There’s an appreciable increase in the amount of modes and features and overall content. You can shoot Clone Troopers in the waves of Kamino, take down AT-ATs on Hoth, and fly above Maz Kanata’s cantina on Takodana. There are some cool offline multiplayer modes, too, like playing split-screen with a friend or tackling solo “Battle Scenarios” where you try to mow through hordes of soldiers as a famous Star Wars hero/villain.It’s too bad the whole experience is tainted by the specter of loot boxes, the idea that your initial $60 investment isn’t enough to give you the whole game in a timely fashion. Even forgetting fears that paying for new skills gives you a competitive advantage over folks who didn’t, I was almost ready to put the controller down when I saw how much grinding was required to unlock what felt like most of the multiplayer game. At launch EA now plans to drastically reduce the amount of in-game credits needed to unlock heroes, which would’ve been nice to have during this review period.As one of the few remaining T-rated shooters, and the biggest game based on the biggest brand this holiday, Star Wars Battlefront II is destined to sell an unfathomable amount of copies just like it’s predecessor. So it’s a shame EA and Lucasfilm view customers as wallets to be infinitely mined, not fans to be satisfied and entertained.All that said, there is a safe haven for Battlefront II owners like me who don’t want to mess around with loot boxes and massive, occasionally aimless, Battlefield-esque multiplayer matches. Unlike the first (third) Battlefront, there’s now a story-driven single-player mode that’s the closest thing you’ll find to a cinematic Star Wars experience before The Last Jedi hits.I already shared my initial thoughts on the campaign when I played the first few missions a few weeks ago. In that article you can also read my interview with lead actress Janina Gavankar. But now that I’ve played the whole thing I can confirm that despite a fresh start, like the new Star Wars films, Star Wars Battlefront II ultimately succumbs to nostalgia.Like most modern shooter campaigns, Star Wars Battlefront II’s single-player mode isn’t very long. And it leans more toward Call of Duty’s spectacle than EA’s own Titanfall II’s mind-bending mechanical creativity. But that’s okay. I enjoyed how exaggerated the shooting is, whether you’re charging a laser pistol or shooting rockets at an AT-ST. And the game does a good job of teaching all the different quirks of the playable characters. You can do things like stealthily shock far away foes with your droid, shoot through a smoke grenade cloud with thermal vision, or do a crazy Force leap and pull all enemies toward your twirling lightsaber.Managing these different skills gives you some amount of expression in how you play despite the missions themselves being quite linear. You can also equip different cards to buff various stats or grant temporary bonuses like MOBA abilities on cooldown. One mission basically places you in a huge multiplayer match in the streets of Naboo, and being able to quickly quadruple my health for a short time proved very useful indeed.I was surprised just how much space combat there is, too, and how it’s integrated with the on-foot gameplay. One of my favorite parts of the maligned Star Fox Zero (itself taking much inspiration from Star Wars) was seamlessly transitioning from a space battle to a shoot-out in a corridor. Battlefront II also occasionally let’s you do that. Going from not-quite Rogue Squadron in space to shooting panicking Stormtroopers in a hangar to storming the inside of the base was so cool it made me nearly forget how similar all the corridors look.So as a compact piece of Star Wars action, Battlefront II essentially delivers. Like Star Wars these days, the gameplay won’t surprise you, but it will give you what you want. Unfortunately, that pull towards the familiar also applies to the story itself, and in that context it is harder to forgive. Some spoilers ahead.The initial premise starts strong. The crumbling of the Empire following the end of Return of the Jedi is a cool narrative space to explore. And playing as ruthless Imperial soldier Iden Versio and her Inferno Squad is morally ambiguous in a tense and kind of fascinating way. It may appeal to some deplorable parts of gamer culture, but shooting through diverse rebels as a faceless, armored defender of the already dead Empire was a cool kind of uncomfortable, especially since the woman beneath that mask is a well-written and well-acted (and weirdly skin-lightened) woman of color.However, my first major groan (after earning an achievement called “ Dark Forces”) happened during an early mission when all of a sudden the camera revealed I would now be playing as Luke Skywalker. Lightsaber combat is an important part of the game, and the campaign was right to incorporate it. But knowing the campaign wouldn’t be that long, I worried over whether the story could afford to spend time on this fan service digression.It turns out the answer is no. The more I played the more the story cut away from ostensibly the main plot starring Versio and instead put me in control of folks like Princess Leia, Lando Calrissian, and bearded Han Solo. While these tangents were fun in their own right, this left the main characters with too little room for their own plots to meaningfully develop. And it makes all of the familiar Star Wars story beats (an evil father, a turn toward the Light side, a big dogfight finale) seem that more cliche compared to the subversive opening. Even the Kylo Ren cliffhanger really only exists to tease a DLC follow-up tie-in to The Last Jedi.I get it. Folks who buy the shiny new Star Wars game are expecting to see the Star Wars stuff they already know and love. And that Star Wars stuff is gorgeously rendered thanks to the Frostbite engine being allowed to powerd the type of shooter game it was built for. But the shift toward the familiar just makes the initial pitch with the new Inferno Squad seem a bit deceptive.And it’s symptomatic of the larger modern Star Wars problem of leaning too heavily on what we’ve already seen. There’s no need whatsoever for a Han Solo spin-off movie. For Star Wars to move forward, we need to purge this obsession with nostalgia in every revisitation out of our shared cultural system, if that’s even possible. Help us, Rian Johnson. You’re our only hope!Disappointing story aside, if Battlefront II’s campaign is what we can reasonably expect from EA single-player Star Wars games from now on, it’s a pretty good start and a format I would like to see continue. So congratulations, EA. You fixed one part of Star Wars: Battlefront. Now ditch the paid loot boxes and crank up the Sheev.Buy Star Wars: Battlefront IIView as: One Page Slides1/51. Star Wars: Battlefront II is EA’s latest attempt at a modern AAA Star Wars shooter.2. Fight against tons of other players online in scenarios based on any and all Star Wars movies.3. Shooting happens both on-foot and in the sky thanks to vehicle combat.4. There’s also now a brief but action-packed single-player campaign featuring the morally ambiguous Imperial soldiers of Inferno Squad.5. But like the recent Star Wars films, Battlefront II’s new ideas eventually give way to the force of nostalgia.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Stay on targetlast_img

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