Star Wars Battlefront II (PS4) Review

Click here to view the Star Wars Battlefront II (PS4) description page for guides, screenshots, and more information.

Note: This review is old and Battlefront II has seen a lot of changes. I’m not going to bother to play the game again just to re-review it, so keep the dated nature of the material in mind when reading this review.

Review by tankMage (January 2018)

Score: C-

  EA’s Star Wars Battlefront II was a difficult title to review, in part because I loved the original and was hoping the PS4 would get an upgraded version of one of my favorite games. This is also the first new release to appear on this site and I really wanted to give Battlefront II a fair critique despite the controversy surrounding it. Unfortunately, EA really screwed this franchise up and their reboot of Battlefront II was nearly a disaster, primarily due to a series of poor design choices. If you buy this game, expect to fiddle with menus constantly, sprint through a half-assed story mode, and get stomped by twelve year olds with unlockable weapons in multiplayer until you manage to get your own weapons upgraded. I have to be fair and point out that this game wasn’t an absolute failure and I did enjoy aspects of it. The goal oriented multiplayer modes kept the action going and the Star Card system, which allows players customize their characters to some extent added depth to both Single and Multiplayer. Battlefront II also looked and sounded good aside from a few hideous character models. Even so, this game should have been amazing, but barely achieves mediocrity. Below is more more detailed examination of this title for the brave of heart.

Story

   Multiplayer mode is loosely based on battles from the movies for the most part and does a fair job replicating them. Having to hear mission briefings over and over was a bit annoying, but you can always just ignore them or turn the sound down. There really is not much else to say for multiplayer, since the focus is on competition between players and not narrative. Single player mode’s story was broken into two sections and I have to admit the first section was enjoyable. Iden Versio, the leader of an elite imperial squad known as Inferno is the main character and it was interesting to see things from the Empire’s point of view during last days of the rebellion, but the plot takes a rather predictable and slightly disappointing twist, which I won’t comment on to avoid spoiling the story. The main characters, Iden and Del were down to earth soldier types, which was a refreshing reprieve from the melodrama we saw in the Star Wars Prequels (can anyone say “Padmé!!!!”). The main antagonist was also a strong point of the story, since he was more of the loyal-to-end soldier type than the garden variety psychopath with delusions of grandeur that often plagues video game worlds. Famous Star War characters also appear as playable characters in story mode, which felt kind tacked on to please fans, but EA didn’t have much of a choice in the matter, since someone would complain either way.

Ok, flying through the debris of the Death Star was cool.

   Of course, EA had to flush all the good work they did down the toilet in the first half of the story and turn the second half into a boring, depressing, mess. The second story has you facing off against one of those cookie cutter villains I was complaining about earlier, which destroys the momentum created by the first story. Iden is also far older in the second half of the campaign, which came off as another forced, awkward decision on EA’s part. There’s nothing wrong with having an older main character, but in this case it just wasn’t done well. Here’s what EA did wrong:

1) The same actress seems to have done both old and young Iden’s voice. Consequently, Iden sounded kind of weird in the second act, like a younger person trying to mimic the voice of an older person and it was hard to take her seriously.

2) Whoever did the writing for the campaign did not have a clear vision of who Iden became after the war. Iden is basically the same person in Resurrection as she was in the main story, just older. The wisdom, maturity, and touch of sentimentality one would expect from an older character simply isn’t present in Resurrection Iden as she sprints around shooting stormtroopers and ordering her daughter around like she’s a member of Inferno Squad.

At any rate, I’m not going to pick apart Battlefront’s story any longer, because I have not yet seen the new Star Wars movies and it is hard for me to determine who is responsible for the plot’s shortcomings in some cases. Maybe someday I’ll get around to watching the new movies and keep how this game relates to them in mind.

Graphics

   This game has some really beautiful scenery and impressive effects. My jaw dropped the first time I saw an AT-AT explode close up on a multiplayer map. There’s also all sorts of cool Star Wars guns and vehicles that look like they were pulled right out of the films. Even better, most of this stuff is either true to Star Wars lore or is at least able to pass itself off as being genuine. Many of the character models are kind of funky, however. Luke, Han, and Leia all look like they were brought back from the dead by a novice necromancer thanks to their slightly warped features, soulless eyes, and skin that looks like untreated leather. There’s also a character named Zay that vaguely resembles Dobby the house elf from Harry Potter… and no, she is not an alien. I also noted a few weird graphical bugs here and there, but that comes with the territory of video games. All in all, I think EA may have invested a little too much time and effort into making their characters lifelike. Is there really a need to see Iden’s giant pores or Palpatine’s liver spots? Maybe EA should have invested some of the resources they used to make character models into making actual quality content. With that said, I have to admit that this game looks great for the most part, which is one of the reasons it managed to squeak by with a C-.

User Interface

    Here’s what I expect when I start an FPS game up: A simple start screen that allows me to select the gameplay mode I want with ease. I also expect to navigate very few menus, because FPS games are about action. What did EA give us? An ugly start screen that looks like Xboxlive circa 2010, a convoluted menu system that you have to slog through to get to the actual game, an equipment menu, and a cash shop (Which is currently free of charge to EA’s credit) all of which bog down the flow of the game. All of this would not be necessary without the Cash Shop and Battlefront’s clumsy UI is one of the primary ways in which EA’s decision to implement microtransactions into the game ruined and otherwise decent experience.

Pay 2 Win…Pay 2 Win never changes… Its also not going to help you in an FPS game if you can’t hit the broadside of a barn.

   As for the game controls, they work well and are fairly standard FPS controls. Personally, I’m not a fan of having to hold L3 to sprint, but most FPS games use the same control scheme, so I can’t fault Battlefront II here. Button presses are responsive for the most part, but I noticed a bit of input lag on multiplayer. My neighborhood has constant problems maintaining internet service and it tends to be inconsistent even under the best circumstances, so I can’t really lay the blame on EA’s servers, but it is something to keep in mind. It also bears mentioning that there is no voice chat built into the game, which is blessing or a curse depending on who you ask. One thing to keep in mind is players can still form chat groups with friends, which can give a players in a chat party an unfair advantage, since they can coordinate while on the same team or members of the group can act as spies if placed on opposing teams.

Gameplay (Single Player)

  The single player campaign is a rather bland and mediocre FPS experience. Star Wars has all sorts of great lore to draw from and I hoped that the game would pit me against Rancors, bounty hunters, weird aliens, and the occasional force user. In fact I would be willing to pay good money to empty a few blaster rounds into a certain Jar Jar Binks, but no such luck with Battlefront II. Admittedly, this was one of the weaknesses of the original game, though it was less apparent thanks to it’s frenetic action. This brings us to the pace of this Battlefront, which feels more along the lines of an older Doom title or Call of Duty,than the original which was a third person run and gun.

   Rather than throwing players into chaotic run and gun scenarios filled with AI controlled opponents and teammates, this title has the player plodding from cover to cover following objective markers. Now this can work for an FPS game if the enemy presents a decent challenge, but even on the highest difficulty, Battlefront II is laughably easy. The enemy is slow to move and fire their weapons and they often take to hiding behind crates for cover, making them easy targets for a rocket or grenade. Iden’s weapons and abilities also overpower even the strongest foes dramatically. Her droid, ID10, can be sent to shock nearby enemies, which is a one hit kill. Many of her guns spray so many shots that you’ll get a headshot so long as you point the weapon in the general direction of the enemy’s face, which is also a one hit kill. Then you get abilities like Heal which make Iden nearly invincible. All of this is coupled with the fact that you have infinite ammo and heal after not taking damage for a few seconds (a mechanic that only really works well in games that have enemies who can really hammer the player) completely stripping the story mode of any modicum of challenge, since you don’t need to manage health or even choose your shots wisely.

   Your opponents are also boring and repetitive. Players will fight stock stormtroopers, rebels, and the occasional AT-ST or TIE Fighter. Throwing TIE Fighters into ground based battles smacked of laziness and I cannot help but think the devs threw them in, because they knew people would get tired of shooting the same stuff all day and TIEs happened to be an easy way to mask some of the repetition. Players also get to control famous characters from the movies, which is kind of cool, but they will just be fighting the same old troopers, so it doesn’t really help. To be fair, there are a variety of stormtroopers ranging from flamethrower dudes to snipers, so the game has a bit more flavor than a generic WWII shooter from the mid 2000s.

   Space battles help spice things up a bit and break the monotony of the story mode. In fact, players get to fly X-Wings, TIE Fighters, and even Cloud Cars (which suck). Each type of vehicle has it’s own abilities and it was fun flying around blasting things. With that said, there wasn’t much challenge to be had from most of the space battles either, but there were few a tough dog fights. It was also fun blasting away at corvettes and massive Star destroyers, though these huge ships felt underpowered, especially compared to those from the original Battlefront II which could shred fighters in seconds with their defensive turrets.

   In a rather strange inversion of game development logic, the grind that drags down multiplayer doesn’t affect single player. Players will find Star Cards, which grant Iden new abilities such as resistance to explosives or use of a shotgun, scattered throughout the first story as well as weapons. As a result there is no need to use EA’s now transmogrified cash shop or grind credits to spend in said cash shop. Star Cards help make gameplay more interesting as well since you can tinker with builds for Iden, though there really isn’t much diversity within the system and the cards appear to be watered down versions of those used in multiplayer. Oddly enough, I would have much rather had to collect credits to upgrade my abilities in single player than in multiplayer, since better abilities would have at least given me something to work towards. On a side note, the game will actually just give the player any uncollected Star Cards in a mission if he or she dies. Once again, this is another inversion of logic and while I understand there have been games that punish players perhaps too harshly for dying, Star Wars Battlefront II rewards players for failing, which is just laughable. Too bad no one is going to give EA an award for flubbing their chance at making a true classic.

Gameplay (Multiplayer)

   I was first introduced to this game by a friend and multiplayer was my first impression of it. At that time I did not know about the controversy surrounding EA’s ill advised decision to base the game on microtransactions and I was impressed by the game as a whole. Then I started to notice the Star Card ranks and that certain weapons like the CR-2 or Blurgg 1120 kept popping up when someone killed me, since the game shows you what your opponent had equipped after you die. Naturally, I wanted to use my own CR-2 or Blurgg, but my friend informed me that I would need to defeat more players to unlock them. It would also take even more kills to upgrade the weapons once they were unlocked. Ok, well maybe I could just have fun playing as a hero… oh wait, they need to be unlocked with credits. Star Cards also have to be purchased through credits in an indirect way since they needed to be found in crates or made using “crafting parts” which both have to be bought with credits earned in online matches.

   Now, EA’s decision to implement microtransactions into the game stirred up a furor, but I’m going to brush aside the arguments on both sides and look at how it actually affects the game. From what I can tell, the differential in power awarded by spending money on the game is somewhat moot. Sure, having maxed out Star Cards and heroes may help a player get an edge over others, but the truth is it will not help a bad player for long, since anyone who was willing to invest enough time into the game and spend their credits prudently could have a powerful character. As a result of the controversy, EA wisely removed the real money transactions, which helped level things out. Of course players will still have to slog through a bunch of missions against beefed up opponents as a weakling, so it’ll take some dedication and a buttload of patience to unlock everything.

   The real problem is that implementing the cash shop turned the game into a convoluted mess that fails to replicate what made the original Battlefront II fun: fast paced, skill based action. You want to use a hand grenade in EA’s Battlefront II? Go ahead, but you’ll have to wait for the skill to cool down to use it again… what is this? World of Warcraft? So maybe you want your hand grenade skill to cool down faster? Well you can always upgrade the Impact Grenade Star Card, but you’ll need to leave the multiplayer lobby, buy “crates” that hold random upgrades, and hope you either get enough crafting parts to upgrade the ability or get the card itself. You’ll have to get enough credits to upgrade your grenade ability three times (which costs more with each upgrade) or just get really lucky and get a super rare card if you want your grenade skill to cool down as quickly as possible. This process can take a while depending on how many classes and Star Cards you want to build up. Maybe I’m getting old, but this seems like something that belongs in Borderlands (for the record, I enjoyed Borderlands) rather than a Battlefront game and having to visit EA’s annoying cash shop on a regular basis to spend imaginary money is not my idea of a fun, action packed FPS game.

    The bright side is that the Star Card system is interesting and adds depth to the game, because it allows the player to customize their characters to some degree. For example, officers can deploy turrets, energy shields, and buff their allies up in a number of ways. Assault troops can use acid grenades launchers, modify their shotguns, and even heal themselves. I could go on about the various abilities these cards grant or modify, but it suffices to say players can make a variety of builds. If implemented more carefully, Star Cards would have been a great addition to the series, but the microtransaction system they were designed to prop up transformed Battlefront II into some sort of pseudo RPG.

   I have to give EA credit for designing the various multiplayer modes in such a way that the pace of the matches tends to be rather consistent thanks to objective based PvP missions and maps that are fairly well designed. I’m also going to briefly mention space battles here, which were quite a let down. The freeform space battles from the PS2 version of Battlefront II were great. You could board enemy destroyers to sabotage them, engage in dogfights with fighters, or hop in a bomber and attack key targets on enemy destroyers. This version’s space battles are far more rigid and prevent players from boarding enemy ships. Consequently, they lack the energy and excitement of the original. There are also hero battles and eight on eight team death matches. Hero matches feel unbalanced, however, since Sith and Jedi have a massive advantage over characters like Bassk and Han Solo who cannot deal the massive amounts of damage force users are capable of inflicting. The deathmatches are fairly run of the mill and have a more traditional pace as FPS games go, thanks to the fact that players will have to seek out the enemy. If one thing can be said for multiplayer it is that it offers players plenty of options, too bad they are mostly mediocre.

Music and Sound

   The music is from the Star Wars movies and is quite good, if not excellent. Whoever arranged the score did a good job of selecting songs that added atmosphere and captured the spirit of the movies. EA had to get something right, but it’s hard to go wrong when you have an excellent soundtrack to simply choose themes from. The same thing goes for the sound effects which are from the movies. Battlefront’s voice acting is also quite good, so all in all this title sounds great.

Final Thoughts

   At the end of this day, Star Wars Battlefront II was not an easy game to review. On one hand, the game feels clunky and mired down by a convoluted character building system that was designed to sell loot crates. On the other hand it managed to be fun at times thanks to well designed PvP maps and a fairly fleshed out class system. Under different circumstances, EA’s reboot of Star Wars Battlefront II could have been amazing, but EA’s attempt to modernize the series while turning the game into something they could reap long-term profits from fell flat due to poor implementation. Video games are becoming increasingly expensive to make (well, triple A titles are becoming more expensive to make) and I understand that EA wants a return on it’s investment, but they really botched this game. In the end EA didn’t get the cash cow it hoped for and fans got a product that is a shadow of the original Battlefront II which was made more than a decade ago. What a joke.

Recommendations

This game is not a total failure, despite the controversy surrounding it, but it is not exactly a title you should run out and buy. Star Wars Battlefront II may gratify some of the series’ more hardcore fans, but there are better FPS games on the PlayStation 4 that are a more sound choice for fans of the genre, so avoid this game unless you happen to love all things Star Star Wars.

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