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Star Wars Battlefront Review

Star Wars Battlefront is not the best first-person shooter out there.  Let’s get that out of the way right up front.  It’s a relatively stripped-down game that doesn’t do enough to make up for its shortcomings.  From a purely mechanical standpoint, any number of other shooters on the market will provide a more satisfying experience.  Battlefront’s biggest asset, and one major advantage over other shooters, is its ability to transport you to the Star Wars universe.

And I cannot be objective about anything set in the Star Wars universe.  We should get that out of the way up front, too.  The Star Wars movies are so ingrained in my psyche, so elemental to my artistic sensibilities, that any book, movie, game, TV show, interpretive dance, etc., set in that universe gets a handful of bonus points and get-out-of-jail-free cards.  Just being in the Star Wars universe for a while is an experience I enjoy, regardless of the quality of the work that’s brought me there.  I saw The Phantom Menace six times in theaters, for example.  So my opinion of Battlefront won’t necessarily be objective, inasmuch as such a thing could actually exist.  But mine will be the opinion of a pretty passionate Star Wars fan.

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The first thing you notice about Star Wars Battlefront is how beautiful it is.  Heading into the third year of this new console generation, with developers starting to leave the last generation of hardware behind, we’re getting used to seeing breathtaking graphics in new releases, but Battlefront seems to vastly exceed our still-nascent expectations of what a current (née “next”) generation game should look like.  Not only is the game as close to photorealistic as anything we’ve ever seen on a console, but it captures the specific look of the original films.  It doesn’t feel like real life; it feels like a movie.  This effect is somewhat owing to the photogrammetry process developer DICE used to capture original props from the movies.  Those Stormtroopers look just like their cinematic counterparts because they essentially are wearing the exact same costumes.

This attention to detail extends beyond the graphics to the sound design, animations, music, and visual effects.  Ewoks scatter when you run through the Endor treetops; Tusken Raiders shout from atop Tatooine ridges; Stormtroopers are animated to move not like hyper-athletic videogame characters, but actors wearing plastic costumes; the Wilhelm Scream is everywhere.  Every effort has been made to create as authentic and immersive a Star Wars experience as possible.  And those efforts have largely succeeded.   It is still a videogame, of course.  You will still get shot in the head by a Stormtrooper named something like DeezNutz69xxx69, which kind of breaks the illusion a bit, and you will eventually settle into a familiar headspace of worrying about spawn points, power-ups, K/D ratios, and everything else that comes with playing an online shooter.  But it will also feel more like Star Wars than just about any game you’ve ever played. Continue reading Star Wars Battlefront Review

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