Review: ‘Battlefront II’ Beta Brings Battles and Beauty

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Rebel ships flying toward an orbital dry-dock of the Empire.

There are a few words that come to mind when I think about “Star Wars: Battlefront II,” but one word that stands out above the rest is beautiful. Whether you are fighting as a droid for the Confederacy of Independent Systems (CIS), a clone for the Republic, a rebel for the Alliance or a stormtrooper for the First Order or Empire, beautiful is one of the first words that will come to mind once you drop into your first battle.

The first thing I did upon entering the game was battle against the artificial intelligence to test out the infantry classes the game offers. This mode is called arcade mode, and it has a variety of scenarios that can be played.

Only two of the arcade modes were available for the beta, however. The two open were “Wipe Them Out,” where you play as Darth Maul and slaughter any unfortunate clone trooper that gets in the way. (Not canonical, by the way.)

The second mode I played was “Roger Roger.” If you know anything about Star Wars, you know that “roger roger” is the famous saying of the basic B1 battle droids as they accept an order.

Right after I spawned in as an assault class battle droid I said “wow” and then immediately got shot by an insolent republic dog. The battle began.

Just like in the movies, lasers flew overhead and to the side as my droid forces advanced into the throne room of Theed Palace. The clones put up a valiant defense, but I was on the CIS’s side so not to brag, but we had a huge advantage.

During the battle, I tested all four classes available to players. The first as mentioned was the assault class. The assault class seems to be an excellent pick to protect the other class’s weaknesses. The assault carries a standard armament of a thermal detonator, a shotgun and a pulse launching device that stuns enemies.

The second class is the heavy class, which turns out is my first love. The heavy is just what you’d expect a heavy to be. Carrying an E-5C heavy blaster as the primary weapon, an impact detonator, a personal shield and a heavy rotary blaster (a Star Wars equivalent to a handheld Gatling gun) to mow down hallways filled with enemies. The heavy class can deal a whole squad worth of damage in a matter of moments.

Next is the officer class who carries a pistol, a cluster grenade, a troop health boost and a sentry turret to support and inspire your forces to victory.

Lastly is the specialist, which is a sniper class that takes out units from afar and highlights distant enemies for friendlies to converge on. I had a great time testing out the different ground unit types, but now it was time to test the multiplayer galactic assault mode.

ELECTRONIC ARTS | PHOTO COURTESY
The droid assault class pictured here is one of four classes available to a player in the beta of the game.

In a galactic assault, players join a side and are given objectives to attack or defend while the enemy team does the same.

For the demo, there was only one scenario for galactic assault. The droid forces are, once again, invading Naboo. There are Multi-Troop Transports, MTT, attacking Theed that are headed for the palace.

The objectives for the droid army are to protect the MTTs as they take their sweet time getting to the palace gates. Then the droids must enter the palace while shooting all clone troopers until they capture the throne room.

The clones, on the other hand, have just one goal: to defend each of the objectives the droids are pushing for and, if they can, destroy the MTT before it reaches the palace. These battles are epic and very intense. The droids have access to a multitude of deadly vehicles. Most famous are the Armored Assault Tanks that hover around the battlefield and destroy enemy positions. The vulture droids gracefully fly above the battlefield offering both as air cover and air to ground support for the relentless droid forces below.

The clones are packing heat in the vehicular armament department as well. Most well-known are the Low Altitude Assault Transport that slices through droids with its main weapon and the All-Terrain Recon Transport that quickly bounds and leaps around the battlefield able to quickly run into a fight, deal some damage and run out with hardly a scratch.

I found that this mode was the most played of the three online modes that were available, without hardly ever having to wait to join a match.

There is a spawn system, like most games. After you die, it takes fifteen seconds to respawn, however, if more people join your squad and once you have a full squad the timer instantly drops to zero. For example, if your whole squad was wiped in one instance, then you can be back fighting in no time.

The mode was fun because I felt like I was in the battle-scarred streets of Theed. All around was laser fire and chaos. It was just my squad doing our best to survive. Plus, it was so satisfying when I found a few squads of troops that were camping in a hallway or corner and I activated the heavy rotary blaster to mow them down.

The last mode to play was the Star Fighter assault, by far the best Star Wars space combat I have ever had the privilege to play.

The Starfighter assault was the best thing about the beta. I want to share my first experience as a pilot for the Rebel Alliance. My first encounter with the assault map was as follows: I entered my BTL-A4 Y-WING bomber and entered the combat zone.

The first thing I noticed was my target, which was the star destroyer that was dry docked on an orbital facility. Behind that were some Arquitens cruisers and behind that, a planet. Along with some classic Star Wars music, I made my first bombing run on one of the Arquitens. Under heavy turbo and TIE fighter laser fire, I had a successful run.

Once I passed the cruiser, the amount of firepower aimed at me was too much for my shields and astromech droid to handle. With one final hit, my ship burst into pieces, and my Y-WING was no more.

What made me like this mode the best of the four was because it reminded me so much of the original “Battlefront II” for the first Xbox. Starfighters were all over the place in dogfights or searching for their next target, while capital ships slugged it out with heavy turbo lasers all along the hulls. There is a slight hint of strategy in this mode because if you are playing as a rebel pilot, you must choose between protecting your bombers by destroying TIE fighters or making bombing runs yourself and hoping your rebel allies keep the empire off your back.

ELECTRONIC ARTS | PHOTO COURTESY
A vulture droid flying toward Naboo shows the beauty of the “Battlefront II” beta released by EA.

This “Battlefront II” open-beta was a great way for EA to place their game at the mercy of the public.

It is undeniably one of the most gorgeous works of art I have ever seen. Each ship, building, laser, bump and scratch was placed in the game with what looks to be the upper limits of human love and passion. The gameplay is fun and you feel like you are a part of the battlefield and that however you use whatever equipment or vehicle is in your arsenal will matter up to the final moments before a match ends.

Like mostly anything else sadly enough, it has its share of flaws and weaknesses which are holding it back from becoming truly a game that deserves the title of “Battlefront.”

I am just going to try and sum up a few of the big things that bothered me or that I believe are holding EA and this game back.

First, there should be no such thing at all in any game that is a triple A title that remotely resembles loot crates. My reasons are loot crates can be found in free-to-play mobile games. A mobile free-to-play game on a smartphone has the same loot and progression system as a $60 game. Does something seem wrong about that?

Second, large vehicles like the MTT or the LAAT gunship used in the beta should not be on rails. In the original “Battlefront” and “Battlefront II,” large vehicles like the Homing Spider Droid and All Terrain Armored Transport could go anywhere on the map and be controlled entirely by players. To me, it seems like a step back the EA would set those special heavy vehicles, that help define Star Wars, on rails that force the machine to go in only one predetermined route.

Lastly, all vehicles that can be played on a map should be ON the map. Vehicles should not just be able to suddenly appear with a player in them. I understand that this is probably EA’s way of making sure that the players who earned the vehicles get to use them. The vehicles should not be used as carrots to spur players on, but they should rather be used as what they are – a means to annihilate the enemy team.

This new Star Wars title has a whole lot of potential, and I think that EA has gotten their act together since the colossal Bantha poodoo “Battlefront” EA released. The game has flaws, but what doesn’t? The combat is good and keeps things interesting so that a person keeps coming back for more. Well, at least I did.

The sights and the sounds are the best I’ve ever seen, and the gameplay itself is not too shabby either. With a campaign that is from an Imperial perspective of the Galactic Civil War, it should prove to be a memorable game that players old and new will enjoy.

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