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Review of Star Wars Battlefront II PS4 Featuring TVD Alum Janina Gavankar

Star Wars Battlefront II is a third-person and first-person action adventure game available from retail stores and for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4. Star Wars originated in 1977 upon the release of the first Star Wars film later sub-titled as A New Hope which was created, written and directed by George Lucas with a budget of $11 million actually earned $775.4 million at the box office; securing its place in pop culture. Two sequels were released in the form of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi in 1980 and 1983 respectively to complete the original trilogy, while the prequel trilogy began in 1999 with The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones in 2002 and Revenge of the Sith in 2005. A sequel trilogy began in 2015 with The Force Awakens to be followed by Episodes VIII and IX, alongside continued spin-off films such as Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Han Solo. There has also been an animated film in 2008 called The Clone Wars which was accompanied by an animated television series of the same name from 2008 to 2014 followed by a further animated television series titled Star Wars: Rebels from 2014, alongside other types of media such as novels, comics, soundtrack albums, a wide range of toys and even theme parks, amongst many more types of media.

Star Wars Battlefront II and its 2015 prequel is developed by the legendary developer Digital Illusions most commonly known as DICE who was actually founded in Vaxjo, Sweden all the way back in 1992 with their first game being Pinball Dreams which was originally released for Amiga, DOS and NES in 1992 followed by sequels including Pinball Fantasies, Pinball Illusions and True Pinball for varying platforms such as Amiga and PS1 until 1997. DICE began carving a career in racing games with S40 Racing for PC in 1997 followed by the classic ambitious split-screen multiplayer racer Motorhead on PS1 in 1998, while Swedish Touring Car Championship 1 and 2 released on PC in 1999 and 2000 respectively and Rally Masters on PC in 2000 before returning to PS1 by co-developing NASCAR Heat in 2000 and continued on PS1 until 2002 with the release of The Land Before Time: Big Water Adventure. DICE began to diversify themselves further beyond their signature Battlefield series with the release of Mirror’s Edge on PS3 in 2008 before collaborating with Criterion Games on Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit and developing the online multiplayer component for Medal of Honor in 2010 respectively. 2015 saw a renaissance of DICE’s creativity outside of the Battlefield series with the release of Star Wars: Battlefront on PS4 and Mirror’s Edge made a sensational return in 2016 in the form of Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst due to popular demand followed by Star Wars: Battlefront II in 2017.

There have been dozens of officially licensed Star Wars games with the first-ever game being a first-person space combat game developed by Atari as an arcade game titled Star Wars in May 1983 which was followed by a range of home console conversions from 1983 to 1984 on Atari 2600, Atari 5200 and Commodore 64 before a further range of home console ports followed between 1987 and 1988 for the Amiga, Atari ST, ZX Spectrum and more besides. There were many further Star Wars games in the late 1980s and early 1990s such as Star Wars on NES which released in 1991 before a sequel titled Super Star Wars followed for the SNES in 1992 which was actually ported to the Vita and PS4 as a cross-buy bundle in November 2015. The LEGO Star Wars series spanned many platforms from LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game on PS2 and PSP in March 2005 onwards between March 2005 to LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens in June 2016. Meanwhile, the Star Wars Battlefront series originated on PS2 in 2004 with Pandemic Studios handling development duties and LucasArts publishing. Can Star Wars Battlefront II set a new level of quality for the Star Wars Battlefront series and Star Wars focused gaming?

The story campaign has a major twist to it as lead character Iden Versio fights for the team depicted in Star Wars films as the evil opposition known as the Empire of the ongoing intergalactic war between the Rebellion and Empire. The story takes place from the viewpoint of the Empire in which Iden Versio is an Imperial commando and leader of the most skilled Special Forces unit known as the Inferno Squad. When Iden Versio witnesses the destruction of Death Star II; she seeks revenge on those responsible.

The story campaign has a distinct mission variety such as controlling Iden Versio’s droid for the first half of the opening mission onboard a rebel ship where Iden has been deliberately captured in order for her droid to break her out by stealthily incapacitating a number of the rebels and opening her prison door; therefore switching to controlling Iden for the latter half of the mission in which she must prevent the Rebellion from finding the location of the Empire’s fleet. The following mission sees Iden taking on the Rebels on the ground of a planet surrounded by lush forests before piloting a Tie Fighter in her escape from the planet and into outer space; there are also 23 collectibles situated throughout the story campaign. The story campaign is extremely engaging as its pacing never falters with exceptional performances from the entire cast including Janina Gavankar as the story campaign’s lead character Iden Versio making for a believable story set within the Star Wars universe.

Iden’s abilities include her droid scanning the nearby location to assess the enemy’s awareness of her presence and the threat they potentially pose, while the pulse cannon is effective in long-range combat with shots charged for maximum damage to enemies, alongside powerful impact grenades. Iden’s weaponry loadout includes a powerfully accurate blaster rifle named the E-11 known as the standard weapon of the Imperial Forces, while the A280 is a medium-range rifle that fires bursts of three bullets; the BLURRG-1120 is a small blaster with a two-blast burst mode; and the TL-50 is a Imperial Special Forces manufactured weapon that is a heavy repeater with the capabilities of rapid fire blaster bolts and a concussion blast.

Further weaponry includes a sniper rifle named A280-CFE for precision during long-range combat coupled with a burst option for efficiency during medium range combat, alongside the DLT-19X longblaster which delivers high precision during long-range combat; the DLT-19 is the standard issue heavy blaster that focuses more on power and rate of fire; and the RK-3 which is a fast firing pistol that serves as an Officer’s primary blaster. Supply crates can be found situated in the surrounding environments that provide Iden with new equippable cards that each offer customisable elements for her loadout such as a Killstreak Vanguard that replenishes the active time of the Vanguard when defeating an enemy and a modified defusion device which overheats enemy weaponry, defuses explosives and disables enemy turrets.

Battle Scenarios allow players to choose a variety of heroes or villains amongst combat scenarios that provide a training ground for multiplayer gameplay. Players can choose to battle for the light side by joining the good fight for the Republic, Rebel Alliance or Resistance against the forces of evil, while the alternative is to join the dark side as part of the Separatists, Galactic Empire or the First Order. There are a total of 16 Battle Scenarios including 8 within the light side and 8 contained in the dark side, although only the first Battle Scenario is initially available for each side as the first tier of a Battle Scenario has to be successfully completed in order to unlock the next. There are three tiers per Battle Scenario comprising of different settings such as the first Battle Scenario for the light side featuring 50 troops available with 8 vs. 8 team sizes, rookie A.I. difficulty and no active modifiers, while completing tier I unlocks tier II which introduces normal A.I. difficulty and active modifiers such as fast ability recharge and weak A.I.; followed by tier III that increases the available troops to 75, retaining your team size at 8 when increasing the enemy team size to 12 and changing the active modifiers to no abilities, half player health and weak A.I., therefore providing three unique experiences for every Battle Scenario.

The single player variant of Custom Arcade goes beyond Team Battles into Onslaught mode were the player has to overcome numerous enemies within a time limit. Players can customise Onslaught by choosing one of six maps, a period of time on the ticking clock in which to start in incremental steps between 3 seconds all the way up to 10 minutes providing your preferred amount of time to eliminate anywhere from 10 to 999 enemies, alongside enemy A.I. difficulty; low, medium, high or extreme onslaught intensity to change how fast the opposition gains reinforcements; and an elimination bonus of 1, 3 or 5 seconds for every time you defeat an enemy.

Battle points are essentially Star Wars Battlefront II’s in-game currency which can be earned by scoring kills and completing objectives in order to spend the battle points unlocking special characters such as Kylo Ren.

Cast members from Star Wars films who are not directly involved in the game such as Harrison Ford as Han Solo and Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker retain their likenesses directly from the films. Characters that have a very distinctive look such as Boba Fett, Chewbacca, Darth Maul and Yoda also look pinpoint accurate to their cinematic counterparts. Further characters will be gradually introduced in post-launch content.

The environment design will be a revelation for Star Wars fans that have never played a Star Wars Battlefront game before as levels and maps are fully inspired by the Star Wars film franchise. Locations from all three Star Wars eras are covered in Star Wars Battlefront II’s levels and maps including Theed on Naboo, the Research Outpost on Kamino, Kachiro Beach on Kashyyyk and Lucrehulk Battleship on Ryloth from the prequel trilogy, while the original trilogy features Death Star II, lush forests on the surface of planet Endor, Imperial Shipyard on Fondor, Hoth, Mos Eisley on Tatooine and Yavin 4, alongside the sequel trilogy containing Jakku, Starkiller Base and Takodana in addition to various planned post-launch maps.

There are over 20 accurately detailed Star Wars vehicles which players can pilot throughout the three Star Wars eras including hero vehicles such as Han Solo’s legendary and iconic Millennium Falcon, Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing and Poe Dameron’s custom Black One X-Wing in addition to villain vehicles such as Darth Maul’s Scimitar, Kylo Ren’s Tie Silencer and Darth Vader’s Tie Advanced X1, alongside Starfighters including the X-Wing, A-Wing, Y-Wing, Tie Fighter and Tie Interceptor. Further vehicles mostly include ground based vehicles including the AAT, AT-RT, Vulture Droid and MTT.

There is a wide range of weaponry throughout every game mode. Beyond Iden Versio’s extensive arsenal of weapons in the story campaign; every hero and villain has their signature lightsaber or blaster. Every blaster has four unique attributes including cooling power, range, rate of fire and damage that will make players think strategically about which weapons they equip before entering into battle in any game mode. The majority of weapons have their own story set within the Star Wars universe such as the A280 being utilised by the Rebellion during the Galactic Civil War before being repurposed by the Imperial Forces, while BLURRG-1120 is named after a strong and stoic creature residing on the planet Ryloth, also named Blurrg.

There are two camera angles including a first-person perspective through the eyes of your chosen character and a third-person viewpoint from over the shoulder of the character. The first-person perspective provides a look at your character’s weaponry, while the third-person viewpoint can be switched from the left to the right shoulder and vice versa. However, despite the third-person view being essential to showcasing the likenesses of Star Wars characters past and present; you are unable to pan the camera far enough or turn the character around to have their face directly positioned in front of the camera in order to see the character’s likeness in comparison to their film counterparts.

Downloadable content is confirmed to be presented in free season themed post-launch packs which release periodically such as The Last Jedi post-launch content including the hero Finn and villain Captain Phasma as new playable characters, alongside Crait being introduced as a new map and a new Starfighter Assault map titled D’Qar in addition to a new A-Wing hero ship and an upgrade to Poe’s X-Wing ship. There are even all-new chapters for the single player story campaign, alongside limited time special challenges for the Resistance or the First Order that yield rewards.

Star Wars Battlefront previously made multiple appearances on PSP including Star Wars Battlefront II which launched within the first six months of PSP’s retail release and portable exclusives in the form of Star Wars Battlefront: Rogue Squadron on PSP in November 2007 and Elite Squadron on PSP and DS in November 2009; therefore it is disappointing to not see EA and DICE bringing their Star Wars Battlefront games to Vita, although remote play is somewhat of a consolation. Star Wars Battlefront II’s remote play performance is incredible as it retains the quality of graphics, audio and general performance as the PS4 version. Split-screen multiplayer is displayed in split-screen during remote play, although it would have been much better to have the player using remote play to have their own full Vita screen with the other player having a full television screen. Controls have been appropriately optimised including firing and aiming being re-mapped to R and L respectively, while sprinting has moved to a single press of down on the d-pad, alongside throwing a grenade moving to the bottom left of the rear touch pad and changing weapons being mapped to the bottom right of the rear touch pad; therefore creating a comfortable and exhilarating remote play experience.

The controls are well mapped to the DualShock 4 controller with the default control scheme for an on-foot soldier consisting of pressing R2 to fire a weapon; pressing L2 to zoom or holding L2 for alternative fire; pressing R1 or L1 to perform a right or left equipped ability respectively; simultaneously pressing R1 and L1 to perform a middle ability; pressing X to jump; pressing square to reload by manually venting or interact with an object; pressing O to crouch or performing a combat roll; pressing triangle to switch between your weapons; pressing up on the d-pad to view abilities; pressing left or right on the d-pad to emote; holding down on the d-pad to switch between first-person and third-person perspectives or pressing down on the d-pad to switch shoulder from the left to the right or vice versa; pressing L3 to sprint; pressing R3 to perform a melee attack on an enemy; changing the direction of the left analogue stick to move forward or backward and strafe left or right; changing the direction of the right analogue stick to aim and look around; pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu; and pressing the options button to display the pause menu. Tapping the touch pad to display the scoreboard during split-screen or online multiplayer, while vibration occurs to reflect the recoil when firing your weapon and heavy impacts in your nearby surroundings such as the footsteps of AT-ATs. There is no light bar implementation which is surprising as it could have produced the colour of your character’s lightsaber or weapon, although it could have been an alternative health display to show how much damage your character has received.

There are multiple alternative control schemes to change the feel of the controls to precisely how you prefer them with four options for the button and stick layouts respectively for individual customisation of on-foot soldiers, vehicles and starfighters. Such a quantity of customisation as well as a range of settings is an excellent design choice as it provides the player with the confidence of knowing that there is a definitive control scheme that will perfectly match their respective play style.

Graphically, Star Wars Battlefront II recreates the feeling and look of Star Wars characters, weaponry, vehicles and environments, therefore allowing the gameplay to excel further due to a truly authentic Star Wars atmosphere during battles, alongside mostly consistent 60 frames-per-second performance on PS4 and PS4 Pro. PS4 Pro support improves resolution to between 1296p and 1440p through dynamic resolution scaling, while super-sampling delivers enhanced visuals for PS4 Pro owners with 1080p televisions.

The presentation of the game is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, collection menus, career menus, campaign menu, arcade menus, multiplayer menus, loadout menus, options menus and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick and touch pad. Menu backgrounds are inspired by Star Wars films such as an android patrolling and communicating, while selected characters are displayed in holographic projection.

The collective cast from the story campaign produce incredible performance capture and voice-over performances comprising Janina Gavankar starring as the lead character in the story campaign named Iden Versio having previously starred in TV series including Tessa in season 5 of The Vampire Diaries, Luna Garza in True Blood, Meredith Bose in The Mysteries of Laura and Diana Thomas in Sleepy Hollow, while having voiced Amita in Far Cry 4 and Tatai in Horizon: Zero Dawn. Some of the more recent cast from Star Wars films provide voice-overs such as Daisy Ridley as Rey and John Boyega as Finn. Sam Witwer voices Emperor Palpatine and Darth Maul having previously voiced Darth Vader’s Secret Apprentice, Emperor Palpatine, Starkiller and Galen Marek in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed I and II, alongside other Star Wars videogames and TV series such as Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels, while elsewhere starring as Davis Bloome in Superman TV series Smallville, Aidan Waite in Being Human and lead character Deacon in videogame Days Gone. Matthew Mercer voices Kylo Ren and Luke Skywalker having previously voiced male stormtroopers in Star Wars Battlefront as well as Agent Rane Kovach and Master Garault in Star Wars: The Old Republic – Shadow of Revan, alongside the lead character Jack Cooper in Titanfall 2, Tim Drake and Robin in Batman: Arkham Knight; Leon S. Kennedy in Resident Evil: Damnation, Resident Evil 6 and Resident Evil: Revelations 2; Cor Leonis in Final Fantasy XV and much more besides. Tom Kane voices Yoda having previously voiced numerous Star Wars characters in videogames and TV animations including Boba Fett, C-3PO and Yoda to name but a few. Star Wars Battlefront II’s acting talent also contains Fred Tatasciore, Gideon Emery, Laura Bailey and many more besides.

Sound effects are extremely accurate to the Star Wars films including lightsabers and blasters for on-foot soldiers and every starfighter has the same feel and audio as though they were lifted straight from the films. A Star Wars game would not be a Star Wars game without the original theme which is included in all of its glory, while Star Wars Battlefront II’s music during gameplay is worthy of any Star Wars film with epic climactic music on the same grand scale as Star Wars films composed by Gordy Haab who returns from Star Wars Battlefront and Star Wars: The Old Republic, alongside The Old Republic’s expansions. There is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation which is surprising as it could have produced major sound effects including lightsabers and blasters.

The trophy list includes 41 trophies with 23 bronze trophies, 15 silver trophies, 2 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. Easier trophies include the Complete Your Training silver trophy for completing all unique Battle Scenarios and the There is No Such Thing As Luck bronze trophy for engaging in an arcade match. Meanwhile, there are 17 story campaign related trophies including 10 bronze trophies, 6 silver trophies and 1 gold trophy that are most probably easier than the online multiplayer trophies. Over half of the trophy list is focused on online multiplayer with the harder trophies emphasising accumulation including The Force is Strong With This One gold trophy for reaching rank 50 and We are the Spark silver trophy for defeating 500 enemies as a hero on any multiplayer map. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 35 to 50 hours to platinum the trophy list.

There are three difficulty levels for every mode outside of the story campaign including rookie, normal and expert with the major differences being that enemy A.I. will utilise their surroundings more to bide their time before attacking at the right moment, while attempting to flank you and your team members to improve the odds in their favour, alongside a startling increase in accuracy. Therefore, do not necessarily expect to easily defeat enemy A.I. during Custom Arcade mode as there is no longer a definite victory when battling enemy A.I. in Star Wars Battlefront II. However, the story campaign also has three separate difficulty levels including explorer, soldier and special forces in which explorer allows the player to progress through the story without the enemy A.I. putting up a massive fight, although soldier difficulty is challenging but fair due to appropriately balanced combat, alongside special forces difficulty that essentially recreates an authentic battle for survival as would be anticipated from a Star Wars story.

Split-screen competitive and co-operative multiplayer supports 2 players within Battle Scenarios and Custom Arcade mode. Custom Arcade mode is where Star Wars Battlefront II shines in split-screen competitive multiplayer as it offers a customised and more involving experience. Players can customise the game mode between team battle or duel; select one of the six available maps; choose game modifiers including the quantity of troops available between 10, 25, 50, 75, 100, 125, 150, 200, 250, 300, 500 or 999 which is an important gameplay element as the amount of troops being reduced to 0 defines the team that wins the team battle; the size of both teams at anywhere between 1 to 10 at any moment within the team battle; the ability to allow either player to choose to play as a hero, trooper or free for all; and A.I. difficulty; alongside ability recharge, player health, A.I. health, A.I. health and preference of minimap style. Duel swaps the quantity of troopers for the amount of lives between 1 to 10 for each player’s chosen character. Custom Arcade also features split-screen co-operative multiplayer for Team Battles, while replacing Duel mode with Onslaught in which both players work together to defeat significant quantities of enemies within the chosen time limit.

Battle Scenarios are restricted to 8 scenarios which is rather odd as that is a fraction of the scenarios available in single player and co-operative multiplayer without having a complete set of scenarios from both sides and no tier system. Five of the split-screen competitive Battle Scenarios are set within the duel mode which enforces 1 vs. 1 gameplay that does not feel as tight or balanced in comparison to team battle mode; most probably due to the fact that duel mode maps are of a similar size to team battle maps, although team battles have numerous enemies to find, while duel mode can easily conceal a single opposing player. Split-screen co-operative multiplayer allows 2 players to participate on the same team, although none of the split-screen competitive and co-operative modes offer anything equivalent to Walker Assault and Starfighter battles contained within the prequel’s split-screen multiplayer Skirmish mode which is quite disappointing; as that at least at launch means that two players cannot have vehicular based battles in split-screen multiplayer.

Online multiplayer performance is mostly flawless with exception to the collision detection as players controlling on-foot characters from the same team or opposing team are always able to run straight through each other’s characters.

Online multiplayer modes include Galactic Assault in which up to 40 players battle on-foot and piloting vehicles through large scale objective based maps inspired by Star Wars locations, while Starfighter Assault sees two teams of up to 12 players per team for a total of up to 24 players piloting fighters, interceptors and hero ships in multi-stage objective based battles in the depths of space. Heroes vs. Villains allows up to 8 players to play as Star Wars’ best known characters such as Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Yoda, Rey, Darth Vader, Kylo Ren and more besides in a 4 vs. 4 team battle, while Strike involves two teams with 8 players per team battling in objective based scenarios, alongside Blast which focuses on close quarters combat for up to 20 players.

Every multiplayer mode is entertaining as they simultaneously fuse team focused co-operative play with competitive gameplay due to both teams having their own objectives which are the complete opposite of one another such as one team needing to defend the AT-ATs in order to advance onto their next objective, while the opposing team will be looking to attack the AT-ATs to take them down before they can progress onto their following objective, but the absolute standouts have to be the boots on the ground combat of Galactic Assault and the epic outer space firefights of Starfighter Assault. Your objectives essentially receive a play-by-play commentary from the respective team leaders who inform players on their team how close they are to winning or losing the battle and what players must do to play their part in their team’s success.

There are four classes within the heroes and villains including assault, heavy, officer and specialist in addition to superior heroes and villains that have their own unique abilities which are adaptable through unlockable cards and customisable weapon loadouts with more weapons and weapon attachments to improve their respective attributes via completing milestones. For instance the classes corresponding to the villains includes an officer that has an ability making the officer capable of providing orders to galvanise the team into being able to withstand a greater quantity of damage and still battle on in the process, while the officer can also place blaster turrets which can in-turn lock onto enemy soldiers and vehicles with automatic turret repairs occurring when an officer on the same team is standing nearby, alongside flash grenades, although only pistols are available within the officer’s weapons loadout.

In contrast, the heavy class can hold back enemies by entering Sentry mode whilst your character and nearby allies simultaneously receive reduced explosive damage, alongside a combat shield that offers a balance between mobility and protecting anyone directly behind the shield and impact grenades, although the heavy class also has powerful rapid fire weaponry.

Players earn XP towards levelling up to the next rank which initially takes 4,000 points to level up from rank 1 to rank 2, increasing gradually when attempting to reach each new rank such as rank 2 to rank 3 requiring 5,000 points. Earning points to rank up is made possible by damaging enemies, defeating enemies, destroying sentry turrets and general participating in the battle.

Star Wars Battlefront II’s replayability stems from many features including an all-new story campaign with 23 collectibles to find, two separate sets of three difficulty levels for the story campaign and enemy A.I. in other game modes, characters, environments, weaponry and vehicles that are all faithfully recreated in their respective likenesses from the Star Wars films, Battle Scenarios mode comprising of 8 combat scenarios for both the heroes and villains, Custom Arcade mode that allows for a more customised experience, split-screen competitive and co-operative multiplayer modes, alongside a fully fledged suite of online competitive and co-operative multiplayer modes that will collectively have players returning for dozens of hours.

Overall, Star Wars Battlefront II showcases characters, weaponry, vehicles and environments as though they were 3D scanned models taken directly from the films and it is that subtle attention to detail between graphics and audio that will certainly endear it to Star Wars fans. The all-new story campaign is everything that a Star Wars fan would want from a story-driven Star Wars videogame with an intriguing alternative narrative of the battle between the Emperor and the Rebels. If you are a fan of Star Wars films or videogames, then Star Wars Battlefront II is an absolute essential experience.

8.8 out of 10

Analysis
• Title: Star Wars Battlefront II
• Developer: DICE/Criterion Games/Motive
• Publisher: Electronic Arts
• System: PS4
• Format: Retail/PSN Download
• Cross-Buy: No
• Cross-Play: No
• Players: 1 (Story Campaign)/1-2 (Split-Screen Competitive and Co-operative Multiplayer in Custom Arcade Mode and Battle Scenarios)/8-40 (Online Competitive and Co-operative Multiplayer)
• Hard Drive Space Required: 56.72GB (Version 1.04)

Star Wars Battlefront II PS4 review was previously published on videogame publication Zombie Chimp.

Jason


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