“Star Wars Battlefront” is not the event you were looking for. Timed to take full advantage of the explosive mania surrounding the first “Star Wars” film in a decade, it leverages the material to stunning effect. It’s a shame the same couldn’t be said of the gameplay.
A reboot of the “Star Wars Battlefront” franchise, this multiplayer shooter puts the player in the role of a soldier in the war between the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire. Set during the period of the original trilogy of “Star Wars” films, you’ll visit recognizable locations like the snowy wasteland of Hoth, the blistering desert of Tatooine and the thick forests of Endor.
At times, the game is genuinely awe-inspiring. Put it on the best TV you can find and crank up the volume; you won’t be disappointed in the lush, gorgeous recreations of “Star Wars” settings and equipment, nor the thrilling aural delights of blaster fire and the thrust of a TIE fighter’s engine. Even in the thick of a match with dozens of combatants, you’ll want to stop and stare as lasers fill the air and spacecraft duel in the sky.
The gameplay itself, unfortunately, is a bit more mundane. If you’ve played an online shooter, nothing will offer much of a surprise, as you spawn, fight, die and repeat without any particularly enjoyable aspect to the gameplay mechanics themselves.
Playing earns points to upgrade their weapons and equipment. Killing an enemy feels harder than it should be, with Rebel and Imperial often soaking up a lot of blaster bolts before going down. Moving and aiming, the bread and butter of any shooter, feel a bit clunky.
A lot of players will be drawn to the game’s use of “Star Wars” vehicles, which walk the line between treat and letdown. It can be outrageous fun to man a two-legged AT-ST walker and pulverize the enemy’s frontline or to zip through the sky in the cockpit of an X-Wing, but these moments can be few and far between, rare enough to make the wait irritating.
Still, for “Star Wars” fans the game’s commitment to recreating the universe makes it a must-play. Actually, make that a must-rent.