Firewatch Review

By The Colonel

When you initially come across Firewatch, it will probably stand out to you, like it did with me. What with its beautiful and charming aesthetic, and its mysterious teaser trailers that hint at the story to come. So, you’re interested, but do you continue and make the choice to buy the game? Well let me explain if you should or shouldn’t.
2016’s Firewatch has a world that is something to behold, but only at first glance. It’s a work of art on the surface and holds some mysteries and secrets underneath that artistic, lush frontier. But how deep does it go?

You play Henry, a character with a past, and come into contact with few people along your journey in your new summer job. What happens along the way, is not really up to your in-game movements but rather your dialogue choices. You play through the eyes of a single character, you feel lonely, you feel connection through technology even out in the middle of the wilderness. While the element of choice is a modern staple in today’s games, some games only provide the illusion of it, for the sake of offering a better story. Firewatch’s story pulls you in, but abruptly pulls you out.

But don’t get me wrong, there is a lot to like about Firewatch. The characters, if even for brief moments, offer its shining moments. It does build tension and mystery through character, which is hard to find in gaming and movies nowadays. Dialogue drops interesting ideas of what you think the direction of the plot is going, or relationship tension under the stress of isolation and real-life themes of growing old and falling apart. I found the introduction to the game to be the most emotionally heavy. Overall this game may warrant at least one more playthrough with its limited choices.
Gameplay wise, is nothing special, and pacing of the game is mostly hand holding with linear missions. You are left to explore things to a degree and make decisions as you want within the confines of the plot, but there are no plot altering consequences as like The Walking Dead TellTale series does, something that this game could’ve been more like.

Firewatch does well to establish setting, but backtracking and repetition in environment leads to finding myself drudging on, like a hike that has gone on for too long. Interaction with the world can be narrowed down to disguised QuickTime events, and freedom to take pictures using a camera.

You never feel lost in Firewatch; which can be a good thing and a bad thing. Game design shows you where to go so you don’t go in circles, but modern open world game design now encourages the player to go out and get lost in the world, something I didn’t find myself doing, but wanted to do. Branches and stones block the paths I wanted to travel, which is a symbol in how the game is carried out – stay on the path, because nothing else is really offered.

Like a lot of games out there, Firewatch made an impact in what it got right, and that is mainly its setting. Awe striking visuals oozing with unique aesthetic, sounds off in the distance that make you feel like someone is following you, and a true feeling of being vulnerable, alone, and connected with nature. Walking around in the open world is a treat which you unlock by completing the story. And with that one initial feature alone, the setting hooked me in and grabbed my attention, but not for long.

Firewatch hooks you in with its mysterious teaser, quirky dialogue, and beautiful aesthetic, but what you get feels like a rushed, hand holding, and unfinished game. Overall it ends to quickly in a world that should’ve allowed you to explore on your own, instead you’re left backtracking with only new dialogue choices to spark the variety. Instead of exploring and finding your own path, you move the narrative along through a hiking simulator. If there were more subplots or additional “chapters” like the standard of games like these, this would have been forgiven.
You can wrap things up in a nice package by add emotional music and touching themes of contemporary issues to hide the lack of content, but at the end of the day, gamers want content content content and more content. Firewatch could’ve been so much more. With more thoughout puzzles, more open-ended plot discovery, and even a coop mode where one player is in the supporting role. Now if there was a promise of more chapters to come, or even DLC, it would be worth paying what you did, but $10 for 3 hours is simply not enough to warrant that purchase.

As a first outing for an indie game studio, Firewatch is ok, but nothing special. It’s a few hours and a good play for those gamers on a tight schedule, but only worth it at max if it drops to $4 or $5 dollars. Even if you feel that was a waste, you might feel better if you think of it as supporting the devs to iterate and expand on what could’ve been. Overall, I’d say don’t buy it.

Watch out for Firewatch on sale in a year or so, otherwise don’t waste your time.

American Gods: First Look

Ladies, gents, and other such creatures, draw your pentagrams, sacrifice your goats, and gather ’round your sabbath bonfires because we got ourselves a show to worship.

Creators Bryan Fuller and Michael Green have brought us Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. Blessed be they.

Creators
Our noble writer, Neil Gaiman, and two randoms.

For those uninitiated in the cult of Gaiman, American Gods is a new TV series based off of Neil Gaiman’s book by the same title.

Gods still roam the earth. Some are big, some are small, some are old, some are new. We start our show with our chief character, Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle). At first glance he’s a typical convict. He’s got the shaved head, the permanent scowl, the chiseled body. However, there’s more than meets the eye with this guy. He also appears to be very thoughtful and reserved. He listens more than he talks. His characteristics seem out-of-place with his introduced persona. The show has barely started and it’s already got me asking questions and wondering about the who and how.

Shadow Walk.jpg
Our main man, Shadow Moon. Yes, his mom was a hippie. How clever of you.

He’s set to be released from prison in 5 days. He’s looking forward to seeing his wife who he seems to love dearly. He’s anxious to prove to her that he’s a better man coming out than when he went in. He is terribly anxious something bad’s going to happen, a feeling that might just be enforced by the strange and surreal dreams he’s having. Say what you will about a man, but when you start dreaming of bison with flaming eyes, I draw the line – shit be cray.

 

Flaming Bison
When the acid kicks in.

Enter the rock star. On his way back from prison he has the terrible misfortune of having to sit next to Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane). If anyone ever gave Ian McShane the role of the devil it would look something a lot like this. He’s absolute charm, mischief, and entertainment. To say he’s perfect for the role makes “perfect” a poor adjective. He IS the role. He somehow happens to know a lot about Shadow’s personal life, but he keeps the “how” in the dark. He tries to persuade Shadow to work for him, though he’s not really specific about the type of work he has in mind. Shadow doesn’t seem to be too keen, but Mr. Wednesday’s nothing if not persistent, and nothing if he’s not sly. Our TV show takes off from there in a whirl of dynamic dialogue and the unraveling of what seems to be a fantastic world.

Americna-Gods-Odin
Our rock star of the show – Mr. Wednesday, played by the devil himself, Ian McShane.

Now, without giving more of the plot away, I will say this: the show’s got a lot to work with. Not only do we have a talented cast, but we have none other than Neil f’in Gaiman as a writer. We know what happens when TV is written by actual writers. Game of Thrones, anyone?

The idea of ancient deities roaming the modern world and how they come to terms with it is fascinating enough on its own. But more than that, the show looks at the idea of belief itself. What makes a thing real? What is the power of belief? In this day and age, with our rapidly changing world, what things do we believe in?

The visual style of this show caught me a bit by surprise. There’s a few scenes that introduce some visually curious elements and it seems to be an appetizer for what we’re going to get throughout the season. Bright colours, strong contrasts, over exaggerated violence. They set the tone for something vibrant. This strikes me as a show that’s not afraid to take a few risks, and that’s always encouraging. I’ll take something that tries to be bold and new over safe and worn to death any day.

The show snares your interest from episode 1 and has you asking more than a few big questions by the time the episode’s over. Well worth the watch. The stars might have just aligned for Gaiman’s adaptation.

Ghost in the Shell film review [SPOILERS]

 

ghost-in-the-shell-8

It was always going to split opinions. Making a live-action Ghost in the Shell out of a classic anime and casting Scarlett Johansson as the Major made a lot of people, including myself, quite sceptical. I went into the theatre bracing myself for the worst, but by the end of it I found myself breathing a sigh of relief. It certainly wasn’t without flaws, but it wasn’t ruined either. And in the age of terrible remakes and sequels, that’s saying something.

What makes a human, well, a human? This question is at the core of “Ghost in the Shell” and its universe as a whole. Major Mira Killian (played by Johansson)  is a first of her kind: a cyborg with a fully prosthetic body and a human brain. A killing machine created by Hanka Industries and employed by Public Security Section 9, the Major acts as a powerful weapon for the government. As she goes on a hunt for terrorist Kuze, the Major tries to remember the past and understand her own self.

Visually, the film is stunning. It does a great job of capturing an already established environment of Ghost in the Shell and adding its own unique details to it. The CGI is stellar (except for one small moment towards the end), the action sequences are exciting and the specific colour scheme of the cyberpunk genre has been preserved.

ghost-in-the-shell-2

They’ve also done a good job of staying true to the source material. Some scenes and shots that would not only resonate with fans of the original but also impress first-time viewers were recreated as close as they could without directly copying the visuals. Great references, even surprising but completely justified cameos show up in the film, which should evoke a big nod of approval from fans. The soundtrack keeps the pacing even though it doesn’t provide any memorable compositions. However, I was very happy to hear Kenji Kawai’s new take on his masterpiece theme at the end of the film.

Scarlet Johansson does a decent job as the Major. She was never an expressive character to begin with so Johansson’s monotone performance is justified. Another well represented member of Section 9 is Batou, played by Pilou Asbaek.  Batou’s stoic yet caring nature manages to come through in the limited screen time he gets.

ghost-in-the-shell-6

While the Major and Batou carry the film throughout, other members of Section 9 don’t get nearly any screentime at all. I was really interested in seeing Ishikawa, Section 9’s tech and computer expert, yet in the film he barely gets a frame. Togusa, the only fully human character among the unit practically gets two lines. It is Aramaki, though, the chief of Section 9, that I believe is completely misrepresented. His role as a tough leader, unafraid to wield a gun, works within the Hollywood tropes, yet is completely off from what he is in the manga, original films or the tv series. Having him speak Japanese while his team talk English to him and amongst each other also felt quite awkward.

Continuing in the vein of characters who don’t really fit within the narrative is Kuze, the hacker terrorist and the villain of the film. Played by Michael Pitt, Kuze is on the warpath to eliminate all those who have made him neither man nor machine; a broken being. And here is where my problems with the film arise. There are major spoilers coming your way so be careful if you choose to “ghost dive” past this point…

ghost-in-the-shell-3

SPOILERS AHEAD!

Let’s start with Kuze. Kuze is a combination of the Puppet Master from the 1995 film and Hideo Kuze from the second season of the tv series “Stand Alone Complex” (“2nd Gig”). He has Puppet Master’s purpose, which is to seek out the Major and merge with her as the next step in evolution, and Hideo Kuze’s childhood connection to the Major before she became a cyborg. And it’s precisely because he is a combination of those two characters with distinctly different purposes is why he fails at being either. He is a poor character whose motivations are never justified.

Kuze constructs a network, just like the Puppet Master who came from it. And just like the Puppet Master, Kuze asks the Major to join him at the end of the film in the scene that closely resembles the finale of the original. Yet it is never explained why, with Kuze basically saying “so we can be better than them”. The Major rejects by saying “I belong here”, a statement that is also completely unfounded. While wanting to belong to something in the real world (told, once again, through exposition) we never see why the Major would suddenly decide that her place is here and not with someone of her kind.

Cutter, the CEO of Hanka Industries that was responsible for both the Major and Kuze turns bad towards the end of the film for the sake of being bad. And once again, it might work in a conventional Hollywood story, yet sticks out like a sore thumb in a re-imagining of a philosophical masterpiece.

And since we’re on the topic of philosophy, here is the biggest issue of the film: the themes that Ghost in the Shell explores have been lost. Concepts and ideas are never taken far enough. The film beats you over the head with what the “ghost” and the “shell” mean .The meaning of “ghost” is even repeated 3 times within one line of dialogue early on  yet the film does nothing with it. The importance of memories as identification of self fall down the same drain as the idea of the soul. And even though the Puppet Master from the original was sort of present in the film, within Kuze’s character, the Puppet Master’s whole point of being a “living, thinking entity created in a sea of information” did not even get a mention. And the film’s Hollywood ending was a jarring error within a cyberpunk universe.

CONCLUSION

I think it was foolish of anyone to believe the Holywood reimagining of Ghost in the Shell could come close to the original in terms of meaning and significance. However, it more than holds up as an entertaining film and should be viewed as a good introduction its world and cyberpunk genre as a whole. Unfortunately, the big budget spectacle comes with a watered down plot. They tried to combine the original film and  tv series in one and, as a result, the film ends up not being strong in any particular direction. Nonetheless, I believe it succeeds at bringing the world of Ghost in the Shell to the new, wider audience and hopefully would encourage those who have not seen Mamoru Oshi’s 1995 film to… dive in.

Score: 7/10

Ookujira: Giant Whale Rampage

Ookujira title

Review by Chris

Now that springtime has arrived in my neck of the woods, with all its sunshine and joy, I figure it’s high time that I shut myself in and do another iOS review. Luckily, a charming little game called Ookujira caught my eye in the App Store.

Ookujira is an arcade game where you play as a giant whale. As said whale, it is your job save the innocent from an alien invasion. You do this by flopping across a seemingly endless city, destroying alien spaceships and crushing buildings. So, I guess you are something of an antihero (granted, a very cute one at that).

Ookujira3You break stuff, you get points. You break more stuff you get more points. As you collect floating diamonds (I know, I know), you can buy more power-ups to help you break things easier or for a longer duration. Obviously, character motivation isn’t a focal point of this game.  Diamonds accumulate with each run you do, and each run ends when your whale does a belly flop on the ground instead of on top of someone’s home. I suppose paved roads are a whale’s kryptonite.

The micro-transactions are ever-present, but are mercifully non-intrusive. I actually did buy an alternate whale, so that I may look fabulous as I etch myself in the nightmares of a generation of digital city-dwellers.

The aesthetics are, as you can see, quite stimulating, with bright colours and arcade music accompanying your mission to monopolize the destruction of civilization against your extra-terrestrial competitors.

See? And you thought I should get some natural sunlight.

Book Review: Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli

Review by Chris:

SBLOPReading books on any subject of physics feels to me like repeatedly ramming my head against the wall. Though books like The Grand Design by Hawking and Mlodinow and A Universe from Nothing by Krauss are fascinating and well-written, I find there is still a bridge to be built between everyday understanding of physics and the  understanding of the subject matter required to get the most out of the aforementioned titles.

This is where Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, written by Italian theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli, shines. This concise book is everything the title advertises. Beginning with Eistein’s masterpiece “The General Theory of Relativity”, Rovelli gives us seven lessons that introduce us to the very nature, as well as the strangeness, of our universe as seen by contemporary physicists, and concludes with a reflection of our own place in this bizarre reality.

If I was to recommend a first step for casual science readers, it would have to be this book. Well-written and the perfect size for an afternoon read, Seven Brief Lessons of Physics was a solid addition to my bookshelf.

The Expanse Series (Spoiler-Free) Review

Ladies, gents, and other such creatures, it is a well known fact that love hurts. When you find that perfect someone who completes you, who opens up a whole new world for you. That one special someone who makes your daily schedule a thing of the past, and fills your every waking moment of your existence with their presence. That one special someone who fills your heart with hopes and dreams, and the violently rips it out of your ass by killing off your favourite characters. Ah, yes, love, sweet TV love.

But when you find a love so good and pure, it’s hard to believe that any other show will ever make you as happy again. The bar gets raised, and our cynical, jaded selves shy away from giving any other show a real chance.

I, myself, have recently come out of several long-term relationships. Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Rome, The Sopranos, and Dexter, all captivated me greatly. Therefore, these days, it’s with some trepidation that I give new shows a genuine chance.

Expanse Show Art

I recently stumbled across The Expanse. It’s a sci-fi space opera set in the future. We have colonized our solar system. The main government and aristocracy is still located on Earth, where life is by far best. However, our resources have started depleting – access to clean water and air, mostly, and we have had to result to looking for water glaciers in the asteroid belts.

Enter The Belters. The Belters are commonly the lower class, they are blue-collar miners and workers which live on space stations, and make a living by collecting resources that Earth so desperately needs. However, like most colonies, they work the hardest, most dangerous jobs, and are treated the worst. Life is very hard and impoverished for the Belters. To add to their struggles, the low-gravity environment in space stations has started causing defects in their bone structure. Many of them need operations just to remain functional, and their frail bones make them very vulnerable in out-of-space environments. Tensions are beginning to run high, the word of rebellion is in the air, as the OPA, an activist terrorist organization is trying to convince the Belters to rise in rebellion against Earth.

Detective Miller, a Star Helix police offer trying to restore order during another OPA riot.
Detective Miller, a Star Helix police offer trying to restore order during another OPA riot.

To add to the stewing pot, there is also the nation of Mars. Mars is also inhabited by humans which are trying terraform Mars into a planet fit for humans. They have the most advanced military technology and arsenal, and they are independent from Earth. Their powerful fleet has caused something of a Cold War between Earth and Mars, both competing for solar dominance, yet no one willing to openly attack the other.

Martian military elite
Martian military elite

Our story starts with James Holden, the first officer on an ice freighter, as he receives a distress signal from a stranded ship in space.  The freighter scanners show no immediate life forms or vessels in the near area. Against his captain’s orders, he and his crew address the call and go to aid the ship. They find the ship completely abandoned, with all of the crew missing, though the bloodstains on the walls tell a different story. They also find some strange matter that’s fused to the fusion core, feeding off the energy, and appearing strangely alive. The surprises don’t stop there. No sooner than Holden and his crew decide to leave the ship, a military vessel shows up on their scanners out of nowhere and locks on to their location. A military vessel possessing advanced stealth technology. Only Earth and Mars possess that kind of technology. Has the war begun?

Crew of The Donnager
James Holden and his crew from the Canterbury

This political triumvirate creates a very interesting political dynamic that is very fun and intriguing to follow, somewhat alike Game of Thrones. You have a plot where there are multiple factions, interests, and plots, each interwoven with the other. There isn’t necessarily good and bad guys, there’s a lot shades of grey, which make this very enjoyable and non-linear. There’s a bit of a film noir element in this show, as we have a Jane Doe, and also multi-layered conspiracies which keep you binging episode after episode. The show doesn’t start as explosive as some other shows, but it truly gets more interesting and addictive with every following episode. As the characters get fleshed out little by little, and the layers of socio-political elements start falling into place, you find yourself unable to stop. I strongly recommend this show, it’s definitely worth the go. Happy lovin’!

Earth government official using Gravity Torture on OPA activist
Earth government official using Gravity Torture on OPA activist

Star Wars Battlefront Review

“I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.”

Journey to a galaxy far, far away…

This is Star Wars Battlefront, a game that revels in its own accuracy of being the most picturesque Star Wars game to date, along with very good sound design, and enchanting worlds to immerse yourself in. Yet, beyond the rusty exterior of its brilliant frontier; deficient substance takes this Star Wars game far, far away from what it should mean to be Battlefront.

“Just look at this…the ground, the vegetation, the California forest…oh wait there’s an AT-ST right there!”

Beauty On The Surface

Visuals
Let’s get the obvious out-of-the-way. This is the best looking Star Wars – no! This is the best looking video game I have played in years! From the shimmering and sheen of the ferns on the forest moon, to the finishing touches on the tutorial level (look off into the distance to see them!), this is by far got to be one of the most beautiful games I have ever played. The love DICE has for Star Wars is on open display. They’ve crafted the level of detail down to the finest of scratches from the original props themselves. Read my The Vanishing of Ethan Carter Review for more information on the technique behind the graphical prowess of both games. It’s hard to find any faults in Battlefront’s visuals. Aside from some repetition in the hallways of some maps, I’ll say it again, this is a god damn beautiful game. However, I can’t escape the feeling that too much effort went into making this game look like Star Wars, and they forgot about how a great Star Wars game should feel and play. All face value and not enough substance makes for realistic accomplishments of development milestones.

Sound Design
Sound design in Battlefront is Star Wars at its finest. Aside from the unbearable and hilarious voice acting of the heroes and villains, everything else is top-notch. Like the attention to detail in visuals, audio stays on target and immerses you in the ambiance. Blaster fire, vehicles, and sounds of the Ewoks running away from anyone nearby. The best sounds in the entire game come from thermal grenade explosions and the famous vehicle screams in the sky. This too helps to make Battlefront look and sound like Star Wars, but as I’m alluding to, it doesn’t cover up for the overcompensating in multiplayer the game provides.

“Don’t worry Lord Vader, I’ve got your back! Oh shit where did that impact grenade come from?”

Multiplayer

Keep It Battlefront Stupid
Star Wars Battlefront is simplified for a casual gamer, and tailored to your very excited Star Wars fan. However, I feel this approach to accessibility sacrifices proper game play design, class/ squad teamwork, adequate controls, and overall team balance. There’s no class system like in the former Battlefront games. Customization is limited to a few cards, weapons, and few appearance alterations. It is clear this game is attempting to reach as wide an audience as possible. And the game suffers in replay-ability and hopes to call fans back for new maps and game modes covering up for its lack of deep features and complexity. Games can be intricate and unique; that’s what makes them enjoyable and frantic. In scrapping god knows what from Battlefront 3, Star Wars Battlefront becomes quite stale and repetitive, and is simple to a fault.

Game Modes
Nine game modes span across only FOUR worlds. You can tell right away there is an obvious intent of the developers to recycle assets. The game modes offered are fun for a few rounds, I quickly lost interest in other game modes after about 20 hours of play. Walker Assault, Drop Zone, Cargo, and Supremacy being the most entertaining, while other modes like Droid Run or Blast seem to be unpopular and difficult to find people for matches. Many of these game modes are one-sided as unlocks are required to improve balance the more you play, and teamwork extends to dropping shields and blasting away at a Walker. While nine game modes sounds like a lot, and it is, only FOUR worlds speaks loudly to the consumer. But I’ll go on about this later towards the end of the review.

Game play Balance
For all of its wrongs, Battlefront does make a few rights. Game play is fun. Unlocks, and star cards make customizing your own soldier a battle of combinations in its own right, although these fun aspects of the game are hidden behind superficial customization such as pointless appearance unlocks, worthless emote unlocks, and a difficult to navigate user interface. With star cards you get a maximum of three cards per hand that allow you to pick and choose your load out that may include: a jetpack for a vertical advantage, or a star card that has limited amount of charges or uses. The ability to use a partner’s hand of cards allows you to use weapons and abilities to give your team an edge. Pretty soon I found myself just purchasing charges instead of purchasing what I really could use, better weaponry to counteract the unbalanced game play.

The release version of the game was quite unbalanced. Combat seemed to be most of the time who could land an impact grenade first, and exploit bad spawns with your barrage launcher. Spawns were also uneven, sometimes you’d spawn and get the jump on an enemy, and other times you’d spawn right into a metaphorical sarlak pit of enemies. One time I spawned as Princess Leia right in front of enemy storm troopers and only lasted about 10 seconds. DICE has since patched and made updates to balance, however my score reflects the release version of the game as that should be the final version!

“Spawn. Die. Repeat. Roll the DICE for a kill.”

Vehicular Man’s Laughter
Unbalanced combat falls to the ground and takes to the skies. There is a lack of rebel vehicles and support especially in-game modes that are dependent on vehicles and anti-vehicle weapons. Against all odd doesn’t really work well for rebels in the multiplayer arena. Anti vehicle weaponry is withheld to new players until later levels, which is counterproductive to the casual approach of the game.
Land vehicles like the AT-ST are fun to play while you can stay alive. Get in the right position and you can take out enemies from a far. However, I found myself dying quite quickly after spawning on Hoth. Even trying to hide behind a downed AT-AT couldn’t offer me any protection. It took awhile to find the vehicle pickup, and to be destroyed right after spawn was ridiculous.

Flying vehicles are equivalent to flying a Battlefield jet around in a death match map space. In the release version of the game, vehicles are too fast for the space you are given and controls are way to sensitive. If a game is made for PC, especially with the accessibility approach ever apparent, it’s surprising that flying vehicles are unnecessarily difficult to control. And that’s only the beginning. Speeder bikes for the forest moon of Endor are laughable. The controls are way too sensitive be default and using the mouse is a battle. Try steering a speeder bike and evading trees at the same time, hell I would crash into that tree myself! Controls and extra abilities from previous Battlefront games that made vehicles fun to use are gone.

Heroes & Villains!

You may be wondering about each character and how it affects game play. Well, as of release, picking the right Hero for the right game mode can result in long kill streaks. My longest streak lasted 20 kills with Luke Skywalker. Equally so with Darth Vader in the Beta. These characters are ridiculously good. But again, the game suffers unbalanced hero combat as players can dominate the field similar to a Call of Duty game. Time limits from the Beta should make a return.

Heroes
Luke Skywalker wields his Return of the Jedi light saber and wardrobe. He is the opposite to Lord Vader with similar powers to influence the battlefield. Han Solo shoots first with his DL-44. His attacks are: shoulder charge, lucky shot, and charged shot. Princess Leia is more of a team player hero, and can bring along with her Alderaan Body Guards, which is an interesting dynamic choice in battle. She can drop pickups and shields to support other players. This is really the most coordinated you’ll have to be during Battlefront if you are lucky to even be a hero, let alone see a hero pick up.

Villains
In contrast, Darth Vader is the most fun character to play. Carrying his red light saber and dawning his cape, he’ll show you the wicked powers of the dark side. He is the most daunting with his saber throw and force choke. Oh I cringe when I hear the sound of a thousand throat muscles constricting. Emperor Palpatine is the funniest of the character, no really. He is like a super villain out there. Shoot lightning from your fingers or spin through the air like that one time he did that in Episode III. Emperor also can spawn bodyguards to aid him in battle. He seems really out-of-place, but compliments Leia the only way DICE could. Boba Fett is quite powerful, and another good reason to bring back time limits for Heroes. His jet pack is stronger than any other unlock. He is able to fly around and can become an easy target, but can gather range kills staying back from the fight.

Singleplayer Has Lost Its Campaign

No campaign, just training, ai battles, and “survival” mode. What happened to EA’s directive of only putting games up for sale that have both singleplayer and multiplayer? For a game that costs $79.99 at retail value is unacceptable. Any sort of excuse for a singleplayer in Star Wars Battlefront feels rushed, and could’ve been way better. For brief moments we see cut scenes of small exposition for what could’ve been. As a fan of Star Wars, I know that story matters, and for a game that could’ve made a significant impact, it left out a critical piece of art. All that remains is the finest piece of junk in the galaxy.

Money Talks

I’ll have my next thousand words for you, but first, we’ll let these images do the talking to let your anger flow for the next paragraphs…

“God, is that what I think it is? OK going 3rd party for this. Got it for a decent $50.”

“Imagine what it costs for Australians. NO! It gets better!”

“………… …… ……. …….”

“No really…. ….. …… ….. … …”

Other Issues

Disconnect
Disconnection problems have been occurring since the beta. Keep in mind I’ve only had this problem with this game. An EA game of course. I couldn’t reconnect so much so that I’d just close up the game after at least 20 tries. You know normally you’d be able to connect effortlessly like with Battlefield, or hell, even in Titanfall, but this would boot you out after waiting 20 seconds in the pre match lobby. No, longer, even after the map loads! This was by far the most frustrating aspect of the game. And even DICE was like…ya you lost connection to “EA Servers” hey not us!

Beta and Release Sound Clipping
Another issue that occurred with an EA game was sound clipping. Once I got the sound clipping issue figured out, I could enjoy the music and the true breadth of sounds available. I had to raise the bit rate of audio output to the highest to remove the clipping issue. Why this would be like this in Beta and at release is beyond me. How could they have not heard this? View the sound clipping issue if you’d like in my Drop Zone Beta Game play video. Anyways I fixed it. I could peacefully try to tolerate everything, and try to enjoy the game.

“I find your lack of [content] disturbing”
On to the real light and dark of the matter. I find the game’s lack of… content… disturbing. I could talk for hours about this, but I like to start with this comparison as it shows two distributors for who they really are. Let’s compare Battlefront to a popular Valve title in Counter Strike Global Offensive (CS GO.) Which game has more maps? CS GO. Which game has more weapons? GS GO. Which game is multiplayer only? Both! Ah ha! And that’s when you really think to yourself well which game will have more longevity and community…obviously CS GO. Price tag for CSGO? $16.99 I think you know where I’m going with this one…

Seduced By The Dork Side
Oh and before I forget another obvious thing lets go into the price tags… for standard edition alone it will cost you $79.99 (CAN) for the base game, but wait there’s more! For $10 more at $89.99 you will get extra worthless content including a ridiculously overpowered and unbalanced weapon that will kill you in pretty much one hit. I’ve seen servers littered with this awp..i mean OP weapon. Next lets jump to the ULTIMATE EDITION which according to EA is “yeeeeee the most populahh” Jesus fucking Christ. You know, I’m supposed to be reviewing the game content in itself, but this is god damn ridiculous. You know what I’m reviewing? The price tag for the game content that should be there! Cough up $159.98 (CAN) for the base game, worthless unlocks you can get while playing the game, and a season pass ($69.99 CAN) we know absolutely nothing about! This game should be worth $49.99 max. This has to be malpractice in the gaming industry. This is unethical. This is, oh what the hell, you’ll buy it anyway eh? IT’S A TRAP!

Less Is More?
If the ol’ saying “less is more” is fundamental to the way Star Wars is, then EA has seduced fans into purchasing less for more. EA. It’s in the game……if you pay $159.98 that is. For a publisher that once had the slogan…”Challenge Everything,” they have fallen off the side of their flat earth on this flat world view they now have of the average consumer. It seems like ever since they released Battlefield Premium, they could slowly raise the price of add on content, and gouge us as if we’d never notice. No wonder this company has gathered so much distaste.


Return of The Review

Load up a map and you’ll fall in love with the world you’re in because the fan boy in you will love that it looks and sounds like Star Wars. It’s a love hate. Feel me, I enjoy this game. Battlefront offers enjoyment in small bursts, and is fun to play for awhile. But any enjoyment fizzles out, because really this game was rushed/ realistically put together to cash in with the release of The Force Awakens. There were several years before, in which this game could’ve used to become legendary, but instead the developers chose to focus on what would sell the game to the fan boys and suckers who would buy this game in a heartbeat. In no way can you say this game lives up to the hype and the quality of its predecessors, because any positive would be followed up with an over glaring negative. We like to think less is more in the original trilogy, well at least Star Wars Battlefront lives up to that.

Light
Beautiful environments
Quality sound design
Heroes and Villians are fun to play for awhile
9 gamemodes for different ways to play the game

Dark
Lack of content: only 4 worlds, no campaign,
Difficult PC controls for flying vehicles
Superficial customization
Balance issues, lack of teamwork required
Doesn’t live up to its predecessor, especially with modern standards for quality


 

Final Score 2.5 / 5

Buy it if you are a hardcore Star Wars fan!
Buy it from 3rd party for more respectable price, or later on sale if you can wait.
Don’t buy it if you have a distaste for EA, this will only fuel your hatred!