There’s one stand-out feature of “Star Wars: Battlefront II:” It’s ridiculously gorgeous.
The new game, which is available for Microsoft’s Xbox One, Sony’s PlayStation 4, and Windows PCs, is full of lovingly detailed scenes like the one above. Its visually stunning throughout, from its brief single-player campaign to its large-scale online multiplayer mode.
Unfortunately, that’s about the only good thing about “Battlefront 2.”
WARNING: Spoilers ahead!
This review will include important details about “Star Wars Battlefront II’s” story and gameplay. So, if you don’t want to see or read any spoilers, turn back!
Review note: I played a review copy of “Battlefront II” provided by game publisher Electronic Arts on a PlayStation 4 Pro in 4K resolution. All images in this review were captured on that device.
“Battlefront II” is a middling first-person shooter game wrapped in expensive clothing.
The first few times I shot a gun in “Battlefront II,” it was cool. It made the characteristic “Star Wars” gun noise. The corresponding Storm Trooper or Rebel soldier reacted accordingly.
The thousands of times after that were far less satisfying.
That’s because the act of shooting in “Battlefront II” is terribly boring. There just aren’t a lot of weapons to choose from, and the game doesn’t allow you to customize the ones it does include.
What’s more, there’s an almost carnival game-like feeling to shooting weapons in “Battlefront II.” For one thing, it generally doesn’t seem to matter where on their bodies you hit your enemies. For another, those enemies repeatedly tend to come out of obvious “monster closets,” areas of the game that open to release bad guys when you when you trip a particular trigger.
Worse than all that, though, is the enemy encounters aren’t particularly exciting. The game has only a limited number of different types of enemies, and they aren’t very smart. That may be an intentional reflection of how the movies portray Storm Troopers. But even if it is, it’s just not very fun.
The single-player story is a mess, even by video game standards.
Compared with the original “Battlefront”, “Battlefront II” has one big new feature: a single-player story mode.
The story focuses on Iden Versio, an Imperial Special Forces officer. In its pre-launch marketing of the game, Electronic Arts, “Battlefront II’s publisher,” has been billing Versio as a loyal member of the Bad Guys.
Versio’s story begins when she sees the second Death Star explode — as depicted in “Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi.” That sends her on a mission of revenge — or so we’re led to believe, anyway. What actually happens is she soon realizes she’s fighting for the wrong side and abruptly changes her allegiances.
The problem is that her about-face is literally unbelievable. We’re supposed to just swallow the idea that even though Versio is an elite forces commander whose father reported directly to the leaders of the Imperial Army, she didn’t realize she was fighting for the Bad Guys until after the fall of the Empire.
Versio’s abrupt switch might have been OK if it had been handled well. But it’s not. Instead, her “turning point” moment is so poorly executed it’s impossible to believe. One minute she’s blindly following orders, and the next minute she’s turning on long-time colleagues and murdering dozens of former comrades.
It’s the kind of deus ex machina nonsense that video games are notorious for, but how it’s handled in “Battlefront 2” is among the worst cases I’ve seen.