We all know what this Christmas is really about this year: events that took place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Thanks to Star Wars Battlefront, we can bury ourselves in the Star Wars universe in the run up to The Force Awakens and beyond.
Total immersion is what Battlefront is all about. Its iconic environments, taking in key locations like Tatooine and Endor, are among the finest-looking ever seen in a game, and you can play (albeit temporarily) as the likes of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Darth Vader and even Emperor Palpatine. Meanwhile, for those still dazzled by J.J. Abrams’ take on the Star Wars universe, the Battle of Jakku exists here to be played out in all its Stormtrooper-slaying glory.
Gameplay-wise, Battlefront is easy to describe: it’s pretty much identical to developer DICE’s much-loved Battlefield franchise. Which, disappointingly, means it has no single-player campaign, although there are five training missions that act as an extended tutorial. You can take part in a number of battles (solo or with a friend, in split-screen or online), and there’s a co-operative Survival mode in which you’re beset by waves of enemies. But those effectively constitute a warm-up for the multiplayer which is where the meat of Battlefront resides.
There are nine multiplayer modes, taking in the full gamut from Blast, (essentially Team Deathmatch), to full-on Imperial-versus-Rebel battles like Supremacy, Hero Hunt – which pitches a team against Jedis like Vader or Skywalker, then lets whoever kills that Jedi become one – and Fighter Squadron, in which you battle it out in an X-Wing or Tie Fighter. In other words, you can do pretty much everything you ever wanted to do in the Star Wars universe.
Level up and you’re awarded Star Cards, which bring new weapons and defensive items like shields; there are one-off power-ups on each battlefield, too. You soon discover your favourite modes, but therein lies a problem: without a campaign, Battlefront lacks the structure of, say, Destiny, so it’s possible that you’ll eventually tire of doing the same things over and over.
However, the sheer thrill and joy of participating in the most epic Star Wars battles ever seen on gaming consoles outweighs any misgivings about a lack of substance, and Electronic Arts will continue to expand Battlefront as the months go on (although a Season Pass costs an outrageously steep £40). This is not a ground-breaking evolution of the competitive first-person shooter, but the moment you first step onto the battlefield as Vader and start force-choking rebels in the middle of a firefight, you absolutely will not care.