Somehow amid the craziness of multiple deadlines, I made a point to at least get an hour or two in with the Star Wars Battlefront beta this week. Apparently I wasn't the only one as EA is reporting nine million people helped them stress test their latest creation over the past several days. And the end result was a whole lot of fun.
I remember picking up Battlefront II for my PSP several years ago and thinking how much promise it had but how little it delivered on. The control was clunky, the AI was terrible, and the graphics were akin to the Nintendo 64. Fast-forward to this week where a slick graphics package that's incredibly well-designed (but still has some control issues) presents itself and the potential has finally been achieved. Though only two maps and two gameplay modes were available in the beta, it did a great job of demonstrating just how the game can be different from its Call of Duty/Halo/Titanfall competition. Strategic missions with Star Wars flare is really where the game will shine as the AT-AT attack mode showed.
The downside? Battlefront's competition still outshines it in terms of the dynamics of gameplay. Titanfall and CoD: Advanced Warfare really got me used to being able to be nimble, constantly on the move, and being able to dodge, slide, roll, even parkour my way out of sticky situations. Unfortunately, Battlefront still relies on a little clunkier of a control system where, at least for the beta, your movement is limited to walk, run, crouch, and jump around like an idiot. Granted, I didn't level up to the point where I could outfit my character with one of the jet packs, so maybe having that strapped to your back at least gains you the advantage of a good double-jump as a last evasive maneuver. But there were several instances where I found myself wishing I was playing Call of Duty or Titanfall with a Battlefront skin.
The two opportunities that I had to pilot a vehicle I found myself a little underwhelmed. Vehicles are also a little clunky from the moment you access them - wouldn't it have been great to have a Warhawk or Titanfall method of hopping into an X-Wing or a TIE Fighter docked in a launch bay? Instead, your character walks over a token, kneels down, then radios for air support, and suddenly you're in a TIE Fighter. Oh well. Control of the vehicles is going to take some serious getting used to as both opportunities I had to fly overhead, I crashed myself into an obstacle like a 14-year old driving in a parking lot.
The good news is that with a little bit of practice, a little bit of seasoning, and perhaps some of the advancements and improvements to the game that will come out of the beta test, it's going to be a whole lot of fun. And really time consuming come November.
Even if I end up being the Dak of every match I'm in.