Star Wars Bat­tle­front I I

Mak­ing the shoot­ers’s cin­e­matic cam­paign mode

PC GAMER (US) - - PREVIEWS - Sa­muel Roberts

I find my­self im­pressed more by the spec­ta­cle than what I’m play­ing

Af­ter Doom, Wolfen­stein, Ti­tan­fall2, and even Bat­tle­field1’ s War Sto­ries, I’m pre­pared to con­vince my­self that the sin­gle­player shooter is hav­ing a re­nais­sance. Bat­tle­fron­tII stands out as it has the po­ten­tial to join that ros­ter of cam­paigns, and be a high-end bit of Star Wars fic­tion, with mo­capped cutscenes and a story that bridges the gap be­tween Re­turn of the Jedi and The Force Awak­ens. The early mis­sion EA chose to re­veal the cam­paign is a bit muted, how­ever. Play­ing as Im­pe­rial com­mando Iden Ver­sio, I start by pi­lot­ing a TIE fighter around a large-scale space bat­tle, lock­ing onto X-wings and tak­ing them out. While Cri­te­rion has re­vamped the ship com­bat for this se­quel, this se­quence is too brief for me to re­ally tell the dif­fer­ence, but it sure looks like a pretty ac­cu­rate recre­ation of a Star Wars space bat­tle. The mis­sion then calls for me to board a Rebel trans­port ship. I pi­lot the ship into the hangar, and on-foot, head through some cor­ri­dors into the ves­sel. Us­ing my lit­tle droid buddy, I can zap a Rebel who’s been left be­hind and is bang­ing on a door in a panic, an ob­vi­ous ref­er­ence to that fan ser­vice-y Rogue One mo­ment where the Rebel blokes were com­pre­hen­sively owned by Darth Vader.

The droid can hack com­puter sys­tems, and per­form stealth at­tacks. The bulk of the level is spent clear­ing out a large Rebel con­trol room, where en­e­mies are pa­trolling. I try to clear this with silent at­tacks, but it goes wrong fairly quickly. The rest of the fight is a pretty stan­dard Bat­tle­front shootout. There’s maybe more of a kick to the guns than there was in the first game, but I find my­self im­pressed more by the spec­ta­cle than what I’m play­ing. But then this level is very early on in the game, not of­fer­ing enough scope to re­ally show off the po­ten­tial of a Bat­tle­front sin­gle­player out­side of that open­ing space bat­tle.

Oddly, I find my­self more in­ter­ested by the open­ing cutscene be­tween Iden Ver­sio and her fa­ther, an Im­pe­rial gen­eral, af­ter the de­struc­tion of the sec­ond Death Star. The cutscenes are mo­tion-cap­tured, and they look and sound closer to live-ac­tion Star Wars than any­thing games have pro­vided be­fore. There’s a le­git­i­macy that comes from th­ese high pro­duc­tion val­ues. With a story cowrit­ten by Walt Wil­liams, who worked on the mem­o­rable story in SpecOps:TheLine, I’m more com­pelled by the prom­ise of a de­cent new Star Wars tale than I am about play­ing Bat­tle­fron­tII in sin­gle­player.

Af­ter the fall

“We ab­sorbed ev­ery sin­gle piece of Star Wars ma­te­rial that ex­ists right now, all the au­then­tic sto­ries,” cowriter Mitch Dyer tells me. “So the comic books, the nov­els—Walt and I read all of it. We read the young adult ro­mance novel, which is in­cred­i­ble, by the way. Lost Stars? Amaz­ing. It’s the best Star Wars novel that’s out right now. We ab­sorbed all of that. I don’t think there’s a sin­gle voice to Star Wars, it’s not like, ‘This is what Star Wars is, match it.’ It feels like some­thing, it sounds like some­thing, but there’s wrig­gle room to make it your own and cre­ate dis­tinct char­ac­ters, which I hope we’ve done. There are cer­tain char­ac­ters we haven’t re­vealed yet that are in­ter­est­ing and dif­fer­ent, and you’ve never seen any­one like them in Star Wars.”

The brief snip­pets of cutscenes shown in my demo feel very much like Star Wars, and the an­gle of play­ing as the bad guys is new enough that I want to see how Iden’s story de­vel­ops. Next time EA shows off Bat­tle­fron­tII, though, I’d like to see how the scale of a large Bat­tle­front map can trans­late into an in­ter­est­ing cam­paign mis­sion. That surely has to be the goal of the game’s sin­gle­player.

“Open the door, we prom­ise not to wa­ter­board you.”

Some­how, even Na­boo looks ex­cit­ing.

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