A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away EA weren’t money grabbing cunts and they made good, balanced, fun games. Impossible to imagine? Yeah, I know. However, it happened and a great example of that is Star Wars Battlefront for the PlayStation 2 and original Xbox. I grew up playing this game with my two brothers and it’s still to this day probably the most fun I have had in a multiplayer experience.
The genius of this game is in its ability to pack so much action into a small space. Where the modern Battlefront remakes and modern large-scale shooters in general fall short is in the lack of stuff to do in them. They feel rather empty and if I wanted that I’d go spend 50 hours buggering about in Fallout 4 shooting small rats in bullet time. Battlefront put you in a skirmish, not a battle nor a “war” but a small-scale firefight that is so much more manageable not just for the console’s hardware but indeed the human brain.
You’d have to be a sweaty-MLG-doritos-mountain dew-get-rekt-scrub person to be able to memorise a single map in DICE’s Battlefield I for example, but in Battlefront the maps are easy to learn and fun to master and you know that around every corner there is another rebel scumbag just begging for you to shove your blaster down their throat and cauterise their insides. One map in particular is simply called… cloud city.
In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last 50 years you’ll know that cloud city is… well… a city in the clouds, dumbass. But what you might not know if you haven’t played Battlefront is that you could activate a mode where a Jedi is deployed on each team. What you also might not know is that these assholes were UNKILLABLE. Literally there was no way to kill them with conventional weapons. Blaster shots would just be reflected off of them and explosions would throw them through the air only for them to just stand back up again like they were just mildly inconvenienced.
The beauty of cloud city however is that on this one map, you could kill them. By using the power of the mild inconvenience (grenades) you could angle the explosion in such a way that these untouchable gods would be blown off of the edge of the map, thousands of feet to their ultimate demise. Let me tell you, as a kid there was no greater joy than watching Mace Windu or Darth Vader cartwheel through the sky out of a window to their grisly deaths. Does that make me psychopath? Maybe but who am I to say? I’m no sciencer. Simple pleasures, people, simple pleasures. There was an intense jubilation in pulling this trick off back in the day because it took a fair few tries and complete commitment to do.
Don’t get me wrong, Battlefront II was a great game too but somehow felt…different. One of the series’ best features is how it utilises vehicles. You see a gunship or an AT-AT in these games, you go and get in it, not pick up a shitty magic token like in the new games. However, I still feel that Battlefront did vehicles better than its sequel. They had guns on them that would blow you through the air if their shots landed a meter away from you LIKE A REAL MASSIVE GUN WOULD. In the second game, you had to hit someone dead on for them to have any affect which made the vehicles a lot less satisfying to use and intimidating to come up against.
Another thing I feel that Battlefront did well was classes. Why is it that nowadays these whippersnapper kids think that they can have an Uzi in one pocket and a rocket launcher in the other? In my day, we had whole other classes for each weapon which made it realistic. It was obvious which classes were better at what tasks and that made each firefight varied, different and fresh because you were forced to change and adapt your play to suit the needs of the situation. You in a hallway? Bombs and grenades prolly gonna be good here. You fighting some mugs in a small valley? Sniper class, mate. You pinned back in a room fighting loads of guys at the same time? Channel your inner Spartan and 300 that shit by changing to a medic and keeping your dudes alive indefinitely so you can start to push back. Variation is (as they say) the spice of life and good movie-based shooters.
I still hold out a naïve shred of hope for a next gen remaster of this game in the future but with the way EA is taking the franchise and the general trends of modern gaming I doubt I’ll get my wish. Good thing the original still holds up 14 years after its release…fuck, I’m feeling old.