Thursday, November 23, 2017

Star Wars Battlefront II Review



Happy Thanksgiving The Toy Box readers.

I wanted to use today to post something I normally wouldn't do here - A game review of the recent Star Wars Battlefront II.

Okay, so we all know about all the negative press the game has been getting, or maybe you don't, at which point now you (somewhat) do. I'll talk a little about that in my overall review, but for the start I want to focus on the single player campaign.

Warning, there are spoilers ahead.

Starting now...

The game is advertised as being a focal point on the Imperial side of things. In fact, the advertisement even states, "Ignite the inferno and burn the Rebellion to the ground in Star Wars Battlefront 2's single player campaign. Take on the role of Commander Iden Versio in a story following the destruction of the Death Star II and the death of the Emperor."

Sounds like fun, no?

No...Sadly you are part of the Imperials for all of two or three missions when you suddenly switch sides to the Rebellion. Like flipping on a light switch, Iden does a complete 180 along the side of one of her squad mates. Now you're full on Rebel, blasting away at all the Imperials.

It doesn't help that this four hour long campaign rushes from point "A" to point "B" leaving little to no character development. When the game first starts you get the impression that Iden is an Imperial loyalist to her very core. So it turns out to be more so awkward, and down right disappointing, when she suddenly shifts sides. There is also no tension built up between her and the squad mates she turns her back on leaving little to no reason why she would also suddenly go on a killing spree of the Imperials. It would have made more sense for her to try and go into hiding, and the story focus on the faltered Imperials chasing after her for revenge - After all it is her flesh and blood father who she betrays when going AWOL.

Personally I think the story would have been better suited as an opportunity to show how the First Order came to be. See, in the game the Empire is grasping at straws, and trying to regroup against the Rebels who just destroyed the second Death Star. This is all great groundwork, and would be the perfect setting for Iden to decide she no longer can follow her father based on the disagreement of his orders. Instead of running for the Rebel Alliance, she instead uses her squad to rally other straggling Imperials behind her. This then leads to a Civil War of sorts between the remaining Imperial ranks where Iden comes out on top, and essentially reforms the Galactic Empire into the First Order.

I made that story up in the span of two seconds. Whereas EA had a year to develop their cliche predictable mess. But hey, what do I know, right?

At the end of the day, the campaign becomes more so a four hour tutorial for playing online, and even goes as far as to reward you fairly well in terms of credits and crafting parts which you can carry to your online game - Only backing up my point that it is nothing more than a tutorial.

The game also falters by taking you out of the perspective of Iden, and putting you in the roles of Luke, Leia, Han and Lando. If the game is supposed to be about Iden, then let it be about Iden. This only serves to hurt the story further because it shows EA really didn't have a story in mind for this character. Thus why they took the easy road of, "Just make her switch sides."

By the end of the game, I was actually really bored of it, and this is where things got worse with the story. Iden fights her way to the exterior of he father's Star Destroyer where you get the impression of, "Oh, she is going to kill him." Yeah, not so much. She then says randomly how she has to save her father. She attempts to achieve this by crash landing on the exterior of the airborne Destroyer, blasts her way through every Imperial troop - Who for some reason are outside of the ship as well - Only to have a sixty second conversation with her father that litterally went like this;

IDEN: Dad, come with me.

DAD: Nah. I'm good.

IDEN: Okay, bye.

She then runs to an escape pod, and leaves - All of which is just a cut scene. If this weren't bad enough, suddenly her and her one defector friend embrace, kissing deeply when he finds her escape pod. What? They were in love? There was not one single ounce of love story hinted in the entire game until the awkward ending.

Well, I shouldn't say ending because the game has an epilogue which is essentially sequel bait.

So, okay, you finish the single player campaign. You find all the hidden items...Which the game doesn't even bother to tell you what they are, and this results in rewards for online play.

I can't complain about this aspect because quite honestly the loot and crafting materials you get make it worth while to dredge through the shoddy story.

That is however until you actually get online.

Progress is painfully slow, and only made slower if you are bad at online shooters as rewards are dished out based on achievements - AKA kills. On average I get around ten to twenty kills per game which equates to very minimal progress in terms of experience points. This averages out to about 3,000 XP per game, in a game where I need 80K+ to level up.

This is made even more painful by the fact that EA drops you into whatever game it feels like. This means you most likely will end up on unbalanced teams where one of two things will happen. You will either mow over the opposite team in a landslide victory, or sadly be the receiver of said mowing. As I've said before to people I play with online, you either end up on the team of Idiot Savants, or just Idiots.

To put it bluntly - Playing online isn't fun when you make little to no progress, and each game seems more so like your only purpose is be fodder for the other team.

This could have been helped by buying loot crates which provide you with better gear, and sometimes weapons.Unfortunately this too goes back to reward for progress. See, the amount of credits you earn is also based on how well you play. So, when crates cost anywhere from 2,400 to 4,000 for one crate, and you earn (like me) an average of 150 to 300 credits per game, progress is once again halted.

This leads me to my next gripe with the game. The removal of micro transactions.

I don't mind them. I'm an instant gratification kind of guy, and personally my time is more valuable to me than a few bucks here and there for in game transactions.

In fact, in games I really want to play, but I'm not good at I actually look forward to buying them. This would definitely have been one of those games where I could see myself dumping a fair amount of real world money into online loot crates if for no other reason than to make some form of progress through the Star Cards you find in said crates. This way I could least stand half a chance of surviving.

Loot crates were unfortunately removed from the game on the day of launch when the online gaming community erupted in protest against EA for having the nerve to offer loot crates which provided an advantage to people who they deemed could pay to win.

For those of you not familiar with the term, pay to win, this is what gamers call a scenario where those with more money than them can essentially buy their way to winning the game by affording things such as loot crates which give them upgrades to better their characters at low levels (or in general). The backlash was so vast that for whatever reason people keep speculating about, EA pulled the ability for in game micro transactions.

The loot crate system is still in place. You just can't spend real world money to get them - Only in game currency - Which again takes forever to get for people with my skill level.

So essentially I have a game that I want to spend real world money on, but can't because people complained so much the option is gone. People call this a victory, but again fail to see that someone else loses when they claim to win.

Now add on top of this servers that just flat out suck, and problems only get worse. I literally have sessions where I rubber band all over the screen to the point I can't even play, and just shut the game off. EA makes millions of dollars in sales of their games, but can't afford good servers for people to play them on? Makes no sense.

Overall Battlefront II still may very well be as bad as the first installment. In its attempt to make strides to better the complaints from the last entry, EA has somehow managed to make other aspects of this new installment worse.

While the first game had no campaign, the second game's campaign is really bad. In the first game you could buy new weapons with credits. In the second one you have to earn them by achieving kills with the terrible weapons they give you to start with. If you get minimal kills each game, once again you face slow progression. In fact all of the games problems seem to center on an overall lack of progression. It takes forever to level up. It takes forever to get credits. It takes forever to get star cards. It takes forever to get weapons. It just takes too long to play Battlefront II.

As a Star Wars fan, this simply isn't a game I'm prepared to invest 100's of hours in playing. There are other things I want to do with my time...Like complain.

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