Reviews have been mixed – and strongly opinionated – for Star Wars:Battlefront, which hit stores late last Fall. The video game, which is the first under the banner of the Disney-acquired LucasArts, was met with a strong commercial acceptance, but lacked a solid stream of positive reviews from some notable critics, as well as many in the gaming community. Reviewer scores from popular sites ranged from 5.9/10, to as high as 8/10, so it was time for this middle-aged fanboy to have a look for himself.
While I label myself a “gamer,” there probably needs to be a qualifier with that statement. My gaming days began when the Bee Gees owned the Billboard chart, and video game controllers were called joysticks, back in 1978. And while I’m O.G. (that’s street for Original Gamer), I confess I haven’t picked up a controller for any notable length of time since the early 2000s. So, when students offered to bring in the new Star Wars Battlefront and give me the opportunity to have a trusty blaster at my side, my arm needed no twisting.
For the first twenty or so minutes, I watched as pairs of students went head-to-head in the snowy fields of Hoth, and again aboard some apparatus that resembled a hangar bay. As I watched, I noted the stunning graphics, the fluidity of gameplay, and the undeniable reaction of the surrounding crowd as one player continued to put on a clinic of acrobatics and headshots – sometimes simultaneously.
It was now my turn to take the joyst…er…controller. I chose my weapon, after getting a quick briefing from the students, and was dropped off on a desperately barren map of Hoth. There was no battle raging, no clear indications of “go this way.” There was only me, in my awesome and well-tailored Snowtrooper uniform, and the vast openness of snowy hills and plains. At first, I played it cool – moving my trooper in a pattern that gave the appearance of serious reconnaissance. Then, about 30 seconds into the match, I was dead. Sadly, I didn’t even see it coming. Even sadder was the group’s reaction – a collective and disappointing sigh. Someone even offered my opponent the suggestion to “take it easy on him.”
After surviving the next round for almost two full minutes, I realized my status as O.G. would be the only thing I had going for me. Somewhere between battling with pixelted tanks (Combat!) and an extremely poor rendition of something that was supposed to resemble Pac-Man, and this modern version of a beautifully rendered world of Star Wars, I became the video game equivalent of Clint Eastwood‘s character in Gran Torino. I handed the controller to a student mid-round and simply walked away.
My defeat (both gaming-wise and emotionally) would not alter my opinion toward the game itself. Here’s the deal: when I had the Atari 2600 version of The Empire Strikes Back, the concept of rating a game wasn’t as complicated – or as opinionated – as it is today. You either liked it, or you didn’t (imagination can do a lot to compensate for crappy graphics, storytelling, and a slough of other things). So, for those giving the new Star Wars Battlefront game mediocre reviews, cool. Whatever. I mean, I really could care less about your opinions on graphics, value, and lack of multiplayer and map options (EVERY F*ING GAME FROM BACK IN THE DAY WAS A S***TY SINGLE PLAYER CAMPAIGN WITH A MAP – AND WE LOVED IT!!!). Get off your high horse and enjoy the game for what it is – a game! The graphics are stunning, the options are plentiful, the value is on par with all the other games on the market, and the nostalgia factor (if you’re old enough to have one!) is epic.