Star Wars Battlefront II – 3 mins of Gameplay

With less than a week until the release of Star Wars Battlefront II and to prove we really are the nerds we claim to be here at Retro Ramble; we took part in the Pre Release BETA – which for all you normal people means we were able to trial the game before anyone else (well anyone who didn’t also sign up that is!).

The video below offers 3 mins of gameplay from one of the Multiplayer game modes, Galactic Assault as Retro Ramble’s Charlie McGhee tries to take out a many AI controlled enemies as possible before a human opponent can spoil his fun. There is a noticeable improvement in the graphics and gameplay which considering how good the first game’s were is really saying something.

Galactic Assault – 3 Mins of Gameplay on Fondor

First Impressions

Last time we were speaking about Star Wars Battlefront it was to have a little whine and moan about how EA DICE were drip-feeding all the decent levels by way of a season-pass-only-DLC (aka Downloadable Content). Well, the good news is that from the first glimpse of Star Wars Battlefront II, It seems that our concerns, shared by many other Star Wars/EA DICE fans, have finally been answered.

Not only does Star Wars Battlefront II come with a more in-depth single player arcade mode than the last iteration but the game itself spans every Star Wars film in the known saga.

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Does this make up for the prequels themselves?

Probably not, but it does go someway to lessen the damage done. Will there still be a massive amount of DLC that you need to pay extra for?

Probably!

However, given that Star Wars Battlefront II finally offers players the ability to reenact every battle from every Star Wars film, it does make the game more attractive and a worthy investment for any Star Wars fan.

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Star Wars Battlefront II – Darth Maul Naboo Palace Work Out

Not only did we check out starfighter levels but we also had a few goes on the Darth Maul level set in Naboo Palace. Lots of fun to be had but it should be pointed out it takes a while to get used to the concept that Maul can’t deflect any laser blasts for some reason. Maybe, as this video shows it would make things totally imbalanced, yet more inline with how Sith are portrayed in the films.

 

Extras:

EA DICE recently confirmed Jar Jar Binks was going to be added as a playable character. As one might expect a fan has already been kind enough to render an image of what they hope this could mean for us all!

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REVIEW: Blade Runner 2049

Retro Review by George McGhee

A Blade Runner sequel?! That’s a terrible idea!

Like many, I was skeptical of a sequel to Blade Runner (1982). It’s a brilliant piece of intelligent sci-fi that didn’t require further storytelling. With original director Sir Ridley Scott involved, surely that a reason to be hopeful?… If you have read my thoughts on Prometheus and Alien Covenant, you will realise that they were actually reasons to be fearful!

However once Denis Villeneuve was announced in the director’s chair, with Scott making the sensible move to producer, I was intrigued. I had enjoyed his stylish, but little-seen thriller, Enemy (2013) and thought Sicario (2015) was a solid yet slightly over-rated effort. It was only stumbling across a very early press screening of Arrival (2016), that I was truly excited at the prospect of a Blade Runner sequel. Arrival was one of my favourite films of last year, up there with it’s smart sci-fi siblings, Gattaca (1998), Primer (2004), Moon (2009) and indeed Blade Runner.

I realise the original film is not everyone’s cup of tea – it took me several watches to fully appreciate it.  I had put it off for years due to it’s slow pace, not to mention it always seemed to be shown on TV in the middle of the night. Unsurprisingly, Blade Runner 2049 is not a crowd pleaser either, it’s a slow meditative film, with long scenes with minimal dialogue and lots of characters. Plot aside there’s so much to take in, fantastic set design, costumes, cityscapes and a pounding score (especially loud in Imax) which make it a captivating piece of cinema. It’s an experience that deserves to be seen on the biggest screen available.

The themes established in the first film –  memory, humanity and our place in the world are all present here. In addition, the sequel deals with more current issues of identity, technology, possessions and even the tension between authority and the masses. The film plays with conventions; Ryan Goslings’ character K, is a brooding loner, much like Deckard (Harrison Ford), yet for different reasons. Deckard’s character is impressively developed and despite a late entrance to the film, Ford achieves a lot with limited screen time. The villains of the piece, Leto’s megalomaniac, Wallace and his cold-hearted henchwoman, Luv (Sylvia Hoeks) are also used sparingly, which stops them from becoming caricatures.

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The original look and feel of the world Blade Runner is so iconic, yet Villeneuve and DOP Roger Deakins deliver a sequel that feels practically seamless – belying the 35 year gap between films. The special effects team have deliberately kept as much effects practical as possible, sometimes even using miniatures for the cityscapes like the 1982 original. In comparison, one thing that bugged me about Prometheus is that the tech on display felt light years ahead of Alien, despite being a prequel set decades earlier. Much like the more recent Star Wars films, the filmmakers have made the sensible decision to keep as much in-camera as possible, as it’s more immersive than CGI backdrops.

Blade Runner 2049 gives everything a fan could hope for. It’s a loving homage that doesn’t overstep the mark. It builds on themes, introduces new concepts, characters and can stand on it’s own (take note Superman Returns). There’s a lot of familiarity, the neon cityscapes, the endless rain and a soundtrack that veers on being a remix album of Vangelis’ sublime score. A lot has changed since the original 2019 setting, which creates an interesting dynamic between key characters and Villeneuve takes them to new places. A bigger budget and larger plot means escaping the confines of LA to explore almost alien landscapes – from the scrap yards of San Diego or the abandoned ruins of Las Vegas.

Villeneuve has defied expectations and delivered a belated sequel that stands proudly against the original. His next project is likely to be a new adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune, a challenge where others have failed in the past. With Blade Runner 2049 and Arrival under his belt, I think it’s safe to say it’s in safe hands. Intriguingly, Villeneuve is also on the director wish list for the next Bond film, which I would love to see. On balance, his style may not make commercial sense, considering how crowd-pleasing that franchise needs to be. Whatever project he approaches next, I’ll be there, waiting in line!

GAMING: Star Wars Battlefront (EA)

Just like Beggar’s Canyon back home!

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Star Wars Battlefront may have hit stores over a year ago but it’s only in the last few months that we finally received the last of the DLC (in the form of the Rogue One Scariff Map) and can now view the game in its entirety. Its for that reason that I decided to give it the full “Retro Review” treatment and I hope you enjoy the article below.

  • Released: October 2015
  • Yay!: what every Star Wars fan has been waiting for.
  • Nay: only 40% game content included in original release.
  • Overall: 8/10

BREAKING NEWS: since writing this post EA announced in January 2017 that they will release Battlfront 2 in 2017 and, in response to the main complaints highlighted below, will feature a lot more content, including a Single Player Campaign, more maps and more heros from other episode’s in the Star Wars franchise.

Who should buy this game?

Well, if you’re a fan of either Star Wars or any type of First Person/Third Person Shooter then it’s definitely worth a look, obviously if like me you’re fan of both then this should be a no brainer.

“Impressive. Most Impressive.”

My last dealings with Battlefront were back on the Playstation 2 and that incarnation, as welcome as it was at the time, is a far cry from the heavily multiplayer focused title that Electronic Arts (EA) have given us.

Not only do you get to run around in one of the most beautifully designed sandboxes available on today’s consoles, the game is much more evenly balanced than a lot of other multiplayer games out there. It even offers a 3rd person perspective for those of us who overdosed on FPS a little too much in the early days of COD and swore to remain firmly in the safe confines of being able to at least see ourselves get shot in the back – you know who you are!

One of the things that got me most excited about this game in the run-up to its release was the fact it would be developed by EA DICE. For the uninitiated, EA DICE gave us the Frostbite engine which has been used in a few other EA titles, most notably for me, in the well-known FPS military franchise, Battlefield. Frostbite has also become so reliable that EA have even based the latest version of FIFA on it, much to the delight of many a gamer.

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Rebel base on Hoth from Empire Strikes Back.

Thanks to this type of pedigree, and very much in the fashion of a shooter like Battlefield, the game offers a whole host of multiplayer game types to choose from. On first glance there were around 15 game settings but the number was increased with subsequent Downloadable Content (DLC) packs that included additional game types. Whichever way you look at it, there’s a tonne of different ways to meet the common objective of blowing stuff up or shooting as many opponents as possible in the face!

Whichever way you look at it there’s a tonne of different ways to meet the common objective of blowing stuff up or shooting as many opponents as possible in the face!

In regard to the gameplay itself, you get to do all the things you’ve seen in Star Wars films again and again. From intense Infantry based combat to flying X-wings, TIE-Fighters, the Millennium Falcon and Boba Fett’s Slave One in Fighter Squadron.

Whether it be a massive multiplayer online environment like Supremacy offering full scale 40-player-ground-to-air battles of Rebels versus The Empire, or the much more infantry based games like Blast, Droid Run or Drop Zone there is plenty to keep you coming back for more.

For me personally, well at least for the first 6 months of owning this title, it was all about Fighter Squadron. Air-to-Air multiplayer dog-fighting at its very best, so much so its easy to conceive that with a little tweaking this could even have been released as a stand-alone title of its own.

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Darth hiking on Endor.

As well as all the iconic sound effects you would expect to find in a Battlefront game, from thermal detonators explosions to the scream of incoming TIE-fighters, there’s also the entire back catalogue of John Williams’ original score belting out in the background to make you feel like you are in some way part of a story taking place somewhere in a galaxy far, far away.

As someone who grew up with the originals, I have to say the highlight for me is Battlestation that arrived with the Death Star DLC. Here you get to hop into your X-wing, or even Luke’s Red 5 once you’ve found the Hero icon and complete the Trench Run whilst being chased by Darth Vader’s TIE Advanced and the rest of the opposing team.

On one occasion I actually managed to get both Luke’s X-Wing and be selected to do the Trench run in the same game – however whether it was my proton torpedo that hit the exhaust pipe or the player behind me I’ll let you be the judge – you can watch the video of my “performance” here. Obviously, like any other game reviewer I’ve only included a video where I don’t crash and burn every 10 seconds!

Out of the nine maps – well, all four of them in the original release (wow, thanks EA), all have been taken straight from locations either featuring in / referred to in the original Star Wars trilogy and the attention to detail is impressive to the point of distraction. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve been killed for standing around admiring the scenery.

It’s no surprise that the game actually went on to win awards for the quality of its’ graphics. Maybe a little too good, perhaps if more attention had been spent on creating a larger universe to explore rather than making each ice cave on Hoth look as realistic as possible, the end result would have been more satisfying.

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The last DLC featuring new map from Rogue One.

The first of the DLC gave us The Force Awakens planet of Jakku and this was followed on a quarterly basis with the Outer Rim featuring Jabba’s Palace, The Cloud City of Bespin, The Death Star before finally Rogue One’s Scariff in December 2016. To get an idea of just how significant these DLC packs were you can watch them all here in our Gameplay section.

For me, the Outer Rim and Bespin should have been included in the original release but the Death Star was worth the wait and the true highlight of the game. Given that Battlestation enables you to play objectives based on Episode IV and it works so well, its a wonder they didn’t base more of the multiplayer games on memorable scenes from the films.

Combining the best of an established FPS that EA DICE offers and grounding it so beautifully in the Star Wars universe was a master stroke by Disney/EA and is something I’m truly happy has come to pass. A cynic might say that such an obvious success is one reason why EA or Disney decided to milk it as much as they have.

“Your over-confidence is your weakness.”

As you might imagine, with me being such the Star Wars fan, not to mention someone who appreciates a good FPS shooter, I love playing this game and in the beginning I couldn’t find fault with it.

After a while I started to find that as addictive as it was to play, the game left me wanting. From a marketing point of view, can you really criticise a game whose customer’s main complaint is that they want more of it?

Maybe…maybe not. But given I paid the full price for what turned out to be 40% of a game, I’m gonna anyway!

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“I can feel your anger…”

The timing of Battlefront‘s release was obviously no coincidence to ensure it took full advantage of both the upcoming release and later success of The Force Awakens, not to mention a revived love of all things Star Wars. As a result, it was priced like any other major console release would be, set firmly in the $60/£60/70€ price range. Had it actually arrived with the all DLC that we now have one year later I, like most people would be okay in paying that.

Anyway, as I’ve already said, since this is really the only complaint that I or anyone else has shows what an awesomely fun game this is to play. I just feel that EA are not doing themselves any favours, not in the long run anyway.

Conclusions

Battlefront delivers an impressive, engaging and almost fully immersive Star Wars experience perfect for both fans of the franchise or anyone looking for the type of accessible fun an arcade shooter like this offers.

Despite how much of a problem the DLC has been for me, well retrospectively in terms of what I invested in the title, it hasn’t stopped me enjoying it one bit. It’s nonce-sense that EA thought that they could get away with this in the long-term. I mean, from a marketing point of view they have succeeded. Mugs like myself and millions of others fell for the hype, bought the game, loved the game and signed up for the DLC – but The Internet Never Forgets and it may cause problems for them in the future.

All that said, and due to this staggered DLC release being over, there really has never been a better time to buy Battlefront.

If you’ve not bought it and own a console, the game is finally both available in its entirety and more interestingly for you, at the price tag it should have started at.

You can pick up a reasonably priced copy of Star Wars Battlefront here.