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This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Star Wars: Battlefront.

Transcript Edit

So everyone's excited about the new Star Wars film, which is odd, because the only universal truths are that sunlight travels one astronomical unit to reach the Earth and that the last three Star Wars films were a load of diarrhea on a hot skillet that your mum didn't give you permission to use. Everyone seems to have their own answer for how to fix them: focus the story on a more traditional hero/villain narrative, give Jar Jar Binks the lethal injection, stretch George Lucas's writing wrist across two blocks of wood and keep jumping on them until you hear the snap. But I say what they should have done was bring the plot down to the perspective of the common man. Forget about master Jedis and queens who apply their makeup with a shotgun blast to the face, focus on a single soldier of the armies of either the rebellion or the Empire. A plucky everyman caught up in circumstances beyond his understanding who runs out into one of the titular "star wars" and is instantly blown to bits by an enemy turret. And then (and this is the clever part) the action shifts to a completely different soldier in the same unit, who runs out and is immediately shot by someone eight levels higher with a sniper rifle they haven't unlocked yet. Actually no, that's a terrible idea, don't do that. Hey, I said don't do that, Star Wars Battlefront! Damn, too late. why must I be cursed with such unquestionable charisma?

Anyway, Star Wars Battlefront is a multiplayer shooter set in (as you could guess from the title) the Blake's 7 universe. It will tell you that it has a single-player mode, and that is why it will go to Hell for lying. I wish it was a rule that when games say they have single-player, they have to specify they mean a campaign, as in something that they put actual effort into, or if they just set aside a little cupboard that we can sit in, spawn a couple of bots and pretend we're playing the multiplayer somewhere where we won't ruin it for all the grown-ups. But what a multiplayer mode it is: enter a server of up to forty players and stand struck dumb with awe at the epic scenery adapted from your favourite Star Wars locations for a couple of seconds, before someone sniper-rifles your goolies into the sixth dimension. I'll be frank, all these big server twenty-a-side shooters kinda play the same to me. You run out into a ball of chaos like one of those cartoon fights that take place obscured by a giant dust cloud, bully players that are newer than you, and then die after about one minute because a player you took for newer than you turned out to be less new than you.

The question is, "Is the Star Wars thing merely an aesthetic change to sucker in fanboys like a Darth Vader pillowcase, or does it actually impact gameplay"? Well, for one thing, the fact that everything shoots lasers carries the benefit that you can always see where the shots are coming from and can pretend that you're in some nightmarish apocalypse where the glowsticks finally turned on us. Also, you can pilot classic Star Wars vehicles such as the AT-ST walker (that stands for A Terrible Staggering Tosspot) which can ruin an individual soldier's shit well enough, but also makes you a bigger target than a lower back tattoo of Hillary Clinton's face.

And then there's piloting flying vehicles, or to give its proper name, spectator mode, the "I'm bored of actually being part of this conflict, let's take a break to look at the scenery for a few minutes" mode. You have minimal effect on the ongoing ground battle as you speed over it too fast shooting inaccurately at what could either be enemy soldiers or a row of baby ducks, so you just dogfight with the enemy pilots and hope you're providing the people doing the actual fighting with an exciting, morale-boosting sideshow followed by a fireworks display and a refreshing shower of jagged white-hot metal. There's a special mode where everyone's in flying vehicles, which, if anything, is the multiplayer experience boiled down to its most basic level: fly randomly around the swarm shooting the red dots and hoping no one pays attention to you It's like covering your arse with glow-in-the-dark paint and trying to navigate a public-school dormitory.

And the other thing that the Star Wars setting offers is heroes, major characters from the films with more health and special powers who you can occasionally become on the battlefield in order to secure an advantage. And when I say you, I mean everyone besides you, 'cause with twenty guys on a team, you have better odds of getting picked to be the next Milkybar kid. For that reason, I rather enjoyed playing the Hero Hunt gameplay mode where one hero goes up against everyone else, and if you kill them you get to be hero next. That's a system that actually rewards individual merit of which Ayn Rand would be proud, and also has the tantalising air of an exciting gang-rape scenario. Trouble is, it cycles through the hero characters with each change, and I'd somehow always end up having to be Princess Leia; it was just like how it used to go down in the school playground. Luke Skywalker and his deadbeat dad (spoiler alert) get to swing their glowsticks around like intergenerational ravers, Han Solo runs around like he's just noticed that his gun has turned into a giant hairy spider, and what does Leia get? She can put up a shield. Oh have mercy, Your Grace! But I suppose if they'd have given her a power based what she did in the films, then they'd have had to have come up with something themed around constantly being captured and getting her jugs out

I suppose I like the Hero Hunt mode because it's the one mode that seems to be doing something a bit different. Every other mode boils down to two teams lining up and trying to be the first to complete an objective, and the specific objective your team has doesn't matter for shit. In public multiplayer you are a but a single pint of water in a wave crashing madly against rocks. That is all that it can ever be when you have forty players all pursuing individual glory. There's no coordination, you can't even talk to each other beyond emitting Wilhelm screams as your bodies go flying. There's barely any point in even letting us know which team won, since the only thing deserving of points for the victory is Brownian motion, which has no need of weapon upgrades. Which is not saying it can't be fun, but it's the empty, hedonistic fun of popcorn chicken: little parcels of high-octane action devoid of all context.

'Why not play with friends?' I hear you ask.

'Good idea, Ranulph, try organising forty mates into a single game and let me know how it went once you get released from being sectioned under the Mental Health Act!'

Star Wars Battlecunt certainly puts the emphasis back on the "wars" part, but do you know what this kind of game is? It's an asshole recruitment drive. You start playing as a fresh-faced Level 1 and get murdered by assholes. Obviously, you don't give a half-ounce of creamy baby excrement about helping your team win; your only real motivation is to avenge yourself upon the assholes. But by the time you've got the better guns that the assholes used on you, they've moved on to firing dark-matter jizz rockets out of their Level 40 diamantine vaginas, and so you can only avenge yourself on their lower-level teammates, ensuring that the bleak cycle will begin anew. Congratulations, you're part of the asshole system, now are you just going to plop out of it like a good little turd or hang around and give it bowel cancer?

Addenda Edit

  • We don't need his scum: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
  • I got so bored of the Empire calling everything 'scum', they should mix it up once in a while and call the enemy 'rebel assholes' or something
  • Darth Vader was my elocution teacher
Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart · The Surge · Injustice 2 · Vanquish · E3 2017 · Strafe

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