Battlefront Classic Collection is a Sith-show – Review – WGB

By admin Apr1,2024

I was so excited when Star Wars: Battlefront Classic Collection was announced. Wrapping up the two iconic Battlefront games from the early 2000s is like wrapping up my childhood. I put countless hours into these games and always look for an excuse to replay them. Launch day came and went without me because I was busy doing something else, and to my horror when I finally sat down and checked out the online reaction, the Classic Collection was getting decimated. How did Aspyr fail so badly at what seemed like easy money? And are the original Battlefront games still worth playing in 2024?

To figure those things out I’m going to break this review up into two acts: the first is going to focus on the quality of the re-release that Aspyr has given us, and the second will be about the games themselves. So hold on to your butts, because this is where the fun begins.

Remaster? Remake? Re-release?

The first thing we need to do is determine exactly who the Classic Collection is for. On PC, the original versions of both games are readily available on Steam for less than this new package and have fully functional multiplayer and a wealth of excellent mods, including some that add a new lick of paint. So I’ll spoil my review here by saying that if you already own the originals on PC, go ahead and skip the Classic Collection, at least for now. The improvements simply aren’t good enough to justify the price.

Console players, however, have been more limited. On the Xbox, both titles are playable via backwards compatibility. On PlayStation and Switch, neither Battlefront nor Battlefront 2 can be played natively. That makes this Classic Collection the best option for experiencing these two fantastic games on modern hardware, but that’s also frustrating given how low-quality this port is. Maybe it’s because I spent hundreds of hours in these games as a kid, but they deserved much better than this low-effort attempt from Aspyr.

Review code provided by the publisher.

Oddly, Aspyr hasn’t really advertised the graphical enhancements in the Classic Collection which is baffling to me considering how little else it has going for it. While it is not a massive leap up in visual quality, there are a few improvements that make the Classic Collection the best-looking version of both games. Unless you count some of the sick fan-made mods for the PC editions, of course, and you really should because sweet Jesus there are some talented people out there.

The textures in both of these updated versions seem to have been taken from the original PC releases of Battlefront and Battlefront 2, which already looked significantly better than their console counterparts and then upscaled to 4K. There has been some debate about whether the textures were upscaled using AI, but nothing has actually been proven and Aspyr hasn’t said anything about it. Considering modern graphics cards already using AI upscaling, and the upcoming PS5 Pro will have its own machine learning upscaling, I’m not too bothered if this is true or not. That said, a basic AI renovation doesn’t warrant the RRP. Whether it’s by the hands of a human or the power of an AI, the result is a nice uptick in detail, though obviously nowhere near what a proper remaster could have done. The PC version also had a few reflective surfaces which have now been extended to vehicles and other areas like the floor in Coruscant.

Battlefront

Ultimately, the value of the graphical boosts depends entirely on what you’re comparing to. If you’re a console gamer then the Classic Collection is a solid step up in visuals, especially in terms of the backgrounds which are no longer indistinguishable blurs. On PC however, it’s a minor increase that you’d be hard-pressed to notice at a glance.

The framerate has been boosted across the board too, so now everything plays in silky-smooth 60fps, unless you’re on PC where the sky is limited purely by your hardware. Given how little this package demands, even a potato disguised as a PC should be able to get some impressive numbers. Playing on the PlayStation 5, purely because the allure of getting some trophies on two beloved games was too much to resist, the framerate never stuttered or dipped. Of course, if the framerate had dropped on a console this powerful running games from the early 2000s it would be a gobsmacking failure. Still, credit where credit is due.

Another bonus is that XL mode is available across every version of the Battlefront Classic Collection, where once it was only accessible to the PC crowd. That means we all get to enjoy the insanity of 32 v 32 matches on certain maps like Hoth, because who doesn’t love 64 very confused people armed with laser guns and lightsabers running around the place?

Hero Assault, the mode which features two teams comprised entirely of heroes and villains, has also been added to every single map in the game, which is a nice bonus.

Finally, some extra content is thrown into the mix. The Classic Collection brings in a few bonus maps and heroes that were originally launched as Xbox-exclusive DLC for Battlefront 2. This was not without controversy though, because the two new heroes (Kit Fisto and Asajj Ventress) were alleged to use animations created by an uncredited modder called iamashaymin, who brought the formerly Xbox-exclusive DLC to the PC version in 2021.  iamashaymin added new animations to make the two new characters stand out from the existing heroes and villains. When Aspyr announced the Classic Collection, iamashyamin spotted his mod being used. Aspyr apologised, but iamashyamin said that the full release also included portions of his work which were then stripped out in updates. He went on to say that he didn’t mind them using his work, but wished they would credit him for it.

Battlefront 2

The game’s launch on March 13 was nothing short of an embarrassment for Aspyr. Due to some sort of technical issue, the vast majority of the dedicated servers didn’t appear, leaving people with a measly three to choose from. The ability to create servers also wasn’t working correctly, so on launch day, people were left unable to tackle the multiplayer. On top of that, players quickly discovered that the singleplayer portion had its own problems – entire cutscenes were missing from Battlefront 2’s campaign mode, decimating the story of the 501st.

The good news is that most of the major launch issues have been resolved. The cutscenes are working properly and the servers are showing correctly. There’s still a little touch of lag in the dedicated servers, but that should hopefully be fixed quickly. However, the player count has already dropped below 500 concurrent players per day on PC. Like the Jedi before, the Classic Collection may be fading into memory. Crossplay between PC and consoles could have helped keep it alive, but alas, we didn’t get it and there are no plans to add it.

So, as a port/remaster/re-release or whatever you choose to call it, how does the Classic Collection stack up? Poorly. This is a low-effort release that can’t justify itself on PC where the original games are still going strong. Xbox players are in the same boat, but at least the Classic Collection offers a visual boost, even if it isn’t huge. PlayStation and Switch owners benefit the most from this release as it lets them experience two fantastic games, albeit in a disappointing package.

The Games themselves

As a sales pitch the original Battlefront kind of sounds like a stupid idea: let’s take one of the most iconic movie franchises of all time, a series renowned for space monks with laser swords and a badass villain, and make a game based on it. Great! That sounds fantastic. What should the game be about? Maybe you play as Darth Vader annihilating rebels? Or how about a Jedi who survived Order 66 and is now on the run? You could have Force powers and build lightsabers and….wait, what was that? You want to make a game about being one of the thousands of faceless soldiers waging war in the background while all the cool characters do awesome things off-screen? Are you sure?

It works, though. Every match, whether it’s against AI bots in singleplayer or against other people online, drops you onto a battlefield where you pick from a few different classes of soldiers and then head out to gun down the opposition and capture strategic points. The first team to run out of reinforcement tickets losses. Simple stuff, yet massively entertaining.

Battlefront 2

The campaign of Battlefront loosely follows the movies (the prequels and the original trilogy) by bookending each mission with a brief scene lifted directly from the films. One mission sees you assaulting Naboo as the robotic forces of the Separatists, for example, while later on you’ll be fighting as one of the Rebels on Hoth facing down the slow, steady advancement of the Empire’s massive AT-ATs.

The action gets spiced up a little through the use of vehicles that litter the map. There are all manner of tanks to take for a spin and even some spaceships like the iconic Tie Fighter that you can hop into and vy for aerial supremacy. Unsurprisingly, the mixture of infantry and vehicular combat drew a lot of comparisons to Battlefield 1942 which came out a couple of years beforehand. It’s a completely fair comparison too: Battlefront owes a lot to Dice’s shooter.

This single-game mode is called Conquest and if it sounds like a multiplayer design masquerading around as a singleplayer game you’d be right. The original Battlefront launched at a time when multiplayer on consoles was starting to become a reality, with the Xbox version supporting 32 players while the PS2 could only handle 16. PC, of course, was where the real multiplayer action was to be found thanks to online connections being far more common and the ability to have 64 people in a match.

Playing Battlefront in 2024, you can definitely feel its age. The movement is slow and the entire game is simplistic, and yet there’s a rough charm to the experience.

Looking to capitalise on the success of Star Wars: Battlefront and to coincide with the DVD release of Revenge of the Sith, the sequel was released just one year later which is why the basic idea of capturing points and gunning down the enemy team wasn’t changed. A bunch of the maps from Battlefront were also carried over, strengthening the idea that the sequel was rushed out of the door.

Battlefront 2

However, there are a couple of very cool additions resulting in Battlefront 2 completely supplanting the original game, in my opinion. The first was full-blown space battles where you could dogfight in a X-Wing, bomb cruisers and even land on the enemy capital ship before trying to blow up their internals. These add some much-needed variety to the core gameplay loop.

By far the biggest gameplay change is the ability to play as the special heroes and villains. Do well enough in a match and you can stride the battlefield as Darth Vader, fly over Kamino as Jango Fett and rip through the halls of Coruscant as Mace Windu like a lunatic with a glowstick in a rave. In the right hands, these special characters are capable of decimating the enemy team, especially since only the best player in each team is given the chance to be the hero character. Sadly, this means players who struggle to keep up would rarely get to wave a lightsaber around.

The heroes have their issues, mind you. As fun as they are to play, it can actually be quite challenging sometimes to properly use them as the controls are floaty and the hitboxes are strange. A couple of the lightsaber-wielding heroes have odd sprinting attacks, for example, where its hard to actually hit your target, and even at close range lightsaber attacks feel inconsistent.

It’s most noticeable in the new Hero Assault mode where both teams are given unlimited access to the roster of heroes and villains in an all-out slug-fest. One team takes on the role of iconic heroes like Obi-Wan, Yoda and Anakin Skywalker, while the opposing team are the villains, spawning in as Darth Maul, The Emperor and Boba Fett. It’s a lot of fan-pleasing fun, but the gameplay mechanics don’t really support the idea, so it often feels like you’re watching a bunch of action figures being smashed together.

Battlefront 2

Battlefront 2’s campaign attempts to carve a somewhat new Star Wars story by following the 501st clone squadron across their birth in the Clone Wars, through their turn to the dark side during Order 66 and into their service to the Empire. Cutscenes using in-game footage bookend each mission and do a pretty decent job of providing some narrative structure to what you’re doing, even if each mission is exactly the same as the last one.

The real singleplayer though, is the improved Galactic Conquest mode where you take control of a faction and duke it out across an entire star system. Each turn you move your army one space on the board, usually so that you can attack a planet and take control of it. Each planet you nab earns resources which can be spent on power-ups for future battles, like improved health, special turrets defending your command points and whether or not your faction’s hero will be playable. It’s a lot of fun to slowly conquer the galaxy, even if it’s very simple. I really wish the newer Battlefront games from EA had brought Galactic Conquest back and expanded upon the idea, perhaps by adding some multiplayer as well, but I suppose Galactic Conquest was the least of those games’ issues.

It can be difficult to replicate glitches and problems in games, so it’s hard to say which problems I encountered have simply carried over and which might be new. The AI’s habit of standing still and doing nothing is certainly a problem that was in the original games as well, but some of the graphical issues I ran into, like Hoth turning into a patchwork quilt, seem to be unique to the Classic Collection.

In conclusion…

It’s difficult to review a package like this because I’m trying to judge two distinctive parts: the quality of the port/remaster, and the games themselves.

While they certainly are showing their age, there is no doubt in my mind that Battlefront and the even better Battlefront 2 are excellent games still worthy of being played in 2024. Experiencing them again brought back a lot of fond memories from my teenage years and a deep sense of disappointment that they never got the sequel they deserved. EA’s attempts to revive the franchise in 2015 ended up failing to capture the magic and didn’t improve very much on what came before.

The quality of this new package doesn’t do either game justice. Minimal improvements make it pointless for PC players who are better off sticking with the original releases. The only people who truly benefit are those on the Switch and PlayStation where the games aren’t accessible. At least the initial launch issues have been mostly resolved, although the multiplayer numbers will probably never recover. Another update should hopefully fix any remaining problems, but the online will be dead by that point.

Truthfully, that isn’t a problem for me because I’m quite happy to fire up both games in single-player, either through Instant Action matches or Galactic Conquest mode. You better consider whether you’ll be happy sticking with the offline elements of the games if you plan on buying the Classic Collection, too.

If you’re playing on a console and assuming the last few problems do get sorted out, this is technically the best version of the games available to you, although the Xbox versions are already pretty solid. Even in that context, it’s difficult not to feel disappointed by this lacklustre package. So much more could have been done, but I guess Aspyr decided the potential audience wasn’t big enough to warrant spending big money.

My recommendation would be to wait and pick up the Star Wars: Battlefront Classic Collection when it gets a price cut, especially if you’re happy enough to mess about in single-player because the multiplayer crowd will probably be long gone. Classic Collection, while you are on the council, I do not grant you the rank of Master.


























Rating: 3 out of 5.

By admin

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