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    Star Wars: Battlefront, It’s back, looking more powerful than you could possibly imagine...

    Star Wars has returned. Spirits dampened by the prequels have been re-ignited by the new hope of a JJ Abrams-helmed, George Lucas-free trilogy, and Jar Jar Binks will soon be nothing more than a fading memory. What better way to celebrate than with a shiny reboot of classic multiplayer shooter series Battlefront?

    Created by Battlefield developer DICE, the game will allow you step into the shoes of either the freedom fighters of the Republic or the Stormtroopers of the Empire and fight it out in online scraps of up to 40 players. The focus is on the planets, vehicles, characters and spaceships of the original trilogy, and the team have entered into a partnership with LucasFilm to make sure things are as faithful to the movies as possible.

    Access to the hallowed LucasFilm vaults has allowed them to digitally scan the original props for the film into the game, and they’ve made trips to the locations where the iconic battles of Hoth, Endor and Tatooine were filmed. They’ve even had a rummage in the archives at Skywalker Sound and dug out every classic peeeeowww and vwwoooosh noise they could find. “Our vision is to deliver what we consider the most authentic and realistic Star Wars universe ever created for a videogame,” enthuses design director Niklas Fegraeus. ‘Realistic’ might be a bit of a stretch when you’ve got space wizards running around with laser swords, but we appreciate the attempt.

    The latest footage certainly seems to back up DICE’s claims. It’s in-engine rather than truly in-game, so we would suggest taking it with enough pinches of salt to fill a Rancor pit, but it really does look like the original films. Blaster fire hits with a shower of pyrotechnic sparks, explosions send up startlingly spot-on plumes of smoke, and the spindly scout walker has the perfect herky-jerky, stop motion-style walk. It all ties nicely into Abrams’ new back-to-basics approach to the franchise DICE is trying to get as close as it can get to recreating the various practical effects and other old-school movie magic in-game.

    You’ll be able to pilot that walker yourself, too, along with speeder bikes, snow speeders, and loads of other iconic Star Wars vehicles. There’s no space combat, but players will still be able to hop into an X-Wing or a TIE Fighter for in-atmosphere dogfights, and the developers have even confirmed a pilotable Millennium Falcon. The towering AT-AT walkers are, unfortunately, AI-controlled, as are the Y-Wing bombers, which can be called in for a handy explosive air strike.

    In Vader
    Gamers will even be able to get into the cockpit of… err… Darth Vader’s head. After meeting certain yet-to-be-revealed criteria in a match, one lucky player will be able to temporarily become one of the heroes or villains of the franchise, including everyone’s favourite bounty hunter Boba Fett, and Mr Tall, Dark & Wheezy himself. When one of these characters hits the field, the focus of the battle shifts with their super-powerful abilities (Vader, for example, can deflect blaster fire with ease,
    and use his favourite employee-management tool, the force choke) they’re effectively boss encounters, and the enemy team will have to pull together to defeat them.
    “Players Will be able to hop into an X-Wing or a tie fighter for in-atmosphere dogfights”
    At least if you do find yourself face-to-face with the dark lord of the Sith you’ll have a buddy to back you up. The game’s partner system allows you to designate a friend as your online other half, meaning you can respawn at each other’s locations. Partners also share XP and unlocks, so you’re always on equal footing, even if one of you clocks in more game time than the other. According to the developer, this will, for example, make it easier for parents to play the game with their kids. It’s a nice idea, but we’re not sure if we’re ready to introduce our mums to online voice chat just yet.

    Fett pack
    Those unlocks will be the key to customising your character, as this entry ditches the classes of the original games. Instead you’ll be able to pick the weapons and gadgets you want in your loadout, effectively building your own class and tailoring it to exactly how you want to play. There’ll be plenty of toys to choose from, including a jetpack, and a portable force field generator for keeping your squad-mates safe.

    Your character’s gender and overall style will be up to you too, and you’ll even be able to play alien races including Sullustans and Ishi Tibs (don’t recognise those off the top of your head? And you call yourself a fan?!). With the ability to switch between first- and third-person perspective at any time in-game, you’ll be able to admire your look even in the heat of battle though your team mates will
    probably prefer you concentrate on firing your blaster. And yes, it’s official, for the first time ever there will be female Stormtroopers, though whether we’ll be able to tell under those helmets is anyone’s guess.

    The game unfortunately won’t feature a single-player campaign, with its only solo content being a series of custom missions set on the multiplayer maps. These will also be playable in co-op, split-screen, or online. It’s understandable that the developer wouldn’t see any new stories to tell in this well-worn era of the franchise, but it seems a strange omission given that Battlefield’s single-player offerings have only grown in recent years. They’ll need to make sure there’s plenty of content in the
    multiplayer to make up for it.

    Colour us tentatively excited. DICE has the right attitude, but the studio’s got a lot to prove after the near-disaster that was Battlefield 4’s array of technical problems. We’re certainly ready for a great new Star Wars game to go with Abrams’ film. How likely is it to look as good as that amazing trailer? Hey, never tell us the odds…

    Galactic battlegrounds
    The four planets you’ll be fighting over

    Thankfully there’s not a pod race or precocious child prodigy to be seen. We did spot a Jawa Sandcrawler in the distance those scavenging scamps have probably turned up to loot the bodies.

    This lava planet is where the Empire makes its weapons and vehicles, including the AT-ATs. It was mentioned in the films, but never seen, and DICE has been given permission to flesh it out to its own liking.

    The Ewoks’ villages could provide good verticality to the maps; important with jetpacks on offer. You can even see some of the furry killers running around in the background in the announcement trailer.

    Here in the office we’re keen on the idea of riding a noble Tauntaun into battle. On chilly maps like these you may need one - in a pinch, those lovely, steaming guts are warmer than any winter coat.

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