What’s the opposite of ‘spoiler alert’? Anyone scouring the third Star Wars Battlefront game for clues to why Luke Skywalker is missing from the trailers for upcoming film Star Wars: The Force Awakens, or hoping to play as that new droid that looks like a tumble drier on spin cycle, will be disappointed. Like the previous games in the series (which started in 2004) this installment is set firmly within the universe of the original trilogy.
The player fights AI or real-life enemies as a lightsaber-flinging Darth Vader, a blaster-wielding Han Solo or the Emperorflinging lightning from his fingers like a dodgy electrician who forgot to earth the plug on the Force. With Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and your generic stormtrooper also included as playable characters, plus cameos from the likes of humanoid robot C-3PO and bounty hunter Boba Fett and battlegrounds based on memorable locations from the films, this is a superfan’s fantasy. It puts you inside the first three movies like none of the torrent of Star Wars games has managed before.
You can sweep the legs out from under an AT-AT walker – those gigantic metal war-camels from The Empire Strikes Back – on the ice planet of Hoth, or blast away at waves of stormtroopers while tripping over ewoks between the trees in forest moon Endor. But once the novelty of, like, being Luke Skywalker wears off, you’re left with a nifty but fairly standard-issue shooter playing largely off The Force Awakens’ nostalgic hype machine and unbalanced in its gameplay.
While it’s exhilarating to swoop around the canyons of planet Tatooine in an X-Wing fighter plane or tear through Endor on a speederbike at a rate that even Richard Hammond might find a bit hairy, controlling one of the AT-ATs is a plodding drag. Plus, without a solo campaign, the missions left are formulaic variations on protect the flag or fight-to-the-death games. The most fun is to be had in the huge 40-player laser blitzes or pitting Luke against Vader once more in the Heroes Vs Villains mode. Otherwise, here, the Force has a bit of a lie-in.