This morning we ‘awoke’ to news of LEGO’s next game – and as predicted during a lunchtime discussion at work – Star Wars The Force Awakens will be next on LEGO’s movie to game list.
LEGO Star Wars remains top of my list as the best in the series, so news that the latest Star Wars film is set to be the next film to brick game is excellent news – better still is that we won’t have long to wait – launching June 28, 2016.
Unlike the latest LEGO game, Star Wars The Force Awakens will be bringing new game mechanics to a series that has rested on its LEGO laurels for too long. Multi-Builds will allow a choice when it comes to building solutions to get past the next section of the game. Blasters will feature a new combat system to make firefights more intense – pushing back the First Order. Batman brought a new dynamic to flying sections and The Force Awakens will build on this with “high-speed flight gameplay” set in arenas.
We’re extremely proud of the LEGO Star Wars videogames, truly an incredible franchise that has sold more than 33 million copies and helped ignite a passion for numerous fun-filled LEGO games enjoyed by countless gamers around the world,” said Tom Stone, Managing Director, TT Games. “LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be pushing the series forward with innovative new gameplay mechanics, while also exploring new parts of the universe that are sure to excite and delight both LEGO and Star Wars fans, as well as newcomers to our games.
The latest pinball table pack from Zen Studios focuses on the latest Star Wars film, the Force Awakens, and delivers not one but two tables based on the blockbuster: Might of the First Orders and The Force Awakens, with the former focusing on the dark side and Kylo Ren and the latter on the light side with Rey’s journey following the events of the film. And of course, once again, Zen have knocked it out of the park producing two spectacular tables.
Both tables are overflowing with content. Both are seated within a highly detailed environment, with The Force Awakens being set into the sand of the planet Jakku with dilapidated starships and equipment adorning the desert. Meanwhile, Might of the First Order is on board a star destroyer within a fighter bay, with a viewing window showing off planets and hyperspace effects and the bay itself housing Tie fighters. Both look superb and are brimming with authenticity.
Further content comes in the form of the events you can trigger by playing the tables. The Might of the First Order gives you mission that require you to hit particular bumpers and ramps, or go below the play field to a second layer with a mini pinball challenge. All the while the background will change depending on the mission, with the viewing window showing you entering hyperspace and appearing at new planets.
The Force Awakens remains on Jakku but follows the events of the film through its missions, with the occasional tie fighter flying overhead or chasing the Millennium Falcon, and a BB8 mini game on a separate field. It does approach spoiler territory as it retells the events of the film in its own pinball way, but is vague enough to avoid anything major.
The Force Awakens table is a very crowded and fast flowing table, with the ball travelling quicker around the ramps and coming back towards the flippers with some serious speed at awkward angles. However, it’s fast pace feels in sync with its missions and gives the table a unique personality that’s mirrored on the Might of the First Order table.
The Might of the First Order table is slightly slower and far less crowded, feeling more meticulous and drawn out, very much in line with the villain’s slower paced grand plans. It’s far easier to see where you’re aiming on this table, with the ramps and bumpers kept to the top of the play field and the middle and bottom keep mostly clear. It makes a nice alternative to The Force Awakens table and allows you to pick which one suits you mood.
The classic Star Wars soundtrack and sound effects and the incredibly detailed and accurate visual assets pushes the authenticity through the roof, and whilst the voice actors aren’t from the film they do a great job impersonating the film’s cast. It’s a thrill to play these complex tables that Zen go out of their way to create with the reverence to the source material that they deserve. Once again, this pack of new tables for Zen Pinball FX 2 comes highly recommended.
Star Wars mania has been unavoidable. The new film was the smash hit of the Holiday period and it now seems possible to have a Star Wars product for every walk of life, from new toys to a R2-D2 air humidifier nothing has been left untouched by Disney.
The Star Wars: Battlefront game has also done exceptionally well selling 12 million copies to date – that’s enough to fill both Death Stars, complete crew and then some. This isn’t a huge surprise as the franchise has the power force to pull people into games that may have abstained otherwise. Whilst the comment sections on reviews may have you believe it hasn’t sold well, the game lobbies on consoles tell a different story.
If you’re a fan of the series and a gamer it’s probable that you may already own a copy, and it’s easy to see why it’s done so well. Short of being in a Star Wars movie, this is as close as you’re going to get to being in a galaxy far far away, the sounds and sights are massively immersive and with a decent pair of headphones, you’d swear you were on Hoth itself (minus the need to cut open a Tauntaun for survival purposes).
So, whether you want to be Rebel scum or a swanky Stormtrooper, Battlefront is a solid go to for your Star wars kick.
Chances are that if you grew up with the original Star Wars Trilogy then you may have dreamt of being a character in a galaxy far, far away… playing Star Wars Battlefront is the closest you will get to that feeling and it’s the most cinematic experience to be had on console.
DICE have lovingly recreated the universe of Star Wars. From cargo crates and power couplings to X-Wings and Lightsabres – nothing has been left to chance or imitation – everything has been modeled from the original props and it makes for a wonderful experience and looks absolutely stunning.
Rushing across the snowy plains of Hoth, or charging through the dense foliage of the forest moon of Endor is exhilarating, especially with laser fire going off all around you while the iconic Star Wars score rings in your ears. It’s easy then to get caught up in the moment and be swept away by the sheer joy of a Star Wars game that makes full use of its license.
Gunplay is a casual experience, and although each weapon has a unique set of attributes, each one handles similarly with many players favouring the same blaster. Laser fire looks great and maps light up with firefights. Like Halo’s Spartan Laser, you have to lead your shots making the gunplay tricky to get used to at first and a little haphazard as to whether your shots hit their target. In true Battlefield style, newcomers aren’t welcomed and will be victim to higher ranked players who have access to the better weapons and buff cards, making the initial experience a hard one to love.
Running or shooting highlights you on the mini-map, which points out the rough direction of enemies rather than pinpointing them. Air combat is simple too. Piloting an X-Wing isn’t nearly as difficult as taking to the skies in a FA-18 Hornet. In fact flying is quite the highlight. There’s nothing greater than outmaneuvering a Tie Fighter to hear it crash behind you as you make an evasive turn through a canyon.
Instead of vehicles lined up waiting to take off or stomp across the landscape, icons appear across each map and must be collected then called in, which makes for a frantic race to collect them first. Once collected, you must find a safe spot to call a vehicle in – get shot while doing so and you won’t appear in the cockpit of a Tie Interceptor or behind the guns of an AT-AT.
Of course the highlight of any Star Wars game should be playing as one of the main characters and on each map there are hero power ups that allow you to step into the boots of Luke, Leia, Han, Boba Fett, Vader or the Emperor. Each hero is an absolute joy to play as, pitched at close, mid or long-range. When a hero appears on the battlefield it can be a huge boost to your team, but heroes can easily be knocked down by a well-organised attack. If you do run into them individually you best turn and run. It’s quite amusing when playing as a hero and seeing an enemy turn tail and run – Luke and Vader in particular are the toughest to go up against as a lowly trooper.
Battlefront is pure and simple pick-up-and-play fun, but because DICE are behind the wheel, I must admit to expecting a bit more from Battlefront, although I love the simplified air combat, gunplay is just too simple and there are no character classes to liven up the team based gameplay. Instead, Star Cards buff your loadouts with unique weapons and explosives – all of which are unlocked as you level up – by spending credits you can add them for selection.
At launch there aren’t enough environments either. There are four planets; each has multiple maps depending on the mode you’re playing. The vast map of Hoth’s Walker Assault is quite different to the same map played during Hero Hunt and while each location is expertly crafted with some great level design, there just isn’t enough variety to the environments. At times this makes the game feel like you’re playing the same map over and over again.
While there are plenty of modes to choose from, Walker Assault is my standout favourite and it has seen quite the overhaul since the beta. AT-ATs are now easier to take down and there’s a rush protection to stop the Empire from charging ahead. The mode is almost perfect, but I feel that when playing on the Forest moon of Endor it’s balanced against the Empire and almost impossible for the Rebels not to take out the lone AT-AT.
Walker Assault may be a mode that has been plucked straight out of the films, but other modes lack this link and therefore feel like filler to pad the game out. Rather than recreate other film scenarios, like the excellent Speeder Bike training sequence, each mode plays like many other multiplayer modes we’ve all come to love (and hate). A competitive Death Star trench run would have made for some epic multiplayer combat, with a battle raging overhead as one-by-one squadrons are called in to take on the iconic race down the Death Star’s trench.
Battlefront might be a first person shooter, but I preferred to play it in third person – both on foot and in the air. I seemed to connect my shots better and by playing in third person I got to experience the excellent character animation, which reacts accurately to what’s going on – from looking around the environment to flinching when shot – it’s a wonderful addition that adds to the immersion of making your character seem a part of the world.
Outside of competitive multiplayer, there’s a single and co-op mode although with no matchmaking, you must rely on your friends list to play through the training, survival and battle missions. They are a good distraction and some of the training missions are particularly exhilarating but it seems like an afterthought, there to tick the single player box.
Battlefront is the new toy and it’s Star Wars branded. It will remain at the forefront of my online gaming, not least because I’ve played Halo, CoD and Battlefield over the last few years. Battlefront is superb fan service that just lacks in content for it’s multiplayer focus, but as a Star Wars fan I absolutely love it!
This new Battlefront TV spot can be summed up in three words – oh the feels.
Going straight for the heart-strings, EA and DICE have made a great play at appealing to the older Star Wars fans who dreamt of piloting their own X-wing or reenacted iconic Hoth battles with the toys.
It may be true that Battlefront has one or too issues but you can’t dispute the authenticity – something I have argued for a long time even before the beta!
Whether you think it plays like Battlefield, it’s too ‘vanilla’ or unbalanced, Battlefront gives fans an experience of being in the film’s most iconic battles and I am super excited to jump back in when it releases in November.
The commercial has a similar vibe that EA and Respawn created with the “Life is better with a Titan” TV spot –maybe they should have called it “Life is better with an X-wing” and have done with it – check out the commercial below:
A brand new Star Wars playset is coming to Disney Infinity 3.0. The Star Wars: The Force Awakens Play Set will be available on December 18, just a day after The Force Awakens releases in cinemas.
The playset will allow players to travel to a galaxy far, far away alongside new heroes and old friends in search for a much-needed ally. Playable characters include Finn, a soldier on a path to adventure and danger, and Rey, a true survivor who is resourceful and capable. Both will join Poe Dameron, the trusted pilot of the Resistance who uses his expert flying skills to travel the galaxy, and Kylo Ren, an enforcer for the First Order who terrorises the galaxy with devious acts.
In addition to the characters native to Star Wars: The Force Awakens Play Set, fans will also be able to unlock and play with all other Star Wars characters from other Star Wars Play Sets from Star Wars Twilight of the Republic and Star Wars Rise Against The Empire, as well as the Star Wars Rebels characters.
With limited time at EGX, first on my hit list was Star Wars Battlefront. Sure, there were other games on my list that I was more excited for, but the Star Wars fan in me was screaming to make this my first hit to see if the game could deliver on the Star Wars and Battlefront promises made by DICE.
Introducing our play session was a video deck of Admiral Akbar, and after a short briefing I was running across the surface on Hoth. It’s huge, open and rather intimidating. While there are pointers to objectives, you are left to your own devices, admittedly making me feel a little lost as to where I was going and what our objective was, which was to support an attack on a Rebel base with two AT-ATs in a 20 vs. 20 match.
To merely say that Battlefront looked stunning doesn’t nearly do the game justice enough. It was unbelievable. The draw distance, the textures, and the attention to detail – it was overwhelming – after I had finished playing, I wasn’t quite sure if I had just taken part in the new movie or played a video game. You really feel entwined into the Star Wars universe; you are a grunt struggling to fight for the Empire (or attempting to repel the invasion as the Rebels). The whole experience took me back to my childhood memories of the film and toys I grew up with.
The game played really well, and no it doesn’t play like a reskinned Battlefield! The game lasted for around 20 minutes, although it seemed to be over in the blink of an eye. I need more from the game to give a definite yay or nay, but with a beta about to kick off, I decided to hit up my next game… The Division.
Recently DICE and EA announced that new mode Drop Zone would feature in the upcoming beta of Star Wars Battlefront, due early October, and now they have lifted the lid on what the mode includes.
Pods fall from the sky in Drop Zone, which has been built from the core mechanics of KOTH. Teams of eight take each other on in a race to get to the crash site of each pod – claiming one scores your team a point, with the first to five (or with the most points after 10 minutes) winning the match. If neither team can secure a pod, then another one crash lands, meaning there are two to fight over.
There’s more to pods than just picking up a point for your team – each capture rewards you with the contents held within – power pickups! As the pod begins to open, another will hit the ground, and this is where team tactics come into play – how many of your team do you leave to wait for the pod prizes inside, and how many do you send off to the new crash site?
Lead Level Designer Dennis Brännvall’s favourite level of Drop Zone is the Swamp Crash site on Endor:
The map has a couple of nice choke points but is overall very free-flowing and hectic, as enemies can attack from anywhere on that level. The fight takes place around a crashed GR-75 transport ship with containers from the craft strewn across the landscape, and there’s one section with a waterfall overlooked by an Ewok village, where you have to jump down into the pool below in order to claim the pod, hoping no one’s hiding in the trees above waiting to pick you off.
I think you will agree that Star Wars Battlefront looks pretty damn spectacular, but how does it play? Unless you’ve managed to get to one of the game expos, your opinion might sway on the dark side – citing that it looks like a reskinned Battlefield – well now you can see for yourself, because a beta has been announced, and I imagine that DICE and EA will attempt to get as many involved as possible.
The beta is due in early October and will include the 40-player Walker Assault on Hoth, the wave based ‘horde’ of Survival Mission on Tatooine, and brand new mode, Drop Zone – your guess is as good as mine on this one!
Similar to Battlefield’s companion app, Star Wars Battlefront will also get an app, which will be available to use during the beta.