Star Wars: Battlefront Classic Collection Review – Games For A More Civilised Age

They still Luke good!

Editor’s Note: While the bulk of this review speaks to the writer’s experience and enjoyment of the Star Wars: Battlefront Classic Collection’s offline content, and remains indicative of that experience, some readers might be interested in this collection for its online multiplayer component.

For that reason, it’s important to highlight that the game’s online multiplayer has been plagued with issues since launch and, while developer Aspyr is working hard to fix it, is yet to be at an acceptable state. We would advise holding off of a purchase until these issues are rectified if online multiplayer is of importance.

I can deny it all I like, but the fact remains that the original Star Wars: Battlefront was released 20 long years ago. Putting the existential dread aside, I’ve long proclaimed that the 2004 original and its far greater sequel are among the best shooters of all time, exceeding the pair of DICE-developed games that share the same name. It’s an easy claim to make when they’re stuck on old hardware, but the Star Wars: Battlefront Classic Collection has brought the two titles to the current generation in one tidy package, making it the perfect time to see if the force is still strong with my childhood favourites.

The main selling point for most remasters, collections, and ports is playing beloved older games on current consoles, avoiding that heartbreaking moment when you try to play something on your dusty PS2, only for it to look blown out and awful on your modern TV. The Battlefront Classic Collection does precisely that while also sneaking in a few extras to surprise returning players.

From a technical standpoint, Battlefront I and II look and feel exactly as they did in the mid-2000s. Textures, character models and animations are all largely what they once were and have held up surprisingly well in the two decades that have passed. Importantly, even amidst the most chaotic moments on the largest map, I didn’t encounter any dropped frames, with the action always remaining smooth. Unfortunately, the live-action scenes cut from the films and scattered throughout the campaigns didn’t fare quite as well, with the low-resolution footage stuttering whenever they appeared. Thankfully, they’re short, and you’ve likely seen them countless times by this point.

Both titles are content complete, featuring a full suite of single and multiplayer modes, with online, offline and split-screen options available for the latter. While the Battlefront I campaign is little more than a series of Conquest matches that act only as a fun time capsule, the excellent Rise of the Empire story content from II has aged exceptionally well. Following the Clone’s betrayal of the Jedi and subsequent transition into the Empire’s army, the missions feature varied objectives, different play styles and frequent opportunities to play as Heroes and Villains. Even when I took my rose-tinted training visor off, this campaign still comes close to today’s standards.

Introduced in the original and expanded upon in the sequel, Galactic Conquest is still, to this day, a mode that can’t be beaten. Two players, or one player and an AI opponent, strategise and maneuverer around a map, managing resources, claiming planets and engaging in ground and space battles (in BFII) to conquer the galaxy. Potentially spanning hours of real-time, these mammoth games can be saved and loaded as you wish, and I suspect many will do just that as there’s nothing quite like it on the modern market.

RELATED:  The Star Wars: KOTOR Remake Is "Alive And Well" At Saber Interactive

My fondest memories with these games come from the multiplayer, which has returned with the Classic Collection in grand fashion. 64-player online multiplayer is supported, doubling what was possible in the original release. Servers were understandably empty during pre-release, but I played multiple hours with one other player, with our teams filled in with bots. Online performance was strong, and I didn’t run into any technical errors or crashes, but this could change with another 62 players in the mix.

Whether I was capturing control points in Conquest, stealing from the enemy’s base in Capture the Flag, or causing carnage as the various force-wielders in Hero Assault, I was having a blast. With four armies (Clones, CIS, Rebels and Empire), each with an assortment of playable classes, an array of vehicles to pilot and a wealth of well-designed maps to fight across, there’s no shortage of content, with none of it being locked behind microtransactions or slow-moving profile progression.

Some old sensibilities are refreshing, and some are frustrating. Including dedicated online multiplayer is terrific, but navigating your way to a match is tedious. Quick play will get you into the action immediately, but if you’re looking to play with friends, you’ll need to create a private room, add your maps and match types, load in, and then have your mates manually search for the room name. It’s admirable to keep the experience as untouched as possible, but preservation doesn’t need to ignore innovation. The inclusion of a party system, or even an invite option, would be a vast improvement. It’s also worth noting that there’s no option for cross-play, so be sure you’re all on the same system before making a purchase.

In most ways, the Collection has left the two games untouched, for better and worse, but there’s a smattering of new content to be found. Five new maps have been added across the two games, including the claustrophobic Jabba’s Palace and wide-open Bespin: Cloud City. Kit Fisto has been added as a new Hero, with Asajj Ventress joining him as the new Villain. Both sport new abilities not found among the rest of the Hero/Villain roster and are very capable in the chaos that is Hero Assault.

Speaking of which, the mode previously locked to the Mos Eisley map has been set free to all other locations, making it possible to recreate the tear-jerking confrontation between Obi-Wan and Anakin on Mustafar… for those who would want to. While the new content isn’t overly vast, the small changes are positive ones and will be greatly appreciated by returning players.

Conclusion
After two decades of advancements and innovation, Battlefront I and II still offer some of the most enjoyable gameplay in the shooter genre. Rich in content, new and old, the Classic Collection successfully brings two fan-favourite Star Wars games onto today’s hardware. The absence of a few modern creature comforts is disappointing, but it does little to weigh down an otherwise brilliant bundle.
Positives
Both games are still heaps of fun
A great amount of content to enjoy
Performance is rock solid online and offline
The few new pieces of content are appreciated
Negatives
Archaic online matchmaking options
Live-action scenes are a slide show
8.5