By Donovan Floyd
The full release of EA’s sequel to Battlefront (2015) is now out, and with that, gamers have full access to everything Battlefront 2 has to offer. Gameplay-wise not much has changed from the Beta. But we now have access to all of the maps and game modes. The main thing I want to cover is the story. Doesn’t the narrative hold up?
*Warning: Major Spoilers Ahead*
The story begins with Iden Versio, a high-ranking Imperial officer and the commander of the Inferno squad, Imperial special forces. The time? After the events of Return of the Jedi, the Empire is scrambling to figure out how to keep control. With the Emperor dead, messenger droids are deployed to communicate plans to keep hold of the empire through sheer force to all high-ranking officials, including Admiral Garrick Versio, Iden’s father, and commanding officer.
My favorite part? We finally get a first-person perspective of someone from the Empire – not just as a foot soldier but as someone whose life is been completely influenced by its ideals. We really can see how brainwashed everybody is by Palpatine. It’s believable to me that people would be would give their lives to such a propaganda-ridden, evil regime.
But of course everybody has their limits, and in time we found Iden’s. This brings us the only part of the story that I didn’t like as much. Part of Operation: Cinder, the Emperor’s plan to keep control of the galaxy, is to destroy Iden and Garrick’s homeworld of Vardos. Garrett doesn’t care that he is completely loyal to the Empire no matter what, but Iden’s loyalty isn’t quite as rock solid. This uncertainty follows her all the way down to the planet where she goes to complete her mission … and she turns just like that. I felt the story should’ve focused on Iden’s conflict between her loyalty to the Empire and her loyalty to the people of the Empire just a little bit longer. How do you go from one side, where you were a devoted, respected, high-ranking official of the Imperial forces to willing to kill any and every Stormtrooper in her sight in such a short time? Sure, she might be feeling betrayed by the organization that she loves, but I think EA should have handled this in a way that was signaled in at least a mysterious way earlier in the tale.
The story kind of jumps to, er, lightspeed after this point. When Iden and her fellow Inferno Squad member/traitor Del Meeko escape, they go straight to the Rebellion and just tell them everything they know about the Empire, and they’re almost immediately trusted by the Rebels, even after all the Rebel soldiers that they killed. Not only that, but Lando Calrissian (he sounds like he’s trying too hard to sound like Billy Dee Williams) gives both of them X-Wings. Just like that, they are full-fledged members of the Rebellion. Afterwards, the story jumps forward a few times, and we get to play some pretty good missions as Han, Leia, and Lando, and it all caps off at the Battle of Jakku. At the end, we do get a good sequence where we play as Kylo Ren right before the events of The Force Awakens.
So the story itself is shorter than I thought it would be. I was kind of hoping for something more fleshed out, but we can tell, through its own PR communications, that EA focused more on the multiplayer content. The story is good as a whole and the first half is great. But the lackluster second half leaves something to be desired. EA already perhaps recognizes that which is why it’s already been announced that they’re coming out with more story content in the first DLC release.
One thing I do like about the second half of the story is the way the writers integrated some of the prequel trilogy maps in the story. We only get to see Naboo, however, and they only mention Kashyyyk in passing, but maybe we’ll get to see it in an upcoming story DLC release. In the future, I’d like to see a lot more story content where we fill the gaps in between Iden defecting to the rebellion and the battle of Jakku, maybe even after Jakku.
Until then, I’ll be sitting back and enjoying the crushing souls as Kylo Ren in the multiplayer Heroes vs. Villains mode, my current favorite mode (while waiting patiently to be able to play Anakin or Obi-Wan). It doesn’t get much better than that.
Donovan Floyd is a New York Videogame Critics Circle contributing writer.