Star Wars Battlefront II : Review
Platform: PlayStation 4
Released by EA
Back in 2015, there was a disturbance in the Force.
Like a billion voices screaming out at once both in agony and ecstasy as the next generation of Star Wars gaming was unleashed on the marketplace.
Star Wars: Battlefront was like a candy rush; a heady experience that evaporated into a haze after the initial excitement at its graphical beauty settled down.
Blasted for the lack of a single player campaign and with servers that seemed to disappear a few months later, the game was a victim of its own success, after its servers were deserted and match-making for its multiplayer was emptier than a Death Star's crew forced to evacuate when it's revealed a squadron of X-Wing fighters is headed its way.
Now, nearly a couple of years later, and with EA having promised to change things for the better and apparently listening to people's feedback, the sequel has arrived.
And once again, Electronic Arts is being likened to the Dark Side of the Force after earlier announcements proclaiming future DLCs for it would be free, but then showing in their BETA that progress could be bought with loot crates and in-game purchases.
It's no wonder that Lucasfilm stepped in, the internet went into meltdown and EA "took" the decision to suspend microtransactions - albeit it temporarily - for the game's launch.
In fact, the resulting furore has clouded the Force and its return more than it should have done and comes dangerously close to derailing the original intentions.
Because when it comes together, Star Wars Battlefront II offers the Star Wars fan exactly what they'd look for in a Star Wars game.
This time, a single player campaign has been included and is, to a degree, thrilling.
Put in the position as Iden Versio, a leader of an Imperial Special Forces group (and a female protagonist, natch), the single player campaign takes place between the destruction of the Empire in Return of the Jedi and their subsequent re-rise in The Force Awakens.
But despite a fully developed story, the campaign feels little more than a simple re-ordering of a series of sequences from the game's multiplayer and thrust into a narrative structure.
While it's done seamlessly and looks astonishingly pristine, there's still a feeling that this is a piecemeal episodic entry into Star Wars canon - and despite some excellent rendering of the in-game environments, coupled with some clunky dialogue and a feeling of deja vu, it's not quite the home run you'd have expected for a much-heralded and much-desired single player campaign.
A little more successful is the multiplayer - though even this feels hampered by some own goals that could have easily been prevented.
A raft of options and maps lie in wait, though none as thrilling as the X Wing VR mission that was released last year for the original game.
The 40 player Galactic Assault was already part of the game's beta, but remains nonetheless, a compelling multiplayer experience as you hurtle around the skies on either the good or the bad side.
Like any dog fight should feel, it's thrilling, chaotic and edge-of-your seat stuff. Coupled with the chance to get lost in simply settling some grudges or following the game's various missions, it's exactly how you'd imagine feeling if you were part of the Star Wars universe.
Handling of the craft is perfect and the FX and screeching of the engines as you soar through the skies is second-to-none.
It's almost as if you're in the skies, fighting for your life and being carried along by the adrenaline alone.
Not quite as successful in this though is the chance to be a squad, supposedly giving you the option to double your points if you team up together and achieve what's needed.
There's yet to be a team up event that's worked with other players simply heading off and doing their own thing, essentially making a mockery of what EA clearly had wanted.
And plenty of these games have an inevitable points-grabbing feel, rather than a cohesive aim that results in the grandiose feeling of a team victory.
With the "Plays of the Game" awards handed out after every match, it's hard to shake a feeling that people are simply after feathering their own nest and furthering their own collective gains.
Progression, star cards and the inevitable loot boxes all hamper Star Wars: Battlefront II from soaring. While EA says it's working on these issues after feedback, it still feels like more of a cash grab aimed at trying to get those who'd rather get a quick fix of skill than an earned reward from a well-trodden journey.
There's plenty of that feel of grind within the game and it does mar what could have been a truly exceptional experience.
That's the thing with Star Wars Battlefront II - it feels more like a disposable Star Wars experience, rather than a fully-formed Star Wars game.
It's an excellently rendered collection of curated content, scenarios and different modes of battle guaranteed to satiate any devotee of Lucasfilm.
But it never quite feels like the Force has fully aligned again this time around.