Review: Star Wars Battlefront Classic Collection takes you back to the gritty side of the saga

star wars battlefront collection

Curse the prequels as much as you want, but you have to admit that they showed a side of Star Wars that had never been approached before: the grim reality of the war machine, how it chews and spits out those that are on the bottom of the totem pole. So much so that soldiers weren’t even considered individuals, but mere expandable cannon fodder in the form of clones, created off Boba Fett’s dad, Jango.

For me in particular, the films that told the story before there ever was a Darth Vader were nowhere as bad as people made them out to be in the years that followed. And in hindsight, after getting yet another trilogy of films that continued the story post-Jedi, man, the prequels became even better. And the games that were released based on them, even with various degrees of success, were pretty damn fun.

While not nearly as experienced in them as some people I know, there’s no denying that the first Star Wars Battlefront games were among the best. In them, you experienced Star Wars as one of the infinite number of nameless clones being thrown in the thick of it, or, as one of the infinite number of nameless droids being thrown in the thick of it. Yeah, regardless of which side you picked, whether it was for the Republic or the Separatists, you were pretty much dirt.

And in the dirt you tend to be in both of these games. But there are times when, in similar fashion to the early Battlefields, you can also jump in and man vehicles, which there are plenty of, from air carriers to flying death machines, as well as their land varieties. Much like Vietnam, where I lost count the number of times I crashed the chopper, dying under the curse storms delivered by my hapless passengers, I do the same in the Star Wars variety.

star wars battlefront collection
Just me and my boys…

Oh, by the way, these are now re-releases under Aspyr, one of the companies that are likely to be soon free of Embracer, which is dying an undeservedly quick death all things considered, for the pain that it inflicted on many now unemployed industry professionals. Both games are part of the Star Wars Battlefield Classic Collection, released for just about every system known to man, including the Switch, where I happened to try it out for this review.

These are certainly old games and make no qualms about that fact, which is all fine by me, someone who had just about zero experience playing them originally, but knew what they were about and had a general idea in mind based on the series that they were inspired by. And knowing Pandemic was the studio who made them, I’d zero worries about whether or not they were good.

And that they are. Twenty years later, there’s something to be said about how well these games play today. The drop in, drop out online mode is deadly quick in the way it puts you back in the action, unlike most modern shooters that have you wait a long time before doing so, all the while watching the dude who killed you, likely to be a teenager with shoestring Wi-Fi, trotting about, virtual gun in hand.

For a fan of Star Wars who was just the right age to enjoy the prequels in a more innocent way, without the worries of how bad some of the acting in them was – and let’s be honest, original Star Wars is just as guilty of that, rose-colored glasses tossed aside. Amongst the barrage of games released thinly based on the franchise, Battlefront 1 and 2 were the closest to the movies hands down.

star wars battlefront collection
Use harpoons and tow cables, go for the legs!

There’s the music cues, the undeniable signature sound effects, the look and feel of the hastily put-together futuristic thingamajig clashing with the sterile, clean,  and industrial, something that Star Wars has always done so well, perfectly translated in videogame form. On one hand, the first Battlefront was a much dirtier experience, since you spent the whole time playing as a grunt, while 2 eventually was a bigger fan service celebration, giving you control over some iconic Star Wars characters, such as Vader and many of the Jedi, including Yoda!

That’s not even touching upon just how well it all plays, which is immensely well, razor-sharp, quick and fun, even when doing incredibly bad like yours truly. The same can be said of the more recent reboot of Battlefront, but there’s something special about these and it’s not just nostalgia for the source material, that period in gaming or for having played these at the right age, because I only get to tick two out of those boxes.

I had just about zero experience with these before jumping into Star Wars Battlefront Classic Collection and managed to have an absolute blast with them, so in the chance that you are like me and enjoy trotting in pre-Disney Star Wars every now and then, you’re very likely to enjoy this re-release as much as I did. Given how well other remasters like the Star Wars Dark Forces Remaster are doing with today’s audience, I wouldn’t be shocked to see this doing just about the same.

With all that said, I have to address the elephant in the room and that’s the price tag. Thirty-five dollars gets you both of the old games in remastered form, just about three times what you’d pay for them individually on sites like GOG. Is this collection worth it? I would say that depends on how much time you plan to devote to them. As quick jaunts now and then, I would say yes. 

star wars battlefront collection
*Cue Duel of the Fates*

Aspyr has done a decent job porting both shooters, much like they did with Jedi Outcast and even Knights of the Republic, but even more so Republic Commando, for obvious reasons. Top that off with servers that are sure going to be populated with both old-school and newcomers alike, the chances of finding a match are high and I expect them to remain that way, especially considering that EA has long killed the original versions’.

This compilation is your best bet of playing them online without any frills or having to deal with hackers and whatnot that are abundant in fan-controlled servers for the old games. From what’s been reported so far, though, the situation is a bit different on PC, with a less than ideal launch server situation.

For what it is, Star Wars Battlefront Classic Collection is exactly what it name implies, a trip down memory lane with a classic game, and even without any previous experience with them, the games included exude personality and are the closest that we as players have ever come to experiencing in videogame form what it would be like to be in the midst of an actual star war. Yeah, it’s just not a name and no, you can’t put this quote on the box, thank you. See you on the battlefield, soldier.      

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