On the one hand, Star Wars: Battlefront [official site] is absolutely plumbing our nostalgic desire for meticulously-recreated AT-AT battles and X-Wing vs TIE Fighter dogfights. On the other, it’s this absurd cartoon wherein a super-powered Skywalker or Vader sprint around the battlefield getting right up in everyone’s faces. And now Han Solo, Princess Leia and OH FOR GOD’S SAKES Emperor Palpatine have been added to that list.
Ol’ melty-face was about the only character to emerge relatively unscathed from the prequel movies, but now he’s getting stripped of whatever mystery and menace he had left by becoming a playable Battlefront character. I left most of my Star Wars gonkery at the door years ago, but enough remains that I wince when I read something like “So is there a good strategy playing as Palpatine? A hit-and-run tactic is always good: get in close but don’t get stuck. Jump into fights, be aggressive with your lightning attacks, and then jump out again using the Force Dash.” He’ll also “hand out powerups to team mates and health boosts to other Villains.”
So he’s a sort of angry teleporting doctor? Not to mention that the guy was supposed to be cloaked in mystery during the original movie era; it’s not quite the same if the Rebels tell fireside stories like “oh yeah, Palps, P-Dog, I’ve seen him. He was sprinting around Hoth the other day like he had a wasp in his pants, but then he got stuck on a snow drift and was accidentally squashed by one of his own AT-ATs. Dark ruler of the galaxy my foot.”
Though, if he is getting personally involved, I suppose at least it means he’s finally acknowledged what the rest of us have known for decades: Stormtroopers are incompetent. (Also, the guy was playable in past Battlefronts, but that doesn’t automatically make him a natural fit for the new one’s hyper-authentic graphical wizardry).
I’m sorry if I’m ranting, but on top of my slightly unsavoury nerd puritanism, I just want Battlefront to be a straight-up battle of soldiers and war machines. Getting ganked by mythical superheroes just seems disruptive to the fantasy. Though there will, at least, be scope for high comedy. I’m down for landing a TIE Fighter on Harrison Ford. “That’s what you get for wearing that stupid earring, old man.”
Game’s out November 17th, FYI.