Review: Battlefield 1943 (XBLA, PSN)
Battlefield 1943 isn’t just a good WWII shooter; it’s actually good enough to contend with any other online shooter out today
Before reading this I already know what your thinking. Your probably saying to yourself: WTF, another World War II shooter? The difference it that Battlefield 1943 isn’t just a good WWII shooter; it’s actually good enough to contend with any other online shooter out today. The Battlefield series began way back in 2002 on the PC. The single player campaign was for the most part, forgetful, as it was basically playing the game against bots, with a mission briefing beforehand. It was the multiplayer component that had gamers coming back for seconds. The series introduced what I would call RTS-fps gameplay; this is because there’s so much going on with plenty of strategy involved. You can really be all you can be as you take the fight to the air, ground and sea. In planes, tanks, jeeps, or on foot the series really changed the way the online FPS is played.
Battlefield 1943 is the true sequel to the original, and although it’s been 7 years, it is totally worth the wait. The concept behind Battlefield is simple for the casual and at the same time incredibly deep for the hardcore. In essence, it plays out like a game of domination in Call of Duty or king of the hill in Halo; the difference being that kills in the case of Battlefield also count as points towards your win. They’ve thrown in an XP leveling system, which credits you for kills, assists, defensive kills, defensive assists, and snatching up territories. Although the XP is there, it really doesn’t serve much purpose besides allowing you to rank up. There aren’t any upgrades or other incentives for moving up in ranks, which is unfortunate and definitely one of the title’s shortcomings. The developers did manage to address a major issue with spawn camping found in many of the previous titles in the series, by not allowing you to attack the other team while they spawn at their HQ. Before every respawn you can switch between classes (infantryman, rifleman, and scout) and spawn points, to help you jump back right into the action.
Graphically, Battlefield is one of, if not the best looking downloadable “arcade” games to date. Digital Illusions CE (DICE), the team behind the 2002 original, has implemented the same Frostbite Engine from Battlefield: Bad Company, bringing in incredible environmental damage and detail to the game. After an air or artillery strike, there’s just something about watching the trees slowly tumbling over in the distance that never gets old. It isn’t just the trees getting blown out of their place buildings are destructible as well. Perfect for those pesky snipers who spend the round camping indoors. They think they’re safe then all of a sudden: BOOM and they’re waiting to respawn. Disappointingly, not all buildings or structures are destructible and what’s worse is that there is no way of telling which ones are. So it makes the bomb dropping or running for cover a bit unbalanced and somewhat of a guessing game.
Sound Design in Battlefield truly draws you into the epic online experience. When bombs are dropped or cannons go off in your immediate area, you suddenly go deaf for a couple of seconds, where all you can really hear is your own heartbeat. It sounds really simple, but it’s done in a way that makes you feel that whatever it is that you’re in the middle of is no laughing matter. The directional sound that is achieved is also quite impressive. I can think of many times where I would be climbing a hill in hopes of providing sniper support to my teammates and when I reach the summit I can hear all the smaller skirmishes in the distance; yet in the immediate area where I’m posted all I can hear are my own footsteps and a nerve-wracking silence. I say nerve-wracking because when it’s that quiet, someone usually has you in his or her sights. The sound is so well detailed that you don’t have to use the radar to get into the action, just listen for the sweet sound of gunfire and screams and you know which way to go.
All in all Battlefield 1943 is breath of fresh air for the online FPS genre. I used to hate vehicles in shooters because they created an imbalance (i.e. tanks in COD: WAW), but in Battlefield for every tank, there’s a guy with a bazooka waiting for him. The game provides hours upon hours of entertainment and at only $15 bucks on PSN or 1200 MS points (respectively) it’s a steal! If you’re looking for something to keep you busy during the summer gaming drought, you can look no further.