Battlefield 1943 Review
Battlefield 1942 was a landmark in multiplayer gaming- supporting up to 64 players on huge, well designed maps and a multitude of vehicles including planes, boats and tanks. It was so popular in fact that it is still played by many to this day. 7 years later, EA hopes that by just recycling 3 maps, reducing the player count to 24 and halving the number of soldier classes it can produce another gem. Can a lower price tag justify these cuts, or does this World War 2 shooter feel as stale as all the other games in its genre?
The first issue to be presented is the seemingly small amount of content that 1943 provides. The map count in 1942 (which was well over a dozen) has been slashed to just 3, with the promise of a fourth as free DLC. This is an obvious moaning point, but as any Battlefield player will tell you no matter how many maps there are you will always fall in love with just a couple of them and play those few repeatedly. The maps which have been included are arguably the best anyway, since they all promote teamwork and are of a suitably epic scale. Different tactics have to be employed to each island map- on one, for example, one base is available on top of a mountain while several other ones are below it. Teams have to choose whether to capture the mountain base (which provides cover and sniping spots, alongside mounted machine guns) or the bases below, which offer planes and airstrikes. Either way, teams have to try and occupy more bases than the enemy, otherwise the amount of reinforcements (player re-spawns) depletes.
The maps all feel completely different too, thanks to DICE’s ‘Frostbite’ engine which was introduced in Bad Company. Trees can now be mown down, tanks can crash through buildings’ walls and cover is no longer reliable. While it certainly has more of a bearing on gameplay than the environmental damage seen in something like Gears of War 2, it still feels slightly superficial. Buildings cannot be completely demolished, flimsy wooden watchtowers are apparently indestructible and the ground cannot be warped like in Red Faction. All is forgiven whenever you spawn in the aftermath of a large battle, however-scrambling amongst the flaming ruins of once-pristine buildings whilst other players engage in dogfights overhead is an amazing experience.
On a related note, the visuals in 1943 are undeniably impressive for a strictly downloadable title. While it may not be quite on par with the quality seen inWipEout HD, it certainly comes in at a close second. Beautiful water, a large draw distance, a colourful pallet and detailed models provide a fantastic visual experience. Battlefield games have always been known for excellent sound tech, and 1943 is no different. Nearly every sound in game is made by other players and using 5.1 surround sound you can pinpoint where the action is. Gunshots are meaty, explosions are suitably loud and plane engines scream when you dive. The only complaint would be the lack of custom soundtrack support for PS3 players, but that’s not really a deal breaker.
Battlefield is a game for groups of friends- the best way to play any Battlefield game is with people who you know can work as a team. Storming beaches in landing craft together or flanking enemies is an amazing social experience which you shouldn’t miss out on. Instances of lag are few and far between and even if you don’t have friends, playing with randomers is still a lot of fun.
The lower price point really does make 1943 an appealing package, since for £9.99 you can buy one of the most fun multiplayer experiences available on any system. There lies another large problem though- with all the other multiplayer-centric titles being released in the immediate future, there is a general fear that the player base will drop off. If time has shown one thing, however, it is that people will play Battlefield games for a long time- Vietnam still has hundreds of players online at any given moment (which is somewhat miraculous).
Battlefield 1943 is a fantastic way to avoid the sun this summer. While the package may seem lacking at first, it should be more than enough to tide you over until the winter’s blockbusters arrive. When gaming this good is this cheap, why not jump on the bandwagon while there’s still company to ride with? Gear up soldier!