Proven Battlefield gameplay with few extras.
Battlefield 1943 takes place in the Pacific Campaign of World War II, and thus, you'll be playing as either the American or Japanese Navy. All the maps take place on real Pacific Islands that were key to the war, including Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal. With that said, the islands look gorgeous; the water looks clear and realistic, and the landscapes and villages are well textured and aptly decorated. Explosions also look nice, and the odd grainy effect from Bad Company is gone. The downside is that there are only three maps to play, so despite how beautiful they are, you'll probably grow tired of them after you've explored them from shore to shore a couple of times. Not only that, but you'll often get the same map three or four times times in a row, expediting the repetitiveness.
One of the many improvements from its predecessor is that Battlefield 1943 runs on the Frostbite engine, meaning that the game produces incredible destructible environments, akin to Bad Company. For example, after an air raid, clusters of buildings will be completely destroyed, right down to their foundations. The destructible environments can also be used strategically, as almost no place on the battlefield is "safe," with the exception of a few concrete bunkers scattered conveniently around the map; enemies behind building walls are just as easy a target as those in front of them. Thanks to the Frostbite engine, the gameplay is never static, and the battlefield is constantly changing, contributing to a better overall multiplayer experience. It should also be noted that Battlefield 1943 is multiplayer only; there's no bot support or single-player campaign. Therefore, you must be an Xbox Live Gold member in order to download and play.
The sole gameplay mode in Battlefield 1943, Conquest, remains relatively the same as it did in the past Battlefield games: the object remains to capture the majority of five flags placed on the battlefield, thus whittling down your opponents "reinforcements counter" until it runs out, ending the match. The more flags you hold, the faster the counter will deplete. Conquest is definitely an engaging multiplayer mode, but like the maps, the limited variation in gameplay might begin to wear on you after a while. Another of the problems with Conquest on Battlefield 1943 is that the mode itself relies heavily on teamwork, and 1943 doesn't make it easy to communicate with teammates. Few people actually communicate, and those who do, you may not be able to hear due to the unreliable in-game chat system. Sometimes you'll be able to hear a teammate from across the map, where other times you won't be able to hear someone right in front of you. Therefore, communication has whittled down to the primitive means of firing your gun at a teammate or their vehicle if you wish to get their attention; you'll find yourself frequently needing a teammate, but wont have the means to communicate what you need. The only way to remedy this is by creating a four player "squad" and using "squad chat." Chat is more reliable through squads, but again, not everyone uses microphones, and communication outside of your squad is still nonexistent.
Before you get bored of the limited maps and modes, Battlefield 1943's gameplay is quite fun. Paired with the destructible environments and the above average graphics, Battlefield 1943 boasts good vehicle combat and pretty balanced classes, which, again are limited; there are only three classes to choose from, and depending on your situation, you'll have to carefully choose which to use. If you're going to be directly attacking or defending a flag, you'll probably want to be the infantryman, who wields a submachine gun and rocket launcher. If you're into helping your team from afar, you'll want to be a scout, armed with a sniper rifle and remote explosives. If you're somewhere in the middle, the rifleman is probably for you -- you'll be equipped with a semi-automatic rifle and a rifle grenade. Each class has pros and cons, making them relatively balanced -- one's better with explosives than the other, one's better at range, etcetera.
Vehicles, too, are well balanced. Like the three classes, each vehicle has specific strengths and weaknesses, and each serve specific functions on the battlefield. You'll be able to choose between tanks, boats, jeeps, and even planes, which are extremely fun to pilot, albeit very hard to control for first time users. Battlefield 1943 also includes an air raid, which lets the player control a squad of three fighter planes to bomb a specific area on the map. If used correctly, the air raid can flatten whole villages as well as numerous infantry. Though it seems like this would make the air raid overpowered, the three fighters are susceptible to the fire of other airplanes and also the numerous AA Guns sprinkled around the map.
Between the classes and vehicles, Battlefield is balanced like any good multiplayer game should be. However, it does have its fair share of problems. Spawn locations are sometimes sketchy, meaning you could spawn into your team's captured base and encounter an opponent camping, unbeknown to you, right behind the spawn location. Instead of mixing up where you'll spawn, the game tends to put you in the same place (regardless of enemy location), giving an easy kill. Plus, the game seems to have a hard time balancing teams correctly, leaving the top players on the same team round after round. You'll also encounter some minor graphical glitches, including a weird cluster of black bars taking over the majority of the screen. Though random and infrequently occurring, the graphical glitches can certainly ruin your chance to kill an enemy or capture a flag.
Battlefield 1943 is a game that will certainly appeal to Battlefield devotees. It contains proven, classic Battlefield gameplay with updated graphics and gameplay mechanics, such as destructible environments. However, for those who aren't necessarily fans, the game could quickly become boring. With the same few maps and no unlockable weapons, you might be saying you've "been there, done that" within five hours of gameplay. With that said, the game is only 15 dollars, so if you're willing to put up with the glitches and limited options, Battlefield 1943 is a good, cheap multiplayer game, for shooter fans and fans of the series alike.