twenty0ne's Battlefield 1943 (Xbox 360 Games Store) review

Proven Battlefield gameplay with few extras.

The classic Battlefield formula is back in this download only sequel to the popular Battlefield 1942. For only 15 dollars, you'll be treated to the same Conquest game mode and all the action that accompanies it, which makes this game ideal for Battlefield devotees. However, despite the addictive gameplay of Conquest mode, the game feels a bit stripped. Though somewhat understandable for a download only game, it definitely hinders the replay value and the long-lasting impression of Battlefield 1943; you'll only have three maps to play in, and three classes with no unlockables. Plus, in a game thats overwhelmingly team-based, the in-game chat support is very sketchy, making communication a chore. Few players communicate, and those who do, you may not even be able to hear them. Battlefield 1943 is great for the fan who wants classic Battlefield gameplay with a graphics overhaul, but offers little more. 

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.
12 Comments
Posted by Nerje

Nice review but I think you missed the mark on a couple of things.  BF1943 is designed so that all of the things that your team-mates used to be able to do to ruin your game have been removed, so that the lack of team-wide communication is less of an issue.  It has been designed so that the game plays best with independent squads of four, that communicate internally to complete objectives.  Try playing the game with four people from your friends list in the same squad.  Even moderately-skilled players can dominate a map in this fashion, and those that die can always respawn to their squad-mates straight away.

When it comes to spawning into an overrun base, that's not really something you can complain about.  If the enemy team is overwhelming that particular flag point, then they have earnt the right to kill anyone who spawns there.  Check your map before you spawn - if it's got a swarm of red markers around it, don't spawn there.

Posted by Oni

Sketchy spawn locations? That's called squad spawn.

Posted by natetodamax

I disagree with what you said about the spawns. You know exactly where you are spawning when you do it, and you should know whether or not it's being attacked.

Posted by JacobForrest

The review could be condensed, and it seems like the squad system flew over your head. Except for that, it was well written and informative.

Edited by twenty0ne
@natetodamax: Then you, my friend, have not been repeatedly spawn killed by someone not willing to take a flag, but just sit behind the spawn point of your team's captured base. How should I know that there's an enemy waiting at the spawn point on my captured base? His "red arrow" isn't going to show up if no one's seen him. In other shooters, the game won't let you spawn on a location if there's an enemy directly there. It, instead, will spawn you a little outside the location so you can't be spawn killed.

@oni: NOTE - I'm not talking about squad spawn. See above.
Posted by natetodamax
@twenty0ne: The Frontline Icon shows where most of the fighting is happening. If you are spawning on the base where the Frontline Icon is at, you can expect some gunfire to be coming your way pretty quick.
Posted by twenty0ne
@natetodamax: That's still not what I'm referring to. Regardless, I appreciate your thoughts.

What I'm trying to say is that I'll try to spawn into a base that my team has captured, away from the action, and there will be someone camping right behind the spawn location. Instead of mixing up where I'm going to spawn, the game will still put me right in front of the opponent, giving him an easy kill. There's no way I can know he's there, especially when the base is ours. The system encourages spawn camping. :(
Posted by natetodamax
@twenty0ne: Oh, I see now. Yeah, that's a problem.
Posted by twenty0ne
@natetodamax: I changed the wording a bit in my review to avoid some confusion. 
Posted by twenty0ne
@Nerje: I'll add in squad chat/squad play. Thanks for your feedback.

Also, see my above comments regarding the spawn locations.
Posted by Nerje
@twenty0ne: I still have to disagree.  Firstly, regardless of whether there's a player capping the flag or not, you will not spawn in the exact same spot every time.  You can always spwan and begin running immediately like I do.  Also, there is lots and lots of cover in and around flag points, so it's very unlikely that anyone camping can get an instant kill.
 
Secondly, the game is absolute bedlam at times.  It is highly unlikely that a player can camp a flag and not be detected/distracted until you re-spawn.  If the person doing it is a sniper, well then they must be a really good sniper and they've earned the right to kill you.  There is hardly any griefing in this game.
 
The situation you describe is incredibly rare situation with too many variable factors to be considered a real issue with the game.  Sorry.
Posted by twenty0ne
@Nerje: And I still have to disagree with what you said. If I didn't encounter it regularly, I wouldn't have put it in my review.

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