Giant Bomb Review

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Battlefield 1943 Review

4

Despite some frustrating early network issues, this lean, mean sequel to the grandaddy of all Battlefield games still has it where it counts.


Scenes like this happen all the time.
Considering how big, loud, and prolific DICE's Battlefield series has gotten, it's probably a wonder we received any sort of sequel at all to the series' fondly but distantly remembered breakout hit Battlefield 1942. The good news is that despite shipping with only three condensed player classes and a relatively small handful of maps, the downloadable, incrementally titled Battlefield 1943 nails all the series' requirements for dynamic, unpredictable, exciting multiplayer combat. Some unfortunate connection problems marred the first few days of release, especially on the Xbox 360, but now that things are mostly smoothed out, 1943 represents a great multiplayer value.

'43 focuses exclusively on the Pacific Theater of World War II with three greatest-hits maps from the original game: Wake Island, Guadalcanal, and Iwo Jima. All three are island maps with a symmetrical layout, since both the American and Japanese forces start from aircraft carriers on opposite sides of the map and vie for control of capture points that are laid out in a balanced fashion. Each map has subtleties and distinctive terrain that give it character, but they all play with a certain degree of similarity. You aren't going to see the massive tank battles you got on 1942's Battle of the Bulge, for instance--though a DLC map pack or two featuring some of that game's best European maps would be a welcome addition.

The maps' singular focus is consistent with the design philosophy of 1943 as a whole; it strips out the nonessential elements from the original game without losing the core feel and flow of the battles. Yes, the matches are limited to 12 players against 12, but the maps are tailored to the team size. Yes, there are only three classes, but the important abilities have all been spread across those three. You can't go prone, there are no ammo limits, the bombers are gone. You could assemble a big list of things that have changed if you're some kind of crazy purist for the old days. But the truth is, those things don't matter; you're still getting in tanks and blowing away enemy jeeps as they race by, or shooting down a fighter from an AA turret and ducking as its fiery fuselage hurtles straight past your head. It's still Battlefield and still a heck of a lot of fun. 
 
Thanks in large part to Bad Company's Frostbite engine, DICE did a good job of keeping 1943 up to date with current standards, giving it a couple of new features, and making it work well on consoles. Destructible walls make it harder for enemies to camp out inside the buildings around each control point. It's also a lot of fun to drive a tank straight through fences and thickets of trees rather than getting stuck on them. The new air raid feature lets you send a trio of heavy bombers over the enemy base and carpet it with destruction via an underside camera angle. And the squad features--voice chat, spawning directly into your friends' vehicles, group scoring--make the game more strategic and social. Granted, some of those features existed in previous Battlefield games already, but if you happened to be coming straight from 1942 to this game, you'd be surprised how well it keeps up with modern conventions. Even the controls work just fine, and I actually found the notoriously hard-to-fly fighter planes, well, much easier to fly. (There's also an included tutorial to help out with that.)

You might actually be able to fly well with a thumb stick. 
The worst thing you could say about 1943 is that the online infrastructure hasn't worked very well since its release almost a week ago--which is, honestly, a pretty damning thing to say about an online-only game. In the case of the Xbox Live Arcade version, for part of that time it barely worked at all. EA was woefully unprepared to handle the player load at launch; it was nearly impossible to get into a game at all for the first couple of days, and even once it was possible to consistently join matches with strangers, I still had issues for a couple more days getting into my friends' games. The PlayStation Network fared much better, though I also had a similar issue joining friends' games on the PS3, which gave me the option to join but then inexplicably told me the game "appeared to be unavailable." If nothing else, more descriptive error messages (even a simple "match is full") would have demystified and lessened the frustration with these server issues.

Now, six days after launch, Battlefield 1943 is working more or less like it's supposed to, and EA says it's committed to ironing out the few lingering network issues. There's more content on the way; the fourth map, a naval and air-only battle called Coral Sea, should unlock in a matter of hours on the Xbox 360 and later this week on the PS3 (as both player bases work toward the 43 million kill requirement). The shaky launch was a blight on DICE's service record, and Battlefield 1943 tested--and almost surpassed--my patience for launch-day online problems. But anyone buying the game now will simply find an intense, replayable multiplayer shooter that's fully worthy of both the Battlefield name and the price of entry. Brad Shoemaker on Google+
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Posted by day2daze

can't get into a single game, still...  go xbox

but mehhhhhhhhhhhhhh

couldn't care less with wednesday a day away

Posted by JJWeatherman

Well, I played the demo and it was great so I may just buy this and hope it's patched VERY soon.

Online
Posted by Jackel2072

best 15 bucks i have spent on XBLA  in a long time! im am so addicted to this game!

Posted by MrMiyagi

So it works now?

Posted by Crash_Happy

Huge amounts of fun for such a reasonable price.

Posted by Hairydutchman

Works like a charm on PSN.

Posted by TheKing

Easily worth the 15 dollars.

Posted by phlegms

I approve of this review Bradley, this game is fucking awesome!

Posted by Chokobo

Since Friday evening I've been able to get into a game in one or two tries.  Worth every penny.

Posted by Media_Master

looks like multiplayer fun in ww2 of all places

Posted by Azteck

Man, I just bought a game and  now I gotta buy this? Crap, I'm gonna be poor in no time.

Edited by corgorav

Nice review Brad. I really hope they will throw in a couple of map packs as that'd really add more replay value though someone somewhere quoted someone at Dice saying they aren't planning any dlc as of now but let's hope the surprising success gets them thinking. Also, I'd like me some new guns maybe in the future and I really don't like the air raid system as people sometimes just spam them, COD-like system would be better imo.

Posted by Kreega

Actually, the worst thing I could say about it is that I can't read a single word that it displays. Though I guess that's the folly of SD TVs.

Still, it'd be nice to know if I actually killed somebody or not.

Posted by HT101

This is a great game and since Friday, I have not had any problems getting into games or dealing with lag on my 360.  If you own a PS3 or a 360, you should definitely try this game out because it is a lot of fun to play.  Also, great review Brad.

Posted by Roger_Klotz

Great review Brad. Good to see that you played the PS3 version as well.

 

Posted by RHCPfan24

I love, love, love Battlefield 1943. Great review, Brad. The network issues were the only problems I had.

Posted by TwoOneFive

im pretty sure the ps3 version had zero problems at launch but whatever.

Posted by pplus0440

please tell me that other developers will follow this idea. a great game for 15 bucks and i didnt even have to leave home to get it.

Edited by mrsmiley

Hmm... not a bad review. You didn't address any of the issues with weapon splash and balance though. Hit a solider dead on with a tank shell? Nothing happens. Drop a bomb from a plane that lands 2 feet from an enemy? Nothing happens unless you drop it directly on his head. I still think the game deserves 4 stars, because it's fun as hell! But some issues for the first few days to me isn't enough to warrant losing a star. Being unable to kill anything but vehicles with a tank shell ranks higher up on my list of failures! ;)

Edited by Seppli

Since the rocky launch with its many hiccups, most problems have been resolved. It's a very enjoyable game.  A couple hours of now, the 360 community will have unlocked Coral Sea. I'm looking forward to it so much. Flying is great fun.

Everybody should check BF 1943 out. It's an awesome game with very long legs. Well worth the 15 bucks. I'm hoping for a map pack. This and BF BC 'Goldrush' mode will be my online multiplayer poison for a long time. Come join the Battlefield. See you in my sights - soldier!

Posted by Metiphis

New map will be unlocked on Xbox today.

Posted by changeling

This game is indeed awesome, but it definitely could use anti-tank mines . I really miss them... Bring on some map packs and Bad Company 2 !

Posted by VaultDweller13

I agree with mrsmiley, I hope the reason it lost a star in your review wasn't because of the server problems the first couple days after launch because the splash damage problem is a bigger and lasting issue.  I've also found problems with enemies clipping through my vehicles instead of being killed by them.  The server thing probably won't happen again, but these things will happen all the time unless they are patched.

Posted by Three0neFive

Bought it on XBLA yesterday after hearing that the PC version isn't due out until September. Fuck you EA, you sure know how to make me buy a game twice. :/

Posted by Brackynews

I hear in this one the planes can shoot lasers or a spread gun. :)
Looking forward to it.

Posted by RsistncE

Wow this is the first review on Giantbomb I disagree with. Definitely a 5. Seems like Brad gave it a 4 just because of the launch day issues. That's weak.

Posted by giyanks22
@Jackel2072: I'm definitely getting this.


I wonder how much dough Dice and EA will make off this game...probably a lot.
Posted by Karmum
@RsistncE:
Weak that a terrible launch delays nearly delays your review for a week? Weak on EA and DICE's part.
Posted by TragicallyErock

This is easily the best $15 you can spend on XBLA or PSN. I hope this game does well enough that they keep supporting it with new maps, even if we have to pay for them.

Posted by MeatSim

Fly well in the a Battlefield game? that's unheard of. Even though I just played a bunch of Bad Company recently I still might buy this.

Posted by RsistncE
@Karmum: That doesn't make the game any worse. It's nonsensical to rate a game lower based solely on it the company's servers not being able to support all the players for ONE DAY. It's a stupid reason for a game to lose 20% of the max score based on that reason alone. The game is perfect now, it only took a day for it to be fixed. Fucking Gears 2 got a perfect score and that game still has broken multiplayer to this day. This review is FUBAR Brad.
Posted by TheHBK

Sounds good, I will probably get it when its on sale for 10 or 7 bucks.  Lets go MS with your Arcade sales!  And flying planes still sucks ass.

Posted by FuzzYLemoN

Your lack of a fifth star disturbs me, Brad. This game is too awesome to deserve any less.

Posted by Fosssil
@mrsmiley said:
" Hmm... not a bad review. You didn't address any of the issues with weapon splash and balance though. Hit a solider dead on with a tank shell? Nothing happens. Drop a bomb from a plane that lands 2 feet from an enemy? Nothing happens unless you drop it directly on his head. I still think the game deserves 4 stars, because it's fun as hell! But some issues for the first few days to me isn't enough to warrant losing a star. Being unable to kill anything but vehicles with a tank shell ranks higher up on my list of failures! ;) "
Speaking to the issue of the tank shell splash damage -- are you firing from the 3rd-person camera view or the 1st-person view? I've found that the hit detection and killing power of the tank is much better when aiming in 1st-person.
Posted by Trilogy

I had a ton a fun with the trial and i was only playing with random people. Can't wait to buy it and get into the pacific with some buddies.

Posted by MetalR

I fully agree with this review.

Hello.

Posted by Octaslash
@Fosssil:

Indeed.

1st person is much better in both tanks and planes. I don't know how anyone can aim in 3rd person. Yeah, the slash damage is a little weak, but it entirely possible to kill them, even from the other side of the map.
Edited by Seppli
@Meatsim said:
" Fly well in the a Battlefield game? that's unheard of. Even though I just played a bunch of Bad Company recently I still might buy this. "
That's the whole point of flying in Battlefield games. The flying machines are the hardest to get into and are even harder to master, because, once you've achieved that, you are on top of the foodchain.

I've played Battlefield Bad Company for roughly 500 hours. I haven't spent a single hour in a chopper, because I just didn't have it in me, to learn to fly the damn things. But rest assured, in that 500 hours of play, I've seen quite a lot of people who have learned to fly the choppers effectively. Some of them were true masters. Learning how fly the choppers is learning how to dominate. I regret, that I haven't learned to use the choppers. I guess, the lack of a tutorial mode is partly responsible for that. That will be different in the future. BF 1943 has a good tutorial mode. I hope every Battlefield game will have that in the future.

Anyways, the planes in BF 1943 are in fact quite easy to get into, when spending some time in the tutorial first. To really get good at them, especially having a top accuracy with bombs, is quite a feat. In return, ace pilots are the only truely effective counter-measure to a skillful tank commander.

So, in short, flying machines don't suffer from bad controls. They always have perfectly fine controls. It just isn't easy to pick up, and they are very hard to master. It's feasible and it's worth it.  And yes, I love the planes in BF 1943, especially the Japanese Zero.
Posted by Seppli
@Octaslash said:
" @Fosssil: Indeed. 1st person is much better in both tanks and planes. I don't know how anyone can aim in 3rd person. Yeah, the slash damage is a little weak, but it entirely possible to kill them, even from the other side of the map. "
Pros switch between 3rd and 1st person view all the time. 3rd person is better to recognize enemies, because of the bigger field of view. 1st person is for aiming. Switching perspectives used to be on the right thumbstick button in BF BC, which is very ergonomic. It's on d-pad up in BF 1943, one of the few gripes I have with the game.

Anyways, I would get used to switching between views. Use 3rd person view, when no enemy is in sight, for easier navigation and for scanning for threats. As soon, as you make out enemies. Switch to 1st person and engage.
Posted by MrKlorox

I also would have given it 5 stars. The technical issues were only temporary and the ultra low price for the massive amount of fun totally makes up for that.

Posted by Lind_L_Taylor

What the fuck does this game cost?

Posted by mrsmiley
@Fosssil said:
" @mrsmiley said:
" Hmm... not a bad review. You didn't address any of the issues with weapon splash and balance though. Hit a solider dead on with a tank shell? Nothing happens. Drop a bomb from a plane that lands 2 feet from an enemy? Nothing happens unless you drop it directly on his head. I still think the game deserves 4 stars, because it's fun as hell! But some issues for the first few days to me isn't enough to warrant losing a star. Being unable to kill anything but vehicles with a tank shell ranks higher up on my list of failures! ;) "
Speaking to the issue of the tank shell splash damage -- are you firing from the 3rd-person camera view or the 1st-person view? I've found that the hit detection and killing power of the tank is much better when aiming in 1st-person. "
I completely agree. I've found that the only vehicle I play as in 3rd person now is the plane. But still, that is a flaw. A tank shouldn't be more powerful just because you're viewing from inside.
Posted by oDr3w

Effing glad all of the bugs and server issues are all cleared up. This game is typical battlefield, exactly what everyone wanted. Such a great game.

Posted by bonbolapti

It's the little things about this game that make me enjoy playing it.

Running over a guy then jumping out and shooting someone beside him, makes me feel like a hero.

Posted by CrescentFresh

Holy crap I LOVE this game! It brings back all the great memories from 1942. The map selection is great, and the streamlined nature of it quickly gets you back in the action. Flying the planes still is one of the most fun things to do. In life. One recommendation though; invert the y-axis for flying. It makes it much easier.

Posted by MrKlorox

Can't understand how Trine got a 5 and this gone only a 4. Does cost not factor into value?

Posted by AhmadMetallic

it costs 15$?  in the game shops here in israel i found it for 53$   -__________-  .. im not gonna buy it then. what a rip off.

Posted by 88Fingers

Meh, I am so done with games like this....
definitely yawn inducing
....yawn

Posted by Seppli

Very nice video review!

Posted by Tuco_Ramires

Errr...12 Vs 12 ?
It's not  BF Anymore...

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