Review | Battlefield 1943
Format: XBox360/PS3 | Genre: FPS | Publisher: EA | Developer: DICE | Release date: 09/07/09 |RRP: Roughly £10
By Greg Giddens
World War 2 has spawned a ridiculous amount of FPS games, one of the most renowned and interesting being Battlefield 1942. Now, seven years later, a new year begins in the Battlefield calendar, leading to what is quite possibly among the best online shooters so far.
It’s certainly one of the most accessible games ever created. There’s no complex control system or rules; there are only four maps, two game modes and three classes. Battlefield 1943 is simple to play and impossible to put down. It takes everything that was loved about the previous Battlefield games and enhances them with a very clear goal to: create the perfect online shooter.
//In the beginning
Originally, only three maps and a single game mode were present, but the fourth map and second game mode were unlocked when the console community reached a set amount of kills – in this case 43 million. This incentive to play is truly original, and seems to have really engaged the community. Now, with the extra content unlocked, the Coral Sea map and the Dogfight game mode are large components of the experience, but the main game is still in the original content.
You play as either the US Marines or the Japanese Imperial Navy, across three maps based on real-world locations and battles. As with the previous Battlefield games, your task is to take control of the flag points on the map to reduce the enemies’ counter to zero. But the presentation, health system and complexity have all been changed from before. Battlefield 1943 uses Battlefield: Bad Company’s Frostbite engine, and as a result looks beautiful. Colours are bright and welcoming, fire and explosions look menacing, and everything looks crisp and well detailed. Add to that the destructible scenery and buildings, and Battlefield 1943 offers a far more tangible world to immerse yourself in.
That’s not to say Battlefield 1943 is aiming for realism. Instead, it celebrates the fact that it’s a game. There is no ultra-punishing damage system, and health is neither measured through a bar nor numerically. Instead, the game uses a red indicator to show which direction you’re taking damage from, and you need to avoid damage for a short amount of time to recover, Gears of War style. The complexity of Battlefield 1943 has been scaled back a fair bit as well, with each of the three classes being able to perform the roles of several from the previous games. It means it’s far more accessible to all players, and while each class has a specialised trait, they’re all still capable in all forms of combat, and nobody is penalised with a severe weakness.
It’s not just the game mechanics whose complexity has been reduced. Battlefield 1943 offers a very simple menu system that allows players to easily invite friends to join a group and then a match, and once you’re playing the fun never ends. Quite literally – you’re never kicked back to the menu screen. At the end of a round you’re automatically moved over to the next match, so theoretically, if you suffer no connection problems, you can join a game from the menu once and spend the rest of the day entirely in-game.
Battlefield 1943 is an austere concept. It concentrates on the one experience – online play – which it delivers brilliantly. But that’s all there is – there’s no single player mode other than a tutorial, and no simulated online play with bots. Online-only does potentially limit the audience, and the current selection of maps may not be enough to keep players amused for long. But each is well designed, offering a completely different experience through variation in the layout and terrain. There might come a time when it becomes boring, but it’s unlikely to be any time soon.
Indeed, it’s easy to forget that Battlefield 1943 is a XBLA title – despite the lack of content, it feels more like a full retail product. We played on the 360, where it costs a mere 1200 points (£10.20), and provides some of the best online shooter playability yet seen on the console. As far as bang for your buck goes, Battlefield 1943 is explosive.