Battlefield 1943

The usual internet uproar surrounding another World War 2 first person shooter being released was suspiciously absent upon Battlefield 1943’s announcement, such is the high regard the series is held in within the gaming community. The series has consistently pushed the boundaries of first person team based gameplay and vehicular combat whilst keeping accessibility as far away from the style of intimidating tactical shooters as possible. If Halo revolutionised the genre on consoles then you can argue that Battlefield did just as much work on the PC, showing that shooters needn’t lack fun for all skill levels or eighty hours practice to survive. With such illustrious pedigree Battlefield 1943 now stands as the first true sequel to the iconic Battlefield 1942 and as a pioneer in it’s own right, being completely digitally distributed. A daunting place for any game to be, does it stand up to such hype?

The first thing fans of the series will notice is that it feels like Battlefield 1942, which is no bad thing. The three maps included are all lifted from 1942 and adapted to suit the 24 player matches of 1943. The lone gameplay mode available is similarly a series staple. Conquest mode has five capture points dotted around the map, you capture the points to win. It’s deceptively simple but the maps are designed so you never get too bored with playing the same game type. Flak guns, sniper towers, bunkers and all buildings destructible thanks to the Frostbite engine lifted from Battlefield: Bad Company and you have an ever evolving battlefield. The destructible environments in particular make for fun gameplay. Being chased by a tank is frightening enough but when shells fly past you and destroy the building you intended to hide in…well it’s a brown trouser moment. It opens up so many gameplay questions as well, do you charge in and destroy every building in a base making it easy to capture or do you preserve so it’s a good defence point for when it’s your base? That depth is not just theoretical, it’s there and if you want to win has to be constantly considered.

The vehicles in 1943 epitomise everything that’s right about the game and the series as a whole. Nothing is overpowered and everything has it’s learning curve. The Jeep is the easiest vehicle to use and is essentially you and a machine-gunner bombing around the map, great fun but you are pretty easy to destroy. The tank is a little trickier and heavier but does immense damage, still easily destroyed unless it has back up however. The planes are lethal and can really turn a game but has a pretty steep learning curve. Similarly a skilled soldier can take the pilots head off with practice. The three class types are similarly well balanced and offering something for all levels of players. Infantry are close range fighters but can take out tanks, rifleman long range and can take out infantry whilst snipers are long range (of course) and can also act as a demolitions expert. Nothing feels too overpowered and you never just feel beaten in a game, there’s always something you can do to reverse fortunes. There’s no better feeling than after having your head blown apart for the eighth time by a sniper to get into the plane and attack from above, yet in the same breath you are not a god in that plane and always able to be taken out. That balance is what keeps the game frustration free and simply speaking what keeps it fun.

From the outside looking in Battlefield 1943 is an austere package but it’s only when you start playing that you feel the beauty of it’s simplicity. You only have three maps (a fourth coming after the community scores 43 million kills) and your choice of class is limited but you never feel like you are losing out on some grander experience. The graphics are gorgeous and whilst the gameplay isn’t ground breaking the limited class and vehicle choice ensures that it is perfectly balanced and enormous fun. This review discusses the meat of gameplay very little because it’s standard First Person Shooter fare yet it does it just perfectly. Granted there are no myriad of classes, weaponry, maps and customisation options but what you have in it’s place is a perfectly balanced and highly refined game that delights but never frustrates. The austerity of the package allows the gameplay to be refined to this degree and when the gameplay is there and correct the package surrounding it doesn’t come into the equation. If you want a flashy AAA big budget shooter then this isn’t the kind of game for you, what we have here is a game that holds all the staples of the Battlefield series in a great value package. Deep, engaging, accessible and fun…there’s nothing more you can ask from a game.







9 responses to “Battlefield 1943”

  1. Ramsden avatar

    I’m sure this is a great game… but I don’t seem to be able to play because I get some EA Online error message every time I try to. It would have been nice to see some mention of the various terrible technical problems in the review.

  2. John.B avatar

    Played all day today with no problem, servers are seemingly sorted now. I saw no need to address a problem which now affects every high demand game with an on-line component and dedicated servers.

  3. Ramsden avatar

    I’m not referring to any server overloading from initial high demand – I’ve discovered from a friend who linked me to Penny Arcade that the problem is that my XBox Live profile isn’t linked to an EA Online account. The game offers no option to sign up, from what I can see, and I don’t own any other EA games with an online component for my 360 (strange considering their predominance in gaming, but true – almost all my EA published titles are for my PC) to use Tycho’s suggested work-around. I’m also extremely irked that I should even NEED an EA Online account. I already have signed up to XBox Live and I pay for a Gold subscription to play online. I shouldn’t have to sign up again for another service, again divulging my contact details, simply because certain unscrupulous publishers want to force me into being on their mailing list. There is something fundamentally wrong with that kind of mentality. It isn’t enough that I purchase their product. I find that extremely frustrating.

  4. John.B avatar

    But again that’s not strictly to do with the game, that’s the surrounding infrastructure. Why should I negatively review the game for that aspect? The equivalent would be negatively reviewing Halo 3 because I object against paying for Xbox Live Gold.

  5. Rhyle avatar

    Completely agree with John.B – review the game. The rest is a passing inconvenience.

  6. Ramsden avatar

    The difference is that it is possible to play Halo 3 offline without XBox Live Gold. This is purely an online game, and the infrastructure that allows you to play the game online is pretty fundamental to the entire gaming experience. Without it working properly, there essentially is no game. The lack of ability to sign up for this EA Online service within the game itself is definitely worth mentioning. My philosophical objections to the service’s existence to one side, it is a serious design flaw within the game when you cannot sign up for the service that is required to play the game at all. Not everyone already has an EA Online account, and having to use another EA Online game to sign up is inconvenient and clumsy at best, and prohibitive at worst, since as I mentioned before I don’t have another game that I can use to get around this little problem.

    There is more to reviewing a game than what the graphics look like and how much fun you had with it. There is an obligation I feel to point out technical shortcomings that may affect the experience, or in this case the basic ability to play. I expect to have to work around some things on a PC, but the whole point of a console is that it’s plug and play.

    Still, I shall say no more on it. Clearly my point is lost on this crowd. For the record, I intended no personal offence, John.B; I’m just extremely frustrated with my broken game, and I felt it could have been mentioned to me at least as a possibility by the review site I use to decide whether or not to buy games I’m as-yet undecided about.

  7. Tony avatar

    But John didn’t have that problem, so why would he even know it existed?

    Are all reviewers now expected to trawl the Internet looking for the odd few people who had a problem and then fill their reviews with second hand criticisms?

  8. John.B avatar

    Bottom line for me is that in a review I am reviewing the meat and bones of gameplay. Anything beyond that in terms of infrastructure of online service, patching issues, glitching online, manufacturing problems causing game lock-ups are the domain of news and not within my remit as a reviewer. The only thing I would make comment on is if the game was not playable due to bugs, however in that case my job gets more complicated as that involves contacting the company to confirm whether this bug is isolated or widespread and confirming with my editors that I cannot review this game in full due to said bug and with today’s patching culture things like this are usually ironed out for launch day so it’s more a delay in review. However with BF1943 whilst I was aware of the server problems I worked around them by playing at low traffic times and the EA account problem is across all EA games why should I single BF1943 out for this?

    I appreciate the comments Ramsden but I would point you to the various BF1943 reviews available all of which leave the problems surrounding it’s launch to news reports. Castle Crashers is another excellent example of where the line between review and news is drawn.

  9. Ramsden avatar

    Well, I may have been misguided in airing my contentions with the game here. I guess I don’t really look at games “news” much, since there’s always a lot of it to trawl through and much of it is utterly banal and irrelevant. I generally use reviews as an overall generalised metre of a game I’m interested in and as yet undecided about. In the past, before up-to-the-minute games news sites took off, reviews used to mention technical issues. It wasn’t necessarily a criticism of the game overall so much as a heads up. I just wish that kind of info was still in reviews. I may be getting too old and cantankerous… I don’t know.

    As I said before, it was nothing personal, and if it looked like I was attacking you John, I apologise unreservedly. In truth I think I was just intensely annoyed and felt like ranting, and did it at the wrong time. I should really be having a go at EA, but really, what’s the point? Any gamer knows they couldn’t give two hoots about such archaic notions as customer satisfaction.

    I no longer read any other review sites since I lost trust in Gamespot, so in future I shall endeavour to temper my commentary or just keep quiet altogether, as I have no intention of alienating you guys to the point where I’m no longer welcome.

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