Itâ€™s been about seven years, and weâ€™re still playing the same Battlefield mode. Graphics have gotten prettier, and the setting has jumped from past to present to future to past, but youâ€™re still a lowly grunt fighting alongside others in a bid to dominate a map.
Itâ€™s lucky that mode is so fun, then, isnâ€™t it?
Battlefield 1943 is an interesting title. Itâ€™s a download-only game for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It takes the best parts of Battlefield 1942, pares things down, and winds up with three soldier classes fighting over three maps (with a bonus aerial map thrown in too). It costs far less than a retail title, but features a similar level of polish. Itâ€™s an interesting experiment that EA is taking here â€“ and aside from a few quibbles, it seems like theyâ€™ve pulled it off.
Too much of a PC noob to be familiar with the (proper) Battlefield series? Well, itâ€™s essentially based around territory capture. Youâ€™ll be assigned a team (in this case, either Allies or Japanese) and given the opportunity to pick a class. Once in the game, the goal is to take command of as many of the five flag points on the map as possible. Simply standing next to a neutral or enemy flag will convert it to your side â€“ although of course, this takes a bit of time, during which the opposition will be doing its best to kill you.
What results is a fierce game of tug of war, as the two teams try to cling on to their flags while also advancing on the enemy. If at any point you find yourself with fewer flags than the other team, youâ€™ll begin losing points. When these points get to zero, youâ€™ll lose.
The three classes found in Battlefield 1943 are a good mix, and provide a decent amount of variety. The rifleman is good at picking off guys at medium range, although he doesnâ€™t have much in his arsenal to go up against tanks. Thatâ€™s better left to the infantryman, who has a very nice rocket launcher â€“ although on the other hand, his normal gun isnâ€™t as effective at picking off troops at range. Finally, the scout is equipped with a sniper rifle and charges that can be detonated â€“ so if youâ€™re a sneaky kind of person, stick with this one.
So the basic gameplay works just fine. There have been reports circulating about connection problems and horrible lag, but I have to say that all the games we played ran as smooth as silk, and it was always easy to hop into a game. Itâ€™s good to see that EA has local servers!
I do have some criticisms, although they wonâ€™t apply to everyone. Iâ€™ve played a fair amount of Battlefield on the PC, as well as a lot of console shooters â€“ but I found it oddly hard to adjust to combining the two. That, combined with what seemed like insanely good players on the other team, meant my average lifespan between spans was in the region of 15 seconds. If youâ€™re new to this series, take note: youâ€™re going to face a rough initiation period. Itâ€™s a real shame thereâ€™s no matching system in the game â€“ if you donâ€™t have many friends to play against, youâ€™re going to get pitted against some pretty hardcore gamers. Still, it says something about the game that I kept going back for more punishment.
Three maps might not sound like enough, but the core gameplay is exciting and varied enough that you wonâ€™t mind heading back to Iwo Jima and the like time and time again. You can always try something different, whether you try your luck in the skies, or man an AA gun, or circle around behind the enemy in a boat. Still, whatever you do, try to stick with your allies â€“ lonely soldiers donâ€™t have that much life expectancy. Thatâ€™s another bad thing about playing with anonymous people online â€“ a lot of them simply bugger off on their own, and end up dying repeatedly.
Battlefield is one of the greater multiplayer shooters around, and 1943 continues that trend. Itâ€™s an interesting, stripped down version that still has a lot of fun packed in. This comes with the proviso of playing alongside decent players, of course. If youâ€™re after some no-nonsense team-based action on your console, Battlefield 1943 comes recommended.