|System: PC, X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Digital Illusions CE (DICE)||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Q2 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 2-24 (Online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
March 2, 2009 - If you've ever been into PC gaming, then you probably know about Battlefield 1942. It was released in 2002 and was a fun, addictive, class-based online shooter set during World War II. Its trademark epic battles, beautiful maps, and versatile class-based structure made it a huge hit with most shooter fans. Now the Battlefield series returns to these roots with Battlefield 1943, a downloadable game coming to PSN Store, Xbox Live, and the PC.
The similarities between Battlefield 1942 and Battlefield 1943 are striking; in fact, you could say that Battlefield 1943 is just an update of its predecessor. For example, Battlefield 1943 has the same three maps that were featured in Battlefield 1942. To people who haven't played Battlefield before, this might seem like a surprisingly low number. However, the levels featured in this game are huge. Plus, there's the fact that this is a downloadable game, so a huge number of maps isn't a practical inclusion.
While this aspect of the game may have remained the same, one thing that is certainly changing is the graphical quality of Battlefield. Battlefield 1943 is using the Frostbite graphics engine to recreate the levels from its predecessor. Those who enjoyed Battlefield: Bad Company will likely recognize the Frostbite engine it allowed for the destructible environments that were such a big part of Bad Company. That destructibility is coming to Battlefield 1943, and it should allow for more strategy in an already exciting FPS.
One of the big draws of Battlefield 1943 is the class-based system. Veterans of Battlefield 1942 may be disappointed to learn that many of the classes have been consolidated or even removed (for example, the medic is no longer in the game). The infantryman is the summation of the original game's machine gunner, engineer, and anti-tank man. Other classes include a scout and a sniper.
While Battlefield 1943 may not offer a ton of different classes, your play style will still differ drastically depending on which one you choose. Scouts are great at moving around quickly, for example, and the sniper can obviously take out foes at long distances. The differences between classes provides incentive to play as all of them, and developing particular strategies for each of the three maps promises to be an addictive, rewarding process.
DICE's goal with Battlefield 1943 is to create an intense, online-only first-person shooter while maintaining an accessibility that will encourage new players to enjoy the game. They've taken a number of steps toward this goal. For example, there's now an auto-heal function where you'll slowly regain health over time. This should make it easier for new players to get into the action without the constant death that can be a real turn-off for certain online shooters.
Battlefield 1943 offers 12-versus-12 online matches. This is a little surprising, because Battlefield 1942 offered 18-on-18 battles. However, it certainly seems that DICE is making a good decision here. One of the real focal points of this game is the Frostbite engine. The amazing immersion and realism that the engine offers is a big part of what Battlefield 1943 is all about, and tolerating slowdown or lag in an effort to allow more players in a match would, in many ways, defeat the purpose of this game.
In addition to providing a variety of different classes to play as, there's also an emphasis on vehicle combat in Battlefield 1943. The game will allow you to pilot planes and take control of many different land vehicles, from tanks to jeeps and everything in between. In their effort to make this game as user-friendly as possible, the controls for all these vehicles will be relatively straightforward. The developers are going for the minute to learn, lifetime to master sort of game, and are including a steep learning curve for vehicles certainly doesn't work toward that end.
It's also worth mentioning that there is only one game mode in Battlefield 1943 called Conquest. In this mode, your team of twelve players will have to work together to obtain the five capture points on the map. While a single play mode may be disappointing, Conquest is a good one to pick. It highlights the cooperative nature of the game and really does force you to work with other players to win a match. Maps are designed in such a way that capture points are generally out in the open. If you want to capture them, then it's probably going to be a good idea to get a buddy to provide some cover fire.
To some people, it might seem that Battlefield 1943 is a little bit short on content. However, there are several things to keep in mind with this game. Firstly, it's a downloadable title and will likely sell for twenty or thirty dollars. Secondly, it's unfair to judge a game like Battlefield based on the number of classes or maps it offers. This game is all about situational action, and it can't really be evaluated until it's played. Finally, the developers haven't rejected the possibility of additional downloadable content for Battlefield 1943, so it's not out of the question that it might get some new maps or game modes sometime down the road. Overall, though, Battlefield 1943 is shaping up to be a really focused, accessible FPS. Look for it on the PSN Store, Xbox Live, and on the PC when it releases sometime this summer.
CCC Freelance Writer