Battlefield 1943 - game review

Date: 2009-07-13 13:33:00
The review was based on the X360 version. Also applies to the PS3 version

Cutting games and distributing them piece by piece is the bane of today's gamers. Ever since the memorable horse armor, Downloadable Content (DLC) has been equated with taking cash for something that customers believe should be included in the base game. Battlefield 1943 is not a paid DLC, but it is close to it. It offers little compared to the rest of the series, and in addition - in the face of the upcoming premiere of Battlefield: Bad Company 2 , BF1943 - seems to be just a shy attempt to connect the Frostbite engine with the realities of World War II, where the Americans are competing with the Japanese.

All this, however, does not change the fact that every self-respecting fan of the series should at least take a look at the latest production from DICE studio. Downloading a half-hour demo version of the game (the so-called trial) gives you a great opportunity to see how the BF1943 looks in action. Players have at their disposal three maps (islands that were fought for during the Pacific War), three character classes, four types of vehicles (barges, planes, jeeps and tanks) as well as a lot of stationary weapons, both anti-personnel and anti-aircraft. For all this you have to pay 1200 Microsoft Points, which is the equivalent of less than PLN 50. If you tried to compare BF1943 with Battlefield: Bad Company in terms of content (gameplay modes, number of maps and classes), it would turn out that the latest DICE work is not entirely worth the money. The game, however, makes up for in high-quality workmanship.

Looking at the boards available in the game, it is impossible to miss the Wake Island map, known from both Battlefield 1942 and Battlefield 2. PC fans of the series will surely appreciate this gesture, because Wake is a really great arena. The changes compared to the original in BF1943 consist mainly in the deformation of the terrain, already presented in BF: BC. Most buildings, walls, boxes and sandbags can therefore be turned to dust. Only concrete bunkers cannot be moved. As in the previous installment of the series, building damage is now broken down into something like hit zones. We can, therefore, puncture the entire structure, but only on condition that we shoot where the creators deigned to foresee the possibility of making a hole. It is also impossible to completely collapse the buildings. However, this is not a big problem for players, judging by the popularity of multiplayer modes in Bad Company. It should also not be forgotten that you can also make a few funnels in the ground - any explosive gives you such an opportunity. So a few minutes of fighting is enough for the map to look like a tornado, hail and a powerful thunderstorm passed through it. Providing these benefits, the Frostbite engine clearly does the job.

The other maps are Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal. These boards, although not as popular as Wake Island, should also be known to fans of the first game in the series. They are also fun to play and - just like in Bad Company - their appearance changes enormously as a result of hostilities. In the case of Guadalcanal it is important even from a strategic point of view - by cutting trees on the island (e.g. using a tank), you can create very useful paths for smaller and faster vehicles. However, after eliminating the sandbags, you can get to enemy flags faster.

The game offers only one play mode and it is the long known Conquest, in which players have to capture flags placed on the board. The aim of the game is to clear the account of the opposing team from special points (Tickets). This can be done both by eliminating enemies and by capturing the aforementioned flags - when we have most of the latter under control, the opponent automatically loses points at a certain rate. Personally, I don't mind this fun mode. The other inventions of the Battlefield series, such as the Gold Rush or Titan Mode, did not achieve such spectacular success as the Conquest. No wonder then that it was decided to return to it on the occasion of BF1943 . When discussing the ways to struggle in the new DICE work, it is also worth mentioning that after the players perform a total of 43 million virtual kills, an additional map and another multiplayer option will be unlocked. The board is called Coral Sea, and we will play Air Superiority, a mode focusing on pilots' struggles. Given the stunning speed of the players' action, the fourth map will probably be available by the end of July.

If you lacked planes in BF: BC, the BF1943 should somehow make up for it. Although only two fighters are available here, the fun with using them is first-rate. Each machine is equipped with cannons, which are mainly used to shoot down enemy planes. Seasoned players can also use them to eliminate individual infantrymen. If necessary, bombings can also be carried out. Refilling ammunition is unnecessary, as it is not limited. The durability of the machine is different - when the plane is damaged, you have to fly over the carrier to carry out a quick repair. As in the previous installments of the series, the art of piloting is not the easiest one here. To become a true ace of the skies, you must both have a flair for this type of fun and spend some time training.

Flying by plane is related to a new game element that can turn out to be quite controversial. The impression of the machine is marked with a clear red circle, visible even when the enemy pilot is flying at the other end of the board. It cannot be denied that this is an extremely intrusive facilitation and hardcore players do not necessarily like it. However, from what I have noticed, the red marker does not make aerial duck-shooting duels. An enemy who turns frequently and changes altitude every now and then is a difficult target, whether marked or not. The only thing I really didn't like about the planes was the light power of their bombs. Of course, we are dealing here with ordinary fighters, but still something is wrong here, since the payload hitting the ground five meters from the walker does not do him great or even no harm.

Each player joining the game must choose one of the three classes. The first of them, simply called the "shooter", is equipped with a semi-automatic rifle, side and traditional grenades, as well as a bayonet. This creates a real machine for killing infantry - the primary weapon is perfect for medium-range combat, and explosives allow you to clear buildings of enemy soldiers. The next class, with its original name "infantry", is for all those who prefer to fight at short distances. Submachine gun and grenades are perfect for this type of clashes. Recoilless anti-tank weapons allow this class to attack enemy tanks with considerable effectiveness. This class also has a bolt wrench that can be used both for repairs and for hitting enemy soldiers. The snipers are the last ones and there are no surprises here. In addition to the standard rifle with a scope and a pistol, they also have small bombs reminiscent of C4 charges from the previous installments of the series. They are detonated remotely, so they can be used to create explosive traps. Snipers also have melee weapons.

The available classes are quite diverse and, importantly, none of them dominates the rest. Despite this, the sniper is the least popular, mainly due to the type of weapon he has and the need to adopt a tactic that is by no means limited to storming enemy positions with a happy shout on his lips. Interestingly, in BF1943 it is the infantry that is the most dangerous enemy of tanks. Please note that all classes have explosives at their disposal. In theory, this means that any player can defeat a tanker or at least damage his machine. Missing two or three enemies may turn out to be a mistake for the driver, which will cost him his virtual life.

Tanks' combat value increases drastically with infantry support. Eliminating opponents who want to destroy the machine and repairing any damage makes the tank almost invincible. Of course, the tanker himself must also show impeccable ability to predict the movements of opponents and some knowledge of the game. It turns out that not all players are aware of the fact that the rear of the tank is its worst armored place. It is very pleasing that the BF1943 did not forget to shorten the range of tank guns and rocket launchers. As you probably remember, in BF: BC it was possible to effectively eliminate enemies several hundred meters away with these weapons.

DICE also deserves praise for decently made "hitboxes" and the elimination of stupid errors, such as tank missiles flying over other vehicles. During the game, I have never encountered a situation in which the game would not score an obvious headshot. It also never happened that any enemy survived receiving several bullets per chest. From the technical side, the BF1943 looks elegant. The balance of vehicles is a bit worse. In addition to the above-mentioned bombs dropped from airplanes, there are also weak tank shells. Here, once again, we are dealing with the surprisingly low effectiveness of the main gun against infantry. A shot into the ground next to a soldier wounds, not kills, at best. However, these are not serious shortcomings and I believe they will soon be addressed.

Battlefield 1943 draws a handful from the latest action games and borrows solutions proven over the last few years. I mainly mean self-regeneration of health. First aid kits are completely unnecessary, so the medic class is no longer needed. Just like in the Call of Duty series, you just need to hide and wait a few seconds to replenish your life force. Observing internet forums, you can get the impression that such a solution is not very popular among players. However, our survey results show the opposite. Another controversial solution is the lack of an ammunition limit. In the case of vehicles, this applies equally to guns, bombs and rifles, while when it comes to infantry, only the number of firearms shells is unlimited. But there aren't many explosives - and that's a good thing. Otherwise, each round would become a grenade throwing competition.

The BF1943 could not be complete without a large-scale weapon. Previously, we had to deal with artillery fire, but now we can call for help from an air raid. To use it, one of the soldiers must enter the telecommunications bunker (usually the hottest place on the map) and take control of three bombers flying in formation. Airplanes cannot change altitude, so you cannot crash them. The bombing player must direct the machines to the desired location and drop the deadly charge at the right moment. Bombing is extremely devastating, it can eliminate both infantry in buildings and tanks. What's more, shooting them down with ground anti-aircraft guns is almost a miracle. An unquestionable disadvantage of bombers is their poor maneuverability - you cannot suddenly turn around in the middle of the flight and move to another part of the map. Moreover, the opposing team's pilots can try to punch holes in the machines with their cannons, bringing them down to the ground with a great bang, but as I mentioned, it's hard.

The game, unfortunately, repeats the mistake made in Battlefield: Bad Company. Compared to the PC versions of the series, cooperation with other players in BF1943 is very difficult. Voice communication only takes place within one small group of 3-4 players. There is also a lack of a command system and a command hierarchy. Instead, the game marks the place where the bloodiest fights are taking place, suggesting that it is worth respawning near such an inferno. If we wish, we can automatically set a respawn point near the epicenter of the fight. If for some reason we can't play with other BF1943 fans on our friends list, we are practically doomed to chaotic fights, in which the team play takes a back seat. As if that wasn't enough, some players' behavior is annoying. Although there is no shooting of allies here to ensure the exclusivity of planes or tanks, I was flooded with blood when the nth tank driver or jeep tried to cross the demolished bridge. If the hole was not very visible, it would have gotten over it somehow. But that was not the case, unfortunately.

All in all, it's impossible not to like BF1943. Although the game looks like a small toy compared to the previous parts of the series, it is a lot of fun and incredibly addictive. Nice graphics, Frostbite engine, great sound (personally, the variations on the musical theme from "one" will never get bored) and the reality of the war in the Pacific - I liked it all, and judging by the popularity of the game on Xbox Live Arcade, I'm not the only one who says so.

Maciej "Sandro" Jałowiec