Battlefield 1943

When a well-established king of online gaming arrives on the PSN, especially at a cost of less than ten pounds, it can only be good news. For Playstation 3 owners, there's already Bad Company to provide online kicks, but an accessible, dedicated online shooter like 1943 is a welcome addition, continuing in the vein of the classic 1942 that kept PC gamers addicted for many months. Though (forgiveably) smaller than its predecessor, Battlefield 1943 arrives with planes, tanks, jeeps and up to 24 soldiers fighting it out for supremacy. Also, unlike most World War II-based games, the action is not restricted to Europe, instead making use of Pacific locations, with palm trees and beautiful blue skies. Is it worth grabbing a 1940s rifle and plunging yourself into a war between America and Japan? In reality, no, but in this game, there's definitely some fun to be found.

Battlefield 1943

Playing as one of three stereotypical classes, determined by range capabilities, including soldiers with inaccurate, but powerful, machine guns, and scouts with accurate, but slow, sniper rifles, gamers are unleashed upon three multiplayer maps (Iwo Jima, Wake Island and Guadalcanal), similar in size to the Warhawk arenas, though never as highly populated. Objectives usually entail shooting the enemy lots, either with guns on foot, guns in a tank, guns mounted on a jeep or guns from the front of an aircraft, making it a fairly undiplomatic title, but there's also some room left for tactics, since players can request air strikes, use gun emplacements to defend against air attack, set remote charges or work together in vehicles. The main idea though is to conquer enemy territory by reaching opposing camps and replacing the enemy flag with your own. The process is simple: activated by clearing the area of enemy soldiers and staying put as the old flag descends and the new one rises to take its place. The waiting is easily the most fun part of the game, with tension rising quickly as players fight to defend their new acquisition. Quite often, a single flag base will change hands numerous times in quick succession, with intense battles fought in pockets across the map as teams vie for overall superiority. It does bring up a re-spawning issue however, as players will sometimes be brought back in close proximity to enemy troops, leading to a particularly short innings. Such problems are rare though, aided by options to respawn in differing locations.

Vehicle control is fairly average. Jeeps and tanks are slow and slightly clunky, but do the job. They're certainly more fun when multiple players are involved. The jeeps, in particular, allow one player to drive while another mans a turret to take out nearby troops. There's a balance, as always, between speed, manoeuvrability, armour and firepower, which will prevent players from picking any vehicle as a safe place to be. Taking to the air is a welcome option in the game, though aircraft aren't massively enjoyable to fly. Clunky, mixed up controls prevent the flying experience from ever reaching its true potential, and players may find their first few flights dominated by issues with unintuitive controls. Once you're used to the daft control scheme though, the views of the maps are quite spectacular, especially for a store title. The islands and surrounding oceans are very picturesque, in total contrast to the carnage that unfolds on the surface. Impressive visuals don't stop with the scenery though, since the game employs the famous Frostbite engine used in Bad Company to generate entertaining destructive effects. Buildings and other small structures can be torn to pieces in this game, which again adds a new tactical element, since hiding places are reduced, and methods of reaching tricky locations are enhanced.

Battlefield 1943

The sound is a bit less inspiring though, despite the return of a few classic Battlefield notes. Soldier voices are very vague, and don't particular fit the battlefield environment. The gun and engine noises are similarly average, though perhaps reasonably authentic. With the volume cranked up, when things become suitably chaotic, it's all quite impressive, but a bit more care, better voicework and some more music would have gone a long way to tidying up the sound aspect. The thing is, Battlefield isn't really about all that. Graphically it's nice, and that's a great achievement for a store title, but what the game really aims for is a playable battle arena, featuring plenty of interesting bits of kit for players to make use of. The tanks might not sound great, but they're still tanks, with admirable firepower and the ability to roll over treacherous terrain. The jeeps might be a bit boring to look at, but they're good fun with friends. The planes might be rubbish to control, okay, actually, they really are, and that's a shame, but it's still fun to swoop down over troops, carving a line of vicious fire along the ground in the hope of catching out an unsuspecting enemy soldier. The problems with the game, for many, will not matter, it's about the gaming, not the glitz.

The main thing to be wary of is that Battlefield 1943 is all about the online aspect. Much like Warhawk, there's almost no point in buying the game if you aren't going to be able to play online. Without an internet connection, Battlefield 1943 is just a boring menu system. That aside, the online play itself is quite enjoyable, though it does lack the precision of other online shooters, like Resistance, and the depth of variety seen in more expensive releases such as Warhawk. For Battlefield fans though, two games on any of the three maps will never be the same, with players always encountering new situations thanks to the interaction between a good selection of toys to pick up, and some unpredictability in human behaviour (though you can still fully expect to be shot at distance by snipers, shot in the back by infantry and shot down from the sky just when you were beginning to enjoy things, so there's still plenty of predictable online behaviour going on). With a few trophies to aim for, encouraging varied play by setting targets for different character classes and vehicle usage, there's good incentive to experiment with the game and learn to play the way you enjoy. With pleasing depth for a store download, Battlefield 1943 will offer many games one of the best experiences available on the PSN, though many will be left wanting more of everything: vehicles, maps, weapons, tactics, squads and more. Perhaps the release will pave the way for more great online Battlefield games in the future.

Game details

Game logo

Publisher:

Electronic Arts

Developer:

DICE

Players:

1

Online:

1-24

Release:

2009-07-09

Trophies:

12

Review summary

Gameplay:

No game is ever the same in Battlefield online

Graphics:

Excellent for a store title, but not many maps

Sound:

Good effects and classic Battlefield music

Lastability:

Endless replay as long as people are playing

7.8

Volcanic

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Commander Shepard

I trust you too Tali, but you don't have to prove anything to me.

Tali'Zorah

I know... well no not that I know... it's just that... well... it's not normally like this... I mean, wow... when did it get so hot in here?