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To say that Battlefield 1943 had a rough launch would be an understatement. For the first 2 days, this game was completely unplayable for most, since the required servers were having issues. The game even showed up for some people priced at 90,000 Microsoft points – which amounts to around $112.50.

But I’m going to try and ignore these problems and instead focus just on the game.

If you’ve never played a Battlefield game before, then here’s a very basic rundown. The games are typically multiplayer-only, and involve 2 teams trying to take control of certain points on a map. The more points your team controls, the faster your enemies reinforcement bar depletes. The goal is to have the opposing teams bar deplete before your own.

Battlefield is the “sequel” (more on that in a bit) to Battlefield 1942 – the original Battlefield game. It’s set during World War 2 and pits a team of American soldiers against Japanese soldiers. Each player can then choose a class, and is able to drive jeeps, tanks, boats or planes, or just trek it out on foot. There are a total of five capture points on the map, and your job is to help your team capture and hold as many as possible. All 5 points are always open – and can be captured at any time.

In terms of graphics, 1943 is no slouch. It uses the same engine that powered the gorgeous Battlefield: Bad Company. If you’ve played Bad Company, then you know that it features highly destructible environments. Thankfully, that feature is a part of 1943 as well.

Building can be destroyed, walls can be blown away, trees can be uprooted, and terrain can be deformed – all in real time. This keeps the gameplay fresh – and makes it so that you can’t exploit your surroundings game after game. If you take cover in a building, don’t expect to be able to hang out in there too long. As you can imagine, bricks and mortar don’t put up much of a fight against a tank shell.

Aside from all the possible destruction, the game also looks very good. One of my major complaints with Bad Company is that most of the levels were very dark and dreary. This is no longer the case. The levels are brightly lit and full of color – which fits the tropical setting perfect.

Unfortunately, at least on the 360 version – the game has a bit of an aliasing problem. Also known as “jaggies”, these are a common part of computer and video game graphics since a display is made up of square pixels. A process known as anti-aliasing can help remedy the problem, but unfortunately – it doesn’t look like it’s being used much. At a distance, fences, walls, roofs and anything else involving a straight line can look downright awful. I’m inclined to call it a “jaggy-fest”. And while graphics aren’t the most important part of a game – in a situation where a single pixel can mean the difference between a headshot, and losing your own head – it definitely makes an impact.

The sound in this game is great. Firearm reports can be heard acros great distances, the sound of approaching vehicles is a good reminder to find some cover, and the blare of the airstrike warning definately gets your attention. It all blends together very well and helps give you a sense of being in a battle.

My favorite part of the game so far is the airplanes. They control very well, but in no way are they easy to fly. They have machine guns for taking out other aircraft and ground targets, but you also have the ability to drop bombs. And just like these planes  were in the 40’s, there is no aiming reticule or lock on for the bombs – you have to do it the old fashioned way and get the timing right. Your speed, and altitude are both factors to this, and its definitely not easy – but once you score your first hit its very satisfying.

So overall, what do I think of this game? Well, that’s a tough one. Earlier I called this game a “sequel”. And the quotations are there for a reason. While 1943 is very much like 1942 in terms of gameplay, it’s not exactly an upgrade.

DICE has watered down the experience from before – likely to allow the game to appeal to a larger and newer audience – but anybody who has played a Battlefield game before may be disappointed.

I’ll use Bad Company as an example once again – not only because it’s the most recent – but because of it’s relative success as a console game.

In Bad Company you had a choice of 5 classes: Assault, Demolition, Specialist, Support, and Recon. Each class used a different weapon type, and had unique talents. For instance, the Support class carried a heavy machine gun and had the ability to drop medkits to help heal teammates. In 1943, DICE have combined the talents of these 5 into 3. They have done away with the usual health system in favor of a recharging system like you find on Call of Duty or Halo. This means that you can be taken to within an inch of your life – but if you stay out of harms way for a few seconds – you will heal completely. This takes a lot of the strategy of the game out. Before, you could could go in guns ablaze, and assuming you survive you’d typically be left on enemy territory with low health. To have a fighting chance, you would need a teammate to be there with you to drop some health to help you out. Now you can camp in an enemy area and your health regenerates automatically in between fights.

To look at it another way, let’s say that you are dealing with a pesky sniper in Bad Company. You manage to hit him – but not kill him. You didn’t get a kill, but he is hurt – and he will stay that way until a teammate helps him out. He can’t just sit there and try and pick people off – eventually he will run out of health. In 1943 however, if you hit a sniper – they can duck down for a few seconds and regenerate that health. They have little to no reason to move from a good spot once they are there.

In addition to regenerating health, you have unlimited ammo. The limited ammo of past titles forced you to be frugal with your shots and not just spam fire an area. And in the event you ran out – you could either pick up an enemies kit or find a teammate to drop some for you. That strategy is now gone. Your bullets, grenades, and rockets all refill over time, which I personally find to be extremely cheap. No longer do you have to be careful with your very limited rockets – now you can just spam away and wait a few second for some more. Of all the changes, I think I hate this one the most.

Thankfully vehicles don’t magically regenerate health – so you’ll still need to have a teammate help you out there.

Overall – the game is fun. For a relatively small download, and a mere 15 dollars, you get a nicely tuned multiplayer experience with the graphics and sound of a full retail release. But if you are a battlefield fan, you may miss some of the variety that the past games have offered.

[rating:4.0]


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