Release Date: October 29th, 2013
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platform: [Reviewed: Xbox 360], PlayStation3, PC, Xbox One, PS4
Genre: First-person Shooter
Rated: M for Mature
In the never-ending power struggle for dominance in the FPS scene, Battlefield has been on a steady climb, especially since the release of Battlefield 3, wowing players with the power of the Frostbite Engine and the level of destructibility of the environment around them. This time DICE has pushed their engine even further with more realistic environments, sounds, and destruction. Their multiplayer takes full advantage of the facelift and improvements, but that can’t help DICE break the habit of making a not so memorable campaign.
After retrieving intel confirming past suspicions, main protagonist Sergeant Daniel Recker and the rest of Tombstone squad find themselves caught in the middle of a raging civil war in Shanghai. A coup led by the Chinese Admiral Chang and backed by the Russians, the U.S is being held responsible for the assassination of Jin Jié, the future leader of China. Tasked with finding top priority VIPs you locate and shoot your way out of Shanghai.
This short campaign lasted a modest 6 hours, taking players through war-torn Shanghai and all the way to maximum security prisons. DICE was claiming to have a great story to tell with Battlefield 4’s campaign, but within those six hours I seldom felt connected to any of the characters nor did I care about the series of events unfolding.
DICE attempted to force backstories and small talk between your team members, but forgot one thing: engage the player. Getting emotionally attached to your companion(s) only works when they convey that there is something deeper between them; either romantically or perhaps sharing an unbreakable bond. The Master Chief and Cortana are perfect examples: the very first scene with them together portrayed a deep connection between the two; a few casual and whimsical lines of dialog and you can already fill in the rest of the blank. Battlefield 4’s surprise reveals and the choice you make at the end was anticlimactic because I simply did not care.
I may be dead inside for not caring about the characters or plot, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy the actual gameplay. Each level has segments that grants multiple approaches to any situation, whether it’s guns blazing, in a tank, or stealthily. An arcade-style point system is also implemented where players earn points for every kill and can be rewarded for chaining kill together, performing melee attacks, or getting headshots.
These points go towards an overall score that can unlock new weapons for you to use. To access these unlocked weapons you only need to access a weapon crate. Weapon crates are placed throughout each level where you can grab any weapon you have unlocked or picked up. If you didn’t get to unlock everything in a level you can retry the mission and use your newly obtained arsenal in an attempt to get a higher score.
But with that arcade-style point system also brought along an arcade-style shoot. Enemy AI is laughably easy, even in the hardest difficulty these baddies are just gallery targets waiting to get blasted. Your “Engage” skill is useful when facing larger groups, it marks all nearby targets for your squad to focus their fire which comes in handy some of the time if not for the fact that you can take on platoons all by yourself.
As always its Battlefield’s multiplayer that pulls its weight with 10 new maps, tweaked point system, plentiful modes, and “Levolution”. Escaping a skyscraper by crashing through the window, parachuting to safety and having an enemy chopper attempt to snuff you out is extraordinarily invigorating, making many moments like these some of the most memorable and exciting multiplayer experiences to date.
How can you look at Battlefield and not take a moment to stare? Regardless of which platform, Battlefield 4 boasts remarkable visual prowess. The aging current-gen versions however are not without their lower resolution textures, grainy shadows and pop-ups. One level in particular had you look out at the decimated remains of a cruiser and off to the side was the dark, ultra-pixelated clouds of a thunderstorm. It is unfortunate to be taken out of the game’s world because of some not so pleasant backdrops; it didn’t ruin the game, it just made it seem less believable, and as you may all know by now, I’m one who needs to be completely immersed.
Battlefield has some of the best controls for a FPS around. Each weapon has its own feel; the kickback requires steady trigger fingers and precise aim to actually hit your target. There are some learning curves that can frustrate players, especially those whom are accustomed to just placing your reticle on your enemies and firing. At long distances, especially with sniper rifles, you’ll need to lead the reticle ahead of foes if they’re running or place it slightly above because of bullet drop. Helicopters and jets are still confusing and difficult to control, causing some unintended yet hilarious deaths, thankfully there is testing range to practice your piloting skills.
Sound is phenomenal, plain and simple. Every pop, explosion, and thwack of incoming bullets flying past you is as realistic as they can get. If you have a nice headset you’ll be ducking out of reflex! Now there are a few instances of sounds inexplicably being absent when they obviously shouldn’t be, luckily it wasn’t a prevalent issue as it only occurred on occasion.
The majority of time will be spent in multiplayer and that’s perfectly fine, the improved game and gunplay, along with many small, but welcomed improvements gives players an excuse to dedicate long hours into their online soldiers. The underwhelming campaign drags down this latest outing, but it’s the multiplayer that offers so many jaw dropping moments, plentiful modes, and deep customization and leveling options that warrants players to keep coming back for more.
Overall Rating: 4.25/5