Review: Battlefield 1943 (Xbox 360, PS3)July 12th, 2009 | Written by Josh Schwartzman | Topic: PlayStation 3, Reviews, Xbox 360
Since arriving in 2002, the Battlefield series has been known for its crazy assortment of multiplayer matches, awesome vehicles and nonstop shooting fun. Battlefield 1943, although not a direct entry into the series, is an admirable spin-off to the classic Battlefield 1942 game, focusing entirely on multiplayer. The lack of a single player mode might be dull to some, but what is left in Battlefield 1943 is a solid, enjoyable multiplayer romp that is both addicting and incredibly polished.
Battlefield 1943 features only one mode: a conquest type of affair where teams fight to control all of the flags scattered around the maps. Although there are only three maps available at this moment, the maps themselves are quite huge, forcing players to hop in a vehicle just to make it across the map. The large area itself allows for a much wider focus on fighting and there is plenty of action always going on around you. Whether you choose to fly from above, hit the seas, or storm the enemy base right through the front door, Battlefield 1943 lets you play anyway you want, and that’s what makes it fun.
The three maps are based around locations during the Pacific battles in World War II, so you will see yourself fighting on Iwo Jima, Wake Island and Guadalcanal. There isn’t much difference in terms of design for all of these levels albeit a few hills thrown in to trip people up, but you can definitely tell the difference of the islands based on the overall shape. Right from the start of the match players are placed aboard an aircraft carrier and it is here where you can choose whether to hop in a plane and fly away or cruise away in a vessel and head for shore. This element allows players to begin battle on any part of the island, making for a frantic and exciting rush to the first set of flags.
There are five flags scattered around the islands and it is your job to capture them all and defend the enemy from doing so. The flags are key to victory since capturing them will whittle away your opponent’s health bar. Once any side’s bar reaches zero, the opposing team wins. The opposing team’s health bar doesn’t begin to actually begin fall until one team controls at least three flag points, but the more flags your team controls the faster the bar continues to drop. The concept itself works well enough for games to last a good fifteen minutes or so (and this is if a team controls all five flags for the entire match).
But Battlefield 1943 isn’t just about heading to a flag point and simply waiting to gain control, as there are numerous ways that you can take control of the game to your advantage. Piloting a plane allows you to drop bombs upon the enemy and unload heavy machine gun fire from the skies. This is always the most popular form of attack between players and one that everyone fights over to use, but it also demands a steep learning curve. Piloting a plane is not as simple as one would think and performing accidental barrel rolls or nose dives will be quite common the first couple of times you take flight. You can always find the satellite bunker if you so choose that lets you call in an air raid for a more simpler air strike. Using simple commands, you can guide your plane squad to drop bombs upon enemies as well, although these bombs hit harder and cover more ground. These air raids are quite effective to use and seeing how there is only one bunker on each island to use these, teams will constantly be fighting over the rights to wreak heavenly hell.
Planes are not the only vehicles in the game either, as Battlefield 1943 also features armored cars, tanks and anti-aircraft guns. The armored cars and tanks are easier to use than the planes and can allow numerous players to control them at once, while the anti-aircraft guns allow players to shoot down enemy planes or simply aim for unsuspecting wanderers. The wide array of land, sea, and airborne vehicles makes for a completely unexpected and exciting game, and players will find that even with the lack of maps available, no two games will ever feel the same.
Hopping in a vehicle might be the best way to tackle foes in Battlefield but there is always the other option as well: shooting. Battlefield 1943 allows players to choose from three different classes, rifleman (packs an assault rifle), infantryman (uses a machine gun) and scout (fires a sniper rifle). Determining which class to use may determine your fate considering infantryman have faster shooting speed but less accuracy than riflemen while scouts can shoot from a farther distance but have less health. Each class also has an alternate weapon that works to hinder certain traits, such as anti-tank or anti-infantry. So, while you might like to use a rifle to gun down enemies, picking the infantryman class will allow you to equip a bazooka needed to take down tanks. The three classes are all diverse enough to give you a fresh new taste whenever you feel the need and the ability to change classes after every death really leads to a whole new branch of strategy.
Visually, Battlefield 1943 looks well but struggles in some departments. For starters there seems to be a lot of clipping problems with textures popping up on screen at weird moments and objects that pop up on screen right when you arrive at the same spot. These moments are quite odd considering how fantastic the rest of the game looks. From the swaying trees, explosions in the sky, and the wavy shores, Battlefield 1943 fully details a living, thriving world being ravaged by the war around it. Trees can be shot down, bridges can be blown up and buildings can be reduced to rubble, all showcasing the incredibly detailed environments. The sound can get a bit repetitive at times and more often than not there is a random buzzing sound that never leaves and is with you for the entire match, but if you are looking forward to your typical gun, vehicle and explosion sounds, you will find all of that here.
Battlefield 1943 is an all out multiplayer experience and one that fans will surely be hooked to for quite some time. Although only three maps are available at this time, EA is constantly holding contests to unlock new maps for each system and the inclusion of ranks and awards will only encourage players to continue fighting. If you are a fan of shooters and nonstop action $15 is well worth the price of admission for this solid entry into the franchise.