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Critical Reception: DICE's  Battlefield 1943

Critical Reception: DICE's Battlefield 1943

July 15, 2009 | By Danny Cowan

July 15, 2009 | By Danny Cowan
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More: Console/PC, Columns



This week's edition of Critical Reception examines the online reaction to Battlefield 1943, a downloadable multiplayer-only first-person shooter that reviews describe as "a perfectly-sized, expertly-crafted romp." The game currently holds a score of 84 out of 100 at Metacritic.com.

Matt Bertz at Game Informer scores Battlefield at 8.5 out of 10. "With Battlefield 1943," he writes, "DICE triumphantly returns to World War II by enhancing the solid gameplay of one of the original multiplayer-only titles and adding a new layer of depth."

"Battlefield 1943 recreates three popular maps from its predecessor -- Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal, and Wake Island," Bertz explains. "Each map maintains its trademark layout, but DICE went the extra mile in tailoring these maps for 24-player battles (the original had 64 players) by adding trenches, jungle, and destructible environments courtesy of the Frostbite engine."

Battlefield's classic gameplay has seen numerous adjustments in DICE's sequel. "To streamline the gameplay, DICE trimmed the [number] of soldier classes from five to three: Rifleman, Infantry, and Sniper," Bertz says. "Since Battlefield 1943 uses a regenerative health system, there is no need for medics. Each class also comes armed with a tank busting weapon, so you're never left defenseless against hulking masses of steel on the battlefield. Each weapon handles wonderfully, with the crisp, responsive controls Battlefield vets are used to."

Some may be disappointed with the lack of in-depth statistics tracking, however. "The game tracks your overall score, time played, and number of kills, but that's it," Bertz writes. "No kill-to-death ratio, stat tracking by kit, or vehicle stats, which stands in stark contrast to the rich feedback other modern Battlefield games offer."

"While the game lacks the feature depth of other Battlefield titles," Bertz concludes, "1943 is a fairly priced, solid core to build around with more downloadable content. If EA introduces weapon packs and additional maps from the franchise's storied past, I'll be playing right up to the release of Bad Company 2."

Edge Magazine rates Battlefield 1943 at 9 out of 10. "DICE's Battlefield series has toughed its way through many eras of combat -- historical, fictional and futuristic," the reviewer notes, "but it was always its origins in an erratic, barmy depiction of WWII that offered the kind of joyful chaos that EA now wishes to recapture in Pacific's downloadable, multiplayer shooter. And it has -- to a tee."

Edge's staff notes that the Battlefield experience has been appropriately streamlined for its new audience. "What the game's loadout has lost in depth of customisation," the staffer notes, "it has gained in balance and immediacy."

The review continues: "Secondary weapons ensure that no class is helpless, even when forced out of its comfort zone. Self-replenishing ammo also turns out to be a great idea, ensuring a breakneck pace and ironing out the intimidating knowledge differential between beginners and veterans. The need to locate supplies or quickly come to terms with a complex class system are tossed away, promoting happy, impulsive experimentation.

"Strategy is subordinate to a sense of fun - and you wonder if that's what the series needed all along. A perfectly sized, expertly crafted romp, Pacific gives other download games their marching orders."

1UP.com's Garnett Lee gives Battlefield 1943 a grade of B+, praising its classic take on the first-person shooter genre. "Other team-based games used Battlefield as a blueprint for making their online game modes," he writes, "but Battlefield 1943 reminds you that there's nothing like the real thing."

"The system remains essentially unchanged," Lee continues, "still striking an accessible balance that requires just enough teamwork to succeed in each battle without being overly complicated. Its combination of respawn 'tickets' and the struggle to take and hold control points encourages ongoing firefights across the map that create those 'Battlefield moments' that you can't wait to share with friends."

Battlefield 1943's gameplay balance proves to be its greatest asset. "The freedom to be creative and fight however you want comes from the well-tuned game balance that makes whatever you decide to do a viable way to take part in the battle," Lee says. "Uncontested tanks and planes can assuredly wreak havoc, but when faced with an appropriate response, they fall as easily as anything else."

Lee warns that the experience suffers occasionally due to inexperienced players, however. "There isn't anything that addresses the game's Achille's heel: its susceptibility to being disrupted by its own players," he writes. "Already, people can be seen waiting around to get a plane the next time it spawns, or racing off in a jeep without waiting a second for a teammate to hop in with them."

"New for some and familiar for others, 1943 will once again keep players up well into the night for just one more round," Lee claims. "Before long, the greenhorns will be wily vets, experts on the ins and outs of all three maps, and eager for more."


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