Whenever a new Battlefield title is released, it invariably seems to be forced into a role of competing against Call of Duty. This isn’t entirely fair, for one thing, a new Call of Duty is released every year, whereas this marks a two year gap between Battlefield releases, which is in and of itself a smaller gap of time than ever before. As well as this, despite the fact that visually they both feature semi-futuristic military forces fighting over ruined urban and semi-urban environments while large explosions go off; what you buy them for is actually very different reasons; with both having their individual merits as team shooters. But what the heck hey, let’s roll with it; even the companies are competing at this stage. It’s the end of a console generation and COD Ghosts and Battlefield 4 have both come out blaring with everything on the line in an attempt to claim the very last hurrah of this gen and the very first hurrah of the next gen. So how does BF4 measure up?
Firstly, let me say that I usually review my FPS titles from their PC versions. This isn’t a part of some inane consoles vs. PC issue; I just prefer it for that genre alone; with the possible exception of Halo. With BF4 though, I played it from the PS3 version, and I was remarkably and pleasantly surprised at how much they squeezed out of the old girl; with a similar thought given to the Xbox 360 version. Compare this game to something like Resistance 1 or Haze that came out near the start of the PS3’s life, and you’ll be stunned at how much they’ve done with the same machine. From what I’ve seen in footage however, if you really want to play BF4 on consoles, you might do well to wait for the PS4 version in early December, but even if you don’t manage that, you certainly won’t feel deprived.
Next, despite my understanding that single-player modes in FPS games of this variety are bound to be underwhelming and additional; a mere cherry on top; I was quite pleased with how this one functioned in BF4. It had some surprisingly well created scenes cinematically speaking, even if the story was generic, and in terms of actual gameplay, it rewarded the on-the-fly tactical adjustment and multi-method approaches to fights that are the core of the multiplayer, and serves a good job of easing the player into how simple actions in the multiplayer might work.
The main core of the game is the multiplayer component however. It follows a similar formula to previous Battlefield games; up to 64 players battle it out in teams for various objectives on huge maps; with classes being separated and customizable upon leveling up, and with class changes being available easily mid match to suit your needs. Walls and buildings are often still destructible, with physics systems applied to them. Added to this all is some of the most exhilarating vehicle combat in team matches you could find, and you would soon find yourself living inside an actual Michael Bay movie. Which is a good thing.
Major new additions to gameplay come in the form of Commander Mode, a version of a system in Battlefield 2, where a player can take an overhead role of the match and give orders to teammates and drop supplies and such. One small feature and a welcome inclusion is the ability to mark targets for your team, which helps handle those pesky sniper campers. The most advertised feature is the “Levolution” function; which on many of the matches takes the form of players triggering an event that drastically changes the shape of that map for the rest of the match. These include collapsing an enormous skyscraper, having an aircraft carrier beach itself, releasing a dam, and so on and so forth. It’s very cool. Very very cool.
At the end of the day, this is the same quality product that we had 2 years ago, but with the benefit of new technology and some consideration of how to keep the game engaging. At times, it includes a few more frenetic modes and maps that make it similar to a COD match, which may not always be a good thing with the BF4 system, but which at least says to the world “Hey, we could even do this too if you wanted,” and when you get down to it, more options for matches isn’t a bad thing. So if you want a multiplayer game that could easily last you hundreds of hours and looks gorgeous in many different ways; you would do well by picking this up.