Battlefield 4 review
battlefield seems to have been suffering an identity crisis. Battlefield 3 felt as if it had been developed for the purpose of competing with Call Of Duty, with a terrible solo campaign and smaller scale multiplayer. Battlefield 4 occasionally suffers with similar issues, mainly in single-player, but also seems to have reclaimed some of the unique personality that set the series apart to begin with.
Yes, there is once again a single-player campaign and yes, once again it feels very similar to Call Of Duty – Hollywood bombast with big explosions and real American heroes. This time it’s a dastardly Chinese warmonger posing the threat, although the story never takes the time to slow down and really explain what’s going on. Sounds familiar, huh? The story is nonsense, as usual, and some very good actors (including The Wire’s Michael K Williams) are wasted on typically rubbish writing. Of course, just like its competitor, criticising the single-player story is utterly pointless – people are buying this for the multiplayer.
A score attack mechanic permeates the campaign, players getting points for each kill and more for headshots, killstreaks and other fancy methods of murder. These points all go towards a total score for the level, and players can achieve one of three ranks at the end to unlock extra guns and goodies. It’s a neat idea that sets the story apart from the horde of other modern military shooters, making it feel that little more like a game. However, earning the top rank on each mission seems remarkably easy, and simply making sure to kill every enemy in a relatively decent time will usually be enough to achieve that gold medal. Still, it’s an entertaining concept and a fun throwback to the arcade games of yore.
Otherwise, the single-player is forgettable and bland, but who cares? Multiplayer is how Battlefield made its name in the first place and multiplayer is why people will be buying this one. Battlefield 3 on console suffered from a lack of power in comparison to its PC cousin, with ugly graphics and reduced players per match a result. The current-gen versions of Battlefield 4 suffer the same problems but, for the first time, the next-generation editions seem to be almost on par with the PC benchmark.
Sure, it’s never going to look quite as good, but Battlefield 4 on PS4 is still stunning, with the Frostbite engine pumping out some incredible views and special effects. Best of all, matches now support the full 64-player experience that makes Battlefield so great in the first place – all-out war, online.
Battlefield has always been larger in scale than most shooters, with huge maps that take a long time to traverse. To ease your transportation are several drivable vehicles, from jeeps and tanks to fighter jets and helicopters. Most vehicles can carry more than one person, with one piloting and others taking up turret positions or riding shotgun – literally.
It’s as fun as ever, and made even better by the addition of ‘Levolution’, widely destructible environments that have drastic effects on the map. The now-famous example is of a collapsing skyscraper, destroying the land surrounding it and anyone in the immediate vicinity. Perhaps the best is a map set around an enormous dam. Destroy the dam and the stage floods, changing the layout of the map and the complexion of the game. Some maps see more use of the feature than others, but it’s another welcome addition that doesn’t detract from the excellent gameplay at all.
Otherwise it’s mainly business as usual, with a bunch of returning game modes and the same four player Classes, enhanced with new weapons and abilities. Commander Mode also makes a welcome return. This enables one player to view the map from a top-down perspective and issue orders to their team as the battle progresses. It’s a fun side-attraction that switches things up, and calling in missile strikes to save your guys makes you feel like a hero. Indeed, Battlefield 4 feels like a more social game than its competitors. Players need to work together to succeed, and playing with friends is the best way to experience it.
Ultimately, which brand of online shooting you prefer comes down to personal preference, but Battlefield 4 seems that bit more fresh and fun compared to this year’s Call Of Duty. The larger maps hold more variation in how to tackle objectives and driving vehicles is a simple thrill that never gets old. Battlefield 4 feels like more of a ‘true’ Battlefield game when compared to its predecessor, aping that sandbox arena fun that made 1942 such a hit. Thanks to the power of PlayStation 4, we finally have a PC Battlefield experience on a home console, and it’s pretty darn good.