Tag Archives: Battlefield

Best of 2011 #1: Battlefield 3

Battlefield 3Yes, really.

A good multiplayer game has the ability to hook me like nothing else, and Battlefield 3 really, really is. In terms of days it’s already my most-played 360 game in terms of days, and even though I’m not nearly done with it, I’ve still clocked more than 86 hours at the time of writing. That’s almost unheard of for me, and the only thing I can think of that come close is the 120 hours spent one wonderful summer on Return to Castle Wolfenstein’s multiplayer. Another class-based multiplayer FPS? Funny, that.

Fair enough if you think the campaign is mediocre at best, because it is. A couple of highlights aside, it’s not even as good as Bad Company 2’s offering; the most uninteresting kind of generic hoo-ah Black Hawk Down nonsense. But I still don’t care; it’s a Battlefield game, and as such it’s kind of a new thing to even have a single-player campaign. Don’t bother if that’s what you want most in a game because you will be disappointed, and you’ll be going into this game for the wrong reasons.

I’m now conscious that I’ve put more criticism into the game at the top of the list than any other here, so allow me to gush a bit.

There are more polished multiplayer games, there are more popular ones, but none is better at the epic feeling of taking part in a real battle than this. Playing the attacking team on Tehran Highway, cresting that first hill in a convoy of tanks, APCs, jeeps and infantry as the defenders try to repel you, missiles launching in the background. Fighting your way up the hill in Seine Crossing towards the M-COM stations, taking it in turns to draw defending fire as your team pushes forward before putting a rocket into the building where the enemy snipers are holed up. Sneaking up behind the tank that’s giving your team some grief to stick some C4 to it. Perfectly judging the drop of a bullet through your ballistic scope to put a bullet into someone’s head from half a kilometre away. The fact that this kind of thing happens on a nightly basis keeps me coming back and will likely continue to.

The beauty of these kinds of lists is that they’re personal, and the position of Battlefield 3 reflects how, no matter how much I value great writing, classic characters and innovative game design, the fundamental reason to play games is to have fun. Plenty of other games did that this year, but none did it better than this.

Best of 2009 #6: Battlefield 1943

Look at how far downloadable games have come. From Geometry Wars and 16-bit arcade ports to what basically amounts to a fairly significant chunk of the classic that is Battlefield 1942, all completely remade for DICE’s latest engine and with all the next-gen goodness that it entails.

OK, so it wasn’t as feature-filled as other, similar stuff like Warhawk, and it did only have three recycled maps, but Battlefield is Battlefield, and I’ve loved this series through 1942 and Battlefield 2 – I pretend that Battlefield Vietnam didn’t happen, as does DICE from the interviews I’ve read. 1943 was a blast to play online, as I did for many, many hours – it’s only the second 360 game that has moved me to relieve it of all its achievements – and even now, with Bad Company 2 on the horizon, I’d gladly drop points on some new maps for it.

For all the cynicism surrounding World War II as a setting for a new(ish) video game, there’s something to be said for driving a unwieldy great big hunk of metal through some destructible trees in pursuit of some little bugger who’s after your flag. Modern combat may be where the big bucks are these days, but sitting in an AC-130 is just far too clinical by half. Let me run someone through with a bayonet any day…

Battlefield 1943

Remember when I said that Killzone 2 was the new Battlefield? I was wrong. Battlefield is still the new Battlefield.

This series is an old favourite of mine, going back to when I first got a gaming PC and played hundreds of hours of Battlefield 1942 and its expansions. It’s had its ups and downs, but few gaming franchises have reached the heights of the sublime Battlefield 2. That was the end of my affair with it, though, because after that the likes of Modern Combat, Battlefield 2142 and Bad Company just seemed like a step down.

Battlefield 1943

This, though, taking three of the maps from 1942 and porting it all to the Bad Company engine – complete with the real-time destruction that it entails – for only a tenner, is genius.

I see a lot of criticism doing the rounds, calling it some variance of Battlefield for babies, often with a dig at the console audience in there for good measure, but I don’t get it. Maybe it’s just that I’m a whore for this kind of games, putting countless hours into the good Battlefields as well as the decent pretenders like Warhawk – still the best game on the PS3, by the way – but I can tell that this will be a favourite for a long time. I still play Warhawk because it’s perfect for dipping in and out of, and having it there all the time, launchable from the hard drive, is extremely conducive to dipping in and out occasionally. Keep it fresh with new maps and you’ll keep me coming back for a long time.

Yeah, this only has three – soon to be four – maps and three character classes. Does this damage the game? Not really. This has been planned as a trim and accessible version of Battlefield, designed for new players and veterans, and everything from the consolidated classes to the infinite ammo – it recharges in the same vein as health now does in every FPS ever created – reflects that. I suppose you could argue that it’s ‘dumbed down’ if that’s your thing, but it hasn’t really affected my enjoyment. There’s something to be said for keeping things simple when your base product is already so good.

The first few days were pretty rough going, with a delightful combination of the expected DICE bugs – BF1942 still had launch bugs after gigs of patches – and EA’s always-wonderful server infrastructure, but the teething problems seem to have been ironed out and it’s smooth sailing now. It’s quite stable and things should continue to improve fairly rapidly, so this one gets a definite thumbs up.

Killzone is the New Battlefield

Back before it got bogged down in such nonsense as story and trying to make us care about its characters – or even having characters, for that matter – the Battlefield series was about nothing more than being an absolutely brilliant multiplayer game, into which you’d happily sink dozens of hours.

Killzone 2 is slightly different in that it does have a proper campaign to play through, but in every other respect I think that it’s the heir apparent to what is still the peak of the Battlefield series: Battlefield 2. Hell, it even has the ham-fisted attempts to make us care about the paper-thin characters with crappy AI as we play through the engine tech demo that is its campaign – an approach borrowed from Battlefield: Bad Company for good measure.

Now before I bring down the wrath of the Killzone Defence Force, let me be clear that I mean this in the nicest possible way. Killzone 2’s campaign is passable and a great way to show off the home cinema but not something that I’ll play through more than once, but the multiplayer mode is one of the best that I’ve played in a long time, and certainly the best since Call of Duty 4 stole my life away for a few months over 2007 and 2008. I’ve already played a dozen hours while finding time to play The Lost and Damned and Street Fighter IV, and I don’t feel like I want to slow down yet.

Alas, the controls are still less than ideal. You can’t polish a turd, as they say, but for the multiplayer Guerrilla has mercifully put the turd next to some potpourri. There’s a touch more aim assistance to make firing from the hip less hit and miss – mostly miss – and the slightly clunky cover system has been done away with, and it generally feels less encumbered with the campaign’s affinity for making you feel the weight of your character.

It’s probably a decision based on the fact that human-controlled players are likely to be more wild and reckless, but perhaps it might have been a good idea to let us use these controls throughout the entire game? Just a suggestion…

But what I’ve found to be its most interesting feature is the way that it rotates game types in the same match, meaning that whereas my time in a game like Battlefield 2 would be spent flipping between team deathmatch and conquest-style games without exploring the offerings further, every match of Killzone will randomly flip between deathmatches, conquest, assassination, and other objective-based modes without returning to the menu or lobby. It’s a simple idea that I’ve never seen done before, and it adds a wonderfully unpredictable slant to how the game is going to play. And, of course, you can just choose to play a straight deathmatch, which the game is still very good at doing.

The Battlefield comparison goes further than the superiority of the game’s multiplayer experience, though. This just has a very similar feel, like the realistic imprecision of the guns that makes killing someone with an assault rifle from a distance at best blind luck, if not almost impossible. It’s annoying when faced with AI opponents who aren’t working with the same limitations as you, but against similarly encumbered humans it becomes more of a game of skill, seeing who’s best at carefully aiming and picking their shots before the other guy can, and it’s nearly impossible to win by jamming on the trigger because the recoil is likely to hit everything but your opponent.

Look me up if you’re online – PSN name: NekoFever (stats currently down) – because I’d be more than willing to have a game.

Best of 2005 #10: Battlefield 2

Battlefield 2

Admittedly I have no basis for comparison, but I’d imagine that no game makes you feel like a soldier the way that Battlefield 2 does. For all it’s flaws, of which many are fixable and should have been fixed by now (this is a Battlefield game so I don’t know what I expected), few games have ever immersed me as much as this. Team-based multiplayer FPS always do well with me, but this one just took the idea and ran with it, and thankfully didn’t make it yet another WW2 FPS.

The basic game mechanics are essentially the same as in BF1942 and Vietnam in a modern setting, but thanks to vastly improved infantry combat, an overall balance to the weapons, and a focus on urban warfare I loved this game and really wish for the next one they’d actually finish it before release. The lack of patch support for the bugs is the main reason why this didn’t place higher.

Most games make the single player the focus of their gameplay and generally that’s the best idea, but with BF2 I can think of few gaming experiences more satisfying than joining up to a 32-man army and moving, street by street, into an enemy city, with teamwork and the use of all your combined talents and different weapons as the best way to success. A heavy weapons guy keeps the enemy armour occupied while the machine gunners pin down the infantry so that your own infantry can outflank them and capture their base: there are so many possibilities to how each game plays out. and it makes the list in spite of the problems simply because the core gameplay is so well done.

Battlefield 2

It seems kind of wrong to be talking about games on a day like today, but I’m going to anyway.

Battlefield 2

Battlefield 2 really is a fantastic game. Yes, it’s got bugs that should have been quashed before release (here’s hoping they’ll actually be fixed this time) and yes I keep telling myself that I’m never going to buy another EA game, but the Battlefield series has always been something pretty special. Battlefield Vietnam was something of a non-event for me, being too obviously rushed to even bother with and not really doing anything to drag me away from the great pedigree of its prequel. As my brother pointed out when my copy of BF2 came this morning, I’m likely to return to the winter of 2003 with its 14-hour BF1942 and Desert Combat sessions.

I was impressed with how it runs on my system which is starting to show its age (Pentium 4 2.4GHz, 1GB RAM, 9700 Pro), where I can run it very comfortably at 1024×768 with medium/high settings. I haven’t been hugely impressed by graphics in a long time but when I climbed to the brow of a hill on the dam level I was blown away by the amount of detail stretching out into the distance. This must really be a graphical treat on a more modern rig.

Gameplay is vintage Battlefield (fun as hell if you haven’t played it) but with more features to encourage teamplay which is where much of the best stuff comes from. Taking a town with your team of 32, working street-by-street, with medics healing people and machine gunners providing suppressing fire while everyone sprints to cover from the enemy tank just can’t be beaten. The addition of the RTS-style commander mode where you can provide supply drops and artillery bombardments for your team is fun, but not as good as your regular Battlefield-ing.

It could probably do with a few more maps and needs some patching beyond that useless 1.01 release, but I think I’ve found the game to spend my free summer playing.