Quick, fuel the planes, there’s war-a-coming! Battlefield is back again with a fresh lick of paint and a new platform to be released on, that of the arcade variety. Being an arcade title, gamers typically associate that with small file sizes, basic graphics and lacklustre gameplay; thankfully with Microsoft scraping the limitations of XBLA that is no longer the case. Battlefield 1943 is a fully fledged game in the series, and makes full use of the Frostbite engine made popular by Battlefield Bad Company... destructible environments? Check!
BF 1943 offers up a little twist on the typical Battlefield expectations, with only having three classes (rifleman, infantryman and scout) and the much loved regenerating health system typically associated with games such as Call of Duty. The game is also quite small, with only three shipped maps (all of which are quite similar) and little in the way of customising gameplay to your personal preference. You literally load up, click go, pick a class and start shooting.
The aim of the game is simple, get a boat/jeep/tank/plane/swim/run to the nearest base and capture the flag (these games just love flags don’t they). Of course life is never that easy as there happens to be a whole other team fighting to do the same as you, before you do. You could even call it a battlefield out there. Thankfully these games have progressed through the years and simply throwing stones at enemies is no more; fly a dam plane into them (actually performed, Console Monster does not promote replicating in real life)!
Running around this sheer mayhem is made a little more interesting once everything around you erupts into pieces, as shells fall from the sky, tanks blast over your shoulder and grenades crumble nearby bridges. The Frostbite engines destructible environments are best described as the best thing to come to First Person Shooters since the knife. You will lose count of the times you are a near to killing your enemy only to have them run behind a wall... to then realise “Oh yeah, I can blow that wall to pieces!”. A quick weapon switch or grenade toss will bring a building crumbling down, exposing that cowardly runner.
One aspect of BF 1943 which gets a warm greeting is the squad spawn option, allowing you to drop in next to one of your team mates (compatible with your Xbox 360 party friends) instead of a captured base. The difference that this makes to the gameplay is monumental. By reducing the need to run for miles alone (or ride and fly in Battlefields case) whilst adding the chance to fight aside your friends when they need you most... beautiful!
Another aspect of the game that stands ahead of the typical ‘arcade’ titles available are the graphics, which whilst nothing mind blowing are pretty superb given their price-point competition. Instead of the serious tone set by most Battlefield games or the cartoon fun style set by Battlefield Heroes, BF 1934 fits somewhere in the middle. The same can be said for the superb audio, particularly the menu screens intro music looping... as you will be hearing it a lot* (yowch, low blow right there).
Fans of Battlefield or fans of multiplayer online shooters (you know who you are, Halo and COD addicts) will no doubt be right at home in BF 1943. Take one fantastic engine, add pick up and play gameplay, top it off with a fantastic price and you have a hit - to the point of which EA struggle to handle the demand for. That’s a good sign that you should jump on in.
*EA are in the process of adding more game servers, so that the game actually loads up. Something which can already be seen, therefore has not been reflected in this review (apart from the small dig above).