In an increasingly common trend, downloadable games have become much more than just ports of old arcade titles. We’ve seen Sony’s Playstation Network offer some excellent titles such as Flower, The Last Guy, the Pixel Junk series and more. Microsoft’s Xbox Live Arcade titles have also grown from their humble beginnings, when they were limited to 50MB’s in size. With their relaxation of the rules, we’ve seen a number of titles come through the XBLA pipeline that have grown to be much more than just ports of old arcade games. Games like Castle Crashers and Magic the Gathering have paved ways for large file downloadable games that offer much more than before. Taking advantage of this is DICE and EA’s Battlefield 1943, one of the most immersive downloadable games to hit consoles yet.
Like its Battlefields predecessor 1942, 1943 is a fast-paced, World War II-themed first person shooter whose entire premise is based on a multi-player capture the flag. Up to 24 players are split into two teams, U.S. Marines or Imperial Japanese Forces, as they battle it out on three maps trying to capture and hold five strategic points. The three maps are Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima and Wake Island with a previously announced fourth map, Coral Sea joining the fray once 43 million kills have occurred within the game. Being that the three maps are all islands, you can battle it out on sea, air and land.
The maps are a decent size and if you decide to run to every capture point it could take you a while to do so, luckily there are a number of vehicles you have that make the journey a little easier. At your disposal are small jeeps, powerful tanks, boats and even planes, giving players access to every crevice of the map. The planes definitely have the highest learning curve, but once you get the hang of it you’ll be able to pick off soldiers and bomb tanks.
There are three troop classes to choose from: Infantry, Rifleman, and Scout with each having different weapons at their disposal. The Rifleman is a heavy gunner, Infantry has an automatic assault weapon and the Scout is issued a sniper rifle. Each class also has a secondary weapon with some, depending on which side you choose, switching to a grenade launcher, tank-busting bazooka, remotely detonated dynamite to a wrench or sword. Weapons can also be changed out if you come across a dead soldier’s pack that’s been left behind. Lastly, as soldiers are equipped with unlimited ammo and grenades. Needless to say, there’s a wide variety of weapons at your disposal to reign down havoc. To make it even better, at each respawn you can pick your class, allowing you to change it up during the game.
Gameplay is fairly straight forward, shoot, kill and control. The more strategic points you control the sooner the game ends, and this is done through the innovative ticker system. When a team controls the majority of strategic points the other sides reinforcement bar begins to decrease, once a sides bar reaches the end players can no longer respawn and once the last player is killed the match is over. Throughout the match you’ll gain experience for kills, assists, and captures. As you play your rank will increase, and you can gain awards for things like weapon efficiency and capturing enemy points.
Visually the game looks good, about as good as you’d expect from a downloadable game. The level of destruction within the environment is staggering. Fences, trees and telephone poles can be leveled by vehicles. Buildings and other structures are mostly destructible, exposing players who might have thought they were safe. It makes defensive camping a lot harder as a strategy, considering your cover can be literally blown at any minute. There are some noticeable glitches though, such as a tendency to fall through the ground when you’re killed.
Battlefield 1943 is strictly a multi-player game, there is no single player aspect to it what so ever, so if you’re not comfortable playing with strangers then this is not for you. You can join with up to three others as a “squad,” which gives you some special abilities, such as being able to talk amongst yourselves in a private chat channel or choosing the spawn next to each other, but four players isn’t much in what could be a 12-person team. Another downside to the game is that it’s currently limited to just the three maps and one gameplay mode. It doesn’t offer much variety and can get boring fast, especially when you play the same map three times in a row. While it may only be $15, it gets repetitive.
Overall, DICE and EA have done an admirable job bringing Battlefield 1943 to the PSN and XBLA. It’s a cheap alternative to a lot of the multi-player games out there today and has the possibility for an endless amount of maps. It’s even possible to expand the gameplay by introducing new gametypes. Unfortunately it has some limitations, but they’re not enough to rule the game out. Fans of multi-player fps’ should enjoy this game, but that’s about it.