Battlefield 1943 Review

Swedish developer DICE has done something with Battlefield 1943 that no developer has ever done before: create a purely downloadable title that not only rivals, but is superior to most full priced retail games. For only 15 USD, PS3 and Xbox 360 owners can download the 600 MB game. While it may be lesser in price and physical size than a 60 dollar game that you buy on a disc, Battlefield 1943 has the high quality fans have come to expect from DICE’s critically acclaimed Battlefield series. Battlefield 1943 is an online only multiplayer title, with three multiplayer maps and the bonus map Coral Sea, which is for aircraft dogfighting only. Four maps may not sound like the best value, but any shooter fan will know that a great multiplayer map has huge replay value.

The first Battlefield game to be developed from the ground up for consoles was Battlefield Bad Company, which released last summer. While Bad Company was a solid game and sold well, it failed to remain a multiplayer powerhouse, and quickly fell out of the Top Ten most played games on Xbox Live. However, Battlefield 1943 has remedied many of the problems that plagued Bad Company, and it shows: Battlefield 1943 was the fifth most popular game on Xbox Live in the week after its release, despite having early server problems that prevented many players from joining games. Sales of Battlefield 1943 have far exceeded DICE’s estimates, leading to a lack of servers in the early days after the release. At the time of writing, these problems have been resolved.

Battlefield 1943 has some of the prettiest explosions around.
Battlefield 1943 has some of the prettiest explosions around.

But what makes Battlefield 1943 different? At first glance, the game might look like any other WWII first person shooter. However, those who have played Battlefield know that the series is focused on open ended sandbox multiplayer, which plays very differently from the average small-map multiplayer experience. Battlefield 1943 is essentially a remake of the first Battlefield title made, Battlefield 1942. Battlefield 1942 came out seven years ago in 2002 for the PC, yet the online community remains alive, a testament to its lasting replay value. Battlefield 1943 takes everything that made BF1942 so addicting and popular yet also manages to alleviate almost all of the problems that marred the experience seven years ago.

Like other Battlefield games, Battlefield 1943 allows the player to take control of a wide variety of vehicles, from simple jeeps to tanks, landing craft and fixed wing aircraft. The experience has been streamlined somewhat, and certain vehicles like aircraft carriers can no longer be controlled by players. Battlefield 1943 can have up to 24 players in a server, which is considerably more than most console shooters, but is still shy of the traditional 64 player servers that PC Battlefield games boasted. However, improvements in other areas of the game more than make up for these drawbacks. It is easier to play with friends in Battlefield 1943 than in any previous Battlefield game: simply choose the “Play with Friends” menu option and the game makes it self-explanatory.

As in other Battlefield games, skilled pilots can dominate matches.
As in other Battlefield games, skilled pilots can dominate matches.

Battlefield 1943 has three classes, fewer than most Battlefield games, but each of those three classes are balanced extremely well. The sniper class has a sidearm for when infantry get too close, and even demolition charges that can take out a tank if placed well. The rifleman has rifle grenades for destroying enemy vehicles, and the infantry class has a bazooka for the same purpose. Each class can deal with any enemy threat adequately, and while they’re each best in a specialized role, they can all contribute to a team when played well. This is a great improvement over previous games where certain classes, such as snipers, would be basically powerless against enemy vehicles. If an enemy tank attacks, a coordinated squad will be able to take it down easily, regardless of the classes they have equipped.

On the technical side, Battlefield 1943 is extremely impressive. The game visually looks better than most retail games out there, with high resolution textures and detailed character models. Explosions and other graphical effects are portrayed well. The audio is even better, with recognizable weapon sound effects. Wherever you are in a map, you will hear the distinctive sounds of distant machine gun fire, bombs exploding, and perhaps even the crack of a sniper rifle. Combined, the visual and audio fidelity help to immerse you in the game, and make the gameplay deeper. In one game I discovered an enemy sniper hidden in the bush by hearing the chink of his reloading rifle, and what direction it was from. In a game with worse audio and surround sound support, that never would have happened. The netcode is similarly well done, with no noticeable lag whatsoever in any of my games thus far, as well as fast matchmaking times.

The perpetually popular Wake Island map returns in Battlefield 1943.
The perpetually popular Wake Island map returns in Battlefield 1943.

Overall, Battlefield 1943 is a must play for any Battlefield fan, or even any fan of multiplayer shooters. And if you aren’t in one of those two categories, try the free multiplayer demo: you might find that you actually are a fan of Battlefield style games. Hopefully the high quality and replay value of Battlefield 1943 will inspire other developers to follow DICE’s example and start putting retail-caliber multiplayer components for sale inexpensively on Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network. Four maps may not sound like a lot, but each of these maps are time tested classics that have basically limitless replay value, provided that you enjoy the basic Battlefield gameplay, which has been honed and balanced better in 1943 than any of the previous titles in the series.

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3 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. I love the sound of this. I like replays, so this is up my alley. Everything you’ve talked about here appeals to me. In some ways, I like a little more simplicity to my game plays. Thanks for the detailed information. It gives me a good idea of what to expect.

  2. It’s tough to describe games like this, tougher than I expected for Battlefield. Luckily they have the free multiplayer trial so everyone can try it out for themselves.

    One thing about Battlefield is that there are awesome moments but also boring moments. It’s boring when you spawn on a carrier with nobody else on it. But its awesome when you shoot down a fighter and the wings come off and kill two of their guys on the ground :D. In BF1943 for me, the awesome moments outnumber the bad ones by a lot.

  3. This game looks really good, it’s become really popular already, and I can’t believe that they have managed to place such a great game onto the “downloads” section.

    Then again, I think it was a smart move, not only has it gained an excellent reputation, but also I don’t think many people would of bough this if they were to of placed them on the shelves.

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