Anticipation has been high for the next instalment in the World War II Battlefield series. Following on from the huge success of Battlefield 1942 on the PC, here at the No Sleep Gamer we couldn’t wait to get our hands on the next title in the series, Battlefield 1943, that thankfully will be released on consoles. So when EA and DICE invited us down to the Tamari club in London’s Covent Garden, we answered the call to arms.
After realising that perhaps video games hadn’t taught me as well as I thought about map-reading (actually, I’ll say Google Maps screwed me over) and reluctantly heading for the Underground instead, I eventually managed to arrive in time for the mission briefing. Well, a complimentary Battlefield-themed cocktail. Sunset Sniper anyone?
With my thirst quenched, my appetite for war was whetted as soon as I joined the crowd and laid eyes on the demo screens showing off the game’s gorgeous sunlit visuals. With 360 and PS3 versions available to play I settled for the PS3 as for me, the Dual Shock and Battlefield are where it’s at.
You pick from one of three loadouts using either the standard middle distance rifle, short range machine gun or sniper rifle. Grenades sit alongside the secondary weapons ranging from pistols to rocket launchers to tank busting sticky bombs if you’ve got the stones to sneak up on one and plant the charge. There’s no need to conserve ammo either, as like your health, it regenerates over time.
All the classic WW2 vehicles are in: tanks, jeeps, planes and even the beach-lander’s that you’ll all remember from the opening of Saving Private Ryan. Tanks and jeeps have multiple seats for gunners and hitch-hiking free loaders. If you are a jeep gunner, watch out for your driver suddenly legging it on foot when he spots a tank.
It’s a good thing there’s an offline tutorial for the controls for flying a plane as I struggled to make it from the aircraft carrier to land on my first attempt. Still, it could have been worse I thought, followed seconds later by someone else’s plane smashing into the island about twenty feet from me and cart-wheeling across a hill in spectacularly fiery fashion. Crashing will get you a ‘suicide’ and -10 points, or if you do it right (or out of spite), hit an enemy soldier and balance it out with a kamikaze-style kill.
Only fools would forget that explosions are DICE’s forte, especially with buildings. The Frostbite engine that was behind the destructive power in Bad Company has been improved at a halfway mark between that game and the upcoming Bad Company 2, which will be using Frostbite 2.0.
There are currently three Pacific islands for you to wage war on as either American or Japanese troops who have their weapons tailored specifically for historical accuracy, but while maintaining balance.
There’s one more island to arrive yet, the planes only level of Coral Island. The new island will need a lot of work to unlock. The kills amassed by 360 and PS3 gamer’s needs to reach a total of 43 million each. This will be tracked on the Battlefield website and will be updated on a scrolling ticker on the menu screens on the console game. The stats will also indicate who is racking up the most kills between the consoles. Finally a way for fanboys to go at each other where it matters instead of forums. Sounds like a lot but the guys at EA are saying they expect the target could be reached in as little as two weeks. Early EA betters at the party think the 360 will come out on top, but despite the numerical advantage the console has, the servers will support equal numbers on both machines. If you want to get your points in there, the slaughter begins at 7:43pm tonight or more memorably at 19:43 (see what they did there?).
The two-week target might not be wishful thinking as the day one release of the game saw servers unable to cope with the sheer amount of numbers on the 360 clamouring for the game. This was only because the initial 360 launch was way more popular than they anticipated. This has been fixed now and I saw no problems with the online matches we were all playing at the party on both machines, with no problems finding matches and no traces of lag anywhere.
Chatting with the EA rep, who pleasingly seemed to be a big fan of the series and knew his history, he mentioned there was no current plans for any DLC but it hadn’t been ruled out as they could create something inspired by what the players get up to themselves, as their creativity has inspired them before as with Burnout Paradise’s online challenges. And as that game has showed, it’s very easy for content be added to games digitally online.
He mentioned a large shift towards co-op and team-based gaming that they noticed proved popular with their titles like Army of Two. As already they have noticed players teaming up well to reach objectives which helps in Conquest mode which is familiar to Battlefield fans as they fight for territory by capturing bases (usually while praying a tank doesn’t come over the hill and spot them at their flag pole)
When asked for his weapon of choice he said the sniper, but warned that “this isn’t a game for campers, you need to keep moving” and his favourite melee weapon is the wrench which can take down veterans and greens alike with “two doinks on the head.”
When asked if there will be a Battlefield Modern Combat 3 he teasingly replied “we hope so.” As long as the single-player mode has hot-swapping between your troops again it’ll be awesome.
He was also kind enough to show off the gorgeous visuals from the sky (loving the sunlight reflecting on the sea by the way) until someone riddled his aircraft with bullets forcing him to parachute into the Pacific about half a mile from shore. I’m sure it crossed both our minds that a ‘spawn to shore’ option would have been handy. Just imagine how annoying it would be for all those spiteful snipers tossing a coin whether to shoot you floating in the sky or wait till you splash-land.
Highlight of the night? It’s a toss up between the aforementioned slight of the flaming cart-wheeling plane or getting caught out while sniping on a hill, panicking and falling backwards down it as an enemy soldier starting to blast me with a machine gun at point-blank range, and nailing a headshot with the sniper rifle without even bringing up the sights. Whatever, it wasn’t a fluke, ahem.
So, Battlefield 1943, 1200 MS Points / £9.99, scoring a kill like that, priceless. After roughly an hour of play on just one of the maps I can’t wait to get my hands on the full game and start the mission for 43 million kills. You can find the full review of the game here.