Battlefield 4 (PS3) Review
- Looks just incredible
- Pinnacle of squad based shooting
- Massive maps to fight it out over
- Levolution actually works well and adds to the game beyond its potential gimmick status
Not so much?
- Technical issues with controls, spawning, saves and frame rate
- Leveling up can be slow going Single player campaign in average and forgettable at best
- Despite some new paint & some twists this is essentially BF 3 reworked
Battlefield 4 brings about the return of DICE’s seminal large map shooter. After the huge success of Battlefield 3 EA and DICE needed to push things forward significantly to put themselves out ahead of Call of Duty. As the current generation transitions in to the “previous” generation can Battlefield 4 offer us enough. As with [...]
Battlefield 4 brings about the return of DICE’s seminal large map shooter. After the huge success of Battlefield 3 EA and DICE needed to push things forward significantly to put themselves out ahead of Call of Duty. As the current generation transitions in to the “previous” generation can Battlefield 4 offer us enough.
As with every Battlefield title the real meat is the multiplayer. That’s not to say DICE don’t have a good stab at trying to put out a move cohesive single player campaign this time around. Following your group of specialist through one set piece after another you’ll certainly be wowed by the bombast and showmanship on display in the relatively short lived campaign.
Clocking in at around four to five hours for even the most challenged of shooter players the story doesn’t lack in action. Some spectacular set pieces try and get the pulse racing. Such a shame then that the story is just flat and not engaging. True it does offer a better experience than Battlefield 3’s campaign and it manages to avoid total farce like a Modern Warfare title might. It still doesn’t manage to offer up much to advance the genre or differentiate itself.
As mentioned though Battlefield 4 isn’t really about the single player. Where Battlefield has always shined – where it made it’s living back in the dark days of its PC origins – is on the multiplayer battlefield.
Battlefield 4 is certainly no exception to this rule. The only real problem here is that things feel more than a little familiar. Similar game modes, similar looking environments, similar controls, similar tactics… it all just feels so familiar.
The staples of the franchise are in place. Squad based combat, large scale maps with massive teams. You can form up on squad members, drive a variety of vehicles, pilot water based craft and take to the skies in jets and helicopters. The destructive environmental technology of Frostbite engine 2 is cranked up a notch or 2 by the newly minted Frostbite 3 engine.
Frostbite 3 offers up a fascinating level of detail.. You can slowly take apart pretty much any structure in the game. Turning the safe haven of a stone outhouse in to a massive pile of rubble around your feet. Again though we’ve seen this before – not as well polished or to this level of detail, but we have seen it.
So what IS new in Battlefield 4? Well much was made of DICE’s “levolution” technology. This works in a similar fashion to the technology used by Black Box in much overlooked racer Split/Second. Certain events around a level will suddenly be triggered. This can be as simple as the weather changing from average day to gale force winds and torrential rain storms to an aircraft carrier suddenly crashing in to an island. Most of us would have also seen that apartment building collapsing from the E3 demos this year.
This feature of Battlefield 4 does offer something a little out of the normal. The sudden change to a level dynamic sounds like a gimmick, and it kinda is, but it works well in changing things up mid-stream.
Online modes take up right where Battlefield 3 left off. More close-quarters offerings are on show with DICE seeming to roll in their work on the BF3 Close Quarters expansion pack in to the Battlefield 4 main game. Modes such as the Deathmatch and Domination are infantry-only and played out in much smaller maps making for a more hectic affair.
The old faithfuls are also back as Conquest and Rush return once more to offer point to point squad based action over massive and well defined maps. Newcomer Obliteration offers an interesting new twist. Here teams fight it out over control for bombs on the map. When a bomb appears on a level it a apparent to all on the in-game map. Teams will fight it out to get the bomb. Once they have the bomb they then have to attempt to destroy their enemies bases. The fact that the bomb is visible to all and that everyone converges on each base lends itself to some intense and satisfying fire fights.
The return of the commander mode (for it was seen in skeletal form in previous Battlefield titles) adds a nice touch but offers little in the grand scheme. Sure it’s nice to have someone controlling the troop movements and orchestrating the attacks but in reality very few people respond to these actions.
Despite the score-boosting arcade elements of the close quarters levels Battlefield 4 sticks close to the ethos of the previous games when it comes to placing an emphasis on squad based roles and tactics. More so than ever this outing of Battlefield makes you feel like it is a necessity to work with your team if you’re hoping to progress through the ranks. The sheer number of ways to take on each encounter is what makes Battlefield 4 such a massive sandbox shooter that almost anyone can dip into and enjoy. Whether you want to spend your time in support with med packs or flying troops in to hot zones in your chopper. You’ll find your place soon enough.
Lastly, graphically the game is a joy. Frostbite 3 is pushing this aging console hardware as hard as it can to make some truly spellbindingly beautiful visuals. There are a handful of frame dips, some weird shadow issues and some corruption to screen text at times but overall it’s a mighty fine looking game and a massive boost for what’s to come from EA studios using the engine.
DICE seems to have picked up the ball they dropped as far as sound design goes in Battlefield 4. A lot of the folly, weapons and environmental sounds just fell flat last time out. They were OK… but that was about it. This time out the game is an assault on the ears as well as the eyes. My room literally felt like it was shaking at times with battles raging and the sub rumbling.
A handful of other technical issues seem to mar the game also – in actual fact this appears to be one of the roughest DICE launches I can remember. Normally high on polish, Battlefield 4 has some issues with stability. I had numerous crashes both in single player and multiplayer throughout my time with the game. Adding insult to injury a recent patch update ate my single player campaign save data – which wasn’t exactly a big deal but not ideal!
I had various issues on multiplayer as well. I would suddenly spawn but not be able to move in any direction. I couldn’t fire but I could duck and jump – this resulted in more than a few suicides ultimately resulting in you getting a penalty against your score. Other times I would simply stop moving after moving happily before. Other times I would be walking or running along happily then I would suddenly go in to spectator mode and be following other players as if I was suddenly dead. Then back in to my own body, run a few steps and then back to the spectator view. There are other little niggles too that just keep cropping up and mildly spoiling what is otherwise a great iteration of the BF franchise.
Battlefield 4 is a game of two parts. The first part, the single player campaign, is run of the mill. The visual spectacle and general bombast of the set pieces will dazzle but the story will leave you indifferent. The whole thing will be over and forgotten in a handful of hours. Scored on its own, the single player portion would be lucky to scrap in at a 6/10.
As we all know massive multiplayer battles is where Battlefield excels. Distancing itself from the arcade action found in COD, Battlefield 4 manages to drawn on its heritage to deliver yet another master class in online squad based shooters.
The new Levolution technology, in tandem with the promising Frostbite 3 engine, is entertaining enough to warrant a closer look and can truly change around a level dynamically and seamlessly.
A handful of technical issues, some fairly significant, as well as reusing tried and tested mechanics along with the lacklustre story all chip away at the games overall appeal and score. Familiarity does creep in pretty early on which can lead to general apathy towards the game over prolonged sessions. Basically you’ve seen and played the core of this recently in Battlefield 3.
Battlefield 4 is by far the best in the series to date – attempting to push the technology in new and exciting directions with the promise of something fresh. Dice aren’t there just yet, but it gives me great hope for the future of the series if DICE continue to push something new – if they don’t well… next-gen is currently open turf and everyone needs to earn their place.