Battlefield 4 Review

A study in bullets, guns and utter destruction.

Ever since the introduction of the element of Destruction in Battlefield: Bad Company, the focus of the Battlefield franchise has shifted from a sterile tactical team based shooter to the epic demonstration of destruction and carnage that we now know and love. Battlefield 4 continues in that tradition by introducing a ton of destruction into the actual game play itself; for example turning a skyscraper into an intense game of Jenga with explosives and Tank rounds in the Siege of Shanghai multiplayer map. You are no longer creeping around corners and waiting for the enemy, you are now blowing holes into buildings and bringing down dams.

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War, war never changes; throughout the years and the various iterations of the Battlefield franchise the very essence of the battlefield franchise have never changed and Battlefield 4 have not neglected what made the franchise great. Two years after its predecessor Battlefield 3, DICE kept the original format; it is still a 32 on 32 battles for supremacy on immense maps with an assortment of land, sea and air vehicles to assist in the carnage. The great symphony of destruction and chaos that is Battlefield multiplayer is very much present in this game, everything from the intense gunfights in downtown Shanghai to the massive naval battle in Paracel Storm. All of which helped shaped the tense and exhilarating multiplayer experience we know and love.

Each battle in Battlefield 4 feels like a brand new experience simply because of the diversity of weapons and equipment available to each player, all of which were tailored for a variety of combat roles. The myriad of tools at the player’s disposal means that regardless of skill level, players can always contribute to the battle. Not good with a gun? No worries, you can always help ferry your fellow team mates to the various control points in the game. Can’t hit the board side of the barn? Don’t you fret because you can always help destroy hostile air units with your trusty Stinger!

Speaking of tools, The weapon roster in original is still very much intact, with fan favorites such as the AEK-971 and the M16A4 making a return from BF3 fundamentally untouched – except for the major facelift in the graphics department while newcomers like our very own SAR-21 gives adds just the right dash of originality to make BF4 feel like a fresh new game. A variety of weapon customization options allows players to modify their weapon to their own unique play style. Want a holographic sight on your DMR instead of a plain old scope, just switch it out with a click of a button – provided it’s available to you.  Which brings me to my next point, although most weapon attachments are available to you  through progression, there is still a percentage of attachments that could only be made available through the purchase of battlepacks – yes, you have to buy battlepacks and hope it contains your desired attachments. If not? Go buy some more.

A minor gripe I personally have with BF4’s multiplayer would be the early availability of “Smarter” weapons i.e weapons  that require less finesse to actually hit the targets, an example would be the early availability of  heat seeking missiles on fighter jets. In BF3, wannabe top guns would need to score kill after kill with just the guns on the jets in order to unlock the heat seekers, the process forces the player to learn how to properly dogfight with their aircraft.

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The return of Commander Mode which was noticeably absent from the previous few Battlefield game was a peculiarly pleasant dose of nostalgia. For those who don’t know, Commander Mode was first introduced in Battlefield 2 and later refined in Battlefield 2142, it’s a strategic role that a single player from each team could take on. Instead of running around the battlefield with firearms in hand, the commander would view the match from  a strategic map, issuing attack/defend orders, calling in off-screen assets ranging from single vehicle drops to cruise missile strikes and generally assisting the boots on the ground. Each control point on the map usually denotes a single asset that the commander can use upon capture by the players of the same team on the battlefield. In the hands of a great commander, these assets can really turn the tide of a losing game or solidify victory, these assets ranges from the aforementioned cruise missile strikes to summoning a mighty AC-130 gunship that players could spawn in and rain hell from high above.

Besides the return of Commander Mode, one of the new additions of BF4 is the new “Obliteration Mode” in which 2 teams fight for control over a bomb which they would use to destroy any 3 position belonging to the opposing team. Mobility is the name of the game in this game mode, as the first team to get their hands on the bomb usually wins. Throughout my play through, I’ve seen crazy quad riders zip through the map, pick up the bomb carrier and speed through enemy fire to the objective points, leaving everyone –  sometimes even their own team mates in the dust. Crazy vehicle plays like that keeps each game of Obliteration fresh and exciting.

One of the biggest additions of Battlefield 4’s has got to be the introduction of Levolution, which you’ll most likely known as the “I get to collapse an entire skyscraper” mechanic.  Not only does Levolution look cool, the effects of it could be felt throughout the game. An example would be the poster child of Levolution, the skyscraper collapse in the Siege of Shanghai; after bringing down the skyscraper, not only do you deny both teams a building in which players could parachute from (easy access to control points B and D), you’d also deny the need to defend both the lobby and the roof of the building – both of which are highly contested hotspots and finally the control point previously found at the top of the building is now quickly accessible by either via land or sea.  Other examples include the freeing of a destroyer from some destructible terrain which resulted in the entire destroyer running aground into a nearby island. However, some of these Levolution moments are better implemented than others which is unfortunate because the dynamic nature of the mechanic really intensifies the multiplayer.

Levelution aside, the individual maps in BF4 are all well designed and balanced though there are a few multiplayer map that stands out as generally better than the other maps in the map pool. One such map has got to be Rogue Transmission, a massive vehicle centric map with all the action revolving around a single control point in the center where players would duke it out in the open field near the center with tanks while having door to door shootouts in the construction site just next door.  Another standout would be Hainan Resort, a long stretch of sand and sea overlooked by a hotel in the center. Vehicles would clash near the hotel while being supported by mass upon mass of infantry.

To be honest, all this feels extremely familiar – why fix something that’s not broken right – even so, one would need to factor in the familiarity of players who were previously playing BF3, as such BF4 might have a shorter shelf life than its predecessor.

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Whenever you’re sick and tired of the multiplayer, one can always hop on to the single-player portion of Battlefield for some R&R. I’ll be first to admit, BF4’s campaign mode is much better than BF3’s cop out of a campaign mode, however the lack of any actual depth or even any blockbuster set pieces (Yes, I’m looking at you Call of Duty) makes it a generally hit-miss affair. Moving away from the Middle East, BF4 features the same America VS China/Russia plot pulled from the same cookie cutter plot machine that Hollywood uses for their summer action blockbusters.  The plot here is really paper thin, you’re a marine leading a team of other gung-ho marines like yourself, a mission to extract a Liberal Chinese Leader gone wrong and BAM… war between China/Russia and the United States. It is that paper thin and clichéd, oh and our tiny little Island of Singapore is featured on one of the levels – according to DICE, we’re part of China ! It is not to say that the campaign is actually bad or anything, there was some genuinely entertaining levels and set pieces however it just feels tacked on. The inclusion of a multiplayer like stat counter which rewards the player for kills and skill, constantly reminds you that BF4 is still a multiplayer game at heart.

Regardless of which platform you’re playing on, Battlefield 4 is definitely a blast and the multiplayer mode itself is enough to justify the price tag. Although the campaign is marginally better than BF3, it is still simple dumb fun however it still feels like a sideshow to the multiplayer. All in all, BF4 is a simple study in bullets, guns and utter destruction.

Ratings 4.5 out of 5 Stars

by Chen KangYi
© POPCulture Online 2013, All Rights Reserved

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