Battlefield 1943

August 17, 2009

I have a confession to make – this is my first Battlefield game. I never played 1942 or Vietnam or even Bad Company. It’s not even that I’m averse to either FPS or competitive multiplayer (Team Fortress 2 and Halo 3 are two of my favorite 360 games of this generation). What does this mean to you? A unique perspective. Until I read about the changes (after playing the game) I had no idea that regenerating health and ammo were new additions to the series. I didn’t even know three maps was less than long-time fans would expect. In short you get an untarnished view on a successful franchise.

Battlefield 1943 is both exceptionally fun and exceptionally frustrating. When I find a quick match I am either a contributing member of the team or that guy who dies at the spawn point six times in a row. The good obviously outweighs the bad because even after seeing everything the game has to offer and earning 11/12 achievements (I still need to play 100 matches total) I keep on coming back.

Weapons feel appropriate. Sniping is hard – it is a big deal to get a headshot on a moving target. Machine guns are inexact and best used as part of a squad with good communication. Grenades are great at clearing out bunkers but terrible at taking out enemies on an open stretch of road. The trade-off between fire speed, accuracy, and damage output when comparing the machine gun to the rifle feels right. There is no one “will screw everybody up” weapon or class, but you will find that your play style keeps you coming back to one class more often than the other two. Maps are detailed, deformable terrain is neat, and the ringing in your ears from being too close to an explosion makes the experience all the more immersive. Driving and flying takes some getting used to, but it is very rewarding to master flying, win a dog fight, and then jump out of your plane and parachute onto an enemy point.

I would like to see more maps (Coral Sea is neat, but Air Superiority is more of a curiosity than a mode you’ll return to over and over) and better stat tracking. I’m sure there are more than three locales that were important to the US – Japan conflict in World War II. With regard to stat tracking, why is the stats page willing to show me how many times I have captured five flags but not my kill/death ratio, my win/loss ratio, and my total number of games played? Valve has spoiled me. I want an achievement page that shows a counter for each achievement. How many flags have I defended out of 30? How many games have I played out of 100? How many times have I been in the top squad on Guadalcanal?

Battlefield 1943 is just plain fun. There are few things that compare to getting a boat, avoiding fighter plane fire on your way to shore, jumping in a jeep, and gunning it to the first capture point only to find that you and your buddy are squaring off against an enemy tank. And it only gets better when when you manage to blow that tank up and take the point.

Pros: Fun, fast-paced, well-balanced, good variety of tasks (driving jeeps, driving tanks, riding gunner, flying fighters, or running around as either infantry, rifleman, or scout).

Cons: Poor in-game stat tracking

Plays like: Battlefield 1942

ESRB: T for Violence

Score: 5/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.