Update 16/01/14: Quite ironically, literally days after publishing this review, I had lost my data, both offline and online. Everything was lost, from the game completion, medals earned and various statistics. During the time of writing this review, I honestly never experienced any of the problems that were reported. I knew they existed and what the gaming community had been saying, but I can’t write about something that never happened to me.
This is why I’ve updated this review, if at the time of writing my review, I had lost my data, my score would have been much different. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed its campaign and its multiplayer modes, but even after publishing my review, the problems that I experienced cannot be ignored. On reflection from the post review problems that I have experienced, I would have scored Battlefield 4 7.0.
Set in the not too distant future of the year 2020, six years after the events of the Battlefield 3 campaign. You are Sgt. Daniel Recker, a member of the elite U.S Special Operation’s squad. Recker is thrown into an unexpected turn of events, his marine squad have signed up for far more than they bargained for and with tensions between Russia and the U.S being at an all time high, not to mention China is looking for any excuse to forge a new world war, they hold the worlds survival in the palm of their hands. With friction in the camp, it’s hard to trust everyone, but what choice do you have? Welcome new plague of warfare, welcome to Battlefield 4.
Graphics may not be everything, but with the new generation console you expect a certain minimum standard in the visuals department. Sadly not all games have hit the heights that some might expect and are clearly examples of games originally created on the last gen, reworked for the new gen. Running at 60fps Battlefield 4 is not one of those games and at times took my breath away with its amazing visuals, much like Killzone: Shadow Fall, visually this is a game worthy of the new gen.
One of the first aspects that you will notice is the stunning facial animation, while I am yet to play all the new gen games, this from what I have played so far is the standard on both the PS4 and Xbox One. It is at times simply uncanny the level of detail that has been created in Battlefield 4, one that you cannot not help but admire. You perhaps maybe forgiven in thinking that you are watching a high budget CGI movie with BF4’s high quality rendered cutscenes; it most certainly wouldn’t look out of place. You may think that’s a farfetched statement, but play this game on a new gen console or top end PC and I’m sure you might just agree.
Oddly (not that I am complaining), but Battlefield 4 is possibly one of the few games that I’ve ever seen in which the visuals actually look better in-game, rather than during an impressive cutscene. The level design, textures, destructible environments are a joy to behold. In my humble opinion, the visuals are at the very least on-par with Killzone: Shadow Fall, but when you add the destructible environments (powered by the new DICE engine), the amount of vehicles and weapons at your disposal; it might just surpass the PS4 exclusive title.
The level of detail doesn’t just stop with the beautiful and very orange glowing world, but the weapons are created to an unprecedented level. At quick glance you may not notice at first, but during the ‘few’ quiet moments of Battlefield 4, just take a moment and admire the detail at hand when looking down the scope. This is possibly as real as it gets for the time being on the home console. With all the amazing locations in BF4, without giving too much away, there’s a mission quite early on that takes place in some snow covered mountains. The moment I walked through the digital doors and admired the stunning landscape at hand, I have never been so eager to capture the scene with the consoles sharing capabilities. There’s no other word to describe such moments, and that word is ‘stunning’.
Battlefield 4 plays like an FPS fans dream, in terms of its genre, it’s very difficult to pick out any gameplay faults. Battlefield 4 has appealed to most due to it being a slightly little less farfetched storyline and increased difficulty. If you go into Battlefield 4 all John Rambo, unless you are an incredibly skilled gamer (or play on the lowest difficulty), then you are going to die a quick death. This is one of the reasons that we love the series. Battlefield 4 takes a certain amount of planning and strategy before firing at the enemy; this is where the Tactical Visor comes into play.
By holding down RB, it will bring up the Tactical Visor. With this very handy gadget you will not only be able to zoom into key locations, but you will also be able to tag enemies and vehicles. Once tagged they will be highlighted a nice bright orange, even when the Tactical Visor is put away. This item becomes an essential tool and one that I would recommend getting into the habit of using whenever making your way into enemy territory. In many ways the Tactical Visor works in pretty much the same way as the Visor in Crysis series and the camera in Far Cry 3.
The RB button has another handy usage. Throughout the campaign you will have at least two A.I characters at your side and they will willingly fire at the enemy automatically and they do a fine job. But by pressing RB at a lonely enemy sniper or a group of soldiers, it will lock targets on the enemy in which your accompanying A.I will rain fire over them. This helps in a number of ways to perhaps get an enemy out of you reach or to provide cover fire for you to perform a tactical flank. You must use this tool wisely, as you have to wait for the gauge to refill before you can issue the command again.
Battlefield 3 for me had one of the most gripping and cinematic storylines yet from the ever popular franchise. I don’t really include the Bad Company series in that mould, as that particular series is great at the action packed, yet tongue in cheek angle. So with Battlefield 3, we had a more realistic, moody cinematic feel and Battlefield 4 has followed that trend. But it’s fair to say that in my opinion, this latest instalment has surpassed its predecessor in the storytelling department. Each character has their own distinct style; each has their part to play and each one I cared about in their own distinct way. Something that surprisingly is somewhat of a rarity nowadays. The relationship between Recker and best friend Sgt. Kimble ‘Irish’ Graves is particularly an interesting one, and it’s a joy watching their friendship being put to the test.
Not only does the amazing facial animation play a huge role in the stories believability, but the well written script and superb voice cast deserve a lot of credit. As I have just briefly touched upon, the friendship between Recker and Irish is a very interesting one and the man that plays Irish does a superb job in the stories immersiveness and is one of the stronger performances in a video game in recent times. When you realise who the man is behind of the voice of Irish, it will come as no surprise to fans of the hit TV show Boardwalk Empire, as Irish is voiced by none other than Michael K. Williams aka Chalky White. Worthy mentions also go to Patrick St. Esprit (Captain Garrison), Sgt. Clayton ‘Pac’ Pakowski (Andrew Lawrence) and Huang ‘Hannah’ Shuyi (Jessika Van) as they do a great job in supporting the story.
Also what story would ever be complete without a well supported soundtrack? No matter what form of medium it maybe, a story would simply not have as much character without one and with the many high tense moments that Battlefield 4 has, it plays an ever more important role here. The soundtrack is not in your face, in fact it plays a very subtle role in the background and that’s perfect, it’s what any decent soundtrack should do. It’s very much the unsung hero and all credit must go to the Battlefield 4 composers Jukka Rintamäki and Johan Skugge.
Battlefield 4 has a lot of bang for your buck, whether it being indulged in its online multiplayer or getting your teeth stuck into its gripping singleplayer. FPS’s are not usually related to having bags full of replay value, that factor is often replied upon with the multiplayer. Very thankfully Battlefield 4 has plenty of replay value in both departments. For now I’ll concentrate on the singleplayer factor. In a nutshell they should last you around 8-10 hours during your first playthrough, give or take. During each mission you will have three unique assignments, how well you perform in these, will depend on the awarded given, which is a swanky new weapon that will be dispensed into your weapons crate. The weapon crates can be found throughout each mission, every time you earn or pick up a new weapon, you will be able to select that weapon from the crate during any mission.
There will also be various hidden collectables in each mission, which will earn you a respected dog tag. So far I have only found a few of these collectables, and I’m the kind of gamer that searches almost every nook and cranny when playing a game. So going by that, the collectables are quite well hidden. Should you miss any assignments, weapons or hidden objects, you can replay each mission once it is complete. For those that like to be better than your friends (and who doesn’t?), you will earn XP and be scored during each mission, which will then be uploaded and compared to other friends on your list to see how you fair. This alone creates one hell of a competitive edge.
Multiplayer is as fun as you will ever remember it in the Battlefield series, perhaps even more so with the latest instalment. Before starting each match, you have three factions to fight for, China, Russian and the U.S. As always there are a variety of maps to accommodate warfare on a larger and more compact scale. The old faithful such as Conquest, Rush and the standard Team Deathmatch make a welcomed return.
One of the more exciting modes, but one that perhaps would require more skill is the Air Superiority mode. This mode is purely air vehicle based and will result in some all out dogfight style matches. I intend to have a dabble of this mode myself in the near future, but until I get some flying practise in; I will stay well clear for the time being. This is coming from someone that cannot even crash a helicopter properly, I kid you not.
During E32013 that Battleship singleplayer and falling skyscraper multiplayer segments blew just about every gamer away, even those that don’t usually go near a war themed FPS. Even though I was one of those gamers, being the sceptical person that I am, my overall judgement remained reserved until I was to eventually play Battlefield 4 first hand. I’m so glad to report that early multiplayer issues and bugs aside, if you are a fan of war themed FPS games and especially the Battlefield series, there’s no reason why this instalment won’t blow you away. The singleplayer campaign has a gripping story that won’t look out of place as a Hollywood blockbuster, with well supported and talented voice cast, and an impressive soundtrack to compliment.
Then on top of that you have the multiplayer, arguably Battlefield 4’s trump card. With Battlefields famous large maps, more destruction than ever before and supporting up to 64 online player in one match for the Xbox One, PC and PS4 (24 players for current gen), Battlefield 4 has all the offline and online ingredients to be one of the most epic shooters that we have not seen since Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. The difference is here, is that Battlefield 4 is the start of the new generation of online gaming and for fans of this genre, there is no better way to kick start and welcome us into the new era of warfare gaming.
+ Looks like a true next gen game
+ Plays as good as any FPS
+ Gripping story
+ Frostbite 3 engine is a step forward
+ Multiplayer has set a new standard in its genre
- Finding a friend that can fly a Helicopter/Fighter Jet without crashing, because I have no hope