Battlefield 4 (PS4) Review
Alexandra Mangen / Nov 27th, 2013 No Comments
Gamers talk about Battlefield and Call of Duty as if there is some great rivalry. The truth is that there are different reasons to love each franchise and both offer a different First Person Shooter (FPS) experience. The main campaign in Battlefield 4 (BF4) fails to deliver any special moments and plays out much like many, elite squad of special forces soldiers facing impossible odds and suicide missions to save their country, military FPS game plots before it. Controversial or not, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2’s airport terrorist mission set a new standard for military FPS games. It was intense and emotionally complex and left an indelible mark on many who played it. The Battlefield franchise has yet to offer any such moments but BF4 does have a lot to offer in the scenery and multiplayer departments.
DICE has outdone themselves in the overall look and feel of this game. The backdrops and landscapes are visually stunning and saturated with color. In the first level, while traversing through an abandoned construction site, skyscrapers loom in the distance, their multi-colored window tarps flapping in the breeze. Far from picturesque, the scenery in the first level conveys a sense of desolation and impending destruction. Later, while driving the streets of a Chinese metropolis as a storm pounds the city, one cannot help but admire the vivid colors of street lights and neon signs through a rain streaked windshield. It is unusual to see such a vivid and diverse color palette in a FPS military game and the developers of BF4 make spectacular use of it.
DICE also shows an incredible aptitude for environmental detail. While attempting to reach a VIP that needs extraction in an upscale hotel, papers and debris blow by in big whooshes of air in the hotel bar. Not only can gamers destroy more of the scenery with BF4’s enhanced Levolution, the result of steady gunfire is clear in bullet holes and realistic rubble. Populated areas that have been evacuated, for once, do not look like big budget movie sets. Rushing through a corridor, gamers will see evidence of the digital inhabitants and workers that once resided in an abandoned apartment block. Even in the spare, utilitarian spaces aboard military vessels, little details like rivets around doors and glowing monitors in the medical bay are clear.
BF4’s one graphic failing is the number of glitches. In one cutscene, one of the squadmates’ forearms disappear as he plants an explosive on the side of a warship. In another, the sides of an aircraft carrier grow blurry and indistinct upon approach. Maybe it’s too much to ask that everything be perfect and stunning but it’s a bit of a let-down to phase through what was just a moment ago a solid wall when such obvious thought and care was put into the graphic design of this game. BF4’s many glitches even impact some of the emotional moments of the game. Aboard a sinking aircraft carrier, on a mission to retrieve important intel, the squad comes across a pair of sailors trapped beneath a grate. It is hard to develop an emotional connection to these momentary characters as they plead for help while the room fills up with water. Despite excellent voice acting, the scene loses impact because the sailors appear as two peach-colored blobs amid poorly animated water.
Gamers should take a few seconds to appreciate the scenery at the beginning of each level and will find it easy to do so. No booking it to higher ground required. Most levels start with a birds-eye view of the battlefield which gamers should take advantage of. Gameplay in campaign mode is strategic in many cases and those who rush through Rambo style will die, a lot. It is unnecessary to rely on the mini-map in campaign mode because, as previously stated, most levels open with a great view of the battlefield.
BF4’s campaign mode plays much like multiplayer which is good practice for those who intend to log some time on multiplayer but bad for creating an immersive experience in what is essentially story-mode. Many of the tense, white-knuckle moments in FPS shooters are lost in this game due to the layout and proximity of enemies. Expect to shoot at most everything from a distance. Few levels will have close quarters moments so it’s best to obtain a sniper rifle as soon as possible.
Weapon and gadget crates can be found scattered throughout levels and will appear on mini-maps. Opening a crate will access the loadout screen and enable gamers to switch out unlocked weapons and gadgets much like previous games in the series. A few new weapons are present in BF4 along with a slew of fan favorites like the Famas and SCAR-L. Switching a rifle’s rate of fire from one shot to multiple shots seems much easier this time around. Weapons whose rate of fire can be toggled will briefly show an image of how to toggle fire rate, on-screen, when gamers access that weapon. Recoil is not as noticeable on the PS4 and weapons fire more smoothly and are generally more responsive.
Other upgraded features include an improved spotting function. Previous games in the Battlefield series enabled gamers to “spot” enemy combatants and vehicles by pressing the select key. Spotting is an invaluable tool, especially at long range when enemies blend easily with the scenery. Unfortunately, it was previously underutilized as it was assigned to an awkward key which was difficult to access mid-combat. Gamers can now spot using R1 in both campaign mode and multiplayer. Holding down R1 will also switch gamers over to a tactical visor, if one is equipped, enabling gamers to view and spot enemy combatants much more easily. R1 will also place markers over all visible enemies on the battlefield while ordering squad units to attack them.
Hearing an enemies’ footsteps echo through an otherwise empty corridor has never sounded clearer. Gunshots are visceral and weapons are distinguishable from one gun to the next by their realistic sound. The sound in BF4 creates an immersive combat experience and elevates the gameplay to something intense. The thunderous boom of a tank firing at you or the patter and ping of bullets spattering into rocks while running for cover will make gamers think twice about rushing carelessly into the open.
BF4’s sound makes non-cutscene moments dramatic too. While in cover behind a collapsed wall, the sounds of gunfire and artillery echo through abandoned buildings and make the gamer feel like they are a soldier navigating the perils of war. Sound changes from one locale to the next and a rifle fired in an open field will sound different when the same rifle is fired below decks in an aircraft carrier. Even the rubble created by heavy artillery destroying urban surroundings sounds realistic as it crumbles and rebounds off the ground.
Like it’s predecessors, BF4 offers a lot by way of multiplayer. There are a few new modes this time around including Obilteration and Defuse which are similar modes with a few differences. Both modes focus on planting a bomb at a target marked on the mini-map with one side defending and one side, well, planting bombs. Defuse differs from Obliteration in that the maps are smaller and, once killed, gamers cannot respawn. Both modes will offer a lot of opportunity for squads looking to develop effective multiplayer strategies and cohesion. The layout of the maps and random spawn location discourages gamers from running directly to the target and planting the bomb. Gamers must strategically take out enemies and scout bomb sites in order to win a round.[adsense250itp]
BF4 multiplayer offers a bunch of new maps to choose from, whichever mode one prefers, and also gives gamers a lot of strategic options. Taking time to explore each map is difficult when enemy gamers are trying to shoot you in the face but worthwhile as there are lots of hidden gems. Some maps feature cargo containers whose doors open and close. One map has an arcade-style shopping mall with a functioning elevator and grates over first floor windows. The grates can be opened and closed and when closed, create a barrier against bullets from outside. All in all, there are a lot of interactive options including Levolution.
It was tough to test the full extent of how Levolution can change a map or how it can be used to best advantage but it definitely delivers some intense gameplay. While trying to spot enemies camped out at a construction site across the map, an enemy RPG blew a hole in the wall I was using for cover. The wall very realistically disintegrated sending rubble and dust everywhere. Though I was still standing, I was left shaken and awed by the level of detail. Strategically, I was a sitting duck for the five to ten seconds it took me to process that the wall could disintegrate, that I was still alive, to determine where the gunfire was coming from and to marvel at how realistic the degradation of the remaining bits of wall looked.
The loadout system and four main classes remain the same and new weapons/gadgets must be unlocked by leveling up. Vehicles seem more responsive in BF4 which is good news for gamers that love vehicle maps. The R1 button also provides an easily accessible array of multiplayer options that have been present in previous Battlefield installments but are much more accessible this time around. Calling for a medic or a ride, along with five or six other multiplayer support options, are all easily reached by holding down R1. BF4’s PS4 button layout is much more convenient and easy to use and will take much less time to master than previous installments.
BF4 is visually and audibly stunning. It is a war-torn feast for the FPS senses and well worth the money despite glitches and issues with saving data. Yes, it was frustrating the five or six times that BF4 exited to the PS4 home screen and gave a generic error message but the gorgeous scenery and smooth interface made it worthwhile to weather through. What BF4 lacks in originality, they make up for with sheer detail. Bricks in a wall and the many ammo pockets of a soldier’s combat gear both receive equal attention. It’s hard to improve on a good thing but BF4’s multiplayer is now even better than before. Team players can look forward to better spotting while strategic gamers can look forward to the many interactive parts of each map and more reasons than ever before to boss around a squad of loyal friends.
tags: battlefield 4 , bf4 , DICE , ea , fps , Levolution , multiplayer , ps4 , review