Top critical review
45 people found this helpful
on 3 November 2013
I'd like to try and write an objective review of Battlefield 4, without getting involved in any of this Battlefield vs Call of Duty arguement. I'm a fan of the Battlefield series in general but I don't owe any allegiance to or care which of two gaming companies get my money, I just want to enjoy each game for what it is.
Battlefield 4 comes with an excellent pedigree, but the game designers have been unwilling to leave things as they are and have made quite a few changes to this new incarnation. The game may look similar to Battlefield 3 but the feel of the game has changed completely. I can see what they were hoping to achieve, with more tactical options being added but unfortunately this has been at the expense of both realism and playability.
To start with the single player game completely failed to impress me. There is no wow factor to be found anywhere and it all feels very linear. EA Games promised there would be more freedom to explore in the single player game but I did not find this anywhere. Numerous uninteresting cut scenes interrupted an otherwise steady progression from cover to cover, all in a straight line towards the objective. Some basic command functions have been added which serve no purpose and amount to telling your team mates to fire at the enemy (I'm not sure what else they were doing). Unfortunately though they are all terrible shots and for every 10 kills you make they might kill 1.
The plot is absolute total and utter nonsense. China is involved this time, with them blaming the US for killing one of their politicians they launch a seemingly worldwide attack on US interests. Then for no apparent reason Russian troops turn up on the side of the Chinese! Your characters own role in this is as the leader of a small squad of marines referred to as "Tombstone" (always in suitably dramatic tones). You lead the squad but stand silently by in cut scenes, often ignored by your companions despite supposedly being in charge.
The whole single player campaign takes about 6 hours but is far too easy to complete, even on Hard difficulty with aim assist off there are few challenges. In most cases the AI is totally idiotic. However the enemy are strangely hard to kill, with an M11 for instance it takes 3 hits to kill someone (unless you get a head shot). Even encased in kevlar most people hit by a round from an M11 in real life would be dead or incapacitated from 1 round let alone 3! The Chinese are also particularly good at throwing grenades as no matter how far away you are they always manage to get them to land near you.
The multiplayer game on Battlefield 4 is a completely different experience and one which is guaranteed to divide opinion. I would say this for certain - this is a completely different game to Battlefield 3. The changes range from the look of the maps to the controls to the feel of the guns. A lot of people buy Battlefield simply for the multiplayer game and at the moment the servers are literally full of people playing it. So much so there is still a certain amount of lag (off and on), and on a few occasions my game froze up and crashed completely. Along with one or two graphics glitches these technical problems should have been ironed out on the Beta and suggest the game was rushed out in time for Christmas.
There is a great deal of choice in the multiplayer, even more so than before. This time you even have a choice between normal games, hardcore rules and infantry only games, which is nice if you get fed up being killed by helicopters over and over. There are also some new games to try out like the capture the flag variation where two teams fight over a bomb they have to pick up and carry to blow up enemy objectives. Battlefield 4 also introduces a commander option where someone can take the role of the commanding officer, set objectives and use strategic weapons to help your side win. All of which makes the game feel much more tactical, and much more like a battlefield rather than a skirmish between squads.
However there are a number of issues about which I was less than impressed. The graphics seem more grainy and the detail harder to differentiate than in Battlefield 3, to the point that it is hard to make targets out. Although this may be realistic in some ways the fact that the effect is caused by poor graphics is not. Prolonged play can result in noticeable eye strain as your eyes struggle to make out targets from the ill defined background detail. In fact the only aspect where the graphics have improved is in the model for water where waves rise and fall realistically and you can swim above or below the surface. This hardly makes up though for the headache inducing play areas which have little colour or detail and often leaves you wondering - is that one of the enemy, or a plant, or a bit of wall, or a broken piece of wreckage as without a x8 scope its very difficult to distinguish anything.
One major change is that you do at least start with one fairly decent already upgraded gun for each infantry class and basic upgrades for each type of vehicle. This means you don't automatically start the game as useless cannon fodder but can actually compete from the start. The classes remain the same as they were in the previous Battlefield game - namely Assault, Support, Engineer and Recon. Each has their own role to play to help their side but as before players new to the series often fail to realise this and if you are stuck on a team with no one healing and no one dropping ammo you will struggle to get anywhere. The recon snipers at least get to start with powerful scopes (and a steadying bipod) which can help spot targets in all the grainy murk, so they seem to have some advantage at the beginging. Their rifles are fairly low powered though so if you do get hit by one you usually have the chance to move behind cover before they fire again.
Sniper rifles are not the only weapon that seems low powered though. Several shots are needed from any weapon to kill any target, even from high powered weapons like mounted .50 caliber machine guns. Although this may make the game more playable to some it is at the expense of realism and the willing suspension of disbelief. Even more so than in previous Battlefield games it seems the only way to ensure your shots kill someone is to shoot them in the head.
Which brings me to the gun models. While there are more options than ever before to modify and adapt weapons, the guns in this game are very dissapointing after Battlefield 3. The recoil on most weapons has been greatly reduced so that even heavy machine guns can be fired from the hip. After your initial starting weapon you still have to earn experience in each new weapon you unlock so there is a lot of work to be done to get to any decent weapons. They have also taken out some guns which were in Battlefield 3, possibly to be reintroduced in later map and weapon packs. The changes to the weapons are one of the most annoying things about Battlefield 4. It doesn't feel anything like its predecessor and it seems too easy to point and shoot. It's too early to make too many generalisations about this as I'm not claiming to have tried every gun but this is the impression I get from early game play.
So overall I am dissapointed in this new effort by EA games. I think the changes they made were deliberate to make the game more tactical which I would have liked if it wasn't by sacrificing some of the things that made earlier Battlefield games so good. It seems stupid to talk about realism when discussing a computer game but this seems less realistic and more like an arcade game than before. While it may bring in some new players who have never tried Battlefield before other, experienced players like myself may find themselves looking elsewhere for their FPS kick, exactly what EA games don't want.