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Battlefield 1943
Score: 93%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: EA Games
Developer: Digitial Illusions (DICE)
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 24 (Online)
Genre: First Person Shooter/ Online/ Action

Graphics & Sound:
I should make a disclaimer up front. I was never a fan of the Battlefield games in the past. I never got a chance to be there when 1942 came out on PC and as much as I wanted to like Battlefield 2, I just couldn't get into it. So it is with great cynicism and regret that I marched onto the shores of the Pacific campaign of Battlefield 1943 and I made an important discovery. I had a blast!

Battlefield 1943 is set during the Pacific campaign of the greatest war ever fought. Each of the three environments are limited to tropical and seaside locales, but they look remarkably well designed. The colors and details were so natural that I spent a good ten minutes swimming around in the ocean looking at the crystal clear water. But it isn't all about how pretty it looks. Battlefield 1943 also runs incredibly well for a download only game and the engine used for Battlefield: Bad Company carries over to create realistic and natural destruction. Buildings explode and crumble apart, while trees snap and fall over to destroy cover and create a dynamic battleground. I didn't expect much going into it, but Battlefield 1943 blew me away often with its visuals.

There isn't much to say about the sound design. I would imagine they reused most of the assets from previous games to save time. Not that they sound bad; each weapon sounds believable, but it isn't something that I haven't already heard a million times before. But then there is the theme song. Just one song plays during each Menu screen and post match summary and while it is composed very well, it will be stuck in my head forever. Especially the first thirty seconds, because load times are quick and downtime in between rounds doesn't take that long, so the intro to the theme is repeated constantly. I suppose I could have much worse stuck in my head, but I thought that a few variations or remixes would be nice.

This is an historic achievement for the Battlefield series. Battlefield 1943 is the series' first download only game and it is multiplayer only. There will most likely not be a retail version to hit store shelves, but since a few hundred thousand people already bought it, I don't think it is that big of a problem.

For those unfamiliar with the series overall, Battlefield 1943 is a team-based shooter than stresses teamwork to capture flags around the map to defeat the enemy. Traditionally, there are numerous player classes to pick from and understanding how to play each class is critical if you want to be at the top of the leaderboard when the round is over. 1943 condenses a lot of the old classes into just three. The Riflemen is your typical medium range soldier and is also good at anti-personnel. The Scout is the sniper class, but can also plant bombs for maximum defense. Lastly, the Infantrymen is a close combat class and also doubles as an anti-tank and repairman with their rocket launchers and wrenches, respectively.

Because it is digitally distributed, Battlefield 1943 has three maps right away for fast multiplayer action. Wake Island, Guadalcanal, and Iwo Jima are the three locations that you will frequent during your tour of duty. Each of the islands have their own unique personality and terrain to learn in order to be effective. Vehicles are scattered at various strategic locations and getting to know your vehicle is just as important as learning your role for your team. Airplanes are, by far, the trickiest to learn, but mastering the skies is a huge advantage for your team.

I guess DICE wanted everyone to have a fair chance to learn how to fly a plane because there was a fourth map that was locked away until the community as a whole achieved 43 million kills. It took just over two weeks, but PS3 users finally unlocked the last map, Coral Sea, a few days after the 360 community. Coral Sea is an aircraft only map that plays very much like Crimson Skies or Warhawk.This may as well be just for the dedicated because the one match I played took nearly twenty minutes to finish because no one was dominating the match like they should have been. But if you feel up to a challenge, go for it! Once you get the hang of the controls, flying around is exhilarating.

This brings me to the only complaint I have against Battlefield 1943. The barrier to entry is pretty high. This isn't a simple pick-up-and-play sort of game. There is a significant time sink before you start getting good. One of the problems I had with the past games was that the maps were too big and I would die repeatedly because I could never see my enemy before they shot me. That problem still exists here, but on a smaller scale. You will die plenty of times before you earn your first kill in most matches, but when you start getting in the zone, there really isn't any other feeling like it.

Battlefield 1943's difficulty is best determined by the company you play with. If you play with your friends and coordinate a squad in-game, it is a ton of fun and probably wouldn't be that hard. If you are the type of gamer that plays solo and doesn't communicate well with teammates, you will have a very tough time at first. Because the matches are limited to 12-on-12, the action never gets too crazy or too one-sided. And with quick respawns, Battlefield 1943 does its best to keep you fighting as long as possible.

Game Mechanics:
There is so much going on in Battlefield 1943 that explaining the controls is best saved for the tutorial, but if you are familiar with FPS's, then you will feel right at home. All of the controls can be customized through the Main Menu. The flight controls can be custom-tailored separately from the car controls and so on. It seems that every little thing has been thought of for Battlefield 1943 which is great because it allows you to focus on the action.

One of the big problems I noticed online is that people are not playing the way they should be. Battlefield 1943 is not a Team Deathmatch shooter. It is control point variant and there is much more you can do to help your team than just shoot the nearest enemy. If you are a good driver, pick up as many people as you can and get them to the fight quickly so you can gain control of the flag. If you are good at sniping, find a good spot and defend the flag from the enemy by planting bombs and keeping your range. Far too often, I saw people waiting around for a plane or leaving their teammate in the dust because they saw the tank first. Play with friends or at least play with a headset so that everyone has fun and I promise you will keep coming back to serve your team.

The guys at DICE have taken what could have been a full priced retail game and offered it as a digital download. I think it paid off big for them because now that it sits on my XMB every time I turn on my PS3, I have to fight the urge to jump right back in. Battlefield 1943 follows in the footsteps of Warhawk and any fan of shooters on the PS3 needs to own this game.

-HanChi, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Hanchey

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