I’m about as big of a Battlefield : 1942 fan as you can find. It’s a game I sank far more hours into than I care to admit after its release and in subsequent years, but with the next generation of consoles and a seemingly never ending slew of new titles to play, I have not gone anywhere near the game in some time.
EA and Digital Illusions CE announced a way to scratch that itch just days before New York Comic Con though, and to my surprise, it showed up at the event in a playable form as Battlefield: 1943. Though the version I tested was pre-alpha, I could already see where DICE was going with this, especially after talking over some of the game’s features with producer Gordon Van Dyke.
Basically, EA wanted to give fans of the franchise a way to experience classic Battlefield on their home consoles, but with a fresh coat of (beautiful) paint, some new physics, and some tweaks and improvements that make it more than worth playing again. It’s not a full game, in the sense that it isn’t going to retail, but will instead be a download for Live Arcade and the Playstation Network. It will support up to 24 players through online only; think of it as a World War II era Warhawk.
1943 will have three maps from the original game (Wake Island, Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal) that are both preserved in their form but also updated for the better. Iwo Jima will now have lush greenery to give it more of the jungle vibe it should have; this gives soldiers new places to hide, but also allows an updated version of the Frostbite engine (which Battlefield: Bad Company players should recognize) to show off its stuff when a tank drives over the trees and knocks them to the ground. As you can see in the screenshots, this game looks gorgeous already.
Cover is going to be destructible thanks to the engine, which should give the maps some new dynamics. You can’t just repair a bridge with an engineer anymore while a tank sits there and guards it either, as that class is gone. Take care of your cover, and it will take care of you.
What you will have though, are trenches. Though I didn’t test a map with trenches, I was told that they are being implemented as a way to improve the battle system. Given that the medic is no longer a class either thanks to (slowly) regenerating health, adding trench warfare is a welcome addition.
Speaking of classes, you will be able to choose from Rifleman, Scout, and Infantry. All three have two weapons a piece.‚ I used the Rifleman during my time with 1943, and after playing around with the controls, I can safely say they have translated over from the PC very well. I had no problem dropping into the game and avoiding looking silly after a moment.
The same can be said for the vehicle controls. After driving a tank and a jeep and flying a fighter plane, you can be assured by the fact that DICE nailed the control scheme. In fact, flying may be easier with the analog sticks than it was with a keyboard and mouse, as you gently glide and turn your plane over enemy targets with precision.
The goal of Battlefield: 1943 was to make a shooter that was accessible but at the same time deep and rewarding for those who play it constantly. In order to assure accessibility, DICE avoided putting in anything gimmicky like unlockable weapons for those who play constantly, so that way those who play 1943 in between their major release purchases are not missing out on anything. This should keep people coming back without fear that they are ill equipped to compete after time away from the game; of course, playing more often most likely means you will be better than if you weren’t playing, but this still helps to narrow the divide.
Battlefield: 1943 is set to release this summer on Xbox Live Arcade as well as the Sony Playstation Network and PC. A price has not yet been set, but for fans of Battlefield, it’s going to be worth the admission.