Battlefield 4: A Review
Into the Fray, and other cliché phrases
If you're reading this review chances are it's because you've already got the game and want to see if it's worth the upgrade to PS4 (the version I'm reviewing, just to be clear) or.... I guess it's just for that reason alone. Battlefield 4 was a game that launched so disastrously I had to buy it just to see how bad the damage was and I was unimpressed by how few glitches and bugs there were. I wanted to rage until my skull exploded and sent gory shrapnel across the room like a bomb in a butcher's shop, but alas, DICE insisted on disappointing me and fixing things rather quickly. I have to give it to them because, even though EA insisted on pushing the game out the door in such poor condition (this is hardly a DICE practice), they quickly sorted out a lot of bugs and delayed map packs just to get the bugs sorted. That sounds good on paper, but there's still the fact that they didn't delay DLC because I'm already seeing news for the third out of five DLC packs, and the second one has recently been released.
Battlefield 4 on PS3 was pretty average, not doing much particularly new and I only bought it on impulse like most of my recent purchases. If you want the blunt of it, BF4 only offers new maps, weapons and extensive character customisation but outside of that if you're looking for revolutionary and original gameplay, come back in a decade or two when the next genre dominates the gaming industry. Levolution seems to be the big selling point of the game, but does little other than change weather effects and bring down a few buildings, which you honestly won't care for outside of the map Siege of Shanghai. If it weren't for dynamic maps that you don't have much control over changing (most of them will destroy themselves at certain times in particular match modes), chances are BF4 would be quite a few points lower for bringing nothing new to the table.
Where the game does make up for being stale is being on PS4, running at a sweet sixty frames per second and the only way you can see it is for yourself. Streams very rarely capture the beauty of this, and YouTube stutters so much you'll not see anything about 45 FPS. This is something where you have to be in front of a TV to immerse yourself in, and my first time playing the game had me shocked. It was such a huge transition it took me hours before I could become a competent player - that's the difference.
The game's campaign showcases the PS4's capabilities the best in the entire game, because while the multiplayer is grand, it's the singleplayer that truly shines. You get to see every single detail in the guns, your team-mates' faces, the map design and so on - I've noticed very few flaws about the visuals, the crisp sounds nor any bugs or glitches. The only problem I did have was that the enemy faces, should you choose to melee them, were lacking in texture and looked like a children's crayon drawing left in a puddle. Why wasn't the same work that was put into lip sync, in facial details and costumes for your squaddies put into the enemies? Did DICE seriously think there wasn't going to be a player out there who cares about their story?
Players take control of Recker in the squad Tombstone, fighting alongside Irish, Dunn and Pac, and it's up to your squad to escape Russian special forces and provide valuable intel that could prevent another world war. While the story is in-depth, the thickness of the cold war fog is so dense you can hardly see who's more irredeemably evil: the Admiral Chang who wants to purge an entire country to get the Russian's support, or the Russians who are after the intelligence. My opinions on the game aren't helped when none of the cast are likeable especially with the endless streaks of bad language and few attempts at military code are made. While the game wants to have its serious moments like when Dunn's leg has to be removed, or Hannah's family is found executed, you don't feel an inkling of worry or sorrow because it tries way too hard to get your attention. The one thing that did have my attention was the stopwatch on my phone, which was coming up to the four hour mark toward the end of the campaign.
The story does make more of an effort to be believable and less convoluted than before but it's far from perfect. There's few gimmicks that I care about and each mission that passed was forgotten quickly. At least Ghosts bothered to try things like abseiling, Riley, space wars, underwater battles and so on even if they were few and underutilised. Battlefield 4's story is the same as the previous title with a bit of vehicle control in places, before running through corridors for some duck 'n' pop shooting gallery phases for around three hours. It's so piss poor I'm going to rate it down.
Now before I go any further, I don't care if the story isn't what you should play Battlefield 4 for; if it's in the game, I will rate it. Sure, I'd complain if there wasn't a story, but it'd be a better move than making a bad one that's only purpose is to pad out how much time I have on this mortal plane before I descend to a fiery finale. It's obvious that these guys tried a little harder, but that's not saying much considering it still has the same flaws as Battlefield 3: obvious enemy spawn closets, poor setup for antagonists and few reasons to play other than for dog tags and certain weapons in multiplayer. If you can afford three hours of your time to grab a few guns for the real Battlefield experience, campaign might be worth playing. If you're not getting this game for online play don't get it at all.
Where the gameplay really picks up is the multiplayer which by now should be obvious to any gamer. Unless you're buying this for a relative or a friend and aren't a gamer, in which case, be sure to ask if they have access to online multiplayer. Playing on a high end PC or a next generation console is the best way to get the BF experience (especially if you have friends who have those too) because not only does it run smoothly at a perfect 60 frames per second, it looks gorgeous and nothing is held back to keep that consistent frame rate. You might have minor texture pop-in and the odd bit of foliage growth but destroying the maps and pumping your enemies full of lead has never looked so good. Although there's a new engine opening up new gameplay modes and generally things to do in the game, it's still limited when it comes to destruction. Sure things look good, but after a while you'll notice that it doesn't quite chip away at the environment like Tom Clancy's The Division will, with every bullet hole and explosion making the differences. We also get to play the game with sixty other people in certain matches and modes which is how the game should be played, but you'll often find on consoles matches still only have 19/23/29 other players depending on the mode. Battlefield was made with 60-odd players in mind, and on PC you'll be able to do find these matches with relative ease, yet on console you can still have a load of fun.
The controls have been reworked better suited for a Call of Duty player, using the R3 (right stick click) to swipe at a target in melee; circle to duck/go prone and L1 to throw grenades. This is easy to adapt to but many players were upset about the changes to the controller layout, so whether you decide this is a good change or not really comes down to you. One of the better things I can see with not just playing on the PS4 but also with the game is vehicle control, which is finally so much more user friendly. Not only does the training ground known as Test Range help you hone your skills with guns and vehicles, it allows you to do this without the stress of hindering other players and even getting booted from matches because of it. In BF3 the only way to learn how to fly was in actual combat, and for me this took so much getting used to and there were no tutorials in-game whatsoever making my experience horrendous. Thanks to the test range, I can finally partake in Air Superiority modes, and help comrades get from one place to another with relative ease. This should be standard for any game, but I'm overjoyed it's here in Battlefield 4 at long last.
Character customisation before was limited and it's a shame that you can't change your character's appearance all that much. However your guns, melee weapons, grenade types and accessories can be changed in so many ways it puts Ghost Recon: Future Soldier's gunsmith feature to shame. While that was awfully complex, here you can see your changes taking place and having an impact. It's also not as black and white as before, and thankfully newer players can choose the stats right for them thanks to the bars that tell the weapon's accuracy, damage, recoil and so on. This is a huge step up from the limited array of weapons of before and the few weapon accessories you would use, making class and weapon progression in this game hugely more interesting. And for those who absolutely need it, there's also weapon camo.
Unfortunately my interest seemed to die down fairly quickly upon entering the game. It looks good and feels good but without map packs all you've got is more of the same. It doesn't help either when I have to change my TV's colour settings based on the individual maps because of how bright the lights are, and how dark the corridors are. China Rising and Second Assault each add new maps (the latter adds a BF3 favourite, Operation: Metro) but don't offer much else for the £11.99 you're paying. Combat still feels fluent and the weapons have minor impact, but still lack the 'oomph' other games do like Metro and Sniper Elite. Yes, I made that reference. It also doesn't feel very rewarding, especially at lower levels due to the speed of progression. I don't expect to zoom through, and in fact, the sloth pace of BF3's progression felt great, but here it's sluggish and unrewarding as the levels go by. It's not until later when you get a real feel for the game and have more choice in how to play the game, but by then you're burnt out on the maps. Or at least I was.
Battlefield 4's multiplayer isn't bad but it's not very thrilling. Most of the game modes are about capture points or CTF, rarely spicing things up. It seemed the two new modes, Obliteration and Defuse, are just a minor variation on existing game modes seen in previous shooters. While they will add some extra lasting appeal for fans of the series, I just want something different. However if you like the modes from Battlefield 3 and the updated maps of Battlefield 4, this game ought to last you a long time. Plus if it's your first dive into Battlefield multiplayer this will do wonders for you. Other than that, I've not much else to say.
Roger and Out
Most of my excitement with this game was lost on PS4 because I'd played it first on the previous generation console. Speaking of which, you can in fact bring your PS3 stats to the PS4 version of the game but this is a one time chance. Anyway, Battlefield 4 is a good game for enthusiastic fans of the series as well as those looking for a shooter that offers much larger maps, destructible environments and a variety of game modes to keep you satisfied. While many of its bugs and glitches remain, DICE work hard to get rid of them immediately and if you give them constructive feedback they can do wonders. If anyone says they don't listen to the community, they clearly haven't seen BF4 in its current state.
At this point I'd normally give the game a rating, but I can't. Do I give it an average rating because of its lacklustre singleplayer, or its same-old multiplayer? The Scales of Julianos aren't tipping in any direction, so I'll not rate the game. I will say that if you're looking for a quick and social experience get Call of Duty: Ghosts. Otherwise, stick with Battlefield 4 if you're looking for lengthy matches with miles-long character progression and sights that you'd gladly pay £40 for!
Until the next time, thanks for reading and have a pleasant day.