With the transition to the next-generation of game consoles approaching, many games will appear in different guises on both current and new tech. EA and DICE’s latest outing is one such title, but is playing Battlefield 4
on the Xbox 360 the way to go or is it one to wait for?
The story is set in 2020, six years after the conclusion of Battlefield 3
and tensions are once again running high between the United States and Russia. Russia has supported military coup in China is about to tip the fragile balance, thereby resulting in all-out war with the U.S., and so it falls to you and the rest of Tombstone squad to put things right.
The opening sequence is by far the campaign's strongest and contains some of the best set pieces of the game, including shooting out the windscreen of a sinking jeep, evading an attack helicopter and escaping from the rubble of a collapsed building. Unfortunately, the rest of the campaign doesn’t quite deliver the same amount of adrenaline-pumping action and you’d be forgiven for thinking that you had been here before. During the 5-6 hour campaign you’ll face every possible scenario, all of which have been done many times over in previous installments and other games in the genre, from missions requiring you to utilise a tank or boat to stealthy jailbreaks and shootouts in vast aircraft hangars.
Despite our silent protagonist, Sgt Daniel Recker, being Tombstone’s newly appointed squad leader, he has very little in the way of interaction with many of the other characters and is seemingly just there for the ride, often standing back while his various squad members argue about the moral implications to their current task. On top of this, the various cut scenes do little to explain the plot and the story occasionally jumps ahead without filling in the gaps, leaving you wondering what has actually happened in the time between.
The campaign is your standard run and gun affair but it lacks a lot of the wide open spaces that make the multiplayer so great. On too many occasions you are forced into small corridors and made to follow a set path, while at the same time having to deal with all enemies yourself, as your AI allies fail to find their own targets without being told who to shoot. Even when you do designate a target for them, they won’t use a weapon that is accurate at range and sometimes refuse to fire at all.
It isn’t all bad, and despite the majority of the campaign being largely forgettable, there are some great set pieces that may still remain in the dark corners of your mind once the experience is over. One of these events takes place while crossing a bridge in Singapore during a typhoon, while another sees the complete destruction of a large dam resulting in the flooding of the terrain below.
The game also features three different endings that, to be fair, are rather pointless and will see you replaying the final mission just to view a slightly different sequence that attempts to tug at the player's heart strings, but largely doesn't have any real impact.
Gameplay will be instantly recognisable to anyone who has played any of the previous installments, with veterans being able to easily jump straight in at the game's Hard difficulty without any problems. Rookies on the other hand should find the Normal difficulty challenging, but not infuriatingly so.
's storytelling and single-player campaign may not be its strongest selling points, DICE ran into some serious technical issues trying to push the current-gen tech to utilise Frostbite 3. The textures are blurry and can take an age to load, there are constant frame rate problems and screen tearing, especially during some of the more explosive scenes and numerous issues with terrain, and enemies and characters routinely suffer from pop-in issues.
As with many games in its genre, the main focus of Battlefield 4
is its multiplayer and it’s clear to see this is where the majority of DICE’s love and attention has been spent. Many of the graphical and technical issues seen in the game's campaign are far less frequent, if present at all. In fact, attempting to detail everything that the multiplayer improves or builds upon would result in a review that would definitely be too long to read.
There are now eighty different weapons that each have their own sets of accessories and attachments, meaning that the possibilities for customisation are nearly limitless. Newcomers beware; this can be quite daunting, but once you have got to grips with the game’s progression system and have found a set up that you are comfortable with, everything falls into place nicely.
Overall Battlefield 4
’s multiplayer feels familiar from the second you enter your first match. All four classes from its predecessor return, albeit with a few tweaks. All of the modes from Battlefield 3
also make a return with the addition of “Obliteration”, a single bomb assault mode that sees teams scrambling to locate a single, randomly spawning bomb, taking it into one of their opponent’s three objectives, arming the bomb and destroying said location. Once the bomb has detonated, a new one spawns at another random location and the whole process starts again. The game ends once a team has successfully bombed all three of their opponent’s locations. It is a great mode and this new addition compliments the already extensive list of game modes on offer very nicely. Unfortunately "Obliteration" can be very frustrating on maps that feature large quantities of water (one in particular that can be flooded springs to mind), as the bomb will reset if it ends up being submerged, leading to a fair amount of confusion and plenty of frustration.
Another new mode to grace Battlefield 4
is “Defuse”, a 5 vs. 5, infantry-only mode akin to Counter-Strike
or the "Home Run" mode from Danger Close's shooter, Medal of Honor: Warfighter
. Teams win by either eliminating the enemy squad, or arming and detonating a bomb at a specific location. The main difference is that players only have a single life per round, which certainly makes for a change of pace.
Terrain destruction is something that we’ve all come to expect from the Battlefield
series and Battlefield 4
doesn’t disappoint, from destroying small sections of cover and walls with standard explosives to activating the map’s "Levolution" event which can drastically affect the terrain and often change the balance of power. The biggest example is the “Siege of Shanghai” map that allows you to level an entire skyscraper. Not only is it a marvel to behold but it completely changes how the battle is fought as now there is no longer a large defensible position to garrison.
Despite the game’s online focus, only five of the 42 achievements are multiplayer related and it will require a good deal of time to reach Rank 25 as well as playing every online mode at least once. The remaining 37 achievements are all single-player based and the majority of them can easily be done in a single playthrough, as long as you are willing to search high and low for the multitude of collectables. The final mission will need to be played a minimum of three times in order to unlock the Patience is a virtue
achievement, though luckily this mission can easily be completed in roughly twenty minutes. With the achievements being quite easy to obtain and the Xbox 360 and Xbox One achievement lists being separate, Battlefield 4
might be a good choice for those who are willing to play through the game this generation before picking up its (hopefully) superior next generation version once it has been released.
A word of warning to the completionists out there, a bug that I, and other members of the community have run across can cause campaign progress (including all collectables) to be lost seemingly by playing the multiplayer portion of the game. With that in mind, it is best to do all single-player achievements either before starting multiplayer, or not to play any more multiplayer until you have completed the campaign.
The multiplayer is still as amazing of an experience as it has ever been, but as a whole package, Battlefield 4
gets let down by its lacklustre excuse for a campaign and its multitude of technical issues. If you have your heart set on going next-gen, Battlefield 4
on the Xbox One may be worth waiting for. If you are sticking with your beloved Xbox 360 for the foreseeable future, however, and aren’t too bothered about a sub-par single-player campaign, Battlefield 4
will still be a worthwhile addition to your collection.
The reviewer spent around 10-15 hours completing the main story mode on "Normal" difficulty, unlocking 34 of the game's 42 achievements after having his progress lost on more than one occasion. An additional 15 hours were spent in the game's mutliplayer, albeit on a second profile. The copy of this game was provided by the publisher.