We enjoyed 'Battlefield 4' for the way that it unabashedly fueled us with a testosterone filled romp. The storyline was intriguing enough to keep our attention and the production values of the game made us forget any of the other, smaller issues.
'Battlefield 4' is next in the long line of succesful 'Battlefield' titles to be developed and released by EA Digital Illusions CE, otherwise known simply as DICE. This latest entry finds itself launched firmly into the next generation of video game consoles. We took the time to pop the game in our Xbox One in order to see if the experience it gave us was much different than that of the PlayStation 4. We weren't at all upset with what we found out and we quickly found ourselves completely immersed in the fast paced, violent alternate history shooter. The question isn't how much fun we had though, it is how much fun will YOU have.
So who are we and who are we killing.
You drop into the shoes of Sergent Daniel 'Reck' Recker. You are second in command of a special U.S. spec ops. squad codenamed 'Tombstone'. The campaign in 'Battlefield 4' is much different than its predecessors. Instead of globe trotting through a storyline that bounces back and forth, you tend to follow one bit of string until it reaches its natural conclusion.
So, you play as Recker and you pretty much live up to your last name. The game begins in Baku, Azerbaijan. Tombstone Squad is trying to escape the city while it still has control of some vital information. Russian special forces are hot on your tail and it doesn't look at all hopeful like you and your men will escape. The chase sequences sends your squad into a vehicle that soon ends up plunged into the sea. Your C.O., William Dunn, takes some heavy damage during the escape and he ends up trapped in the backseat of the rapidly sinking car. Dunn orders you to save yourself and leave him behind. Your squad escapes while Dunn drowns in the wreckage of your getaway vehicle.
Once you escape your squad quickly hears of tension rising between the United States, Russia, and China due to an assassination of a Chinese presidential hopeful. From the intel you manage to glean, it appears that the United States was behind the assassination. From there you end up thrown into various forms of combat all over the world. With your blood pumping and bullets flying overhead you quickly learn not to ask questions, trust anyone, or hesitate to shoot when shot at. The campaign itself runs about 7 hours long though the more completionist players will likely add an hour or two to that number as they make sure that no enemy gets away.
Let's talk a little bit about how all of the gunfire shakes out. Most levels have you enter into a broad area that seems to funnel you in one certain direction. Even though these levels look massive you are rarely ever allowed to actually explore them. Instead you feel the invisible ropes of lazy developers keeping you on track. This isn't forgivable in the age of sandbox video games, but it didn't ruin the experience for us.
From there you will get into almost countless gunfire battles with an untold amount of enemies getting thrown your way. Though we have to defend some of the tweaks that DICE threw into their game. In order to prevent a stale play through there are certain elements that spice it up. You will run into special weapon caches that give you access to any weapons that you have previously come across. That means that going back and playing through the game will be a fundamentally different experience. An alleyway firefight that you had with only your basic rifle will look much different with a gun from later in the game.
You also have a set of cool binoculars that you can use to tag your enemies with. This enemy tagging ability allows you to command your squad as they target specific individuals. This is a bit of strategy that stops 'Battlefield 4' from devolving into a mindless shoot 'em up. While we liked the ability to send our squad mates at a certain opponent, it still seemed like we were unable to shake the AI. The computer enemies seemed to be magnetized to wherever WE were, and not where the bullets were coming from.
As you play through the various disposable towns, and enemies, you will find that much of the world can be blown apart. You'll see sparks go flying from downed electric wires while glass, rubble, and so much dirt goes flying in the air after a huge explosion. Structures will crumble around you and you'll have a hard time not being completely invigorated by the spectacle. But that is what DICE does. They create spectacle and the fun doesn't stop because of it.
What we really learned to enjoy out of the 'Battlefield 4' for the Xbox One was the theatrics of the entire thing. The character models are wonderfully realized by amazing voice actors. We have to give specific props to Michael K. Williams ('The Wire', 'Boardwalk Empire') for how he brought to life the character 'Irish'. Cutscenes look incredibly life like and there are moments where we can actually forget that we are playing a video game. The graphics for the Xbox One version of the game can rival that of the PC at its highest settings. The smooth frame rate keeps the action going smoothly and we were enthralled by the impressive sound mixing.
Of course 'Battlefield 4' wouldn't be what it is without its multiplayer option. Once you play through the campaign you will find yourself engaging in the frustrating but enjoyable online game modes.
We enjoyed 'Battlefield 4' for the way that it unabashedly fueled us with a testosterone filled romp. The storyline was intriguing enough to keep our attention and the production values of the game made us forget any of the other, smaller issues. Cool strategic tweaks like weapon caches and binoculars make this the best entry into the series yet.