Destructible Servers: Battlefield 4 Reviewed

4 Nov

Battlefield4-title

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a game review. Sorry about that.

It’s not that I haven’t been playing new games – I have. Earlier this year, after a flurry of game reviews, I applied for an E3 press pass – naively, not realizing how large the blog has to be in order to even be considered. Unsurprisingly, I was denied in short order. I’ll admit, it took quite a bit of wind out of my reviewing sails. It forced me to realize how few views this site actually gets in the grand scheme of things, and how most of the time it really is just me talking to myself in here. So with that in mind, after much sulking and decaying of sanity…

Oh, quit whining and get on with the review already!

Right you are, Other Tom. Since it’s probably just you and me, and we’re both here, let’s get started.

Wait, what game is this again?


Battlefield 4 is the latest in the long-running Battlefield series from developers DICE (Digital Illusions CE, now part of the EA megalith). Like those before it, this game’s primary strength is multiplayer combat. Games take place on huge maps where up to 64 players total shoot, strafe, snipe, and otherwise blow stuff up across surprisingly malleable terrain. It does come with a single-player campaign, but as with most modern shooters (Call of Duty, for one) the campaign seems to exist solely to tick a box on the marketing checklist.

Multiplayer? I normally don’t like it, but I do for shooters. How does this one look?

How does it look? It looks gorgeous. Crank the settings up to ultra (if your PC can support it) and take in the detail. And that’s just when the battle starts – once you realize how scarred the terrain can get (many structures can be collapsed with enough ordinance thrown at it) the graphics engine blossoms into something even more impressive.

No, that’s not what I–

And the audio shines as well. From the crack of far-off snipers or the patter of bullets hitting dirt near you, you’ll run around thinking you’re in a Band of Brothers episode. It’s very well done.

Will you let me finish? You never let me finish. I meant, how does it play?

Oh. I knew that. Just wanted to get the good stuff out first, since it’s pretty much all downhill from here.

Uh, oh.

I’ve played multiplayer shooters for a while now, though I don’t play them all the time – just sporadically, as a casual player. It takes a little longer when you don’t play all the time to get used to maps, weapons, etc. As a result, I tend to die in these games. A lot.

Noob.

Shut it, you. I just wanted to put this out there to emphasize that I still enjoy playing games even while I’m not necessarily good at them. And there have been times when I’ve enjoyed the gameplay in Battlefield 4. However, those times have been few and far between.

Finding a viable server is the first daunting challenge. The array of search options if overwhelming, and the servers listed always seem to either be completely full or nearly empty. If you have friends with a private server I can see the appeal of this setup, but give me PSN or XBOX live randomly assigning me to a server any day. And the less said about the absurd web-based game client (Battlelog) the better.

Once you actually get into a game, it becomes a crap-shoot as to whether you’ll encounter massive lag, have the server crash, or finish a game only to find out that somehow the points you got were never synced with whatever server EA keeps track on (so you essentially lose any points you had earned). Combine that with frequent (and I mean frequent) crashes to the desktop during matches and the frustration level with the game rises far beyond anything that you might encounter with a particularly good sniper or camper in an otherwise playable game.

crash

With all this said, the console experience might be significantly better sans all the PC-specific glitches. I’m just not going to waste another $60 to find out.

Ouch. Well, that sucks. At least there’s a single-player mode, though. Right?

Yes there is. Unfortunately.

Like I said earlier, modern shooters like Call of Duty and Battlefield slap on a short campaign designed to pretend it’s a single player game – most likely as a ploy to get casual gamers to look at the title. The short and insipid story-line of the Battlefield 4 campaign has you playing a US marine on a mission to prevent a Chinese civil war by protecting the people’s Messiah, or something. You jump from one absurd set piece to another, from China to Russia to the Suez Canal. As with the last Call of Duty (Black Ops 2), there are multiple endings possible, but these make the three-colored original endings from Mass Effect 3 look like a masterpiece in storytelling.

So, not a good game then.

In a word, no. At least, not yet. A lot of the multiplayer issues are stability-related and can be fixed (a disturbing trend in EA games lately). The problem is, for this review I can’t wait for those fixes – nor do I really want to. Many of these issues seem to be ones that could have been caught in beta (unless you believe EA considers the game launch itself as beta, an argument which I am increasingly unable to disagree with).

Bored now. Get to the point.

Don’t be rude, Other Tom.

If you’re a fan of shooters in general, wait and see how the new Call of Duty is before throwing (away?) money on this game.

Fanboy.

Hey, it’s your money.

Even if you’re a Battlefield fan, I’d really advise waiting until you hear of much-needed stability improvements made to the game. You’ll have a much better gameplay experience.

Or, just wait for EA to offer it at a discount/free after their next big title launch fizzles…

6 crashes out of 10

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