Battlefield 4 Review (PS3)
The opposing forces in this game are the Chinese. It’s not the country, but a faction. The player’s squad is assisted by a Chinese soldier who is fighting for her country, and many Chinese civilians are rescued. Military personnel on the player’s side comment about how they are the enemy, but an emphasis is placed on them being victims of war, as civilians, and little to do with the politics that cause it.
We feel its important to mention this given our stance on Call of Duty: Ghosts, which we refused to review.
With next-gen just around the corner, it would be far too easy for developers to just forget all about the current generation of consoles. We see it happen every iteration, with the previous generation always getting left with half-hearted releases. That leaves an important question. Is Battlefield 4 on PlayStation 3 another sloppy port, or do players who aren’t quite yet ready to upgrade their systems get the respect they deserve?
It’s become apparent that single player has become simply more and more of an after thought, taking a back seat to multiplayer. Regardless, single player is still part of the package and still explores all the gameplay features of the game, except that the enemies are AI-controlled characters rather than players. As a result, I’ll still be briefly looking into single player, but all gameplay mechanics–unless stated otherwise–will be applicable to both single and multiplayer sessions.
It’s been a long running joke that the single player campaign in any modern first-person shooter takes place in a corridor, with players expected to follow a narrow path with the experience planned out deliberately. Until recently, Battlefield ignored this trend with wide open, destructible environments. Now, players are expected to play a single player experience that’s not entirely their own. In Battlefield 4, this shift in level design philosophy continues. A large portion of the single player campaign is spent traversing through literal corridors, occasionally stopping by a room to commit genocide for points that enable the player to unlock further weapons for genocide.
The environments are boring, and the player’s squad consists of some of the most uninteresting individuals to grace the medium. Occasionally, the experience is mixed up a little by throwing vehicles in a slightly larger space, or, well, that’s it really. That’s not to say that the actual core of the gameplay isn’t strong, because it is. The game controls really well, and the ubiquitous cover system is useful. Being able to tell your squad to target specific enemies can really help when in a tight spot, and being able to blow holes in some of the buildings and destroying enemy cover makes for some interesting approaches to gameplay. Unfortunately, the most enjoyable feature of the game is downplayed as environments aren’t quite as destructible as some of the previous iterations in the series, and only two or three buildings can be ruined (they are copied and pasted around different maps in the game though!). In multiplayer, the ability to select targets for squad mates to attack has been replaced with the ability for the player character to bark more varied options, lending more to the strategic approach to battles that Battlefield has become famous for. However, there’s little strategy required to the single player campaign.
While Battlefield 4 still has the two-gun limit (and two “gadgets” defined as usually traps or missile launchers) for the benefit of the console release, it still works its way around these limitations through gun crates. The player immediately obtains maximum ammo when near a gun crate, and may also equip any weapons that they have unlocked or stolen, even just briefly. These crates are also scattered quite frequently around each map, making ammo less of an issue.
In multiplayer, players may select their class to play their preferred role, with each of the four classes tightly designed to ensure there is no overlap. The maps are, of course, typically larger than the single player maps and offer far more freedom. This makes the cover system that bit more useful, allowing players to peak around corners without having to actually attach their on-screen avatar to the wall. Unfortunately, it’s visually a mess and background objects can sometimes be difficult to make out. Occasionally, even a rock in the distance can look like another player.
It is here, sadly, that I am very limited to talk further. I experimented with multiplayer a bit, finding that weapons feel relatively well balanced for their roles and vehicles are still an option. I didn’t even get to experience anything big such as the massive building being destroyed as seen in the trailers. Battlefield 4 isn’t just sometimes a visual mess of pixels, but a whole larger mess of game breaking bugs and glitches. On single player, enemies could use cover and phase through walls. On multiplayer, players might not even be able to respawn if the game is at 1080p. Worst of all, some players may suffer the same fate as this reviewer–the game hanging on loading screens. This wouldn’t be a system fault, as the console’s menus could be navigated as usual. Instead, the game just showed the loading icon and proceeded no further. These aren’t the only issues, but just a sample of the problems players will face when attempting to play Battlefield 4.
It’s a shame, because at the very core Battlefield 4‘s gameplay is solid. In an answer to the question raised at the start of this review: yes, Battlefield 4 is a sloppy port. If the title runs like this on next-gen systems, then I would be concerned at the sudden massive drop in competence of the development studio, Dice. Unfortunately for players not yet ready to move on to either the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, this game should probably be avoided, even if you can transfer progress to the next-generation version.
2 (copies work) out of 5.