Also On:PS3, Xbox 360, PC
As I begin this review I must say that the Battlefield series probably never intended to be at war with a competing title when they launched with Battlefield 1942. It doesn't take a rocket scientist for publishers to figure out there was "gold in them there hills" when they looked at the insane sales that Activision's Call of Duty series racked up for the last few years. Honestly with Call of Duty having such an amazing following one would argue if it were even worth trying to go head-to-head with the FPS juggernaut knowing that going in it would be an uphill battle. Nevertheless EA and the team at DICE believed that they could not only supply the video game masses with a solid military FPS, but in many ways could even out do CoD in some of their online implementations. So the developers are determined to keep up the good fight, which brings us to this year's incarnation of the Battlefield franchise – Battlefield 4.
The Next Gen versions of Battlefield 4 are far more polished and less bugs reared their ugly heads as from what was witnessed on the Xbox 360 and PS3 version. I assume that the PC version also runs and plays just as silky smooth, so if you have the means and were holding out to play the most definitive version of Battlefield 4, then without a doubt you will find it in the Xbox One and PS4 versions.
I will get the bad out of the way first which deals with the game's lackluster single player campaign. The game's single player mode fails the gaming public in many areas including a shallow 5 hours of game play and a stale storyline. While playing through Battlefield 4 on the Xbox One, even with the obvious graphical enhancements, I can't in all honesty say that the game's campaign didn't provide anything I haven't seen numerous times before in other war shooters or films. No matter if it is on the land, in the sea, or in the air, I just never had a moment that made me go "wow!" In many ways I felt like I was sleep walking through this journey as if I had already been here before, even though it is an entirely new adventure. When taking the next gen leap, however, keep in mind that the very bothersome texture and player model issues that come off looking quite silly and unrealistic on current gen are all but a distant memory, and players get to see what the Frostbite 2 engine can do in full effect. No longer does the architecture of buildings collapsing look odd, and players being blown to hell and even disappearing are no longer present. Even effects such as rain, shadows, and lighting come off looking spectacular, which if you had to the chance to witness both versions, you will easily see how much they had to dumb down to get this engine to even run on current gen. I will say that there are times the game does look downright brilliant, which is exactly what you would want for from your pricier modern console machine.
Where Battlefield 4 shines like a Medal of Honor is the amazing online modes that more than make up for where the game lacks in solo missions. After a long night of taking guys out of the online Battlefield, you will know where your 60 dollars were well spent. Not only are the visuals online as impressive as offline (with the texture install of course) with full damage to the environment and physics damage provided by the Frostbite engine, but it seems to be more stable than what was seen in the glitch filled single player mode. You have a great wealth of modes to play through online, including Conquest, Team Deathmatch, Obliteration, Rush, Squad Deathmatch, Domination, and Defuse, but the maps designed for each mode are incredible in both detail and scale. Here you also have a great number of vehicles at your disposal that you can either man or take part as a gunner, both of which are equally enjoyable on the road to victory. Impressively, the knowledge that your role in the fight isn't broken down to the simple sniper or shotgun roles from the past, as you have a deep customization for your soldier to allow for mid-range weapons and gadgets so you can do your part with the proper equipment. The most ingenious difference between Battlefield 4 and other FPS of its kind is how not only do you earn XP, but how it correlates and creates a significant difference between squad soldiers and commanders. If you are in a squad, you are rewarded with more offensive options for your leaders to deploy, and these commanders can call for those reinforcements, overhead air raid attacks, and most importantly, gain the loyalty of the team to do the best they can in each battle. Each multiplayer mode utilizes the game's maps and options a little differently, but none of them take a great deal of learning to be able to jump right into.
Whether or not the Battlefield series will ever get the Call of Duty-level of sales, notoriety or fanfare will not be decided this year, next or maybe even in the next generation of consoles. As long as the developers get the sales and the fan base to keep the game running, you can expect they will continue to do all they can do to please the fans. It may be disappointing to some that Battlefield 4's single player doesn't live up to a hill of beans, but what they did accomplish with the impressive multiplayer mode is something special that cannot be duplicated even by Activision's mighty series. That being said, I can assure you that we have not seen the last of EA/DICE's epic war shooter as we can expect the next generation to bring new technical feats that will enable them to spread their wings and make this battle even closer with every new year. The overall winner in this battle will ultimately be the gamers themselves who will be happy to take the ride.