Digital Illusions CE (more commonly known as DICE) really have put time and effort into transferring the PC stalwart series of Battlefield to the consoles. While the single player component of the likes of Bad Company and its sequel are fair to middling, the multiplayer is a fantastic mix of dedicated class systems and orchestrated chaos. DICE have tinkered with many permutations of what exactly constitutes the Battlefield games over the years, and their download-only excursion of 1943, bears all the hallmarks of this unique approach.
For those more accustomed to masses of options, the stripped down nature of 1943 will be the first thing they notice and might come as a shock. No load outs. No customising your player. You choose from one of three classes (Infantry, Rifleman or Scout), jump into a team and off you go. Infantry are for those more suited to long-range combat, Rifleman is machine guns and rocket launchers, while the Scout specialises in sniping and planting explosives.
Set across four islands in the South Pacific, 1943 doesn’t attempt to realistically recount the atrocities of the second World War in that particular field of combat. This is distinctly played for fun and as either USMC or ISA, you must capture one of the five flags on any given map. Each time you capture more flags than the other team, their health bar rapidly depletes, and vice versa. When the health bar depletes to zero, you win – it`s that simple. The geography of the islands (Coral Sea, Iwo-Jima, Guadalcanal and Wake Island) makes for short, intense battles and with twenty four players going at it hammer and tongs, you soon find yourself swept up in the never-ending pursuit of flags and frags.
This blend is accentuated with the usual mix of AA guns, Tanks and Jeeps, all fitted with period-appropriate weapons. There is a real sense of motion in 1943, as planes fall from the sky, their debris littering your immediate area, or buildings crumbling around you as air raids pepper the ground, waiting to catch an unaware player off guard. If you can’t enjoy blowing up an oncoming jeep and watch both driver and machine go head over tail dangerously close to you, then who knows what will float your boat.
For some, the real fun will come once they get their hand on the planes. Small, nippy and propeller based, in the right hands they provide devastating support from above. But like all things in the Battlefield universe, the tide can quickly turn meaning everyone has to be alert to the ever-shifting landscape of battle.
For those who wish to extend their airborne adventures, the additional mode of Air Superiority will see them in their element. Based purely on flying with no ground-based combat, you and fellow flyers must, as the title suggest, dominate a particular section of the map by constantly fending off the opposition force.
The usual, and brilliantly implemented, points system that inhabits the Battlefield titles is present and correct, allowing you to rank up to insane levels and wear it as a badge of honour for all those hours put into playing. Logging onto the servers, even this long since its release, sees 1943 maintaining a sizeable and active community who are all continually fighting to gain territory.
The caveat with all online only titles most definitely applies to Battlefield 1943; by no means approach this if you won`t sink the hours in since it can be unforgiving starting out on your own. However with a group of like-minded people the utter chaos and, above all, entertainment to be gained from working as a team, makes for an irresistible mix.