The textures load slower than an octogenarian on a Segway, the single-player campaign is such a waste of time that you rather play Farmville and the odd crash or two in multiplayer ends up annoying you to the point where you’re inventing new swear words to express your anger. And yet, Battlefield 4 is well worth your time and energy. But let’s get why it is not out of the way first now shall we?
If you bought or plan to buy BF4 on the basis of the single-player campaign, please don’t. Corny dialogues, hammy voice acting and a nonsensical plot await you as you try to run from one check point to the next. Gunning your way past the hordes of enemies the game throws at you is another way of progressing but the way the single-player campaign pans out, you’d be better served scampering past gunfire. All along the way you’ll be treated to sumptuous visuals that will have you wondering how is it possible on hardware that’s almost a decade old.
Sadly this visual wizardry isn’t at it’s best in multiplayer. As we mentioned above the textures load quite slowly. You’ll find yourself in game and moving across a myriad of scenic landscapes only to find bits of grass populating as you step around them or stairs popping up as you walk closer. It’s a tad annoying. Thankfully this is something you face only in the first few seconds of getting into a game. After this, it’s relatively smooth sailing. I use the term “relatively” because there are situations wherein the game manages to freeze forcing you to reboot your console. It isn’t anywhere close to the issues PC gamers are facing but it’s irritating all the same. One plus side though, is not having to deal with Origin. Hopefully EA should be able to rectify these issues with a patch.
Speaking of pluses, the multiplayer mode is brilliantly addictive. The pace of play is quick, but not fast enough to venture into Call of Duty’s almost arcade like trappings. There’s a sense of weight that makes every move feel a lot more real. If you’re new to the multiplayer expect to die fast and die often, much like I did. Your first few matches will be eye-openers for your psyche as it gets beaten to oblivion. Having a single kill for three to four deaths is normal. Nonetheless, you’ll find yourself persisting because it’s extremely enjoyable, you’re hooked the moment you get your first kill.
You’ll soon learn the ways of each level and how to manage your soldiers movements for maximum efficiency. Before you know it, if you can excuse my 1337-speak, the pwnd becomes the pwner. The learning curve isn’t as steep as other games and progression is rewarded with a healthy supply of unlocks that keep you coming back for more. The chaos caused by interacting with destructible environments just add to the tension. Dubbed as “Levolution” by the EA marketing machine, you’ll find yourself leveling skyscrapers to take down troops en-masse or simply switching off lights in an area to reduce the visibility of your opponents.
Of course it wouldn’t be Battlefield without a host of slick multiplayer modes and BF4 doesn’t disappoint. From the classics like Conquest and Team Deathmatch to new Obliteration and Defuse modes, there’s a lot of ways to unleash a hail of bullets at your friends. Obliteration has you trying to capture a bomb that spawns anywhere on the map and plant it where it hurts your enemy’s objectives. Then there’s Defuse is 5 vs 5 gunplay which has you having to end the opposing team or crushing their objectives with the big twist being you only have one life. The new modes are fun to play and complement the existing set well enough.
This would be worthless if you couldn’t find a game. The quick match-making mode is insanely fast. I’ve managed to get from the opening menu to a match in a little less than a minute and this is on a pedestrian 1Mbps connection. Throw in the fact that lag is a non-issue and you’ll realise there are a lot of network optimisations under BF4’s shiny hood that make it a lot more playable than other multiplayer experiences especially in a country like ours where bandwidth is at a premium.
After a week of playing BF4 I can’t put it down. As it stands, it’s welcome end to a generation that’s gone on way too long. While I do have my reservations against the high price-point, the fact that you can upgrade to the PS4 version for around Rs. 800 and a steady supply of content from DICE for a couple of years at least make it worth considering, even if it is just for the multiplayer.
So yes the textures load slower than an octogenarian on a Segway, and the single-player campaign is such a waste of time that it makes me reusing my first paragraph as an ending ingenious, and the odd crash or two in multiplayer ends up annoying you to the point where you’re inventing new swear words to express your anger. But you’ll find yourself coming back for more time and time again. Yes, it is that good.
This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of Battlefield 4