Battlefield 1943 is a a first-person shooter set in World War II, which specially looks at the pacific campaign. It marks a first for the Battlefield series, as while its combat sticks to its roots, it is the first downloadable, multiplayer only title. There's no love-lost either, as Electronic Arts developer DICE have decided to pit the United States Marines Corps (USMC) against the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN).
Following in its traditional multiplayer game style, Battlefield 1943 focuses primarily on a capture point style of gameplay. This essentially means there are five flags on the map and each side has to try and hold as many of the five flags as possible. Whichever team has the most flags will make the other team's tickets drop faster. The first team to lose all their tickets loses the match.
Both sides generally start maps either on an aircraft carrier or on an airstrip. Each team is given planes, tanks, and jeeps and is let loose to battle for the five flags. Gameplay is fairly frantic and well paced and this is due in part to a simple but well crafted 3 class character system. The Infantry class is a mid range fighter with a machine gun, but isn't underpowered at all. It's very possible to destroy vehicles with a bazooka or repair them with a wrench. The rifleman can fire mid to long range shots with a more powerful gun and is master of infantry annhilation with a rifle grenade attatchment. Finally there is the scout class with the long range specialty of the sniper rifle rifle and explosive defense of satchel charges. With this blend of the 3 classes it keeps everything fairly tight in terms of competition, since all of the class types can multi-task to hold their positions.
Admittedly, at times spawn-points can get frustrating when they are in a limbo sort of state. For example, one team is taking the flag, but it hasn't quite hit the uncaptured point yet, and suddenly there are a bunch of enemies spawning at once on that space. It could be taken at the last minute before spawning, which forces the spawn to a completely different part of the map. Even still, these issues can play into the strategy and team play to anticipate these things happening.
The online connection in Battlefield 1943 is usually spot on and allows for proper play and little hesitation when facing enemies. There is the occasional issue of bullet lag which can be aggravating, but no online game is without flaws such as these when it's first released. Team play is also great with team chat available, but this is another one of those games that suffers from the issue of nobody actually wanting to speak into a microphone for the sake of teamwork. It is a nice addition though when playing with friends and others when mics are actually used.
With online play having constant competition to keep users playing one game over another for more than a month, Battlefield does a great job of it with free online updates. To date, there has already been a new map and game mode which is strictly plane combat and a lot of fun for fans of dogfighting. If this keeps up, the longevity of the online community could hold true for quite a while to come.
Visually the game looks great and runs smoothly. The draw distance is also massive, which is a key element for the snipers and is a great aid when flying the planes. The maps are few but all really well balanced and keep games on a fine line between the two teams. Most matches are usually undecided until the last minute or two of gameplay and even then there have been some massive turn arounds.
Audio is also pretty proficient. The guns have great sound and the environment is really immersive in surround sound. Bombing runs can also sound really scary, especially when on the receiving end. Some of the sounds can become an annoyance though since they get very repetitive and boring. Voices are always the same when spoken and the tanks have a kind of constant running sound that doesn't really change.
With great visuals and gameplay it's hard not to pass up a game like 1943. There is also a really strong online community, and the constant trickle of free updates and maps is a definite reason to keep coming back. For shooter fans and Battlefield fans a like, this is a sure fire title to pick up.