Now I'm not going to say that I discovered the Battlefield series, or that without my personal involvement in the game's development it wouldn't have happened. Nor will I espouse that because of me and me alone, hundreds of thousands of gamers across the world (and Ipswich) have spent the last two years engaging in multiplayer goodness or anything. That's for Bthe history books to decide.
All I will say is that Battlefield 1942 first came on the scene in early 2002, not long after I wrote a brilliant four-page preview in this very magazine. Since then, it's gone on to be one of the most popular online shooters ever. Coincidence? Over to you, history books. Regardless of however great I may be, the chaps and chapesses over at developer DICE aren't too shabby either. Having realised (probably through my words) how special its coding talents were, the team grew and grew, created a Canadian off-shoot and set about exploiting the property for all it was worth. We still await potential classics such as Battlefield Falklands, Battlefield Earth and Battlefield Jessops ' Car Park On A Friday Night. Until that time, DICE and EA have decided to land the first spin-off in that lesser known conflict - Vietnam.
Back To Nam
What we're looking at here is little more than the original BF1942's tried and tested gameplay dynamics in a leafier setting. Two sides go to war, then battle for control over varying numbers of respawn points across each map while their team's 'tickets' whittle away to zero. Control more points and they don't go down as fast. Control none and not only do the numbers start whizzing like an incontinent coffee drinker, but you can't respawn until the players left on your side manage to recapture one. The first team to zero loses.
It's war as 64-player entertainment - not harrowing BBC3 documentary in interactive gaming form. Naturally, the fact that someone can actually 'lose' this Vietnam war is as good an indication as any that we're not talking actual simulation here. (Nobody 'lost' the real Vietnam war silly, they just performed an extended strategic withdrawal and will no doubt head on back in at some point if Junior wins a second term in office.)
Inch By Inch
Assuming that your requirements lean more towards the enjoyable round-based shooter end of the spectrum, BFV is a fine step up from the previous title, eradicating many of the little issues that plagued BF1942 and adding just enough variety to warrant tearing yourself away from all your WWII shenanigans.
For a start, DICE has tightened up the Al-bot code, making single-player sessions practically a mirror of the multiplayer equivalents. There's still not much sense of overall strategy at work on any of the maps, mainly due to the lack of a command structure in online team-based games. That's never really been what the Battlefield experience is all about however, so it's no real loss.
You do find that there's often a naturally emerging front line to each battle, evolving almost organically from the actions of each player as they rush to win control points away from the enemy. This is all down to each maps' finely-tuned balancing, DICE taking full kudos for the excellent level design on display. It also means that unlike in BF1942, you tend to find small-scale skirmishes breaking out all over the place, making almost every square inch of each map feel important.
Annoyingly, there's still a fair amount of redundancy. Some helicopters, for instance, are able to lower chains and pick up vehicles, delivering them to the front line. A nice idea and one that aids the 'Vietnam-ness' of the gaming experience. Unfortunately, due to the game's inherent lack of tactical structure, there's barely any point as everyone's too busy shooting, dying and respawning to think about supply lines and the like. Plus, the helicopters, although improved, are still a bugger to just keep airborne, let alone perform the complex task of hovering into the precise position needed to pick up a jeep. Hell, when even the bots crash them into the scenery nine times out of ten, what hope do we simple humans have?
Ultimately, though, it's that very 'Vietnam-ness' that makes the game so endearing and keeps you coming back. Features such as the licensed 'period' levelloading music (one of the best in-game soundtracks since Mafia), the Robin Williams-alike DJ blaring out or the 'Go home Gl' psychological warfare tannoy announcements all add to your gaming experience. That and the simple fact that the Battlefield gameplay works and the developer has seen no need to change it here.
As an online, multiplayer gameplay dynamic, DICE'S template has worked right back to the days of Codename Eagle. So, as long as EA's Expensive Suit Division doesn't feel the need for unnecessary 'improvements' in order to 'fulfil emerging market dynamics', the BF series should continue to run and run for years to come.
It's A Word
Being the same basic game as BF1942 could have tarnished BFVwith the brush of pointlessnessosity. Instead, DICE has done enough to justify the status of sequel rather than expansion pack. It looks great, sounds funky and plays superbly.
It's no paradigm shift in terms of ground-breaking online gameplay or anything, but just upping the potential player numbers from 32 to 64, the variety of map locations to fight across and the hardware available to utilise means that BFV is easily the best of the current crop. And this time it isn't all down to me.
Keep 'Em Coming
If I were Electronic Arts (and in a perfect world I would be), I'd throw a couple of million dollars from the petty cash drawer at a gaggle of landscape artists and designer teams, then get each unit to start knocking up battle maps and vehicle models for every major conflict this shining ball called Earth has known in the last 428 years (429 at a pinch). I'd then shove them all into the currently existing Battlefield game engine and sit back laughing as the cash rolls in. Battlefield Crimea. Battlefield 1914. Battlefield Iraq. If EA doesn't do it, the amateur mod-makers will and where's the profit in that? That fancy yacht won't pay for itself you know. Unless it's some sort of hi-tech Knight Rider-style crime-fighting yacht that can also make deals on the stock market. Now there's a thought...
Processor: PC compatible,
OS: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game Features:Single game mode