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Review: Battlefield 4

bf4boxThe large-scale battlefield action is back for one last hurrah on this generation of video game consoles.

The features that the Battlefield series is known for – large battles, numerous vehicles and squad-based action – are served up in spades in Battlefield 4.

The game, which will also be out shortly for the next generation of consoles (PS4 on Nov. 15 and Xbox One on Nov. 22), also continues to bring innovation to the series.

First is what Electronic Arts and developer DICE refer to as “Levolution.” The series has always been known for the ability to change the battle landscape by destroying walls and fences and other parts of buildings. But BF4 amps it up with the ability to bring down entire skyscrapers.

The concept is good, but execution – at least on the Xbox 360 – is so-so. Experiencing the collapse results in comical framerate slowdown during the event. But it does completely change tactics for the affected area (as well as killing anyone who is unfortunate enough to be in the building). A flag that once was approachable by heavy armor becomes accessible only on foot, for instance.

Also somewhat new is “Commander mode,” which was first used in Battlefield 2142. In this mode, a select few players view the entire map during gameplay. They can give orders to teammates, call in missile strikes and deploy weapons and vehicles.

The heart of BF4 multiplayer is squad action. Joining a game places you in a squad that can work together on objectives. One of the chief benefits of squads is the ability to respawn with a squadmate, no matter where they are located on a map. Players can also choose to spawn at any flag location the team currently possesses or at team home base.

Squad play, however, can be a real negative in a match if you end up being placed with a bad squad or, worse, no squad at all. Then your only options in respawning is at flags or home base, which can mean spending a lot of time just moving across the map. And some of the maps are huge, which is another hallmark of the Battlefield franchise. Many of the maps are vast and leave lots of room for action, depending on game mode played.

Another area where Battlefield 4 shines is the options for colorblind players. Colors are essential in the heat of battle, since your team icons and opposing team icons can give you quick info as to the battlefield conditions.

Usually, the two sides are represented by red and green markers. Most newer games offer a colorblind setting where your team markers would be more obvious, say white for teammates and blue for your opponents.

BF4 offers three colorblind settings to tailor your gameplay to your particular flavor of the problem – deuteranopia (green blind), tritanopia (blue/green) or protanopia (red/green).

BF4 has 9 multiplayer modes. Old familiar modes  – Conquest, Rush and Domination return, as do Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Squad Deathmatch and Squad Rush. New to the series are Obliteration and Defuse.

Obliteration mode involves two teams – one trying to destroy high value targets while the other defends. The attacking team has to pick up and transport a bomb to the target while the defenders try to prevent the attack.

Defuse is a mode in which each player has only one life (no respawning). One team must arm and detonate a bomb while the other tries to stymie the effort. Since there are no respawns, just killing all of the other team will also result in a victory.

The single-player mode centers around Sgt. Daniel “Reck” Recker, a member of an elite American squad called into action when China attacks the U.S.

Much of the action is played out at sea, as a crippled U.S. warship is featured prominently. The action is intense and visceral.

Battlefield 4 is a solid addition to the Battlefield line, offering some innovation while keeping what makes the series great intact.

Platform: PlayStation3, Xbox 360

Manufacturer: Electronic Arts

Rating: Mature

Score: 9.25 levolution chilies


Review Statement: An Xbox 360 retail copy of this game was provided by Electronic Arts for the purpose of this review.