Monday, 4 November 2013

Battlefield and airsoft weekend, oh my!

It's been a hectic weekend for Milgeek! After a long time when not really all that much has been going on it seems like everything is all happening at once. This weekend saw the release of Battlefield 4, which is sorta a big deal if you like military FPS computer games, and also I made my return to airsoft.

There's a lot to talk about so I will split this post up into two parts, today I will discuss BF4 and in the next couple of days I will post up my airsoft experiences.

My favourite BF4 map so far - Parcel Storm. This makes impressive use
of the dynamic weather effects which do actually enhance your gaming experience.

The BF franchise has become something like the Ghost Recon gaming franchise now - it divides opinions between those that see themselves as 'old school' traditionalists and those fans of the way that the game has subsequently developed.

Ghost Recon - of which I am a huge but somewhat lapsed fan - Like BF2 is seen as something which is a little sacred. Both games are mentioned, by their fans, in whispered reverent tones and because of this worship the follow up incarnations have always been accused of 'leaving the righteous path'.

In the case of the BF series there is no doubt that the emerging importance of the console market has had a dramatic effect on how the sequels have been designed. The developers - EA and DICE - have tried to concoct a recipe for the game that is somewhat 'universal' in that it's ingredients suit all major platforms.

I submit, as do a great many of my fellow PC 'traditionalists', that this 'one size fits all' approach failed dismally with BF3 and that the game balance was pushed too far to favour console 'run and gun' players.

However, Battlefield 4 - as it developed - looked to be dealing with some of these criticisms. Most notabley there is the return of a Commander, an absolutely crucial element of the game if you want to promote serious team play rather than simply having 64 individuals running about a map willy-nilly (as in BF3 and as in the CoD games). And there were other positive notes too…

The developers seemed to be trying very hard to differentiate clearly between the gaming platforms, which each system showing a particular advantage over the other. For example, if cost is your overriding consideration when choosing a game platform then you can play BF4 on the XBox 360 - but then you suffer from reduce team sizes (24) and clipped graphic and dynamic effects - and if you want to full-on 'everything and the kitchen sink' exporience you can opt for buying a PC rig and a BF4 that has 64 player teams, spectacular graphics with amazing dynamic effects and what DICE call 'LEVOLUTION'.

...And I include this video as it has some very interesting points to make about this not so dynamic interactive interactivity...

Anyway - I will stop myself going into a tirade against how a game developed because I have learnt over my long game playing career that I have very little control over this and basically the game goes where the money is (and my niche and unreasonable personal gameplay fetishes have little bearing compared to the spotty 12 year old adrenaline junkies who's parents give them too much pocket money)!

SO, to cut to the chase - is BF4 any good?

Well, bearing in mind it's just the first weekend and I think it's reasonable to forgive some early glitches (remember there were daily patches for BF2 in the beginning) the answer is yes and no! :)

The game is a spectacular feat of graphical ingenuity, you WILL be impressed. The return of the Commander and the map designs HAS redressed some of the team-play balance that I feel was lost in BF3. On the down side the horsepower demanded for all the eye-candy sorta get's a little in the way of being able to concentrate on the tactical experience and the whole Levolution does not make up for this.

There is a argument, also, that once again that the vehicles are over-powered (I saw so much moaning about this in the ams chatter) BUT I would say that these are early days, soldiers have not yet earned some of the more advanced upgrades that are designed to help them combat vehicles AND people are not yet (still) working as proper teams in order to bring down annoying vehicle whores!

BF4 is definitely a mixed bag - the server glitches (see accompanying video) on the PC made it almost unplayable on the first day and there is still not enough servers available for the huge demand. But, when things go well it IS a very enjoyable game AND I have to say that the games I have enjoyed most are where you do get into a squad where there is a sense of some team play. BUT, there are some very strange things going on which I thought were just my age and slowness....Apparently not (see vid)...

My major complaint is that I am having to worry about what my system can and can't do and/or what the code is doing, which is a obstacle to my simply enjoying the game for what it is - a game. But, I seem to remember that I had this problem when I first started playing BF2 as well (I had the least spec'd PC among my team-mates).

So as things stand I certainly can't win out in those speed critical one-on-ones, but I do see the potential for the game and have modified my game play tactics to suit my situation - I simply don't go rushing in and defend further back. Luckily my chosen role of Engineer suits this 'second line' sort of play - particularly as I have now unlocked mines! :)

I have yet to get online with a whole squad full of my voice-comm equipped friends, which is the absolutely ideal way to play BF, but once this happens I will see if I think whether BF4 is really as good as BF2 was. But even playing with one VOIP equipped mate online increases your enjoyment and ability to avoid the hated spawn/die cycle!

Bottom line: The very best way to play BF4 AND ENJOY IT is to play with a Commander (who knows what he is doing), USE YOU Q KEY, issue orders if you are a squad leader or respond to orders if you are a grunt (do your job) and finally play with voice-commed squad mates!

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