by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
It crumbled around me
Another noticeable difference in Battlefield 4 are the damage effects, or what DICE have termed ‘Levolution’. I must admit, I was massively impressed by the environmental destruction that occurs in the game. Buildings are often safe-havens for infantry, but in Battlefield 4 they can be death traps too. On more than one occasion I saw a building topple down on a soldier stationed just inside it, and even once I was peering around a corner of a building as it was hit, causing me to flee from my position. Even hiding behind a building can be detrimental against a tank or an engineer with a rocket launcher, as the walls of the building can come crumbling down exposing those behind it. It is part of the ordinary course of a battle to see just the shell of a building as the skirmish rages on.
The damage effects combined with the weather effect give a more realistic feel to the game. The weather often changes, mostly for the worse as battles progress. The Paracel Storm map is probably the one I enjoyed most as the weather effects took hold (the initial review paragraphs were based on this map), but the Flood Zone map also has some great dynamic gameplay as the water level creeps up requiring infantry to swim across flooded areas. Water vehicles also become more important as the conflict evolves. The weather effects often alter the way you need to play. The wind during the Paracel Storm map, for instance, requires snipers to aim to the left or right depending on the direction of the wind.
Both in the singleplayer campaign and the multiplayer, the visuals are superb. The quality of the Frostbite 2 engine used in Battlefield 3 has been surpassed in this latest iteration. Minor details such as facial features are well crafted. The settings are amazing, partly due to the weather effects. The Operation Locker map has some wonderful snow covered mountains, Hainan Resort and Paracel Storm have tropical jungles and then there are the city scenes. I must admit that Shanghai (apart from the skyline) did remind me of the Paris map from Battlefield 3 especially near the river, but that could just be me. In fact, the colour scheme for the game has a Battlefield 3 feel to it. Not that there is anything wrong with setting a tradition.
Controls are almost identical to Battlefield 3 as well, so veterans of the series will feel right at home. One noticeable addition though, is the inclusion of a function known as Lean and Peek. It works pretty much the same as using cover in most games, but instead allows you to hide behind corners, effectively giving the opposition less of a target to shoot at. Using the compact weapons such as an assault rifle or a pistol, you can lean out just enough around a corner to get a view of the street ahead and then take a shot at unsuspecting opponents.
Get out there, soldier!
If you're planning on buying Battlefield 4 purely for the singleplayer campaign, then I'd strongly advise against it. Yes, the visuals are amazing, audio - especially the voice acting - is top notch and the game runs smoother than the previous instalment in the series. But the story was a little underwhelming, and frankly, a little on the short side. Luckily the multiplayer aspect of the game is superb, making up for any shortcomings of the campaign. There are plenty of maps and game types to choose from, weapon upgrades aplenty, and I can't speak highly enough about the quality of the weather and damage effects. They add a certain amount of realism to a game whose visuals are already high quality. If you’re a Battlefield fan or looking for an online shooter, then there is no reason why you shouldn’t be looking at Battlefield 4. I’ll meet you at HQ shortly.
Damage and weather effects add to the Battlefield experience
Single player campaign is rather short