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Faltering Accuracy Whilst Meeting Expectations

Score: 8.25

Genre: 1-Player First Person Shooter (64-Player Online)

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Developer: DICE

Release Date: November 15 (Playstation 4)

ESRB Rating: M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language

Package: The fourth entry in the core Battlefield series gives players the latest access to its beloved teamwork-oriented online multiplayer now supporting 64-Players on next-gen consoles, introducing two new multiplayer modes (in addition to the returning Commander mode), but also, regrettably, a cringe-worthy single-player experience.

Fun Factor: Battlefield 4 is only as fun as you allow it to be. It asks for thoughtful focus with its brilliant teamwork and objective-based multiplayer so you can be a helpful asset in matches but the single-player only includes just a few cool moments. Still, not many games can top Battlefield's satisfyingly authentic, all-encompassing scope of real warfare.

Gameplay: Developer DICE refines every nook and cranny of the on-foot soldier and vehicle combat, making for the smoothest Battlefield yet in terms of playability. Swimming is no longer an annoyance thanks to this.

Graphics and Art: Harnessing the new Frostbite 3 engine, Battlefield 4 looks visually stunning on the Playstation 4. It may not appear to be a huge leap up from Battlefield's 3 graphics, though little things like the way in which the sun's rays reflect off of the roaring ocean waves really catches the eye.

Music and Sound: Battlefield games are known for their iconic sound design formula and Battlefield 4 keeps the tradition going. Even so, in some of the online multiplayer matches I played the mixing sounded curiously choppy, cutting in and out here and there. The single-player voice actors featured in single-player sound like amateurs.

Replay Value: You don't even need to touch Battlefield 4's single-player mode if you'd rather just spend your worthwhile time in the practically endless multiplayer component.

Gamechanger Status: DICE didn't choose to move the series or the first-person shooter genre forward in any meaningful ways. With Battlefield 4, newcomers to the series will probably find more to enjoy then die-hard followers of the games since fans have an idea about what to expect.

The Battlefield franchise is esteemed for many reasons. The overall thrill that comes with witnessing aircraft violently crash down into fiery debris on the landscape below as you contemplate on how to effectively obliterate the looming tank ahead of you all the while avoiding the nuisance of an enemy sniper 100+ yards away behind you is jarring. You won't find this style of first-person shooter action anywhere else in the video game market, which is why it's such a special franchise in the first place and a dangerous competitor for gamers' time and money. DICE's Battlefield 4 promises to offer these same spectacular experiences as well as enhance them with more players, the - what DICE calls "Levolution" moments - and vaster class customization. DICE accomplishes this to a certain extent, but as you dig deeper and push Battlefield 4 to its limits, you may be left wanting. This aside, it's a fine installment in the series.

Time and time again, the best part of any Battlefield game has been its online multiplayer. This reigns true with Battlefield 4. The ample power of next-generation of consoles makes the coveted 64-Player battles on PC now a reality. You'd think with a higher player count, matches would be even more hectic, but, sadly, I didn't think it made much of difference despite the extraordinary feat. Once more, you can choose from four different distinct classes - Assault, Engineer, Medic, and Recon - utilizing their class-specific weapons and equipment, respectively. Like never before, each class is highly customizable. You're free to fit yourself with an impressive array of unlockable sights and attachments for both primary and secondary weapons, melee knives, grenades, camo, and the like. DICE outdid themselves in this regard as it further compliments the agenda of bringing what you can to every match and supports essential teamwork that is constantly involved with Battlefield's multiplayer in noticeable instances.

Battlefield 4 contains the same game modes you're already acquainted with such as Conquest, Rush, Team Deathmatch, and Domination, but also introduces two new modes which try fresh tactics. First, the more innovative one out of the two, Obliteration places a bomb in the map for the two teams to fight over. The goal is for one of the two teams to pick up the bomb and plant it on one of the three enemy objectives; the earliest team to successfully blow up those objectives wins (unless the time runs out, of course). Obliteration is a game mode I see being quickly adopted by fans of classic Battlefield action. I think I prefer the second new mode, Defuse, over Obliteration mostly because of its unconventional take on usual Battlefield multiplayer. A close cousin to modes like Search and Destroy, two five-on-five teams can either claim victory by defeating the other team or detonating a bomb. What profoundly shakes up these close quarters combat matches is the fact that there are no respawns. Once you get into the groove of things, Defuses' claustrophobic structure makes these short firefights worth a dive in.

Older Battlefield fans will recognize the until-now hiatus state that is Commander mode. After you initially hit level 10 in multiplayer, you can start joining matches as a Commander, forfeiting boots on the ground for an overhead display of the map for the entirety of the match. As a Commander, your role is to perform tasks like sending in UAV's, gunships, doing infantry scans/vehicle scans, and even disabling the opposing teams Commander for a short period of time. You're performing all of these as your teammates are skirmishing on the map below. Signaling squads to evacuate or take a particular area on the map is another option as Commander, though I don't know if my teammates appreciated me telling them what to do, as they rarely followed my suggestions. While I'd rather battle my enemy face-to-face on the ground, Commander mode takes a page out of the strategy game playbook, encouraging players to think and play smart in engaging ways that should be pleasing to fans.

All of the fun plays out on 10 new maps that, while continuing to show off DICE's talented handiwork, are not as intricately designed as a majority of DICE's previous efforts. Siege of Shanghai, a metropolis showcasing towering skyscrapers and city streets, Paracel Storm, islands surrounded by oceans everywhere you look, and Rogue Transmission, classic DICE mapmaking, are some of the developer's best work to date. Maps Golmud Railway and Zavod 311 are a little bland and feel a tad lazily buillt on the other hand. What makes this batch of maps stand out from anything DICE has done before are the "Levolution" moments integrated in almost each one. These scripted events occur through provocation or come about at set times. For example, in the map Siege of Shanghai, if enough damage is done to one of the towers, it literally comes tumbling down, changing not only the look but geography of the map. In Paracel Storm, the map appears to be a nice day on the beach but then a tropical storm hits, winds and waves raging left and right. This excitingly transforms the whole dynamic of the regular multiplayer match.

As too bad as it is to say, the single-player facet of Battlefield 4 is where the polish starts to rust. I may have had my reservations concerning Battlefield 3's mediocre campaign, but I'd take that over Battlefield 4's campaign in a heartbeat. The setting is promising with you assuming control of the leader of a U.S. squad entangled in a Chinese civil war of sorts.  By the time the credits roll, however, I was glad to forget about it. The story doesn't do anything you haven't seen before (one mission is actually a complete shameful rip-off of a Call of Duty: Black Ops mission relating to a prison break), it's only five hours long, and, this being the primary, almost unforgivable anchor that sinks the single-player experience, the characters are terrible. Your fellow squad-mates take part in awkward conversations and the voice actors do not help their personalities whatsoever. Characters also blurt out an unnecessary amount of cuss words in some of the most embarrassing ways I've seen.

It seems DICE was attempting to set this campaign apart from other shooter campaigns with more open levels and the ability to charge your squad mates to act out commands . The former initiative works out pretty well although the latter is somewhat broken.  My squad members didn't follow orders on a lot of occasions and when they did, they weren't productive, missing enemy targets with poor aim.  I'm a persistent advocate for gamers to play single-player instead of heading right into multiplayer in FPS', but in this case, I stand corrected. Yes, there are a couple of entertaining flares that caught my attention throughout in this campaign; just nothing inherently good in the long run.

Disregarding the single-player distraction, Battlefield 4 keeps the pace with its predecessors. The excellent multiplayer presents everything you could want from it: huge, brilliant maps, great vehicular combat on the ground and in the air, teamwork on a deeper level, and all-together memorable, unique matches only Battlefield can provide.  It's truly what you'd expect from a Battlefield game. In the end that is what makes Battlefield 4 an amazing video game, but that's also ultimately what makes it a bit disappointing. Battlefield 4 doesn't substantially raise the bar for the series. For it to be a flourishing first-person video game franchise, the Battlefield brand needs to strive to improve with each consecutive installment. I love these games so much that for the series to stay relevant in this day and age, it shouldn't have to play it safe.

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