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Review: Battlefield 4 just wasn’t made for this generation of consoles

I have a confession to make: I am a Battlefield addict, and have been playing Battlefield games since the very first one, Battlefield: 1942, and as long as I have had a computer or console that could play the newest version I have.  I love Battlefield over other shooters, Call of Duty for example, because it forces teamwork to win consistently.  The series’ first version was based on a game type dedicated to teamwork, conquest, and the series has never turned away from that focus.

Battlefield 4 was launched at E3 with a lot of fanfare over the obviously superior graphics and scope compared to the upcoming chapter of Call of Duty, and I as a hardcore Battlefield fan have been looking forward to play it from the first trailer for the new game.  Battlefield 4 looked like a bigger and more expansive version of Battlefield 3, my favorite shooter of all time, and had graphics that looked like they were going to set the benchmark for the next generation of consoles.

Unfortunately those high hopes don’t make their way to the Xbox 360 version of the game.  I spent 7 hours playing multiplayer Battlefield 4 on my 360 on Tuesday and the results were not what I expected.  The graphics are less sharp then Battlefield 3, and the maps have such long view distances that it looks like DICE sacrificed the quality of textures used in the 360 version, which causes everything to look very drab and blasé unfortunately.  Draw distances are given priority, while textures at distance almost don’t exist.  Water on the current generation console looks like a rolling blanket, and maps that have a lot of water seem to have fewer textures then ones that do not.   I played Rush on Paracel Storm and the graphics shortcomings of this version show up very clearly on this map.   Also the maps are clearly designed purely for the PC and next gen consoles and seem much emptier on the 360 even when compared to large maps on Battlefield 3, if you thought Caspian Border was huge with large spots of inactivity wait until you play the railroad map on BF 4 on a current gen console.  All of this adds up to a game that wasn’t optimized for current gen consoles and feels incomplete at times on the graphics side, as if they were in a rush and were focusing more on the Xbox One and PS4 version. 

I had the 360 version crash and lock up my Xbox 3 times, which is the first time that has ever happened to me that with any game and I witnessed multiple other friends have the same issue while playing together.  In game VOIP is limited to your squad, and you cannot make a selection to change it to Team VOIP, which will frustrate players like myself who are used to playing almost exclusively on Team VOIP servers in Battlefield 3.

The game does have its strong points though and gameplay is the same tried and true formula of past Battlefield games, and the new addition of Obliteration is a great addition.  Imagine playing capture the flag with only one flag available and multiple scoring points.  Conquest is difficult on most maps because of the size and distance between capture points, but this should be remedied when playing 32 versus 32 on next gen consoles and the PC.  My favorite map so far is Locker, which is set in a prison on a mountain very high up and has a feel similar to Metro on BF4.  There is variable weather which adds some interesting changes to the maps, and some maps even change from night to day which is a nice effect and the destructibility factor is way up.  Battlefield 3 players can imagine playing the Close Quarters expansion everywhere on a map, with material flying all over the place, and you have the destructibility level of Battlefield 4.

This game feels like a Battlefield game, but on current generation equipment the graphics shortcomings really hinder the immersion factor and leave a lot to be desired.  Dedicated Battlefield fans, like myself, will still enjoy the Xbox 360 experience even with the graphics and crash issues, but casual gamers may be put off by these shortcomings.  Even with all of these problems I will still be trading in my game to upgrade to the Xbox One version on day one because I believe the graphics shortcomings will most likely be fixed on the next generation consoles and the gameplay is still solid, even on the Xbox 360 version.  Whether you are willing to put up with these issues is up to you, but as a dedicated Battlefield fan, and someone who will not be buying Call of Duty: Ghosts, I am a bit biased.

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