Monday, January 6, 2014

Expectations drop

So much for not taking weekends off.

Battlefield 4 took almost exactly the same amount of time to play through as Call of Duty: Ghosts. By coming in relatively late I managed to avoid all of the game breaking bugs that plagued the game at launch. While I appreciate not crashing to the home screen as was widely reported this does not at all make up for the game not being very good.

There is no way to have this discussion without comparing Battlefield 4 to Ghosts. Unlike my previous and unfair efforts to compare Gran Turismo 6 and Forza 5 this comparison is completely equitable. Both are cross gen sequels by companies with plenty of money to throw around. Neither take full advantage of the new shiny hardware. Here is where they split. Ghosts is a self aware rollercoaster. It is linear and still exciting. Battlefield 4 is a rollercoaster that the player is expected to both ride and repair while on the move. Missing a fix means that the player will die, over and over, and not know exactly who is killing him.

For example: around the midpoint of the game our voiceless and transparent protagonist takes over as a tank commander. All of the other tanks are quickly destroyed to make way for the one man/team against an army fantasy that is expected - the track goes up. The good guys pull into a field - the track levels off. Three tanks appear out of nowhere and kill the good guys because the player had no way of knowing this ahead of time - hand go up, tracks goes down, and oh shit, the whole train grinds to a stop and is towed backwards.

It gets worse. When I respawned for some reason I only had 40% health. The tank magically repairs itself but it does so very slowly. Each restart, and there were a lot of them, started out with me waiting for almost a minute. This was not the only example of this. The whole game was rife with these fits and starts, so much so that it never built any momentum. The rollercoaster never got going which defeats the entire purpose of the big budget shooter.

Maybe it was trying to be more of a simulation than Call of Duty but if that was the case then when why does health regenerate at all? Why does bullet drop only affect sniper rifles? I don't really understand what Battlefield 4 was trying to do but it wasn't as much fun as this year's competition.

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