Shooting things is fun, right? At least, that's a premise that the Battlefield series is built on and what's more fun than shooting things and watching them blow up?
Welcome to Battlefield 4 ladies and gents, the game where almost everything blows up including high-rise luxury hotels in Shanghai – something you can do in the multiplayer till your heart's content.
But before we get to that let's visit the single player mode. It's short - around 7 hours long to be exact – and revolves around the Tombstone squad of US Marines from the Fishing In Baku video. In fact that's how the game begins. You put a bullet through the windscreen and swim to the surface.
Tombstone spends the entire game straddling the battle lines between the warmongering Chinese forces led by General Chang (is it a Star Trek reference?) and their Russian allies trying to bring a halt to the world war that is breaking out all around them.
As with Battlefield 3 the single player is a narrative strung loosely around an introduction the game's main features.
The story isn't too bad though. It meanders from Azerbijan to China and Afghanistan making some stops off on some sinking US naval vessels just to add a bit of spice along the way. There's even a Chinese prison. Actually, following Tombstone's base of operations on the USS Valkyrie draws some minor parallels between Battlefield 4 and the modern retelling of Battlestar Galactica without the religious subtext and with a happier ending.
But wait. It's not quite how we were expecting because all of the footage they have been showing off is of the next generation version.
Battlefield 4 on the current-gen is a good-looking experience but it's quite buggy. Textures take a while to load up and occasionally (like during the final sequence of the game) not at all. Visually it feels like a next-gen game shoehorned onto the current-gen consoles.
It's good that Battlefield isn't really about the single player experience. Or is it. Unfortunately for Battlefield 4 the feeling that this is a next-gen game shoehorned onto current-gen machines extends to the multiplayer modes.
This begins begins with spawning into a map at the beginning of a round. The first moments of a round tend to be a spongy texture-free affair with a good few seconds passing before the map appears in all its glory.
Once into a multiplayer session the action is fairly smooth and entertaining. There is the odd glitch when trying to navigate destroyed architecture but by and large the experience is a good one as you would expect from DICE after building the Battlefield series for the best part of the last 15 years.
Level design is a bit of an issue. The smaller game modes like Domination (Conquest without vehicles) and Team Deathmatch are fine as the size of the map complements the smaller player counts on the maps.
More focused multiplayer modes like Rush (one team takes the part of the defender and one the attacker aiming to destroy all three tiers of the defences) and the new Obliteration mode (both teams race to get a single randomly spawned bomb to an enemy strong point and detonate it) are also fine as they concentrate the action around specific points on the map.
Conquest mode is a bit of a different story though. This uses the full sized maps and they are clearly designed for 64-player battles as they are on the PC, Xbox One and PS4. On the PS3 however there are only 32 players playing on the same sized maps and they can feel a bit empty.
This doesn't detract from the action when you can find it but with the sheer size of these maps finding and getting to the action can be a bit of a trek especially if you mistakenly select the wrong spawn point.
Having spent so much time laying into Battlefield 4 it would seem like I'm not totally enamoured with it but the truth is, once you look past the bugs and the slightly oversized maps in Conquest mode it's actually quite an entertaining game.
Highlights of the multiplayer include bringing the skyscraper down in central Shanghai in the Siege Of Shanghai map or frantically chasing the bomb to make sure its the enemy's strong points that are destroyed in the new Obliteration mode. All in all it's spectacular and very addictive.
The single player mode is an engaging introduction to the action and manages to tug at the heart strings from time-to-time. The multiplayer is still every bit as excellent as it has been in previous entries in the series. The Levolution dynamic damage actually harks back to the multiplayer on Bad Company 2 which could get very hectic. It's a bit more technical but it's pretty superb and hard to turn off once you get on a roll.
Battlefield 4 is a good game and once they iron out the bugs – and you can bet that DICE will – its multiplayer will have gamers coming back for more for months to come. Besides, if it's this addictive on the PS3, I can't wait to crack open the PS4 version when it arrives with my PS4 on November 29th.
Battlefield 4 is out now on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. It's due for release on the Xbox One on the 22nd of November worldwide. It will hit the PS4 on November the 15th in North America and November the 29th in Europe and the UK.
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