By this point in time a lot has been said about Battlefield 4 both good and bad – although sadly, it's mostly bad. I say sadly because buried beneath the myriad of bugs is the solid shell of a rather awesome multiplayer FPS.
There is a single player, but despite DICE getting a handle the whole 'adding a single-player to a fundamentally multiplayer game' thing with Battlefield: Bad Company 2 they have opted to go light and serious on the single player elements in both Battlefield 4 and it's predecessor.
While Battlefield 4's single player component is light it's certainly not unenjoyable. In fact, playing through a second time on the PS4 after completing it on the PS3 it was potentially more enjoyable the second time out.
Rooting around the levels to try and find all of the game's guns (I still haven't found all of the damn things) and soaking in the infinitely better visuals and AI of the next-gen version was certainly an entertaining diversion-cum-introduction to the gameplay mechanics that underpin the headlining multiplayer.
There's plenty of mildly cheesy moments in th single-player storyline but it certainly managed to keep my attention for the whole eight hours. I actually sat down and completed the PS4 version in one sitting, as I did with the PS3 version. A fact which probably says more about this games journalist's lack of social life rather than the game itself.
And with that startling revelation we move onto the multiplayer which has been at the core of everything Battlefield has achieved since Battlefield 1942 first hit the PC all those years ago.
Conquest mode is the bread and butter here. Battlefield brought a whole new type of multiplayer to gaming when they created Conquest mode. The idea of fighting over the actual map and not just using it as an arena to battle in is as compelling now as it ever was and the next-gen consoles are eminently equipped to provide an amazing experience.
DICE's trademark destructible buildings are so much more destructible than before. The Siege Of Shanghai's collapsable skyscraper is evidence of that but there's more to it than just buildings falling down. Flooding, active metal detectors which can give away your position and constantly changing cover all add to the feeling that you're actually fighting real battle.
There are new game modes too like Obliteration where the two teams rush to secure a bomb and place it in the opposition's target spot, which proves to be an entertainingly strategic distraction when the meatgrinders of Conquest and its infantry-only counterpart Domination become a little tiresome.
Battlefield 4 is a truely next-gen experience and EA has certainly done the game a great disservice by trying to release the game as a cross-generation experience.
The Frostbite Engine looks glorious on the PS4. There's thick smoke, beautiful explosions and particles galore in the thick of battle. Having 64 players in the Conquest maps makes a welcome and extremely noticeable difference. The loneliness of maps like Golmud Railway and Hainan Resort are no more as you're never too far away from a combat situation.
The emptiness of the maps on the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game is not the only indication EA short changed Battlefield 4 by trying to release it on two console generations at once. While it made sense commercially, it was a fool's errand to expect DICE to be able to develop such a complex game on five different platforms and it has shown in the bugginess of the game.
Stuttering, odd visual glitches like the M1 Abrams tank's machine gun ammo box blocking the player's vision, spawning under maps and the sound dropping out for a few seconds after respawning are just a few issues that faced players initially. Connection has been an issue as and while this si partially down to the PS4 being particularly demanding on wi-fi connections it's mainly down to the game not being quite ready when it was released.
These issues have been slowly fixed over the last couple of months and Battlefield 4 is now more like the game it should have been when it launched. It's really good fun. Dropping into a game of Conquest on Siege Of Shanghai and jumping into a tank to try and demolish the skyscraper or dodging bullets in the tank factories of Kharkov couldn't be more fun.
It's been a painfully slow start but Battlefield 4 is finally shaping up to be the game it was meant to. It's deep and dangerous and uncommonly addictive, even for someone who is as awful as I am at online shooters. This is the next-gen multiplayer shooter of choice, plain and simple.
Battlefield 4 is out now on PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS3 and Xbox 360 but it's best on PC and next-gen.
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