While the current-gen version of Battlefield 4 fails to match the sleekness and scale of its next-gen counterpart, DICE’s achievements on the age-old hardware are commendable.
There are the usual visual compromises: for the most part the frame rate hovers around its target 30FPS, only creaking when under the weight of BF4’s mega-destruction, and the higher resolution textures, skyboxes and particle effects have all become casualties of the downscaling. But somehow the 360 version manages to hold up astonishingly well, with the campaign’s opening sequence so intensely atmospheric you’ll hardly believe it’s running on an eight-year old machine.
It looks at its best during the campaign, of course – and for good reason. A case of beauty over brains, Battlefield 4’s campaign is a healthy halfway house between Battlefield 3’s ultra-linear schlock and Bad Company’s freeform set-pieces, telling an enjoyable 5-hour tale of the eastern superpowers at war with the West.
There are a few bum notes (the awkwardly-told narrative and DICE’s inability to convert the series hallmark full-scale war into a single player structure continuing to be the most disappointing), but the odd excellent set-piece are signs of the developer finally heading in the right direction.
Unlike Battlefield 3, multiplayer appears to be launching in a finely tuned state, with a major balancing overhaul providing a mechanically-solid framework. Though weapon unlocks and upgrades still require a healthy time investment, early balancing issues are sidestepped by providing newcomers with a decent armoury, while vehicle weapon spamming has been restricted by a new cooldown-based ammo counter. All 10 maps are excellent, too, from the exotic radar array of Rogue Transmission to the derelict tank graveyard of Zavod 311, with the revived emphasis on destruction setting the scene for some spectacular wow moments.
It may not pack the same shock and awe as its next-gen cousin (the visual concessions made during multiplayer and occasional bug smack of an engine cracking under pressure), but the top-drawer gameplay makes Battlefield 4 a deeply enjoyable title regardless of platform. As one of the best multiplayer games available on 360 and PS3, DICE’s shooter offers a delightfully destructive send-off to the current-generation.
This review was written after spending approximately 20 hours with the Xbox 360 version and approximately 20 hours with the next-gen console and PC versions of Battlefield 4. In order to play the next-gen versions, VideoGamer.com attended a three-day review event hosted by EA in Stockholm, Sweden. Travel and accommodation was provided by EA. An Xbox 360 copy was also provided by EA on our return.