GDC 2009: Battlefield 1943 Updated Hands-On

DICE's next Battlefield is a downloadable game coming to consoles and the PC. We try not to get shot in a hands-on session.

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SAN FRANCISCO--Stockholm is a long way from San Francisco, but that didn't stop EA from flying out a select number of DICE employees to show off a pair of new Battlefield games at a GDC 2009 event earlier this week. While a teaser demo of Battlefield: Bad Company 2 was the star of the show, Battlefield 1943 was on hand to be played by anyone in attendance. We grabbed a controller and gave it a spin and got the chance to see a new map not shown in the game's previous outings.

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The new map is based on Iwo Jima and offers a lush island setting cast under a warm sunset. Compared to what has already been shown, Iwo Jima is a relatively small-scale map that focuses more on infantry combat rather than vehicular fighting. Of course, there are still plenty of vehicles to operate; Iwo Jima features fighter jets, jeeps, tanks, and boats. Tanks are a destructive force of nature, able to smash through trees and wooden structures with ease. Planes take a bit of getting used to, but dropping bombs from on high is a blast. Boats provide a good way to transport troops from spawnpoints out on a cruiser at sea, and jeeps, well, they're not the most effective on this map with all the hills and trees getting in your way.

With support for 24 players, this map had a lot going on. We were never hard-pressed to find some sort of scuffle nearby, and the vehicles available to you mean you can find it by land, air, or sea. With three different classes, you can also choose from a few different combat styles. The methodical player can roll as a scout in a ghilli suit, planting remote-detonated explosives on a road and waiting in the bushes until a jeep loaded with enemies comes driving by. The target-practice enthusiast can hop into an antiaircraft gun and shoot at the fighter jets buzzing through the sky, or hop into an air-raid shelter and call in his own assault from on high. Run-and-gunners can just dash around with a machine gun shooting anything running nearby. Bottom line: There are plenty of ways to wage this war.

Battlefield 1943 uses the Frostbite engine, so it looks and feels a lot like the original Bad Company. Those playing the console versions will find that it controls almost identically and offers a level of destruction similar to last year's comedic caper starring B Company. You'll see trees topple over and walls exploding into bits, so any place that seems safe one moment could be the exact opposite a moment later. And though the game's visuals aren't quite as sharp as Bad Company's, they're not far off and still look great for a downloadable game.

1943 looks great for a downloadable game.
1943 looks great for a downloadable game.

As of now, EA hasn't announced any pricing for Battlefield 1943. It's described as a "premium" download, so we'd guess the price will be somewhere in the $15-20 range. Of course, that's just speculation, so we'll have to wait for the official word. Battlefield 1943 will be out this summer for Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, and PC.

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