The game offers three classes for you to play as, which you can select when you start the game and before respawning. You can also pick up enemies' class packs when they die to switch your class on the spot. These three classes are riflemen, infantry and scouts. Riflemen carry a -surprise – rifle and a grenade attachment that allows them to shoot grenades like a bazooka or rocket launcher. They can also stab with their rifle and have grenades that they can throw. Their attacks are good at long range and close range but they come at a slight disadvantage: speed. The rifle is a pretty fast weapon, but it's not rapid fire and doesn't have many shots in each clip, meaning you'll have to reload quite a bit, and reloading takes a while. That said, the rifleman is my favorite class because he's good at both long range and close range, meaning I can snipe if I feel like it or go straight into the action.
The infantry is best at close range and carries a machine gun, rocket launcher and wrench. His machine gun is fast to fire and fast to reload, but it's not effective at long range and therefore means you'll have to get close to your enemy to deal any real damage. It's best to sneak up on your enemy if you're playing as an infantry. The rocket launcher is exactly what you'd expect it to be: a gigantic green behemoth of a gun that fires rockets. It's great for taking out tanks, and if your timing is right, then it's good for destroying planes as well. It has to be reloaded after every shot and it takes a very long time, but it's the only fast method of destroying tanks, since riflemens' grenade attachments aren't especially effective against armor. The wrench is good for beating people with, but its main use is repairing vehicles.
The scout is a sniper that carries a sniper rifle, pistol and explosives that can be detonated manually. He also wears camouflage so he can't be seen when crouched behind bushes and leaves. The sniper rifle is a strong weapon, but if you miss and give away your position then you can consider yourself dead, and because sniping requires time, you'll need to find cover in small forests. This adds a layer of strategy to sniping, and it's also great fun. The scout's pistol is incredibly weak, but it's your only real chance of survival up close. You likely won't be using it much, though, because in addition to being weak, it's also relatively slow. Detonating charges are great fun to use because a lot of Battlefield 1943's environments are destructible. It's great fun to place them when no one's around and then blow them up in an unsuspecting foe's face. If you're playing as the Imperial Navy then you'll also get a sword which will let you cut people up close.
It wouldn't be a Battlefield game without lots of vehicles to drive, and 1943 delivers. The game offers boats, planes, tanks and jeeps to drive around the island, and all of them have their ups and downs. Boats are used for driving to the island at the start of a game and are relatively slow in speed, but they have turrets on the back for additional players to use. Planes are extremely difficult to fly at first, but they also have turrets on their wings and bombs they can drop. Once you get the hang of the plane controls, dogfights are one of the game's best features. Tanks are slow and inaccurate, but also incredibly strong when used correctly. They also have a turret on the top that an additional player can use to destroy foes as the other player drives. It's a little strange that the turret on top is actually more of a threat than the tank itself, but it's fun to use nonetheless. Jeeps are fast and allow three players to ride in them, with one that drives, one that rides in a passenger seat and one that mans the turret in the back.
The three maps are all similar in style, with lots of trees and small forests, as well as bunkers and beaches, but they're all laid out quite differently. One of them focuses around trenches and sniper towers, hills, with lots of bumps and holes that make it difficult to drive. Another is your basic forest island with lots of small towns and dirt roads for driving on. These differences mean you'll have to change your strategy if you want to survive. You could run straight into the action on one map, but on another you'll have keep low and walk slowly to avoid sniper fire. It adds a lot of variety to the game, especially considering there's only three maps. But then again, with so many different ways to play, you're clearly doing something wrong if you get sick of these maps.
The one game mode revolves around capturing flags (or capturepoints) stationed around the map. The team with the most at the end of the game is the winner. But if you're the kind of person who just wants to shoot stuff, then fear not, for the game rewards you in a hefty way for killing enemies and destroying vehicles, with tons of points given to players for just about anything they do, or anything they assist in. Capturing flags isn't as easy as it sounds, though. In addition to capturing these points, you'll also have to defend them, and in doing so you'll earn points, as well as stamps that show your in-game achievements. You can also earn experience from killing and capturing flags, which allows you to level up, but unfortunately, ranks are just for prestige and don't actually unlock anything. That doesn't make the game any less fun to play, though, and boy, is this game fun to play.
Graphically this is one of the best looking downloadable titles ever made. The level of detail is amazing, with fantastic water effects, vivid colors and excellent lighting. These are retail-quality graphics for only fifteen dollars. There are some graphical hitches, though, such as clipping, screen-tearing, and an occasional glitch in which you fall through the ground after dying. Fortunately, none of these glitches actually effect the gameplay, and they're forgivable due to the fact that the game runs smoothly throughout, no matter how hectic the situation is. But in addition to the great graphics, 1943 also boasts a great musical score – though it's a little underused – and realistic sound effects. The only voice acting you'll hear in the game is from the tutorial, but it sounds great too. The sounds of the battlefield are quite impressive, and entirely believable.
For fifteen dollars, you're not getting an insane amount of content, but you are getting an insane amount of fun. Battlefield 1943 doesn't revolutionize shooters, but it's a prime example of a downloadable game done right, and it's a fantastic multiplayer game in its own right. The level of polish is astonishing, and the gameplay offers tons of variety between the different classes and vehicles. If you're willing to experiment you'll soon forget about the lack of content and just enjoy what the game has to offer: fantastic production values, intense action, and a whole lot of good old-fashion fun. Plus, it's $45 less than a retail game.