The recent New Years less-than-half-price sale of Battlefield 1943 on XBLA has seen a flood of new soldiers taking up arms in the indistinguishable islands of the Pacific Ocean theatre. I wasnít one to spend the full asking price when the game was originally released during the summer months (when I should by all rights be outside scuffing my elbows and getting grass stains or something), but at 560 MSpoints, it was a veritable steal. The game just is fun. Sure itís more Ďarcadyí and has only a handful of maps to delight you with, but hey itís an easily-accessible Battlefield game without an unlock system and very few perceivable exploits/chokepoints (except perhaps some of the mountain ridges in Guadalcanal) with which to punish new and unfamiliar players with. My only other serious experience with a Battlefield game is with Bad Company on the (of course) Xbox 360. Although the token unlock system allowed for a shallow learning curve and didnít bombard the unaccustomed player with all sorts of gadgets and do-dads assigned to the unintuitive control layout, it did however mean that people with some playtime under their belts had a significant advantage over those just starting out. Not significant as to warrant a game design overhaul (deathstreaks, anyone?), but as with all online shooters where the kill requirement in measured in bullets rather than clips *any* advantage is a significant one. For example, the engin-I mean Demolition class was unplayable for me during the period in which it took to unlock the absolutely filthy NS2000 shotgun. Itís nice that with a game like Battlefield 1943 everyone is on an even...well...battlefield?
That is, until, some git gets in a plane.
Fuck planes in that game, man. Seriously. I donít mind when the odd enemy tank comes cruising in and not being able to do anything about it (rifle grenades donít work, the rocket launcher does depressingly menial damage, and the satchel charges means my squishy scout needs to shift it from his nice and secure bush) because I can do the exact same thing to the enemy next time I find a unaccounted for metal behemoth waiting to be used. It is fair(-ish), everyone can have a crack. But planes; I canít fly them for shit. Before you start, itís not just my own personal ineptitude either it seems. Iíve observed a fair few aerial follies from ground level in my week or so playing the game (who knew mountains could sneak up on so many poor unfortunate pilots?), and my playgroup with whom I frequent the game with find it difficult to get a good run in a plane. In fact, I believe what Iíve mentioned before as my Ďgaming spouseí in a previous blog has failed to register a kill on Aerial Superiority that didnít entail kamikaze-ing into an enemy plane/aircraft carrier.
Maybe itís because most of us only recently downloaded the title under the aforementioned New Years sale and we havenít become accustomed to the apparently erudite control scheme for the fighters, who knows, but as soon as we press ĎBí to enter that cockpit we all have the same guilty feeling deep down inside that we are hurting the team by us jumping in the plane rather than letting a better equipped pilot take to the skies.
Itís fairly depressing to see enemy planes screaming up above me unmolested because I apparently lack the knack to do anything about it, apart from scrambling to the nearest flack gun to get off a few shots before getting inevitably sniped (OKAY I shouldnít reaaaally complain about that; I love pointing my crosshair at the seats in the anti-air emplacements and daring anyone to take position), and to have my erection-inducing tank rampages cut short by a perfect bomb drop by a low-flying stuka wannabe. Ah well. Iíve resided myself to clock a few more sessions in Aerial Superiority to get to grips with the flight controls and get the measure of the weight and flight path of the machine gun bullets before I write-off fighters completely (though I worry that Iíll become adept at shooting stuff in the air, while still poor at land-based targets), but I just want to know if this potential initial weakness with flying in Battlefield 1943 extends beyond myself and my immediate gaming peers? Anyone?