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NYCC 09: Battlefield 1943 Pacific hands-on (XBLA)


Battlefield 1943 Pacific is just like ... well, other Battlefields. That's a compliment, by the way. 1943 is no janky spinoff. It's small in scope, sure, but it offers (and even improves upon -- read: no more health packs!) the core experience of its disc-based brethren. This is visible -- even playable -- in a pre-alpha build (XBLA version) on the New York Comic Con show floor.

We got our hands on the Wake Island map, one of three in the downloadable game, which is modeled on the actual geographic location with a few gameplay-enhancing improvements. 1943's color palette is distinctly vibrant, clashing against the epic destruction that ensues once a match begins. As featured in Bad Company last year, the Frostbite game engine's destructible environments are exploding and imploding in 1943 as well, with buildings reduced to mere foundations as players carelessly toss grenades, launch rockets and even bomb from the skies (bombers can be somewhat controlled from within specially-marked, protected bombing HQs). Destruction is a gimmick -- but a good one.

Gallery: Battlefield 1943 | 6 Photos

1943 is limited to Battlefield's now classic Conquest Mode, where teams must capture all the flagged territories around the map. Once captured, these territories become spawn points, with one designated as the "frontline," indicating where the most action is taking place. More calculating players can choose to spawn closer to home base (say, an aircraft carrier) and ride a boat to shore or hop in a fighter plane.

Calling to mind Warhawk (on PSN), 1943 features two layers of play: first-person shooting and air combat. Admittedly, our only flight ended in a quick, spiraling dive into the sea, but, theoretically, a squad of fighter planes could do some major damage to an opposing team. We stuck to the ground, though, sniping, rat-tat-tatting, or simply tanking through the enemy. You know the drill.

And that's 1943. A familiar kind of fun, served small -- an appetizer portion of a game. At $15-20 (we're told), 1943 will fall into the pricier tier of downloadable titles (on PSN, XBLA and PC), but justified by its inherent replayability -- supported by a "stamp and postcard" rewards system -- in addition to Trophies and Achievements. But the real draw is a social one. 1943 is team-based, and developer DICE promises to improve upon the squad system featured in Bad Company. In this sense, teams are split into three, four-player squads (24 total match players), surely a perfect opportunity for several friends to get together, if just for a few rounds. DICE is also focused on developing a functional "party" system, essential for any respectable team shooter; but that technology is not complete in this stage of development.

Still, Battlefield 1943 Pacific looks to be on track for its scheduled summer release. Not a blockbuster by any stretch of the imagination, but a solid featurette to enjoy before you launch whatever you have in your disc drive. Keep your radars locked.

Battlefield 1943 Pacific is scheduled for release this summer on PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade and PC for an as yet unspecified price.

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