‘battlefield 4’: we join the fight with a brand-new first-person shooter

It’s that time of year again when the AAA franchises hit the mainstream and all the salivating fanboys can finally get their grubby hands on some amazing games. We’ve already seen Batman learn to feel and have plundered the Caribbean with an assassin. Now, the first of two major shooter titles aims to please fans.

Yes, EA and DICE’s squad-based, competitive multiplayer shooter, “Battlefield 4,” is out. Here’s everything you need to know to gear up, load out and jump into the fight!

There’s Single Player …
The hazy plot focuses around a high-ranking Chinese official battling a radical Chinese general. Basically, if this guy dies, China and Russia will tag-team against a flailing U.S.A. The nuclear event from “BF3” left tensions high between the East and West as alliances began to fold. (Pretty much your typical Tom Clancy novel minus some of the boring politics.) Tombstone squad (that’s you!) is tasked with getting the official out of China. Of course, all hell breaks loose and suddenly you’re balancing on a tightrope as two nations are at the brink of war.

Like any explosion-fest, Michael Bay movie, there are plenty of neat, scripted moments for you to gawk at but some of the little details hamper the pacing. Several times you might ask who or what is going on. Really, though, the single player is mostly to acclimate to the controls and feel of the game.

… But The Real Story Is Multiplayer
Emergent gameplay exists around every corner. Each sudden ambush, perfect shot, or lucky break serves as fodder for locker-room bragging. Look up any “let’s play” YouTube videos and witness tempered insanity. DICE gives you so much freedom with the perfect touch of structured anarchy. You’ll be screaming into your mic, “Look at that! Did you see that?!” and your friends will share equally absurd war stories. This is the true heart of “Battlefield 4.”

Playground Of Destruction
“Battlefield 4” gives players the freedom to tackle objectives in any number of insane ways. With a warehouse full of toys, including attack helis, tanks, fighter jets, APCs, boats, even 4-wheelers, your digital soldier is never lacking speedy transportation. The arenas are truly massive and almost completely destructible. That’s right: With enough firepower you and your team can blow holes in bunkers and reduce a skyscraper into a smoldering pile of rubble. What’s really cool is that the terrain and maps can quickly shift into a mess as each side volleys thousands of rounds of ordnance. It’s your job to make sense of it all and keep pushing through so your team wins.

Unlock And Load
After a round of intense warfare, your battle-hardened soldier will gain new levels and equipment essential to their role. There are four types of soldier: engineer, assault, support and recon. Engineers are quick-strike Spec Ops who have land mines and rockets for destroying armor. Most players will find their bearings with the assault and support classes who can dispense health packs and ammo caches, respectively. Additionally, assault will unlock defibrillators that can revive allies. Finally, recon (the sniper class) has mortar strikes and can place new spawn locations for map advantage.

Officer Training School
Remember all those vehicles we mentioned? Yeah, you’ll need to learn how to use them. While you can try your luck in a live-fire situation, you’re probably better off taking it slow. We all had to timidly learn to drive stick in the high school parking lot at some point. Thankfully, the devs provided an empty map with shooting ranges, objective markers, and yes, any and every thing that can travel on land, sea and air.

It would be unfair to simplify the first-person shooter genre to “pull left trigger and then pull right trigger,” but as you’ll be staring down the sights from an armory of guns, this is a fairly apt description of the action. You’re going to shoot lots of soldiers in their faces is what we’re saying. Besides this, you’ll have a dozen or so vehicles to pilot and several gadgets that bring the boom.

Your soldier is quick on his feet and about as agile — able to vault short obstacles or climb over a low wall. Knowing when to sprint to cover or dive into prone position will save your bacon on more than one occasion. However, battlefield awareness is tantamount to survival. Helping your squad and capturing objectives (whether exploding a target or taking a base) is more important than your K/D ratio. The more lethal soldier is useless if s/he can’t follow simple orders for the greater good.

Bullets, Bombs And Bloom
We played “Battlefield 4” on the Xbox and, despite gearing up for the next-gen systems, DICE squeaked every ounce of power from the 360. Graphically, it’s a remarkable game. Explosions wreck through the screen with gut-shattering bursts. Phosphoric bullet trails blaze across the field. You hear the term visceral thrown around, but DICE absolutely nails the experience of warfare with every muzzle-flash and every popped noggin.

DICE is especially known for going the extra mile in sound design, too. With a decent set of headphones, you’ll be wondering if you haven’t somehow accidentally enlisted in the army waking up to the pops and pings of hot lead against steel. There’s a sense of heightened realism with great sound that deepens the experience. We strongly suggest you play with maximum volume because “BF4” is a treat to audiophiles!

“Battlefield 4” is currently in stores everywhere from DICE.