Battlefield 1943 • Page 2

Splatters from Iwo Jima.

One big tweak came only very recently, in response to feedback on the Wake Island trailer. Apparently you all thought it looked too much like Battlefield Heroes, DICE's toonified third-person PC spin-off. Iwo Jima is considerably darker. Presumably if you pipe up again, Guadalcanal - the third of the maps, which no one has seen in its 1943 form yet - will be set at night under clouds inside Tim Burton's head, wearing a blindfold made of dried blood and mucus. "Guadalcanal is also a good blend of vehicles and infantry, but it's such a huge map and also has a lot of hills. There's a lot of sniping in that level," Liu says of it.

Another distinctive facet is the technology itself. 1943 may be a download-only multiplayer shooter built for an impulse purchase, but as we noted last time it's also built on Bad Company's proprietary Frostbite engine, which means fully destructible environments - more so even than last year's physics-heavy console shooter. Propane blows holes in buildings, towers fall, and fences buckle under tank-tread - Christian was much more poetic. Despite this, and the 24 players running around the Xbox 360 version we're playing on devkits, the frame-rate ping-pongs between 30 and 60fps.

It's enormous fun, but it still has me worried. There are sceptics among the Battlefield hardcore, but they should be converted when the demo versions hit around the time of the game's summer release on PC, Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network. The bigger problem is going to be finding a look-in audience, because whatever price DICE ends up going with - and after discussing it with Liu, and the series' executive producer Karl-Magnus Troedsson, I'd be surprised if it wasn't 1200 Microsoft Points, although they won't commit just yet - people are going to say it's 'only got three maps', even though they represent hours of potential gameplay.

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Killing someone with a katana is a mark of honour - so much so that it's recognised by a specific mark of honour.

"We are considering how we can communicate that," Liu says. "For fans that are familiar with Battlefield, they know how deep it is and how many hours you can get out of just one level. For new players, it is difficult to communicate how much playtime you get out of these few levels. We know from experience that the Wake Island demo for 1942 was played a lot. Some people never stopped playing it. So I don't have any answer to how we can solve that, but yes, it is an issue."

For Liu though, the most important thing about Battlefield 1943 - a project that span off from his own experiments with Frostbite after Bad Company was locked down at the start of 2008 - is that it captures "the spirit of Battlefield 1942". When I speak to him after his presentation, he tries to sum it up.

"I don't want to downplay the seriousness of war, but at the same time it's a lot of fun - just pure fun of being able to do basically everything in the game. One classic is to arm your jeep with C4 or dynamite and drive into the enemy base and just blow up everything. And it's not a mechanic that we built in just for that thing - it's just a result of the sandbox experience, and that together with more down-to-earth vehicles and weapons, because they're older, that makes the experience of Battlefield."

Even though it's undoubtedly more accessible, it's hard to argue that Battlefield 1943 is anything but an extension of that, and the things it's doing differently sit very comfortably alongside the equally classic, headlong rush for the nearest helicopter. It's just a shame none of us appears to know what to do with one.

Battlefield 1943 is due out for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC this summer.

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