Games: Battlefield 1 earns stripes to stand out from the crowd

Neil McGreevy

Battlefield 1 (Multi)

By: EA

THE World Wars have fallen out of favour with electronic military approximaters of late. Once was a time when gamers were adrift in a mucky sea of brown war games, with Battlefield, Call of Duty and Medal of Honor looking to the history books for inspiration.

Nowadays it's all futuristic razzmatazz, meaning the latest generation of joystick junkies haven't been able to appreciate what great granddad did for them from the comfort of their couch.

Bucking the trend, the veteran Battlefield series goes back to its historical roots by tackling The Great War.

Rather than an afterthought, as is usual with the series, it's in the solo campaign where Battlefield now earns its stripes. Veering away from the usual linear tale of derring do, B1 instead tells a series of separate, fully-formed tales.

While often leaning on the standard coconut shy blasting, each introduces a unique element, from taking out blimps in a prototype aeroplane and cutting a swathe through enemy hardware in a temperamental tank to helping Lawrence of Arabia as a female Bedouin.

With few noble exceptions, most of the storylines descend into cod-Spielberg hooey, though it's about as authentic as can be expected from a videogame. Turning back the clock means primitive tech, which brings its own rewards, meaning boots on ground and no wall running or floating through space. Drones are now carrier pigeons and you'll often take out your enemies with nothing more than the business end of a shovel.

The comparative lack of hardware doesn't mean skimping on the tactics, with multiple paths to success meaning you never feel funnelled anywhere.

Of course, it's in the online trenches where gamers will spend most of their time, and Battlefield 1 comes fully loaded for a well-balanced sandbox of slaughter. And rather than limping around in your hobnails, there are a variety of ways to get about, from horseback to piloting blimps.

Offerings range from small-scale 12-on-12 team deathmatches to epic operations involving up to 64 digital grunts as you take part in re-enactments of actual campaigns, taking players from the open fields of Peronne to the Sinai Desert.

Of course, it'll all be overrun with hate-filled teens soon enough.

Gamers have been stalking theatres of war since the early ‘80s but Battlefield 1 stands out from the crowd by showing sides of WW1 that aren't just trench warfare. EA's latest may be at pains to tell us that war is hell, but through the prism of videogames it's also damn good fun.

While your grandkids won't sing songs of your glorious exploits, at least you'll have plenty of craic in the process.


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