'Battlefield 1943': Finally Large-Scale Multiplayer on XBLA And PSN

Over the last week I've been hopping onto my test Xbox 360 to play a round or two of "Battlefield 1943." Initially I had dismissed the game as a retread of past glories for the franchise. Granted, in a lot of ways it is just "Battlefield 1942," but lots of little tweaks and touches do wonders to make it a fascinating and enjoyable experience.

Custom Squads

A feature that was added in later "Battlefield" games, but never made it in to "Battlefield 1942." Joining a squad means you don't have to listen to the chatter of your 11 other teammates. Instead you can just group with your friends and try to take flags on your own.

Destructible Environments

Finally the ridiculousness of hiding behind a curtain to avoid tank fire is no more. The engine, which also powered "Bad Company," allows you to blow holes in buildings and other forms of cover. Very handy!

Rank and Badges

Again, another tenet of the later "Battlefield" games which they've adopted for "1943." Accomplishing goals (getting kills, capturing flags, repairing vehicles) will grant you points which will increase your rank. Rank does, well, not a whole lot, but seeing the new rank pop on screen is strangely satisfying. There are also badges for accomplishing smaller tasks, like getting three kills while defending a flag. You can see all the badges you've collected on the Stats screen, thus adding another level of replayability.

The game's not out yet, so I'll reserve judgment until I can see it running on live servers, rather than test servers, but if it matches the experience I've had thus far, it'll be the strongest large-scale multiplayer game on XBLA or PSN.