This review is strictly for the single player campaign.
I get what DICE was trying to do, but it just doesn’t work for me. Allowing players to get a glimpse of The Great War through the eyes of regular people from different walks of life and different parts of the world, who all find themselves drawn into the war to end all wars. It’s an interesting format, but the execution misses the mark and the whole thing falls flat.
First of all, the five War Stories as they’re called are each very short. There isn’t enough time to get really invested in any of them before moving on to the next. That’s not to say they’re bad, just not terribly fulfilling. I thought the cinematics and storytelling for each were quite good, there just wasn’t enough. The missions themselves however were eminently mediocre and essentially serve as glorified tutorials for the multiplayer.
The real problem I have with it though is that it tried to humanize The Great War without humanizing both sides. This was particularly striking in the Avanti Savoia mission where you mercilessly gun down scores of enemies in an attempt to reach your brother, leaving behind scores of tragic stories in an effort to avoid your own.
If you want to humanize war, then what you really need to do is humanize the people you are killing because each of them has their own story, their own dreams, and their own family back home they will never see again. That’s the great irony isn’t it? The people actually killing each other might be the best of friends under other circumstances. There is no good versus evil in the trenches, just regular everyday people killing each other because of the decisions made by those in power.
What I think DICE should have done was tell two stories, maybe four, where you play a soldier from each side, experience their tale, and experience the horror of having one of them kill the other for reasons neither really understands. Something along those lines could have delivered the punch in the gut humanization of war DICE was going for. Instead, we met some interesting characters, with interesting stories and killed a bunch of AI bots.
To summarize, the visuals are spectacular as is the sound design. Gameplay is fluid and as lifelike as I’ve ever experienced in a first-person shooter. The music is outstanding and I didn’t encounter any technical issues at all. It’s worth a play if for no other reason than to familiarize yourself with all of the game’s mechanics before diving into multiplayer. If you like a good story but have a short attention span, you may really enjoy it. If you prefer a deeper experience, you may find this fare a little light with a faint smell of hypocrisy.