: Electronic Arts
: XBOX 360, PlayStation 3, PC
: First-person Shooter
: October 25, 2011
The highly acclaimed Battlefield series returns with a third entry, not including the Bad Company games, that features boastful new features. Most notably, Battlefield 3 runs on the all new Frostbite 2 engine with impressive results. The action packed and award winning multiplayer is what truly makes Battlefield a household name. With numerous awards given to the game even months before its release, how does the final game perform? Let’s check it out.
If you asked another gamer for the reason why they purchased, or wish to purchase, Battlefield 3, the answer you’d more than likely get is because of the game’s online multiplayer. With that in mind, not many people are inclined to purchase the game for its single player campaign. Even DICE had that in mind because when you open the box for the game, at least the Xbox 360 version, there are two discs. Disc 1 is the multiplayer and co-op disc, whereas Disc 2 is for single player. I’m not surprised though. Anyway, here’s what you can expect out of Battlefield 3’s single player:
You assume the role of Sgt. Blackburn, a Marine who has been recovered by the CIA after a gut wrenching betrayal that leads to the suspicion that the antagonist of the game is preparing to nuke New York and Paris. You, the player, are immediately thrust into this war. The entire game plays out as Blackburn is interrogated by the CIA. With each memory that returns to Blackburn’s memory, that serves as the next “stage” in the campaign. The campaign does get a little more interesting as you reach the climax.
Because the single player campaign serves as the backdrop for what you could call the “Battlefield 3 package”, I’ll say that, while entertaining and certainly action packed, the single player campaign can be largely forgotten after a single play through. At times the plot can be a bit convoluted as you stray in and out of the main protagonist’s memories. There are quick time events that were added exclusively to the single player mode that feel unnecessary and tacked on to provide something “different”. The campaign took me nearly six hours to complete, which now seems the standard way to go about creating single player games for some current generation shooters. If you’re looking for something that can take you a good chunk of time to complete, you won’t find it here. All in all the graphics do look great and the action is what you would expect from a modern warfare type game like this.
Hands down, the new Frostbite 2 graphics engine makes Battlefield 3 the best and sharpest looking first-person shooter on home gaming consoles. One of the most defining features of this new graphics engine is lighting. What I mean by that is the virtual sun flares seen in the game. You could look straight at the sun and slowly pan away to see how the light particles simmer and bounce off of the world of the game. And that’s just the console version; you can imagine what Battlefield 3 would look like in its full potential on PC.
In contrast, nighttime themed maps and stages exchange sunlight for bright fluorescent lighting and signs to bring light to the world. What’s more is that there is brilliant water animations that make you think you’re in the real thing. Battlefield 3’s defining feature has been destructible environments and with the new engine, chunks of ravaged rubble can be further destroyed into dust. It’s mesmerizing to see when you’re in a “heat of the moment” multiplayer game and the wall of the apartment that you’re running through suddenly bursts into fire, ash, and many, many tiny particles.
Music takes a bit of a backseat in Battlefield 3, at least not in the multiplayer aspect of it. What DICE does right, in hand with its graphics engine, is also in sound production. Each of the game’s many weapons has a distinct sound to it. There’s a lot of power to the weapon you hold when you hear it sound off. I personally played it using a pair of Turtle Beach surround sound headphones. All I can say is that the game was made to sound good whether you’re using a pair of headphones or a home theater setup. Other defining sounds like the automatic banter of your fellow soldiers, the deafening ringing as a mortar strike nears your position, the crumbling environments around you, the twirling blades of a helicopter, and the roar of a fighter jet’s engines brings a more realistic and satisfying experience to virtual warfare.
If you consider yourself a first-person shooter “veteran”, then you’ll feel right at home in terms of controlling the game in your hands. For first timers the game is really easy to pick up. Furthermore, there are options to adjust button mapping to your liking. This includes analog stick sensitivity which many hardcore shooter fans like to adjust as it goes a long way to working with your accuracy and can make one-on-one encounters easier as drawing your weapon to your target before they can ensure you an easy kill.
Using your secondary items such as med kits, ammo crates, defibrillators, etc, is confined to the directional pad, so it certainly comes in handy when you need that quick heal or to revive your fallen team mate in a short amount of time.
As with the other games before it, Battlefield 3 features a variety of different classes to choose from and which you decide to be proficient in is entirely up to you. These classes include: Support, Engineer, Assault, and Recon. Support provides heavy fire using heavy firepower weapons such as light machine guns. The Support class can also provide team mates with extra ammunition by dropping ammo crates. This class can also use C4 with explosive results. Engineers are must haves if you expect your team’s armaments to remain intact, such as tanks, jets, and helicopters. Engineers can repair these vehicles using their welding skills to quickly restore the vehicle to full operation. In contrast, engineers can also carry rocket launchers to destroy the enemy’s artillery. Players who choose to go the way of Assault are proficient in healing such as dropping med packs and even reviving fallen team mates by using a defibrillator unit. They can also go an aggressive path and substitute grenade launchers for health restoration. Lastly, the Recon class is perfect for you if you consider yourself a sniper. Recon specialists can also use a laser designator to mark targets for your team, displaying them on the map.
With four classes there also comes a wide variety of ways to play the game. I like to mess around with them all and not focus on one class. It’s great for those who like variety in their games. However, even the purist can find a lot of fun to be had in concentrating on one class. There are numerous extra weapons that can be unlocked for each class as you level up on the battlefield. In addition each one of these weapons can be modified to your liking with attachments that amplify the proficiency of your weapon. This includes the likes of optical sights such as reflex sights and ACOG sights, flashlights, laser sights, suppressors that muzzle flash and silence your weapon’s fire, grenade launchers, bipods, weapon grips, and so on. I could go on and on about how much there is to unlock in this game. It would take you days to unlock every single thing. That’s what makes Battlefield 3 so thrilling. It rewards you as you go along. What’s more is that you can play as different factions and that opens up another series of weapons and attachments.
Because Battlefield 3 is solely based on multiplayer, here are the game modes you can play online: Rush, Squad Rush, Team Deathmatch, Conquest and Conquest Assault. You’ll find that there are many servers you can join for these games. So if you want to play on a specific map with a specific game type, you can search and more than likely find the corresponding server to join. Rush involves a team of attackers and defenders where a defenders team’s series of M-COM stations must be protected from the opposing team. The opposing team, or attackers, must attempt to destroy each M-COM station, forcing the team to retreat to the next one to begin the process again. Squad Rush involves the same gameplay as the original Rush game type but features smaller “squads” of team mates working together to complete the objective. Team Deathmatch made a welcome return to Battlefield 3 and is plain and simple: the first team to reach the score limit for kills wins the match and can be pretty lengthy too. It’s perfect for gamers who just want to hunt down the opposing team rather than play an objective. Conquest is a Battlefield standard in which two teams must take control of particular areas of the map. Conquered areas display a team’s flag and each team fights to get their flag raised and keep it raised to win the match. Finally Conquest Assault is part of the “Back to Karkand” expansion pack that released with new copies of the game and added two maps to the initial lineup for the Conquest game type.
While Battlefield 3’s single player campaign is likely to provide a limited, yet sensible experience, the game’s online multiplayer is what will certainly keep you busy for hundreds of hours on end. As mentioned earlier, multiplayer is practically packed to the brim in terms of what is available for you to do in the game. Weapons, classes, attachments, tools, game types, and gameplay styles all vary which means that there is a lot of replay value to be had in the game. So what else could you possibly do with this game?
There is a cooperative multiplayer feature included in the game exclusively for two players. The co-op mode revolves around the plot of the single player campaign. Though not as engaging as the core multiplayer component, co-op does feel attractive in that you do have to “team up” with your partner to get the job done. With that said you’ll come across good opportunities where communication is key and the whole “take the guy on the left, I get the guy on the right, in three… two… one….” does seem rewarding when you clear an area of enemies coming out of it without a scratch like a pro. There are some strange AI issues to be had here though. Busting through a door to catch enemies by surprise will sometimes have them temporarily invincible as the game loads the data to make them attack, dropping that out of place invisible protective barrier. In large vast areas, enemy AI can pinpoint your exact location every time so that it becomes a wonder when you have to play “where’s Waldo” as you search the huge area to see where you’re being shot from. Still there is some good fun to be had here if you want to take a break from the core of the game with another friend.
Battlefield 3 is a welcome addition to the realm of the ever popular first-person shooter genre. It’s also a must get for anyone who enjoys shooters exclusively. The Frostbite 2 engine is an example of how good these types of games can look on a gaming console. Battlefield 3 is a shining representation of that attention to realistic detail. Sound production is top notch and a must for anyone who enjoys feeling that level of immersion in their games using their personal home theater. While the single player campaign is likely to be overlooked by many, Battlefield 3’s multiplayer is really where the game delivers. There’s so much that’s waiting to be accomplished and conquered. The entire multiplayer experience is overwhelmingly entertaining. Co-op provides a steady alternative albeit the buggy AI. So if you’re looking for an expansive modern warfare experience, you need not look any further than Battlefield 3.