Review | Battlefield 3

Developer – DICE
Publisher – Electronic Arts
Available On – PC, PS3, XBOX 360
Reviewed On – PC, XBOX 360

Going toe-to-toe with the biggest FPS franchise in history is no small feat, but EA have certainly brought it big time with Battlefield 3. Exploding into the holiday season right alongside direct competition, this is the best time of the year for FPS fans. Sticking true to the series’ formula Battlefield 3 is bringing back huge scale online open warfare as players do battle on foot, in tanks, vehicles, jets and choppers with a big array weaponry all across large new maps.

Sporting the updated Frostbite 2 engine, EA haven’t just sunk their entire budget into the crazy marketing campaigns for this game, production values are through the roof as the standards of modern FPS games have again been knocked up another notch. Battlefield 3 looks amazing on both console and PC while presenting big open maps full of detail.

Personally the multiplayer side of Battlefield has always been 90% of my focus on the game, but DICE have taken time to include a campaign experience more substantial than most other Battlefield games. Unfortunately this doesn’t necessarily make it good. The campaign in Battlefield 3 has a decent length, great production and a bunch of exciting set pieces but it all follows so closely in the footsteps of Call of Duty there’s really nothing notable to get excited over.

The campaign breaks down into a linear experience filled with cliché set pieces, predictable story and off-putting quick-time events. Basically it just does not embrace what has made the Battlefield series great so far, such as the vehicles and wide open maps that give players options. None of this is there except for fleeting scenes like flying a helicopter once. It’s not a terrible single player experience, but modelled so closely after Call of Duty and providing the same linear experience it left me feeling underwhelmed. Multiplayer is the core of this game as it has always been in the Battlefield series and where most players will get their value out of this game.

Featuring a variety of modes and maps the multiplayer experience is indeed the classic one we know and love but updated and looking better than ever on the new Frostbite 2 engine. Team and Squad Deathmatch modes are included for a very classic FPS experience. Rush and Squad Rush modes are back, playing akin to Counter Strike with bomb points to arm or defuse, but my favourite mode will always be Conquest where teams fight for control of key points over a large open map.

Conquest mode is the classic staple hold of the series and allows for insane battles as players choose options available that suits their play style. Whether you prefer gunning on foot, manning a jeep or a tank, or taking to the skies in a chopper or a jet, the options available create a wildly diverse game where anything can and will happen coining the term ‘Battlefield Moment’. My first online game on PC was like something directed by Michael Bay. There I was speeding my jeep across an open field, when an enemy chopper starts spraying bullets all around me. Swerving and dodging, I just make it onto a road when a friendly jet zooms overhead taking out the chopper that comes crashing to the ground beside me, just as an enemy tank approaches.

Another great moment was when I approached a highway scattered with vehicle debris knowing multiple enemies were nearby. Going prone, I slowly approached the area looking and listening very closely to see where my enemies were while remaining undetected. It was a very silent and tense moment, suddenly broken when a Jet falls out of the sky and crashes right into the middle of the highway, alerting everyone and sparking a sudden intense firelight as everyone jumps out into the open.

These moments are what define the Battlefield online experience and it’s something you can’t find in any other game. Having said all that, it’s not a flawless experience. One annoying factor is the insane amount of content that is locked away until you skill up and unlock abilities. What used to be basic game mechanics, such as light machine guns on tanks, are now unavailable until you level up and gain experience. If you’re late to the game you’ll have a hard time catching up as unlocking levels takes much longer than most other online FPS games and your toolset is limited until you do. Unlocking new weapons and equipment is fun, but I think they’ve gone a bit too far in this case.

If I had to make a recommendation for a platform to play Battlefield 3 on, it would definitely be the PC version. Battlefield 3 is quite exhilarating at 60 frames per second, not possible on either console version. The PC version also has bigger maps and a bigger potential player count, with the added option of modes like “Conquest Large” allowing up to 64 players. This doesn’t mean though that the console versions are vastly inferior, the epic online experience is still in-tact and explosive on consoles and it’s very suited for playing with a controller especially with all the vehicles to be driven and flown around.

So all wrapped up Battlefield 3 is definitely a legitimate contender to the FPS throne and personally I find it a more enjoyable and refreshing experience over Modern Warfare 3. Though with all the comparisons going around it is worth point out that both games provide quite a different online FPS experience so I’m not saying that MW 3 is bad, but BF 3 just did so much more for me this year and is where I’ll spending most of my online time this holidays.

Battlefield 3

91/100

The Good –

• One of the best multiplayer experiences around

• Great production values

• Robust community with great online features

The Bad –

• Cliché copy-cat campaign

• Nearly everything needs to be unlocked in multiplayer

• DLC already?