Battlefield 3 is what EA/DICE promises will change the face of shooters forever. Huge maps and insane vehicular warfare all running on its new “Frostbite 2” engine.
However, I took it upon myself to give it the benefit of the doubt, especially with someone I know saying that the final release was going to be way better. I still not believe too much until I saw the launch trailer as well as the multiplayer trailer which both happened to come out a few days for the game. I was mainly impressed about how you could base jump 500 meters on the Damavand Peak smap being on the offensive team during Rush. Still, even with all this greatness before me I was worried about the state of things being a console player and not that of PC (We rarely got console footage for this game). Wanting it for review to give to you guys, as well as seeing how the finished product was for it I decided to go ahead and pick it up, so I called in to Gamestop, reserved it again and waited .
Gamestop did not even say they were holding anything special for it, but they would for Modern Warfare 3, since that was the most anticipated game; and I began to think again if I should have saved my money for Modern Warfare 3. Grabbing the game finally, I get home. Thinking maybe I should try to view a live stream and see the graphics and game play before I open it, not to waste money. Though, I ripped that plastic and there was no going back.
Finally breaking the plastic on Battlefield 3, I open it up to see exactly what
they have given me; 2 discs (One for Multiplayer/Co-op and one for Single Player Campaign), an Xbox code good for one Online Pass to be able to play online (It is also good for the Back to Karkand Expansion Pack when it finally releases), a double-sided pamphlet promoting early access to the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer demo and a free M1911 Pistol with a surpressor if you’re a member of the EA Gun Club.
Putting the game in and immediately I am greeted with a 167 Megabyte update, thinking that maybe this is the High Definition pack I have heard about, so I go ahead and download it. Come to find out, this is a day 1 patch (Title Update) for the game that is fixing some bugs, the HD textures pack is a whopping 1.5 Gigabytes, however, it greatly increases the environments you will be playing in and is a MUST for anyone planning on playing this game on the Xbox 360 (Trust me when I say this game would look a mess without this high definition texture add-on; nearly resembling that of a Playstation 2 game).
As I finish loading the game up, it is not proportional and has some weird green glitch at the top of the screen (I am on a full-screen TV and not HD, I do not know if that is a problem), but as I come to the start menu it is all good. Well, I choose Campaign and it is time to begin my Battlefield 3 experience.
The first mission was very short, I did not recognize too much about it but I got use to the controls and found out the default control scheme is a bit like Call of Duty’s “Tactical” stick configuration; which I liked immediately because that means that I can “drop shot”, since Battlefield 3 added the ability to go “prone” to its franchise. I loved the fact that on the train I could shoot through the car seats and that the graphics were better than I hoped for. Finishing it off I soon headed off to mission #2 after a decent start.
The second mission, entitled “Operation Swordbreaker” is the mission that you see from the “Fault Line” trailer (Which got me really hype for the game). I am excited as I go through it, already knowing what is going to happen but I am amped because I am able to experience this time around. However, there are a few new parts that were not displayed in the trailers. I do not know if it was simply added on to the game near its release or if they neglected to give everything in one go, however, it is nearly the same as you saw. This mission provides the ability to see that Battlefield 3 has good dialogue and sounds like something real people would actually say given the situation, “I’m up! I’m fucked up, but I’m up!”.
As you progress through the game you are lead back in time through a man who is being interviewed by two men, both of which are attempting to extract information out of him to find out about a missing Weapon of Mass Destruction (A portable Nuke) in order to prevent disaster from happening on U.S. soil. Figuring out who really is responsible for the nuclear weapons and who plans on using them and when is the main part you are trying to figure out and is the main focal point in the game.
Going on for various missions you are greeted with some pretty funny parts; such as showing the dinosaur in “Thunder Run” (Which appears because of them questioning image board giant “4-Chan” on why no one was supporting Battlefield 2 on the PC, and they answered with no dinosaurs were in the game), stabbing the rat that is annoying you just after surviving the fall of a building after “Operation Swordbreaker” when the PLR are looking for American Soldiers, and when the person awakes right before you are ambushed in a forest and talks about vanilla milkshakes. This shows that there is diversity within the game and it does not take itself seriously all of the time, which is good in adding more realism to it (Realism which is also seen from some of the brualtiy; such as the execution of an American Soldier who is captured, or when pushing a knife in the throat of an unsuspecting guard).
Something I also have to talk about again is the graphics. In the mission “Comrades” the dynamic lightning provided by the tree’s shadows truly let me know that the Frostbite 2 engine is “made of win”. You will love the various locations illuminated by the smooth as butter engine, even the vehicular based missions where you are in a Jet or a Tank. Fire is very well done and the shadows it casts, even the light caused by a RPG or a missle.
The concept that Battlefield 3 was trying to provide in story was not a bad idea, the problem is that it was technically done before already in Call of Duty: Black Ops. Looking at a man’s flashbacks as a means to play through different scenarios to give a realistic way of visiting those locales, preventing a calamity from occurring on United States soil, the main character being good friends and trusting a foreign agent, as well as the whole point of him being the sole key to diffuse the whole situation. It is a very good way to tell the story, but already beating Black Ops and seeing how they did it made me feel this was a little less than a knock off, even if they only have a few similar things in common the ones that do stick out like a sore thumb. Not to mention the game can be glitch-filled at times; such as getting stuck at two separate spots during the Campaign: When trying to escape the PLR after the building collapsed in “Operation Swordbreaker” beneath part of the narrow passage you are crouching under, or in the Kaffarov mission after going through the door when fire is blocking it, getting stuck behind that door, my Xbox even froze after beating the very same mission and required me to shut it off while it was stuck at the “saving” screen.
The Campaign mode left a lot to be desired, and was overall a little short. Though, the graphics and dialogue are beautiful, but it is a very forgettable campaign that people will say is remnant soon to be forgotten and lives within the shadow of Call of Duty: Black Ops.
While it is graphically well-made and the missions are fun, the ending is not as dynamic as I would have hoped, and that goes for the story as a whole. In fact, the whole “fate of the world” could have been executed better had they added more destruction and a wider use of their destruction engine. I cannot complain, it does have a more realistic tone to it, but that may be why it is so forgettable.
I applaud them for putting together a fun campaign, but they did shabby job of making it a memorable one.
Firstly, playing it I was a bit frustrated as well as a bit confused. Not really knowing what the games were and having to struggle to see the writing on the loading screens with this full screen TV (Not being able to afford HD as of yet), it made learning what to do really difficult (Not to mention I did not find out until later that the game had a digital manual inside of the game under the “Extras” menu). This means that I did not know how to play the game modes and also did not know how to effectively play to win (Because I just did not know how). I was also not use to the fact that you cannot really move at will; you have to be stealthy and tactical as well as smart about where you move and where you go or risk getting killed before you know you were getting hit; as I was getting hit by every angle and learned quickly that running out in the open is the equivalent of having a death wish.
Beginning to play more, I realized that this is a more team based game than Call of Duty and depends on your entire team working together in order to be successful. Battlefield 3 has 9 maps (13 if you count the Back to Karkand Expansion Pack), and has 4 different game modes (Conquest, Rush, Team Rush, and Team Deathmatch). Conquest is a bit like Domination in Call of Duty; you have to take over locations in order to drain tickets away from your opponent. The first to drop to 0 tickets loses. Rush is a lot like Call of Duty’s Demolition, but with a twist. You have to set terminals to explode and are allotted a certain number of respawns to get the job done. If you are offensive, you have to set the charges to detonate and move to the next area and do it once again until you reach the final zone. If you are the defense, you have to make sure your terminals do not detonate as well as eliminate all of the respawns of the other team in order to win successfully.
All of the game modes are fun and have their own unique feel to them. Conquest is pretty fun but you really do need a good squad to be with you in order to give yourself and your team a better chance of winning. Seeing as you are trying to control as many points as possible, it is hard to do that with people who are playing and do not have mics. In Conquest, you begin to neutralize/capture a point by having more people in the area than your enemy and slowly make it into your own. Problem with this, if you have 2 people in an area and they come in with 3, you will have to kill one of them to stop it from tipping in their favor (neutralizing it), or kill two of them in order to begin capturing it. On the other hand, Rush is a game mode where a good squad can win nearly single-handed. Not to mention the fact that if the other team is completely unorganized this can be over very quickly if you are playing on the defense, making team work all the more important.
Something else I noticed about this game compared to other war shooters I have played in the past is the sounds and the atmosphere that you are immediately submerged into. This game feels like war. As you are running down the street, there are sounds of gunfire everywhere, buildings crumbling, tanks rolling, air support rolling in, and people going in and out of buildings, ducking, throwing out ammunition and utter mayhem that is taking place. You get the feeling like it is a life or death situation and you have to get to the objective. It fulfills its agenda very well in delivering a memorable experience every single time. The destruction that is caused is also no joke, especially on the stage “Seine Crossing” where, I can assure you, by the time you are done with the game the stage will look nothing like it did when you first started. Vehicles on fire, debris laying all over the ground, truly it says that a war has taken place here and now a city lies in ruins.
Also, something I have never really experienced is the vehicular warfare aspect of it. You see armored APC’s rolling down the street (Some that are actually amphibious and can be used on land!), Tanks, Jets, Helicopters, Humvees, and others. It shuts down some areas and opens up brand new ones. Allows people to really fight how they want to fight and give the dynamic of true war.
Speaking of playing the way you want to play, you also have unique classes in order to help you out. Engineer, Assault, Support, and Recon. Think of Engineer (My preferred) as the destroyers/repairers when it comes to vehicles. They can destroy them with rockets, repair them or destroy them with the tool, set out anti-vehicle mines, and just overall are specifically for helping with the vehicles of the game. Assault are more of the run-and-gun people that storm objectives and are for racking up kills and reviving recently fallen team mates, Support are equipped with Light-Machine Guns and are good for resupplying team mates and laying down heavy suppressive fire, while Recon are the snipers and are quite good for spotting enemies as well as picking off targets from long distances and making it even harder for enemies to approach safely.
There is just a multitude of cool things that you can do while you are playing. I have been able to parachute out of a burning helicopter, take an objective, fix a tank and keep going in the matter of the same life. I have also been able to destroy a wall in order to take out a sniper or people camping underneath a building, not to mention if I needed to reach and objective did not want to walk all the way around. Air-to-air combat with Jets at the same time Tanks are fighting, and if my own Tank is badly damaged I can repair it. You can play this game a plethora of ways and they are all happening simultaneously.
Now, while I can sing praise of its multiplayer playability and everything it has going for it, there are a lot of issues dealing with the multiplayer that are not exactly related to the game play. They have an iffy “Squad system” where you can only group up with four of your buddies in order to go into “Quick Matches”, took me a little bit to figure out how to set it up. Even after you are all in a squad, you may join different teams in the same match rather than being able to play together and it has a tendency of not being able to let some members into the game at all, even the host who was searching. Sometimes games disconnect randomly and we had a few games that had some intense lag spikes during the course of it. For me, these things have not happened to frequently and EA itself has said that the servers were full to capacity and they would get them under control, but I thought that the awful beta was to stress test the servers for this?
Also the Battle Log (A system kind of like Call of Duty Elite/Gears of War 3’s War Journal) is a bit screwy as well, seeing as EA’s website is updating to Origin and seems that a lot of people are being thrown out of the loop if you did not have an EA account before with your gamer tag. It will not let me add my Xbox 360 Gamer tag under “Personas” because there is no link, without this, I cannot get my M1911 by joining EA’s “Gun Club” and I cannot access my Battle Log because I cannot link my tag to my account. Not to mention that others have complained about this on EA’s official forums and seem to be getting the run around, I do not know when this will be resolved and I am thinking I will have to do without it at this point. These little things do not break the experience but it does put a huge dampen on them and can make you forget about the awesome multiplayer sometimes because of the nuisances.
Battlefield 3 gives a solid look into true vehicular warfare and giving a warring experience as a whole. This game is insane in the fact that it looks pretty (With the HD texture pack), has massive maps, and has dynamic sounds which gives no less than an eargasm. One of the most creative and best multiplayer experiences I have been pleasured of diving into. Though, it does have its nuisances and bothersome moments with the connectivity of the servers and the fact that EA cannot figure out what to do about its Battle Log accounts, it is never less a polished gaming experience.
The Campaign itself was a bit forgetful, but the shadows and how well put together it was made up for the lack of being wow’d. The multiplayer itself took the icing on the cake and I found myself loving each and every match, even when I was losing I could not help but reflect on the cool things that happened through out the match, even so happy as to try to show my friends what they are missing out on.
All-in-all I am glad I did not miss out on this game and I am looking forward to all new downloadable content in the future and whatever else DICE/EA plan to cook up for this series and the FrostBite 2 engine. So, get this game, you will definitely not regret the online multiplayer experience and will lose yourself in hours-upon-hours of excellent vehicular warfare mayhem.