Battlefield 3 Review – War… What is it good for? | Gamerillaz

Battlefield 3 Review – War… What is it good for?

Battlefield 3 Review – War… What is it good for?
 

So the wait is over – Battlefield 3 has finally arrived! Was it worth the hype? Hmm…  Sort of. Battlefield 3 is not to be confused with the ‘Bad Company’ games as they are somewhat different, especially in terms of single player gameplay. The best Battlefield games (1942, 2042) have always been just online multiplayer games with no story mode at all. It’s fair to say that ‘Battlefield 1942’ was originally the godfather of online FPS war games as we now know them.  Whereas the ‘Bad Company’ series had a solid offering of both single and multiplayer action, it was a slightly watered down version of Battlefield’s roots. Let’s just not talk about BF2 or BF Vietnam – ‘watered down’ doesn’t cover its single player efforts, although the multiplayer wasn’t the worst – they were just stepping stones to the BF:BC games.  Regardless, we now enter an age of Modern Warfare and a million other war based shooters – the competition is strong! Does Battlefield 3 have the nuts of steel needed to still compete in this FPS arena?

The single player levels are well thought out and the pace moves along quite nicely with a completion time of around seven to nine hours, but the story is just a bit… beige. It uses every cliché in the book from Hollywood blockbusters of the last 10 years – WMDs, evil Russians, breakaway fundamentalists, etc. It all feels a bit shallow. The story is told through ‘Sgt Blackburn’ who is remembering the mission of chasing down 3 nukes. Blackburn is being grilled by two “scary” dudes in white shirts playing a game of “good cop/ bad cop”. Sounds familiar eh?… cough ‘Black Ops’ cough. All of this can be described as a mediocre single player story. There’s nothing there to make you want to return for a second play-through (bar missed achievements or trophies). Granted, it does have some amazing vehicle levels, and also the times when you are sitting in the co-pilot seat of an F/A 18 Super Hornet. While that particular level is quite slow paced and boring compared to the rest of the single player, it’s a real buzz as you scan the clouds looking for bandits, feeling all Top Gun’ish. Although, I would have preferred to be flying the plane rather than just riding shotgun, which is a missed opportunity for some really good gameplay on BF3’s part.

The multiplayer and co-op play is where the true talents of this game lie. Maps are vast and well suited to huge battles, which will excite PC players more than their console cousins, due to their 64 player option. Favourites like conquest and rush are all back, along with a fast paced team and squad death match options with over nine maps. The maps shipped with the game included Operation Metro, Caspian Border, Operation Firestorm, Grand Bazaar, Kharg Island, Tehran Highway, Seine Crossing, Noshahr Canals, and Damavand Peak. With an additional four coming in the form of the soon to be released DLC – ‘Back to Karkand Map pack: Strike At Karkand, Gulf of Oman, Wake Island and Sharqi Peninsula’.  The game levels are massive and there are so many areas to set up a defensive position, that it is hard to get your head around. Although the console versions had to be scaled down from their PC counterparts only allowing 24 people to go head to head as opposed to the PC’s massive 64, there is still a feeling that you are taking part in a vast area. Again, the ‘Frostbite 2′ engine comes in to play nicely here as buildings crumble around you under a barrage of enemy motor rounds. Destruction has never looked so good.

To spice up the multiplayer, Dice has modified the class structure and added in a few new little tweaks that make fans of the series smile wide with delight. The basic classes are Assault, Engineer, Support and Recon. ‘Assault’ troops now carry their medic packs and as you would expect are the fastest of the bunch. ‘Engineers’ are the guys you need to take out enemy vehicles, disarm mines, and repair vehicles. ‘Support’ weapons carry a massive punch and they can lay down mortar fire on enemy positions or get all the heads ducking as they let fly with the machine guns. ‘Recon’ are the eyes in the sky, normally looking through a high powered scope but they can place mobile spawn points close to the action, and lock onto enemy vehicles with the SOFLAM, so an engineer can lock on and fire a javelin at it (yay – team work). So select the class that suits you the best and work your way up the ranks. As you move up the ranks, you will start to unlock new weapons and gadgets associated with that particular class and weapon. So snipers will get better rifles, better scopes, laser targeting systems etc. As cool as all this sounds there is a FFS (For Frank’s Sake) moment here when you realise that class specific weapons do not lock across the board. So if you’re an assault troop playing on the American forces side and you unlock the tactical light it’s not there on the Russian side and vice versa. This is a really annoying part of what is otherwise a highly enjoyable ranking up process. The introduction of tactical lights and laser markers is nothing new in a FPS but what is a new, and again another annoying feature, is that they can be used in both an offensive and defensive capability by blinding you enemy. Ok, that’s fine in dark corridors or night time missions, but in the middle of the day ??

Other things Dice have added to give the multiplayer an edge, is the ability to go prone (lie down), a very handy addition for snipers and heavy machine gunners around the world. Something Modern Warfare has always had, but better late than never, eh? The one thing that fans have come to expect from the Battlefield series is the vehicles. Tanks, APCs, Jeeps, and ATVs are there to be abused. Numerous helicopters such as the AH-1 Super Cobra and the AH-6J Little Bird are fun to whirl around in, and of course the mouth-watering Jets like the F/A 18 Super Hornet and the A10 Thunderbolt are available to fly… and crash. They are all there for you to reap your own special kind of mayhem in, and of course there is a huge range of unlockables for each vehicle, from new cameo to heat seeking rockets and lots of other gadgetry. The addition of planes is a nice touch, but be warned they can be quite difficult to control. If you get the hang of them they are a very important and powerful part of your team’s arsenal. Added to the fact that these also have their own unlockable path, soon you will want to start calling yourself maverick and take up a keen interest in beach volleyball.

You are awarded ‘XP’ points for being on the winning team, capturing objectives, defending objectives, taking out enemies, etc. Nothing new there, as every game and its granny seems to have this system these days, but now in BF3 there are so many ways to gain experience that you do not even have to kill an enemy, or take an objective to earn massive xp points. Performing acts that help out the team are the key for earning points. Repairing team vehicles, handing out medic packs and ammo boxes, laying down suppressive fire on an enemy’s location and performing marksman shots. The whole experience system is based around ‘team’ warfare, and it works really well.

Co-op mode sees you teaming up with a friend (or a complete stranger) to tackle six different missions loosely based on the single player experience. The feeling of “team work” really comes through here and while the missions are not that long, there are a couple of gems hidden in there. These missions are progressive so you cannot take part in the next mission until you have completed the previous one. These vary in difficulty and your successful results are uploaded to an online leaderboard. In keeping with most co-op games out there, teammates can revive each other, but if one bleeds out then it’s mission over. In reward for playing the co-op you receive some new weapons which can be used in the multiplayer.

On a technical side, Battlefield cannot be faulted, the graphics are stunning. The Frostbite 2 engine is really earning its pay pack here with massive explosions, dust particles and huge draw distances giving the feel of a wide open world. Sound effects will have you ducking for cover as the bullets whizz overhead and will have most gamers giggling with delight as you hear the buildings crumble around you.

Battlefield 3 has one major flaw – it’s two completely different games. On one hand, you have a boring and buggy single player story mode which feels a bit ‘take it or leave it’. On the other hand you have an outstanding master class in how to create a mind blowing FPS multiplayer that fans of all skill levels and playing styles will enjoy. By rewarding team actions, this game draws you in and won’t let go, even if you’re playing solo and jumping from server to server you will find a game where people are playing as a team. There is so much going on in a single multiplayer game that you could be forgiven for just standing back and watching it all unfold. The sky above with fighters performing aerial ballet as they try and take each other out while avoiding the ground, or the hummer filled with troops heading straight for a tank, like some kind of cartoon lynch mob – there’s just so much going on. Just don’t stand still for too long, chances are you’re in someone’s scope.

Normally I’m a strong advocate for the importance of a great single player game, which in turn will lead to a great multiplayer experience. It might be getting time for the folks at EA and Dice to sit down and just go back to making Battlefield a multiplayer-only game, because that’s where the magic lies and let’s face it – always has! Get it for the multiplayer aspects, but be prepared to be disappointment by the single player section. If multiplayer is not your bag, then Battlefield 3 has little good to offer.

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