With the popularity of the First Person Shooter still in full effect, EA and DICE have finally released their heavy hitter of the year in Battlefield 3. This is the game that EA execs were betting on to take the FPS crown away from the Call of Duty series. So does it? Is this the game to finally silence the doubtful who think that the giant of Activision is too well known of a force to challenge? Well, the results are a remarkable shooter that undoubtedly has some flaws with it.
Gameplay is just as tight as one might expect in a Battlefield game. Controls feel responsive but will move with some weight on them. So don’t expect to be able to turn or run from being prone on a dime. Nothing game breaking at all, but just don’t expect a “twitch” control feel. Hit detection is spot on, as is marking enemies comes with ease. A well-made shot is sure to bring down your opponent. Although I don’t understand why when stabbing someone with a knife, an animation must be done that makes you drop your guard and weapon that can leave you vulnerable for attack. Plus certain controls are switched when using certain vehicles which I found odd.
DICE was definitely going after realism here so guns have a (somewhat) realistic feel too them. Don’t expect them all to feel the same. Pull the trigger and your gun jumps. Hold on the trigger on an automatic weapon, and expect your gun to bounce. Controlled bursts are recommended, but sometimes not always encouraged. So make those shots count. And in some cases, make sure you actually want to shoot. Bi-pods under weapons, always seen in other Battlefield games, can be used for more stability when firing.
Enemies will attempt to attack you from different sides and ways. This doesn’t serve as a huge problem; just make sure to watch corners and when you enter new sections or rooms. Bullets will fly from everywhere in certain levels and sections. Think you can just poke your head out quick enough to shoot the enemy, well, they’re thinking that too, especially in the higher difficulty. Enemies will go prone, which also make for difficult shots.
The Frostbite 2 engine looks terrific. DICE took extra care with lighting and particle effects within the environment. Little touches like moving your squad through a near collapsed building with only beams of sunlight coming through broken windows or walking through near pitch-black streets with only flares, spotlights and gunfire to light the way is very impressive . There’s nothing like watching your squad of soldiers’ race down a hill only to see explosions in the distance and anti-plane guns shooting the night sky. Explosions go off, breaking bits and pieces sometimes in all directions. Destructive environments have been part of the Battlefield experience for some time now, and with the Frostbite 2 engine, look even better.
Characters have nice animations. Whether it’s running quickly to avoid sniper shots, or returning fire to cover you for you to complete certain objectives. Watching enemies hear shots heard in the distance and their reacting quickly, or seeing them scramble when a grenade is thrown their vicinity is also impressive.
Sound has been a strong point the Battlefield series. Heavy guns, certain sniper rifles and other weapons fire with loud bangs and especially when using surround sound, can definitely be felt. Running across a field to the noise of gun fire being heard in the distance only to have a jet pass over you is very cool. Hearing gun fire from behind, while having tanks roll past you in front is superb. Also are the little things such as hearing flies buzzing around your head when playing with a headset.
This game was built for multiplayer. This is where the main stay of Battlefield 3 is and EA has made no bones about it. Included are the returning favorites of the Battlefield series; Rush, Conquest, Squad Rush, Squad Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch mode which had not been included since the original Battlefield 1942. Each mode depends greatly on squads and teamwork. Attempting to “lone wolf” is possible, but most will find little success in it. This is a team based shooter, and it means it.
Vehicle combat, another Battlefield standard, returns with tanks, helicopters and turret mounted vehicles. Also fighter jets are also reintroduced from Battlefield 2, which you are able to pilot. This makes for some very interesting dogfighting and possible air to ground attacks.
The Battlefield classes of Assault, Support, Engineer and Recon all return also. And trying to survive without your other support classes will be hard. Assault class acts as the medic of the team, while Support can replenish the group with ammo. Engineer class can help repair and destroy vehicles, while your Recon acts as your scout/sniper class. Snipers also have a slight disadvantage of not always being able to hide. Light will reflect off your weapon, exposing you. Little touches like that seem to show that all classes have their strengths and weaknesses. After all, your Assault class will need bullets to keep firing, something the Support classes provides, but he needs health to stay alive, which your Assault class gives.
To try to summarize how many weapons and customization possibilities are in the game would take a while. This will make reaching the highest level a definite adventure, but one not without its benefits. Weapon customization is available. Adding grips for better control or scope attachments for better aiming. How about adding a tactical light under your weapon to blind your enemies? Nice trick, but one that can leave you exposed on certain areas. Solider customization, which allows you to select your camo appearance, dog tag designs which also include a few Easter eggs from other of EA games are also nice touches.
Also included is online CO-OP. These levels consist of mini-missions which can be played with friends online. These challenges range from holding and defending to attacking, raining down gun fire to provide cover and air support, and stealth extracting hostages plus many more. Playing each of these missions will unlock other challenges and levels. Replay ability is also a plus, as you can go back and try to best your best time and scores.
Now while this may all seem like Battlefield 3 might be a terrific package, there are a few things that obviously set this game back from being perfect.
While the Frostbite 2 engine looks phenomenal, seeing beautiful lighting effects and graphics with low-res walls and backgrounds were noticeable. There were moments when the game would show glitches such as killed enemies stuck between walls. Certain times my entire screen would turn completely white when facing spotlights, making it unable to finish parts and requiring me to reload levels several times. At times NPC’s would talk without the character’s mouth moving. And sometimes reverse, as the characters would talk, but no sound would be heard. Loading times were very noticeable also. Getting into a massive fire fight, only to regroup with your squad and sit and wait in silence for 30 seconds for the next part of the level to load, sometimes freezing my game, takes away from the emersion of the game.
Also disappointing is the campaign. Since this game was mainly built for online play in my opinion, the game’s campaign falls very short. Included is the same story everyone has heard and/or played through countless times. Level’s told through flashbacks, while an interrogation happens. During this time you’ll hear about WMD’s, people behind the scenes and the people who are really behind those people at the heart of the matter. And Russians. Oh those crafty Russians. Now while most shooters these days hardly have ground breaking stories, my suggestion is to play the campaign, but take it for what I think it might be best used for; training to use the vehicles and different weapons for the multiplayer.
Strange also is the inclusion of Quick Time events. These button presses came at almost awkward times and when pressed, usually didn’t sync with the events happening at the time of the scenes. I would press the correct button to only see my character get hit again and again, and a while after finally react.
Since the multiplayer maps were made for a large number of players due to the PC, maps sometimes feel too big with the smaller number of 24 players or less available. Stuck on one side of the map when an objective on the opposite side is being attacked, have fun running if you’re left behind with no vehicle to ride in. While not game breaking, it was more annoying than anything.
Through everything overall, Battlefield 3 is still one that should be played and experienced. Whether you’re battling jets in multiplayer, defending a strong hold with your partner in CO-OP, or even fighting the PLR in the campaign, the game will still provide a great overall experience for anyone looking for a great shooter.
Battlefield 3 gets a 9/10
(Editor’s Note: This review is based on the console version of Battlefield 3.)