Friday, November 11, 2011

Battlefield 3 Review

Ever since the stunning gameplay trailer for Battlefield 3 dropped earlier this year, the pressure has been on the deliver a stunning game. The game was touted as having the best graphics for PC since Crysis and having the gameplay mechanics in place to throw down or at least release the stranglehold Call of Duty had on the market. DICE went into this battle as the vast underdogs, but with the highly successful Battlefield 2 and Bad Company Series under its belt, there was always a strong chance they would deliver. What we have received is a beautiful package which pushes PC rigs to their maximum power as well as flourishing on consoles if the texture pack is installed beforehand. The Frostbite 2 engine holds up well and delivers an incredible setting in single player and more importantly multiplayer.


The Battlefield series has always been one where spectacular environments are created and if all goes to plan, destroyed shortly afterwards. There are so many positives in this game and the graphics are a definite highlight. While Call of Duty rests on its laurels with the dated IW engine, the Frostbite 2 engine is quenching the current generation of consoles with every last drop of graphical power being poured into this game. Huge set pieces look spectacular and provide the huge wow factor we have seen in previews of Battlefield 3. The attention to detail is the real powerful positive to come out of this game however. The textures and lighting make this game believable as a real world setting for warfare and the constantly changing environments look good, no matter what. The contrasting blue and orange colour palette featured on the cover translates nicely into the game as well with explosions mixing up the darker theme of the game.

The game looks spectacular during the single player, but equally as impressive in multiplayer. It's rare that a game that rises to such highs during the campaign can back it up with similar results in multiplayer. If anything, action in multiplayer looks better than in the campaign due to the destructibility. The Bad Company games in the franchise promoted blowing sh*t up and almost every building or structure you could see could be blown to smithereens. Battlefield 3 has thrown this approach out for a more linear approach with limited destructibility, often only in set story points or areas set up for a quicktime event soon after. Multiplayer on the other hand follows the if its standing, it can soon fall down philosphy of older games and is better for it.

As good as the graphics are, those with an arcade console or the new 4GB console will need to find a way to install the optional texture pack. Being optional is a misintepretation and merely means that the game will look like a much blander and less stunning title. Attention to detail and facial animations will be missing without the texture pack and it is HIGHLY recommended that you install these so you don't miss out on all of the modern warfare beauty that is hidden away in both sides of the game.

Just as the pre-release trailers suggested, this is a game you are going to want to play with your surround sound system cranked up the maximum volume. You will hear bullets whizzing past your ears, buildings crumbling nearby, explosions occuring everywhere! Guns all have an unique sound and a sniper will be able to be distinguished from an assault rifle so you can react accordingly. While the game has strayed away from the joking nature of the previous spin-offs, the voice acting in this more serious game still sound great. While they may be cliched approaches at your standard war story, the voices behind the people in the game suit them perfectly and it matches the audio quality presented throughout the rest of Battlefield.


Before you even launch yourself into playing Battlefield, you will notice that the game has been put onto two discs. While this seems like it will become standard practice as games get larger, with single player on a disc and multiplayer on the other, an interesting choice was made by Electronic Arts. Disc 1 features the texture install pack as well as multiplayer and disc 2 features the singleplayer component of the game. It seems as if this approach was taking either because they know more people buy FPS's for the online aspect, or that the single player certainly doesn't come close to how good Battlefield is online.

That is certainly true as the single player presents the stock standard, fast action packed cinematic experience that is seen all too often. The story feels disjointed and almost as if DICE has made a summary sheet on every major war event in the last 20 years, before delivering it in a short 6 hour campaign. The game has tried to combat the Call of Duty success and has failed to do so in this area by succumbing to the formula which so many despise of Activision's franchise. While there are some jaw-dropping moments and huge set pieces as well as the ability to control a whole array of vehicles, the linear non-destructible nature brings the experience down.

Luckily that was only disc 2 and not the swan song of the series, with multiplayer redeeming any faults made in the single player. Battlefield 3 is the online experience people have been craving and is the sole reason why the game sold 5 million units in its first week. Multiplayer has always been good in the Battlefield series, with a tight group of players who have kept it running for years. This is such a major release and comes at a time where people are craving for something other than camping for killstreaks while being mouthed by 13 year olds on Call of Duty. Teamwork is encouraged and rewarded, killstreaks are out, modes are kept to a minimum and most importantly it provides an addictive, enjoyable experience.

There are three game modes to play through with two objective based modes in Rush and Conquest as well as Team Deathmatch for the first time, to kind of initiate newcomers to the different style of play. Rush and conquest are the highlights of the game, with games being about helping out teammates as you secure or protect certain spots. As the attacking team successfully sets charges or captures points then the map is expanded and slowly but surely the mayhem unravels over a large area. There are four classes to choose from with Soldier, Engineer, Assault and Medic all designed to provide something unique to the team. You won't win this game by going solo, teamwork is vital to success. Medic will provide med packs and have the ability to revive, where as engineer's can ride alongside someone in a tank or chopper and actively repair the vehicle while others focus on causing mayhem. There are a variety of vehicles available to everyone as they simply appear on the map, no more killstreaks are necessary!

Apart from standard multiplayer, you can also play through Co-op missions which are based around the single player story. While they don't add much to the overall game, it is fun to play through some areas again with a partner in missions designed specifically for cooperative play. The main meat of Battlefield 3 is the online multiplayer and is the reason why you will buy this game. While the graphics look sleek, it isn't a huge step forward like the PC version and can't simply be used as a game to present to friends. This is one you will want to play with friends, not just with friends present like in the Call of Duty series.


To come to a conclusion of whether Battlefield 3 is the Call of Duty killer we all hoped it would be and what Electronic Arts stated it would be is a difficult one. The single player leads a lot to be desired, but the game makes huge leaps forward with revolutionary advancements in graphics and multiplayer. This isn't the perfect game, perhaps with a gripping campaign it would come close. Still, Electronic Arts chose to make multiplayer the focus right from the time you open the disc and must be treated as such. This is one of the best online experiences going around and is a must play for everyone this holiday season.

Graphics - 10/10
Sound - 9.5/10
Gameplay - 9/10
Overall - 9.5/10