Developer: EA Digital Illusions CE (DICE)
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: First-Person Shooter
ESRB Rating: M
Release Date: October 25, 2011
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Battlefield 3 is one of this year’s most anticipated games and now that it’s finally out, was it worth all the hype fans have put into it? Complete with tons of guns, a variety of vehicles, and oh so pretty graphics that includes a rather destructible environment, it’s pretty much any shooter fan’s dream. Of course, every game strives to be as perfect as possible, but this one definitely falls short in the technical department.
A Story we’ve all seen before
Let’s start with the good. Battlefield 3 delivers in-terms of variety. The campaign mode consists of many different operations, using a small team of spec-ops to a big platoon of marines. We were also able to man the guns of the tank and provide air support on a jet. So if you’re in it just to play it, well it isn’t bad.
Now, for everything else; the story was bland, the characters weren’t memorable, and the plot has been a done a slew of times. The overall campaign experience had lots of flash but no substance. The game is very pretty, way too pretty for a shooter which is fine because it’s just that pretty. The levels were brilliantly detailed, the shadow and lighting textures were fascinating. Despite how depressing a broken city usually is, it was broken in a very pretty way, and thus made it viewable without the feeling of guilt.
One thing I found funny, which isn’t a big deal really is on the Xbox 360, it requires you to download a 1.5GB Hi-Def. package, free of charge fortunately, to attain such prettiness. Without it, the game looks like a shooter from the 90s, no detail at all and the character’s mouths don’t move. So if you do get the game on 360 or simply think the HD package doesn’t make a huge difference, well you couldn’t be more wrong.
As for the story itself, you got the main character being interrogated and he goes through a series of flash backs which are then missions. It’s been done before tons of times. Black Ops did it recently even though it’s been done before them as well, but Battlefield 3 just made it feel like they couldn’t come up with anything else. Sure, the story was fitting for a game of this kind, with the global war theme and all, but honestly, they could’ve taken out that whole interrogation fiasco, re-arranged maybe 10 minutes of gameplay, and the campaign would’ve been more fluid, at least to me. The plot and overall action does pick-up torwards the middle of the game which is great but still not enough to impress.
There also weren’t any characters that stood out. Sure they’re aiming for a more realistic feel to the game, and I guess defining “that guy” as just “some soldier” does that quite well, but it’s still a game, and there was noone real unique or badass enough to warrant character-remembering, despite some of the epic stuff you were doing in the game.
I will admit though, there were some parts of the campaign that made me feel sad. I won’t go into too much detail because it’d be nothing but a spoiler, but I guess if you are in the military, know people in the military, or at the very least, have a heart, it might touch you just a tad bit.
Frostbite Engine prevails, gameplay dynamic yet simple
One of DICE’s big selling points for Battlefield 3 is the use of the Frostbite 2.0 engine which gives the game stunning graphics, realistic soldier movement, and completely destructible environments. To a certain point, they definitely succeeded.
The destructible environment is a success to the gameplay. Being able to wither-away a camp-spot is just lovely. Or in my case, being lazy and just blowing up the whole damn building is also a big plus. With the stunning graphics the game has to offer, the destructible environment is pretty revolutionary. The engine is an accomplishment on its own for console gaming.
My biggest peeve, only because I’m nit-picky, is that basic objects aren’t destructible. Apparently, headlights on the cars and the street lamps are all bullet-proof; I couldn’t shoot the lights out. There were also certain things I wanted to destroy with my tank, and they too, were invulnerable to artillery. I guess limits are necessary, but there’s nothing more fun then just goofing around destroying things like in Red Faction especially when one of the largest advertised features is “destructible environment”.
Of course, none of my personal issues truly affect the gameplay as a whole, but it would’ve been cool to completely darken an area to use to your advantage or get away, whichever works.
Battlefield is a game any FPS gamer can just jump in and play at any time. The controls are standard to any shooter game and the Frost Bite 2.0 gives the characters a bit more fluidity in their movement. It’s pretty neat because instead of simply jumping over an object, your hand grabs it and you can see your legs swing over. Little things like that amuse me. Also, aside from the guns and grenades, being able to use different attachments on your gun is neat as they can also be switched on and off using the dpad. Turning on laser pointers and switching to the grenade launcher is a breeze during combat.
A game defined by multiplayer
Video Games used to be all about the story and the multiplayer being the fun extra, but for Battlefield 3, it’s ALL about the multiplayer, and the story-mode simply existing in the corner somewhere. Even with the somewhat disappointing campaign mode, you can at least look forward to an enjoyable multiplayer experience. It’s pretty fun because it’s just total chaos and explosions, and I love my explosions. There are 5 game-modes; Rush, Squad Rush, Team Deathmatch, Conquest, and Conquest 64. The game also launches with 9 different maps. Though the variety of game modes is kind of lacking, they make up for it with some well made maps, so I’ll let that slide since map design is such an important concept for me. And of course, you can never go wrong with a wide variety of guns, attachments, and usable vehicles.
Teamwork defines the multiplayer mode which I believe is not only one of their big selling points, but also will become part of the game’s possible downfall. With squad spawning and multiple seats in a vehicle, coordinating with your team is a must. I enjoy team-based games until it becomes the primary directive of the player. How often do you actually work together with randoms? In today’s time, a lot of people don’t and even if you did, well others won’t, and it becomes one big cycle of not truly working together. A lot of people who just want to log-on into a game for a few minutes to do a “quick match” are going to be affected greatly by this in-terms of in-game success. But if you have a group of friends to play with, the team-play mechanic shouldn’t be an issue.
There are a slew of neat features that allow you to complete the objective. Squad spawning is a must if you want to get around. This feature allows you to spawn directly into any person on your squad so it could save you a long walk. As for team-play, the suppression system is still there, where you can distort someone with “combat stress” when you apply gunfire into their near vicinity. This helps in pushing up. Manned vehicles are also a must as the maps are very large-scale. You’re on a time limit so being mobile is important.
The multiplayer is very immersive and action-packed. It has a lot to offer in-terms of variety and It does what it does best, which allows the player to enter into a battlefield full of mayhem. Overall, it's just a fun experience.
Even though every game has them, Battlefield 3 has a lot of them. “Them” being technical problems. And all this was even after the 169MB day one title-update. From Sound issues to level-loading issues, I might just have bad luck, but I’m sure there will be something noticeable for everyone.
There were times where the graphics cause “cuts” on the screens for a brief moment and the audio was kind of messed up. I’ve had moments where the characters repeat phrases several times over from a cutscene that passed 5 minutes ago. Sometimes, the game glitches as well. Your team can’t advance forward and the enemy stops spawning, which won’t allow you to enter the next objective area. I had to restart one of the missions because of this which wasn’t too bad since I wasn’t far into it, but nonetheless, it’s an issue.
Oh and my most favorite moment of all time in BF3, was hiding in a small closet inside a garage from terrorists. I could hear walking slowly on the other of the wall. And out of no where, right through the wall, he stabs my throat! It was a Freddy Krueger moment. A big issue? Yes. Funny? Hell yes. Also, I have to make note that every person that stabs or enters into a hand-to-hand action sequence with you seemingly looks like Disney’s Aladdin which kind of shows they didn’t try to hard with adding a variety of enemy character models.
Also, aside from the in-game bugs, there are some day one issues. According to EA, they actually weren’t prepared for the mass amount of people that logged on for Day 1 launch. Is that a joke? So yea, much like in the BETA, games are not setting up and I still can’t play with my friends… at least on the same team that is. Big disappointment there. I’m sure it’ll get fixed soon but with other ‘AAA’ titles closing-in fast; it’ll be question of being “too late” or not.
So overall, Battlefield 3 was “OK” I suppose. It’s a multiplayer shooter at heart, and based on that alone, it’s a pretty good one and it's fun, but as a video game, I feel it’s lacking in a lot of places. It has tons of potential but what I got on Tuesday was basically an unfinished game. It’s definitely fun now, but how about three months from now? Perhaps. Who knows?
Weaving away all the bugs, Battlefield 3 was a technical accomplishment for console gaming. Outstanding graphics with an interactive landscape is hard to come by so at the bare minimum, DICE deserves that credibility.