Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Battlefield 3 Review (PC)

I know Battlefield 3 has been out for quite a long time, since November, and I'm always a bit jittery about trying to review something that is largely multiplayer but I apologize for the delay. Sometime after this review I will also be reviewing the Back to Karkand DLC in order to determine whether it is worth any of your money if you bought BF3 after it was released. By now most everyone who follows gaming at all know's that Battlefield 3 took the idea's from Battlefield Bad Company 2 and built upon them, instead of going back to an older more realistic formula like Battlefield 2 or 1942. They also put a lot of time and hype into the game's singleplayer campaign, a campaign that did not succeed at being compelling or original but isn't entirely without merit. Here I will discuss the successes and failures of Battlefield 3 and let you know how it held out in the war of the overly hyped first person shooter.

Right from the start Battlefield 3 will amaze you with it's graphics. Not only is Battlfield 3's Frostbite Engine stunningly gorgeous but it also is well implemented into the game, often running smoothly with only minor technical problems. Once you play the game for the first time you have to set up your soldiers profile, which has always been a unique feature to Battlefield, and you are presented with three options: cooperative mode, the singleplayer campaign and multiplayer matchmaking. You can see the basics of what the ingame browser for BF3 looks like above. The hefty and most enjoyable aspects of Battlefield 3 all involve multiplayer but if your like me you will probably dive first into the singleplayer to get some feel for the game.

The singleplayer campaign may immediately impress you for it's wonderful backdrops and exciting visuals, something that it assails you with at every turn, but once you get over that hump you will start to notice how uninspired the whole campaign is. The story they have created feels like just some typical story about nukes and fighting terrorists, of course they also have to add in that you are getting interrogated, another FPS story common story feature. Normally you could get over the story if the action during the levels was exciting and challenging and sometimes they do this quite well, but for the most part it feels as if they are holding your hand and giving you a much lighter experience than what you would find in five minutes of a sixty four player conquest multiplayer match. One thing that the singleplayer campaign does do right is giving you control of vehicles from time to time, whether it's a jet or a tank. The tank level is actually quite a bit of fun while the jet level is very disappointing. Instead of letting you fly a jet they let you be the gunner one, controlling counter measures as well, and basically give you a rail shooter experience where you control very little. The singleplayer campaign isn't horrible it's just mediocre. If it were not for the graphics and visual arresting levels then it would more easily be ignored, they definitely missed out by not allowing people to play the campaign cooperatively. *Profanity Warning on the next Screenshot*

The cooperative mode is similar to how many first person shooters are handling it these days, a light experience that is fairly short and a set of independent levels. If you've played RAGE cooperatively then you can understand how these missions play out. Each mission has you doing objectives and working with A.I. troops and they are a lot more fun than playing the singleplayer campaign, but it still feels like you would probably have more fun playing full blown multiplayer with that friend instead. One of my favorite cooperative missions has you controlling a helicopter, with one player flying and the other controlling the main gunner position, and you are assisting a bunch of friendly troops on the ground against an on going assault by enemy tanks, apc's, jeeps, helicopters and infantry. There aren't that many cooperative missions and the one nice incentive you have to play them is that they unlock weapons for multiplayer, sure there's not that many weapons and they are very hard to get but at least it's something. Each cooperative mission also has difficulty options, each of which give you more or less points based on how difficult it is and all the points matter for is unlocking the weapons. Here is a gameplay video of one of the last levels from the coop mode.

Now finally onto multiplayer. Like all multiplayer first person shooters Battlefield 3 can be a frustrating experience, especially when half an enemy team is using mortars and killing seventy percent of your team before they can move twenty feet. The game of course also relies on teamwork with other players and they can be idiots who fly valuable helicopters into walls or drive tanks into rivers. Besides all of that there is a very deep experience to be found on Battlefield 3, one that fairly bug free and filled with hours of enjoyment. The leveling system has been upgraded since the previous games, making it into a more thorough and extensive system. You unlock huge amounts of weapons by doing well with a class but you also unlock camouflage, weapons and items just by leveling up. Camouflage is new the Battlefield series and it does actually help on some of the maps, unfortunately though they made it so the game rarely remembers what camouflage you choose for each class and it's often not worth the time to pick them out for every class at the beginning of each match. The classes are all well done and useful, each of which has their specialty, but they feel almost exactly the same as the class layout in the previous Battlefield game, Battlefield Bad Company 2, which isn't bad but it would be nice if more classes had some way to even lightly injure enemy armored vehicles. I'm sure everyone has seen plenty of gameplay videos for BF3 multiplayer but if you want to see another here is one I made shortly after the game was released.

The meat of multiplayer is in it's two main modes, Rush and Conquest. There are other modes, like Squad Deathmatch and a few others, but the majority of players stick to Rush or Conquest. Rush is the mode that was first introduced in Battlefield Bad Company, a mode that has one team attacking and one defending, but it's not quite that simple. One team is after M-Com stations, stations that you must plant a bomb and destroy, while the other team had to defend those M-Com stations until the attacking team loses so many soldiers and vehicles that they lose all of their tickets. If you are unfamiliar with the ticket system it is a merely a way to make each player want to be careful about dieing and losing vehicles. Losing vehicles will lose your team multiple tickets while a single infantry death only costs your team one ticket. The other interesting aspect of Rush is that you have to attack the M-Com stations in a particular order and can expect constant action near any station. Rush maps are also more confined and feels more like you are going through stages with some kind of progression, while Conquest has wide open huge maps that are unchanging and unfocused.

Conquest mode relies entirely upon tickets, for both teams, and adds a new aspect to losing tickets. In Conquest there are capture-able areas/flags all over every map and the goal is to hold more than the enemy team for as long as you can. That doesn't guarantee victory, your team could be reckless in doing so and end up losing so many tickets because of deaths that it doesn't matter, but most of the time the team who holds the majority of the points for the longest will win. Conquest mode is personally my favorite but after playing the massive open maps of Conquest for a while it is often nice to go to something more structured like Rush mode.
Yes that is a damn Helicopter in a Tunnel, with passengers on it as well

Battlfield 3 multiplayer excels when you are running through an ever changing battlefield with teammates by your side and when those very teammates are essential to your survival. In large scale battles with sixty four players it can get very hectic but many of the maps are easily large enough to house that many players. It does help that most of the maps are exciting and fairly balanced, but there are a few awful ones that tend to end in giant crap shoots in the middle of enclosed areas, specifically Damavend Peak. What makes Battlefield 3 multiplayer better than the majority of other FPS multiplayer out there is it's mixture of tanks, apcs, boats, planes, helicopters and infantry. I personally like the feel of infantry combat more than many other first person shooters but the variety of vehicles make the experience truly unique and very enticing. Battlefield 3 is also one of the only shooters that has giant maps and destructible environments, both of which add a lot to multiplayer as well. My only real complaint about multiplayer is that I wish they had gone back to their roots with the feel of infantry combat and pacing. They always claimed that Battlefield 3 is very unique and different than Call of Duty but in their quest to dominate it they actually made the series more closely resembling the Call of Duty series than it has ever has before.

Closing Comments
Despite how different Battlefield 3 may seem from the rest of the series it still makes this fanboy proud. The multiplayer experience is very deep and the engine that runs it is beautiful. Vehicular combat still feels great and unique, thankfully you still have to rely on teammates to keep you alive. I have the greatest hopes that DICE will make Battlefield 4 more like the games that made the series, specifically Battlefield 1942 and Battlefield 2. If they can match the feel of those games with the impressive qualities of their new technology then they will truly create something excellent, but for now we still have one of the best multiplayer experiences there is and one that will last as long as you want it to. I do wish that they hadn't even bothered with singleplayer and instead put that effort into the small cooperative mode or into creating more multiplayer maps. Mutliplayer is what makes the Battlefield series and they seem to have forgotten that.

Violent Score: 8.5 (out of 10) 
Nearing Excellence...

Disagree with the score? Let's hear it.
-Written by Sean Cargle


Post a Comment