Battlefield 2 was released back in 2005 and quickly gathered a following of hardcore fans dedicated to a wonderful online shooter. For years the Battlefield experience was exclusive to the PC until Swedish developer DICE released Battlefield Modern Combat on the original Xbox in 2005. Battlefield: Bad Company 1 and 2 were released on consoles back in 2008 and 2010 and gave players more of what they wanted in a different package.
On October 25, 2011, DICE released the true sequel to the critically acclaimed Battlefield 2. Battlefield 3 brings more to the table for fans of the series to play around with such as the addition of a single player component as well as co-op. Do these changes usher Battlefield into a new era? Or do they cause more damage than Destruction 2.0? Here are the Hots and Nots of DICE’s Battlefield 3.
Adrenaline Fueled Story…
There is a reason for the ellipses up in the title there but we will cover that in the Nots part of the review. The story of Battlefield 3 is filled with various scenarios that immerse you into the game and have you feeling every punch you throw, shot you take and enemy you stab. The first person fight scenes are delicious and will have your adrenaline pumping waiting for the next surprise. All of this adrenaline pumping through your blood does not make up for the lame excuse of a plot line you will try to follow, but more on that later.
Multiplayer Is Back With A Vengeance
The online multiplayer is what almost everyone will purchase this game for, and they will not be disappointed with it. Battlefield 3 delivers a punch to your sternum with multiplayer deliciousness. The game uses a progression unlock system similar to the one used in Bad Company 2, but with a metric ton of goodies for you to unlock. There are four main classes: Assault, Engineer, Support and Recon. Each class has it’s own set of unlocks and each gun has it’s own set of unlocked attachments that are earned the more you use the weapon. Battlefield, meet Inception. Not to mention ranking up through the game’s 45 ranks has it’s own set of unlocks. OH, and the multitude of ribbons and medals for you to earn. There are ALOT of things for you to get in this game.
The game has 9 maps and 5 game modes out of the box with the promise of more maps and weapons to come. Each of the maps has its own unique feel and setting that sets it apart from the rest. One map in Rush Mode, Damavand Peak, has you going through the objectives normally as attackers until you get to the last set. Once the final objective is given, attackers can choose to take helicopters down to the objectives, or you can base jump 500 meters to the bottom and land in a more advantageous position. Battlefield 3 gives you a great deal of options for the space that you are given. Conquest Mode is where the true scale of Battlefield is revealed. You are given numerous amounts of vehicles to traverse the landscapes, jets being the most difficult to learn but fun to use. Its needless to say that Battlefield 3 has enough out of the box to keep you hooked for hours into the night.
Co-op Is Entertaining
The co-op mode of Battlefield 3 lets you and a buddy team up to take on 6 different missions separate from the story. Each mission has a different objective ranging from defense of a US camp to piloting a helicopter and providing close air support for a ground team assigned to take on a general. Another plus side to these missions is the opportunity to unlock 7 weapons for use in the multiplayer portion of the game. Aside from that, the missions are fun to play with a friend online and would be entertaining even if there were no unlocks to go along with it. One could only hope that DLC will be released later with more missions for this mode.
Graphics Are Nice And Sound Is Amazing
Battlefield 3 is very easy on the eyes and the various animations in the game do a good job in immersing you into the experience. The lighting in the game is excellent and the bullet physics add a sense of weight to each weapon. The reloads for each weapon also give the weapons a sense of weight. Hearing the bolt clack on an M16 after watching your character slap the bolt release sounds and feels awesome. The various environments in the game are well done and vary from a ruined city during a rainy night to a beautiful forest that transitions into an open vista of lush greens.
The biggest issue with all of this, however, is the necessity to install the high-res textures package on consoles in order to get this kind of beauty. This could be a problem for 360 owners who do not have the room on their consoles or owners of the 360 slim models who are unable to install the package due to the game reading the HDD as a memory unit.
Everything from music to gunshots to explosions sound amazing in this game. The music will have you pumped as soon as you hear the Battlefield 3 theme come into play. The game also has an epic feeling in the beginning of the second level when you hear Johnny Cash playing “God’s Gunna Cut You Down” over the speakers. Each gunshot sounds like it packs a punch and has a nice report following the shot. Explosions pack a bone jarring punch and RPGs send you reeling backwards dazed and leave you scrambling to find the shooter and get to cover.
…Story Is Weak
The story revolves around Sergeant Blackburn, a soldier in the US Marines who is held in detention because of something he did over the course of the events you will play as he recounts them. All I can say without spoiling anything is that it involves Russians and nukes. Nothing new to the FPS genre. The story tends to pull a Memento and jump around, leaving you a little confused until it all comes to a sad and depressing excuse of an ending. I was left staring at the credits wondering if there was something I missed. I had more questions than answers for the events in the conclusion of the game. In my opinion, it was one of the worst explained endings I have seen in a shooter. Sad for all the detail that went into trying to make a kick-ass single player. It is also worth mentioning that the Jet level is one of the most dull missions in the campaign and left me sorely disappointed.
There are minor bugs in the game that will detach you from the experience and leave you wondering as to how they didn’t catch these during testing. You will occasionally notice that audio will be a little off when you reload a weapon or that a magazine won’t appear when you reload some of the weapons. These aren’t gamebreaking but they do tend to detract from the experience. I did have one major problem during the “Going Hunting” mission where the audio over the communications link would not come through and I had no idea what to do in the level. The audio never showed up until I used my Sony headset. As soon as I turned it on, I could hear the voice through the communications link and I was able to complete the mission.
All in all, Battlefield 3 is an amazing game that fans will enjoy even if its only for the multiplayer. The multiplayer alone is the main attraction to the game while the campaign and co-op modes feel like extra tidbits thrown in for your own amusement. While the game has minor bugs and a weak story, it makes up for it with epic set pieces, fun co-op, addicting multiplayer and more unlocks than you can shake a stick at. This is definitely a purchase for fans of the series and the FPS genre alike.
[Editor’s Note: Battlefield 3 was reviewed on both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 hardware. Since the Xbox 360 version are experiencing server issues at the time of this review, we have purchased a PS3 version and review it on that platform. The Xbox 360 version was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]